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Loving Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Lagoon view, Cleveland Museum of Art, Clevelan...
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I’ve always loved art and art history. Beyond the art itself, I love to learn about the time periods and the life and times of the artists.  Museums are perfect for this and our day trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art in the University Circle area of Cleveland was superb.  We all left with our favorites from our first trip which I’ll entertain in this blog.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is huge and half-way through an enormous expansion, which will leave it even bigger in five years.  It was almost overwhelming to try to see just the second floor in 3 hours or less, especially because we wanted to appreciate each piece and read about all of them. I was trying to read the information cards on each piece to the kids and Emma had a barrage of questions that I was answering. I felt as if I was trying to teach 15 years of school in half an hour, because I was not just teaching art, I was teaching history, mythology, religion, culture, customs, economics, design, wardrobe…..

We chose a few of our favorites from this trip and we hope you enjoy them too:

Nassem loves Early American History and Colonial History. He enjoys the history of New England, the colonies, the formation of America. His favorite piece of art was an oil painting by Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865) called “Harbor in Boston with the City in the Distance (1846-47, oil on canvas).”  The electronic photo of the painting, below, was taken from the blog of Henry Adams, professor of American Art at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He writes that Lane’s paintings are now costly and very rare, but he was able to secure one from the descendant of its original owner who purchased from Lane.

You can also few the piece on the Cleveland Museum of Art website at : http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&csearch=Artist%20/%20Maker:Fitz%20Henry%20Lane

He also liked the painting called “George Washington at the Battle of Princeton (1779) by Charles Wilson Peale. He said that in all his research on the Internet he sees this one pop up frequently. He loves everything Presidential. Addie thought it was neat because Emma has been drawing all sorts of her own versions of George Washington since learning about Presidents on President’s Day.   Peale painted George Washington many times during his career. The Cleveland Museum of Art houses this in their colonial section.

When asking Emma what her favorite part of the museum was she just yelled a resounding “everything!!” She was partial to the Van Gogh paintings though. She knows he is one of my favorite painters and was very excited to learn about him this year in first grade art class where they were tasked with drawing their own “Starry Starry Night” by Van Gogh.  She liked the color that Monet and Manet and other Impressionists used in their oil paintings and appreciated the colors and dreamy look of the Van Goghs. She came home and drew her own rendition of some of the Van Gogh paintings they had such as, “Adeline Ravoux (1890, oil on fabric).”  Van Gogh painted this portrait of the 16-year-old daughter of an innkeeper where he was staying  just two months prior to when he died, and was quoted as saying that it wasn’t really a photographic resemblance but “wanted it to convey impassioned aspects of contemporary life through the use of the modern taste for color.”  She is a little green and blue, which Emma picked up on since her rendition of the lady looked a little like a blue person from the movie “Avatar.”

You can view Van Gogh’s painting on the The Cleveland Museum of Art’s website here:  http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?pid=%7B91ADCD8F-992A-45A5-8599-70835467DF5E%7D&coid=3526974&clabel=highlights and below is Emma’s version.

For me, Claude Monet is another of my favorites. I love the Impressionists. They have a lot of nice Monet, as well as other Impressionists at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  My favorite of the day though was “The Red Kerchief (1873, oil on fabric)” by Monet (French, 1840-1926). I love anything that is like the old fairy tales and it reminded me and Addie of Little Red Riding Hood.  In actuality, it is a painting that Monet did of his wife, peering at us through a locked door as she bustles by looking cold or scared. It was a few years before she died and many people interpret the painting as having been representative of the problems in their relationship (he was in love with another woman). However, it formerly was of a couple looking into the door, until he repainted it as his wife.  Other people find it representative of the Impressionist movement and their issues with being accepted by the art world at the time, as they were refused gallery shows and their work rejected frequently.  Either way, it was a painting that he kept with him till his death in 1926. I love the use of the brush, the texture of the stroke, the use of color so that the red just pops out at the viewer.

