Saturday, January 26, 2013

JMW Turner Paintings

JMW Turner and John Constable are two of the most famous British artists of the past 500 years. This article examines the very best William Turner paintings and discusses why these two Romanticist artists had such a large impact on art movements from the 19th century onwards. Romanticist paintings helped to develop art movements on from the traditional styles of baroque and renaissance art onwards towards the more emotional and creative impressionist paintings that appeared after the success of Turner and Constable.

Whilst impressionism itself was a French-born and predominantly French-led phenomenon the preceding Romanticist artists frequently had British roots. Turner and Constable came about at a time when religious depictions and accurate, unimaginative portraits were traditional fodder in the art world. It was artists like these that helped to encourage and promote the study and enjoyment of landscape art. Their qualities as artists also enabled landscape painting to achieve critical success which before then had been rare. They were also keen to cover great landscapes without inclusion of people in their paintings at all, on the most part, which also went against the grain.

The achievements of Turner have led to the Turner wing being set up in a key London gallery, which is a rare and highly prestigious award. Turner himself is an unusual artist in that he is respected for both his oil and watercolour paintings. Because of the lack of interest in watercolours as a medium internationally, he is now best known as an oil painting artist.

Many art fans still love to buy reproductions of original Turner paintings, and the romantic use of colours and brush strokes is still very popular today. His use of light and it's effect on the surroundings of the painting is perhaps the signature characteristic of the better William Turner paintings.

Whilst receiving his training from the Royal Academy of Art, which tended to teach stale academic techniques at the time, Turner was to go on to push the boundaries of his present day art scene and revel in the creativity and innovation that he clearly had.

As well as being highly respected across his native UK, Turner also is appreciated in the United States, where the Turner Museum can be found. Perhaps the most well known legacy of his career is the Turner Prize which was created in 1984 and attracts great entrants from the British modern art world. It remains one of the world's highest profile art competitions, as has some highly successful names as previous winners.

To pick just a few key works from Turner's long career is perhaps a little tricky, but a list of his most famous paintings would probably include the likes of Warkworth Castle, Northumberland - Thunder Storm Approaching at Sun-Set, The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory, Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps, Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On), Eruption of Vesuvius, The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons and The Grand Canal, Venice.

To conclude this article, it is fair to say that Turner and Constable helped shape modern art by bringing in new ideas and techniques which helped to allow others a similar level of creative freedom and acceptance. JMW Turner himself also matched abilities with oil on canvas with those of his watercolours which continue to be an important part of any Turner exhibition which appear frequently around the UK and USA.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

There's Lots More To See In The Czech Republic Than Just Prague

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in the centre of Europe. It is a country of varied natural beauty, living legends and traditions, and historical monuments that reflect rich times gone by.

The legacies left to us by our ancestors include monuments dating as far back as the Romanesque era, Gothic cathedrals, Baroque churches and palaces, ornate Renaissance houses and summer residences, fine examples of Cubist architecture, Synagogues of various styles, Art Nouveau coffee shops, and winding cobblestone streets.

Though Prague might be the first choice for travellers seeking intriguing destinations in the Czech Republic, the other regions of the country should not be missed. The open landscape is scattered with castles, historical ruins, and chateaux.

The most distinguished people of European and world science and art have left their permanent mark on the country's history. Mozart, Kafka, Goethe, Einstein, Beethoven and Casanova are only a few of the famous citizens who were associated with the Czech lands.

Apart from the capital Prague, the Czech Republic has eleven other locations on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Located on the banks of the Vltava river, the town was built around a 13th-century castle with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. It is an exceptional example of a minor European medieval town whose architectural legacy has remained intact thanks to its peaceful development over more than five centuries.


The houses in Telc, which stands on a peak, were initially constructed of wood. After a fire in the late 14th century, the town was rebuilt in stone, enclosed by walls and further strengthened by a complex of man-made ponds. The town's Gothic castle was reconstructed in High Gothic style in the late 15th century.


This pilgrimage church, built in honour of St John of Nepomuk, stands at Zelena Hora, not far from Zdar nad Sazavou in Moravia. Constructed at the turn of the 18th century on a star-shaped arrangement, it is the most remarkable work by the famous architect Jan Blazej Santini, whose highly unusual style falls between neo-Gothic and Baroque.


Kutná Hora developed as a result of the exploitation of the silver mines. In the 14th century it became a royal city endowed with monuments that symbolized its affluence. The Church of St Barbara, a jewel of the late Gothic era, and the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec, which was restored in line with the Baroque taste of the early 18th century, were to affect the architecture of central Europe. These masterpieces today form part of a well-preserved medieval urban fabric with some exceptionally fine private homes.