View it on the Museum’s website at: http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&sliderpos=2

Addie said her best time of the day was seeing the big horse and knight dressed in armor. She takes after her mommy and daddy!  Their armor room, called the Armor Court, is amazing. It is full of all kinds of Italian, Spanish, British and more armor pieces and the top of the room adorned in beautiful tapestries.  Tim said this room was his favorite as well.  Though the museum has a great medieval collection located on the first floor, this Armor Court is up on the second floor with the European art

View an up close and side photo of the knight and horse in armor on the Museum website at: http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&sliderpos=2&searchoption=1

We also had the opportunity to view their new exhibition “The Lure of Painted Poetry: Japanese and Korean Art” which just opened today and will be on display until August.  It consisted of beautifully light and airy ink drawings on screens and cloth, as well as gorgeous bridal gown that Addie liked (but felt it might be too big for her) because of its vibrant colors (still vibrant though many hundreds of year old).  Emma was enthralled by how whole words were drawn using one calligraphy symbol.  Their poetry was not just words, but art flowing onto paper.  The Museum writes, “The show features every art form, including painting, calligraphy, and craft, that transformed Chinese lyrical aesthetics in the Korean Joseon period and in the Japanese Muromachi, Momoyama, and Edo periods.”  You can view more info here:  http://www.clevelandart.org/visit/Exhibitions.aspx

All my children are little budding artists and I hope trips like these inspire them even more. Here’s some bad camera phone photos of the kids with several Van Goghs:

I can’t wait to let you know what our favorites are from our next trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art of another art museum! Who is your favorite artist or the best art museum you’ve been to?

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Malabar Farm’s Maple Syrup Festival in Photos

We had a super fun time this weekend at Malabar Farm, part of the Ohio State Park system and located in Lucas, Ohio near Mansfield and Ashland.  It was their Maple Syrup Festival and my 11-year-old son wanted to learn all he could about tapping maple trees for tree sap and making it into sugar and syrup. He loves the pioneer and native american historical demonstrations and anything that has to do with ecologically self-sustaining yourself. It was a lot of fun for the kids, and I thought it was a great opportunity for not only photos with my family, but for Breathe Beauty Art and Photography as well. Set back in the forest near Malabar Farm’s historical Pugh Cabin and Louis Bromfield‘s Sugar Shack, it was the perfect environment for relaxing and taking photos with nature. We also crossed Malabar Farm and went to the actual farm itself, something we do several times a year since my son is an avid conservationalist. He loves to learn about Bromfield’s life, check out the wind turbines, the solar compacting trash can, solar panels, the historical mansion. He is enthralled by care for the environment (you can find him on Twitter @environmentlife) and the education that this Ohio State Park offers is incredible. If you’ve never been, check it out at www.malabarfarm.org.

I just love to go to take photos. I guess we all have our favorite things and mine of course is taking photos! Tim, my fiance, actually took some of these photos as well. View the slide show below to see photos of Malabar Farm, the Maple Syrup Festival, and my family enjoying the day. I think the girls’ favorite part was the maple sugar leaf cookies, maple popcorn, maple fudge, chocolate walnut fudge……

If you like my photos of Malabar Farm, please inquire with me at breathebeautyartandphotography@hotmail.com

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Walking in a Winter Wonderland….Time with My Son and My Camera

I hadn’t really been out of the house for days, with being ill and not being able to kick it. Plus, the weather has been just downright nasty with either rain or freezing cold that makes my nerves stand on end. I actually prefer when it snows lightly. Now that I am able to better appreciate the beauty of snow, I really want to be out in it. The wonder of each snowflake, the icicles, the formations all leave me in awe. I have missed my Fall walks with my camera. I wanted to see what I was missing out there in nature. The sun was shining and so I resigned myself to bundle up well, don the boots and hit the sidewalk at least for a few minutes. My son wanted to go with  me, and I really wanted his company. When he and I have time alone exploring as we do, I know it makes him as happy as it makes me. And we spent a lot more than a few minutes outside.

We wandered around and saw how beautiful the sun glinted off the snow piles.  We looked for icicles and saw absolutely gorgeous formations of them all around us. If we were driving by or walking by fast, we never would have noticed them. We saw all the berries left from Fall, and it was like they were almost preserved from the cold, some even encased in ice.

I was in wonder of the beauty God creates all around us. I appreciated the moments spent with my son as we talked about life and nature and what he planned to do when he grows up (which is a list of about 100 things, but all very nice assets to humanity). He had some things he wanted to show me by our local Ashland County Courthouse. I knew the architecture would be great of course there and I wasn’t disappointed. The trimming of the building are delicious.  He loves the old bell there, and the cannon, and he wiped the snow away from the plaque that told about the time capsule from 1976. He even plans to attend the opening of it, coming back to Ashland. I know it is driving him nuts what is inside it. He is such a treasure hunter. I watched as he wiped the cannon in various areas–brushing off the snow to find the manufacturer’s imprints, the years (1884), the little intricacies imbedded in it. He looked like a little museum curator. I stood and watched him, filled with love. His treasures are history, and though I too love history, I could relate even more as my treasures are finding the various photographic angles that are around us each day.

I know what it is like to be busy in life. I know what it is like to rush and work so hard that you never see your kids or go outside. Being on this side of that now, I certainly appreciate these moments even more. And I believe that my son, and my children, will certainly have better memories of their mom in their mind as well as in photos! I urge everyone that if you aren’t seeing these small things in life, appreciating the world around us, remembering history and appreciating it, that you stop what you are doing and figure out how to get it in your life without excuses. Nothing is more important than quality time with your children and the outdoors.

Here is a short slide show of some of the photos we took today, all which are available as prints for sale if you’d like a little piece of our adventure (please don’t steal my photos, they are copyrighted). Please leave comments and let me know what you think!

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My Top Ten Favorite Photos I Took in 2010

The year 2011 is officially underway and I hope to take more photos and improve my skills as quickly as possible. This year I was so blessed with being able to spend time in Florida as well as be able to see the glories in all the various seasons in Ohio.

Here are 10 of my favorite photos from 2010, I hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think, or if you have other favorites!

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What to make with the Fuji Apple? MMMM….

What have you been doing on these wonderful Autumn days? We’ve been visiting apple orchards, a pumpkin patch, and taking many photos of lovely, colorful Fall leaves! I’ve been taking many, many photos of apples and apple orchards, pumpkins, gorgeous leaves and more so I can offer wonderful Fall prints and notecards on my online store at www.breathebeautyartandphotographybyerin.artfire.com.

Yesterday we visited a second apple orchard in Ashland County, Ohio, near Jeromesville. We took a jaunt out to Scenic Ridge Fruit Farm. The most apples they had in season were the Fiji apples. I had vaguely remembered that apple name, but was unsure of it. A medium to small size apple, it’s faded red and white colors were very pretty. I knew I wanted to bake, so I wasn’t sure if it was tart or sweet. We quickly wiped off one and tasted it. Very sweet and yummy!!! We proceeded to pick one and a half bushels (3 big baskets-only one basket of 1/2 bushel is pictured above).  The kids once again had so much fun choosing apples and I loved photographing them and the apples too. At one of their nearby ponds we also saw two large swans! The day was perfect. Upon coming home, I was wondering what a fuji apple was and so today I’ve done my research.  The figi apple came to the United States  in the 1980s and is a cross between our beloved red delicious and the heirloom variety of Virginia Rawls Jennet (or Ralls Genet technically) made by the Japanese in the 1930s.  They are such a pretty color and are much denser, sweeter, and crisper than most apples. They also have a much larger shelf life, even without refrigeration! With refrigeration, they can last 5-6 months! This was great news as I’ll have plenty of time to bake them all.  I’ll try to share my recipes and baking trials with you here, but this is a recipe I found that I will try first!! Doesn’t it sound yummy???

Fuji Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Why Fujis? This not-too-sugary cake (inspired by carrot cake) is best when made with fairly sweet apples. Plus, it’s important to choose an apple variety with a sturdy structure so that it won’t break down during baking. Fuji apples fill the bill on both counts.