Between the 17th and 20th centuries, the ruling dukes of Liechtenstein transformed their domains in southern Moravia into a remarkable landscape. It merged Baroque architecture and the classical and neo-Gothic style of the castles of Lednice and Valtice with countryside created according to English romantic ideology of landscape architecture. At 200 sq. km, it is one of the leading simulated landscapes in Europe.


Kromeríz stands on the location of an earlier ford across the River Morava, at the foot of the Chriby mountain range which dominates the central part of Moravia. The gardens and castle of Kromeríz are remarkably complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque sizeable residence and its surrounding gardens.


Holasovice is an outstandingly complete and well-preserved example of a traditional central European village. It has a large number of outstanding 18th- and 19th-century vernacular buildings in a style known as 'South Bohemian folk Baroque', and preserves a ground plan dating from the Middle Ages.


Litomysl Castle was initially a Renaissance arcade-castle of the type first developed in Italy and then adopted and greatly developed in central Europe in the 16th century. Its design and beautification are particularly excellent, including the later High-Baroque features added in the 18th century. It preserves undamaged the range of secondary buildings associated with an aristocratic abode of this type.


This commemorative column, erected in the early years of the 18th century, is the most exceptional example of a type of monument specific to central Europe. In the typical regional style known as Olomouc Baroque and rising to a height of 35 m, it is adorned with many fine religious sculptures, the work of the illustrious Moravian artist Ondrej Zahner.


The Tugendhat Villa in Brno, designed by the architect Mies van der Rohe, is an outstanding example of the global style in the modern progress in architecture as it developed in Europe in the 1920s. Its specific value lies in the use of ground-breaking spatial and artistic concepts that aspire to satisfy new lifestyle needs by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by modern manufacturing.


The ensemble of the Jewish Quarter, the old Jewish cemetery and the Basilica of St Procopius in Trebíc are reminders of the co-existence of Jewish and Christian cultures from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The Jewish Quarter bears exceptional testimony to the different aspects of the existence of this community. St Procopius Basilica, built as part of the Benedictine monastery in the early 13th century, is a remarkable model of the influence of Western European architectural tradition in this area.

Great selections of cultural events are held throughout the Czech Republic. Numerous galleries that display examples of local and foreign artists draw large amounts of tourists. A number of festivals and exhibitions take place in the country annually, together with popular sports such as Grand Prix races, ice-hockey championships, etc. Theatre and dance festivals are generally open to the public. The Prague Spring, Prague Autumn, and the International Music Festival are just a few of the best known musical events, while film enthusiasts acclaim the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Garden Fragrances

I would like for you to consider for a moment the garden of your life. The garden that people will see after you have gone on. Your garden, your legacy. Have you ever thought of your life being a garden? We touched briefly on the notion that your garden is an expression of you. What seeds are you planting? What fruit is being brought forth? What fragrances are you leaving behind?

Go with me in your mind to some of the most exquisite gardens in the world. One that comes to mind is the gardens and the grounds at the famous Biltmore Estate. Frederick Law Olmsted, a world renowned landscape architect, has touched the lives of untold thousands of people through his creativity. A stroll through those wonderful gardens is an experience that will be etched in your memory for a lifetime. If you ever need the inspiration to create your own little corner of the world, surely you must visit that awe inspiring estate. The work, the dedication, and the love of creating lasting beauty, is most evident in this beautiful garden. What a testimony and a legacy this man has left for all to enjoy.

Another garden of inspiration and beauty that has been left for all to benefit from is the life of a sweet, sweet lady. Helen Steiner Rice has touched and warmed the hearts of countless millions of people around the world. She has been acclaimed, and rightly so, "America's beloved inspirational poet laureate". Her works of inspirational literature have doubtless warmed and comforted the hearts of everyone who has ever read them. The sweet fragrances of God's love for mankind is so apparent in her writings. This well of life that she was able to draw from she has passed on to us. This garden that was her life still continues to blossom anew in the hearts and minds of her readers. What a precious legacy.

The question still remains. Will you cultivate a garden of life today? A garden that your family, friends and the rest of the world will glean hope , happiness, and warmth from? There are a number of fertile grounds that are tilled and ready for planting. Consider looking for local Charities to donate your time and resources to. Then branch out to Foundations that seek to offer hope to the children and the elderly of the world who may not be as fortunate as some.

Will you begin today, sowing those seeds that will blossom, mature, and bring to life your legacy? Remember, your garden, your legacy, your expression of yourself, will flourish and continue to be a sweet savor for the world to enjoy. Consider some of these fields that lay before you today.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Boomers Saving Energy and Saving Money With Landscaping

Saving energy, controlling energy use, recycling, downsizing were all topics of conversation for Boomers when they established Earth Day some 40 years ago. Today, especially in a slow economy retirement, they are even more dedicated to those topics. Their perspectives perspectives, however, may have changed somewhat. They may be thinking more about what kind of legacy they leave behind rather than participating in protesting marches, but the thoughtfulness and the determination remains.