12 SERVINGS

Recipe by Dorie Greenspan; Photograph by Richard Pierce 

Fuji Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
 

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon, apple brandy, or rum (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 medium Fuji or Gala apples (13 to 14 ounces total), peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans (about 6 ounces)

Frosting

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (measured, then sifted)
  • Coarsely chopped toasted pecans (for garnish)

Special equipment

  • 2 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides

Preparation

CAKE

  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper round. Whisk first 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, then bourbon, if desired (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture to egg mixture in 3 additions alternately with applesauce in 2 additions, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in apples and pecans. Divide batter between cake pans; smooth tops.
  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 15 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment paper. Place another rack atop 1 cake and invert again so that cake is rounded side up. Repeat with second cake. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap each cake in plastic and store at room temperature.

FROSTING

  • Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until frosting is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Using long serrated knife, trim off rounded tops of cakes to make level; brush off any loose crumbs. Transfer 1 cake to platter, trimmed side up. Drop half of frosting (about 1 1/2 cups) by spoonfuls atop cake. Spread frosting evenly to edges of cake. Top with second cake, trimmed side down. Drop remaining frosting by spoonfuls onto top of cake, leaving sides of cake plain. Spread frosting to top edges of cake, swirling and creating peaks, if desired. Sprinkle with pecans. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour to allow frosting to set slightly. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 2 hours before serving.

Read More http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2009/10/fuji_apple_spice_cake_with_cream_cheese_frosting#ixzz12dV9DRNl


Ocean Inspired Brownie Cupcakes

We live in Ohio, so it was a much-needed weather break, as well as a good refreshment for our minds as well. I watched my children thrive going to the beach everyday. Their love for playing the sand building castles and finding shells. Further, my son’s obsession about finding things in the ocean which led to him spending hours on end in the water diving for rocks, fossils, shells, seaweed, crabs, and any other interesting thing he could get his hands on.

We took many photos for our photography business as well and I’ve been so happy to showcase many lagoon sunsets, seashells, and ocean waves to my online store (http://breathebeautyartandphotographybyerin.artfire.com).  I’ve created mouse pads, mugs, and notecards to help bring some of the beach  to places where winter can seem long.  Many of these are at www.zazzle.com/ErinAlMehairi

 We had the greatest time feeling good and discovering all we could about sea life. My son loves turtles and ocean animals. He has always loved it, but our expedition to the Smithsonian Lab near Hutchinson Island secured his desire to move to Florida and pursue marine biology. I would love for him to do that because he is so passionate about discovering how the ocean affects our entire existence. He is all about improving our carbon footprint and he would love to work with the animals. He urges everyone to stop littering beaches and wants to know how he can help save the last remaining pieces of coral reef.  He is truly a “green” pioneer at the age of 10 (11 tomorrow!).  He is so ready to get back to the ocean environment. He truly absorbs himself in anything ocean. 

So that is where the cupcakes come in.  He wanted to take beach cupcakes as he class treat to school tomorrow.  But he loves brownies too. So we 1.)  made brownies in cupcake holders,2.) frosted with blue frosting, 3.) sprinkled half with golden sparkly sprinkles for sand (can also use graham cracker crumbs), 4.) placed palm tree sticks (can also use the little drink umbrellas) in the sand side, 5.) then cut an inch of fruit by the foot and made a chair in the sand under the tree (can also use gum–it is a little more sturdy but not allowed at school).  On some of the others, I placed little cheese whales (like goldfish) but you could also use the little mini Swedish fish. He was so happy to bring a little of the beach to his birthday and they were fun to create!


Autumn Days in All their Splendor

Autumn Acorns and Fall Foilage

Today in Ohio it was a gorgeous Autumn day, with sunshine and warmth. We spent some time outside today crunching acorns underfoot and their crispness reminded me of acorn collecting days as a child. My own children and I scavenged through replacing tops, finding sprouts and imaging new Oak trees trying to grow into the sun. The leaves on the trees are melding into yellow hues, with patches of vibrant red and orange. A drive through the countryside had us dreaming of lovely oil paintings and beautiful photographs. One of the best things about Fall are the colors, and of course the acorns. I’ll be heading to bed dreaming of tiny squirrels filling their homes for the winter.