As more baby boomers enter their retirement years they are looking to downsize their homes. With smaller homes to heat and cool the instant result is lower energy usage. Lighting smaller rooms means saving electricity. Becoming a one car family is also a possibility especially if the couple live in an urban setting. Besides, some retirees may not need two cars because they do many of their activities together.

Changing major appliances for something that saves energy and money is also a current boomer tendency. For instance, it seems that when boomers downsize and move into another residence, they often purchase the new water heaters that only heat water as it is used rather than heating a standing tank of water throughout the day. The initial cost of this green appliance is more than the standing water tank, but the energy savings during its life more than offsets the higher upfront price.

Interestingly, more boomers are working at home, sometimes by choice and more often these days, by company decision. Companies are looking to downsize also and they can shrink their operation costs by having employees work at home and attend teleseminar meetings on the Internet. Employees save money on commuting, money for office clothes, money for lunches and the snack machine. It takes a little adjustment but most boomers enjoy the change.

Some boomers have taken to drying their clothes on an outdoor line depending on climate. Interestingly, there are many communities which will not let you do that because it ruins the image of the neighborhood.

Placement of trees, shrubs, and ground cover plants can also help reduce your heating and cooling coasts. For instance, you can provide wind protection for with properly placed landscaping which will lower the wind chill near your home. Wind chill takes place when wind speed lowers the outside temperature.

The best windbreaks block wind close to the ground by using trees and shrubs that have low crowns. Also think about using evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and northwest side of your home to break the wind. Most landscaping, especially in the northern region, combines tress, bushes and shrubs. For example, evergreen trees combined with a wall, fence or earth berm, a natural or man made raised area of soil, can deflect or lift the wind over the home. One caution: do not plant evergreens too close to the south side of your home if you are counting on warmth from the winter sun.

If snow tends to drift where you live, plant low shrubs on the windward side so they will trap the snow before it blows next to your home. Planting shrubs, bushes and vines next to your house creates dead air spaces that insulate your home in summer and winter but be sure to leave at least one foot of space between the grown plants and the wall of your home.

Incorporating shading concepts in your landscape can also help reduce heating and cooling costs. Keep in mind that homes in cool regions may never overheat and may not require shading or only partial shading. Trees, for example, can be selected with appropriate sizes, densities and shapes for almost any shading application. They can block solar heat in the summer but let much of it in during the winter when they have lost their leaves. You can plant those deciduous trees with high branches to the south side of your home to provide maximum summertime roof shading. Trees with lower crowns are more appropriate to the west where shade is needed during the afternoon. For solar heated homes in cold climates, do not plant deciduous trees on the south side because they will block out the winter sun.

Trees, shrubs and ground cover plants can also shade the ground and pavement around the house. This not only reduces heat radiation and cools the air before it reaches the walls of your home but it also reduces the amount of grass you need to maintain. A good idea is to build a trellis for climbing vines to shade a patio area.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Flower Paintings - Famous Floral Art Recognized Today

Flowers have universal meaning as well as specialized ones in virtually all parts of the world. It's no wonder that they have long been the subject of paintings, and there endless famous flower paintings widely recognized today. Floral art has also been an important part of many famous painters' works, often helping to define their legacies.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir in the mid-1800 chose flowers as his subject for many paintings. Of course his paintings were often experiments with landscapes, outdoor scenes of Parisian daily life, and other paintings that used light in new ways. But his paintings of roses, chrysanthemums, and other spring flowers still stand as some of his famous works.

Renoir spent some of his time with impressionist master Claude Monet, who likely set the standard for impressionism flower paintings. Water lilies, iris, and other flowers blooming in his gardens at Giverny were seen on canvas like they never had before as Monet found his true inspiration. Later in life, Monet invested even more in ensuring his garden grew more colorful flowers so he could focus his attention solely on floral art. The flower art of Claude Money are likely the most recognizable in the world.

Another French artist, Henri Matisse, never hid the fact that he loved to paint beautiful things. He was also influenced by the impressionist and post-impressionist painters, but developed his own style of bright colors with broad strokes. His passion and style often resulted in flower paintings.

Vincent Van Gogh made his impact on the impressionism art world with daring outdoor, landscape, and nature related subjects, including flowers. But there is one flower varietal distinctly associated to him: sunflowers. Who can't forget the stunning collection of sunflower paintings by Van Gogh, which almost treat each flower as it's owns subject. Van Gogh seems to emphasize the pure brilliance and sensory joy of blooms in his works. These paintings has been duplicated the world over.

Flower paintings seem synonymous with impressionism, but there continue to be examples of famous abstract flower paintings, and realism. Georgia O'Keefe is a 20th century artist who partly defined her works through realistic close ups of flowers such as roses and iris. Reaction to here works seem to bring the same joy to the viewer, and same results to a room as flower paintings have done for centuries.

It's no surprise that flower paintings continue to be the subject of many artists. Flower paintings are also some of the most popular used in decorating, especially given the large availability of collections now available in galleries worldwide.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The first 25 years of John Brady's contribution to the art world was in the capacity of a Graphic Designer. In the early days of computers, as an Apple/Mac technology enthusiast, John, designed anything creative that came his way: marketing pieces for local businesses, corporate identity branding, logo designs-- he was even commissioned to design the emblem for Bill Gates' commemoration of Microsoft's 10-year anniversary in Ireland. A remarkable achievement in itself, however his crowning glory and his more ever-lasting legacy takes place in the next 25 years of his life. As an artist! And not only that, but an educator of art, as his website reveals.

For anyone lacking the imagination to know what kind of art to buy, or where to hang it once you've bought it, Dublin-born artist John Brady has created a website that might be entitled, ' How to Become an Art Connoisseur.' The site shows photographs of his art displayed in every room in his villa. Using every available inch of wall space, paintings are hung in every niche, every hallway, every nook and cranny. His entire residence has become a showcase for his art. As if that weren't enough, John includes on his website, a step-by-step video showing how he paints one of his favorite subjects, a field of poppies. Starting with a white canvas, and using nothing but palette knives, John applies paint directly from the tubes. Wielding his knives like a slight of hand magician, with a few deft strokes a sky emerges, a few more dabs of color and a field of poppy plants appear. Then, the coup de grace as John twirls in the barest essentials of crimson red poppy leaves petal by petal. Never one to overwork his canvasses, what details John omits from his poppy fields landscape, the viewer's imagination fills in. John Brady's works are so predominant and energizing that instead of people buying them as paintings to match their decor - the paintings are the decor! And rooms are decorated and centered around the artwork. In fact, some paintings are dynamic enough to set the theme for an entire residence. Many of his works appear to divide the canvas diagonally one section in contrasting opposition to the other. Ethereally, his paintings have the essence of the yin and the yang, the spiritual versus the material. Symbolically, one section plays against the other as if they were the tectonic plates of the earth's crust advancing towards each other, volatile with the potential of massive amounts of energy. It is this maneuver of spatial energies that give his art the power.

Vibrant landscapes, vivid florals, brilliant abstract studies of nature-- all with such dynamic movement, they're about to explode off the canvas. " When I finish a piece," says John, " I know that it will brighten the most mundane wall." He is a deeply spiritual being and seeks to enlighten people with his art. As he explains, " I feel dramatic colour can lift your senses and energize your mind, and stimulating the senses is what I try to achieve."

In the true spirit of the disciplined Italian masters Caravaggio, Raphael, Michelangelo and daVinci; and the freedom of expression of the Impressionists Monet, Constable and Van Gogh-- who were all "teachers" of this fine student-- very few artists have the ability to excite the senses to this extent with just the power of the paint and brush. John Brady is one of them.

You can visit Johns website at

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Following In The Footsteps of Giants

This week, a beloved figure in Toronto, a business mogul, philanthropist, and a forward thinker who changed the landscape of retail business, the urban core, and the entertainment and culture in Canada's largest city, died at the age of 92.

Ed Mirvish leaves a legacy that is the footstep of a giant. A legacy we can all be proud of because Mr. Mirvish not only achieved great success and prosperity, innovated positive change, infused Toronto with economic, social and cultural vitality; he also retained that powerful spark of humility, humanity, and a love for his fellow man that is clearly the footstep of a giant.

Maybe it is time for those of us who have achieved the prosperity that creates financial freedom, and those who have not, to ask ourselves what kind of foot print we want to leave behind.
The footprint of a giant is not measured by the size of his bank account, nor by the trophies, awards or material accoutrements of success. The footprint of a giant is measured by his or her ability to leave a legacy that continues to touch the hearts and minds of others.

A legacy that speaks of servant leadership, a legacy that reflects the ability to make a positive difference in the world in which we live, and in the lives of the people we lead, love and serve. Building the footprint of a giant is the work of a life time, it cannot be built solely upon our unprecedented access to knowledge, information, technology, or the skills and competencies we have developed. The footprint of a giant is born of the faith, hope, courage, humility and relentless moral strength and timeless values that create the passionate purpose, desire and ability to make a positive different in the lives of others.

Faith gives one the spiritual power that guides our best thoughts and actions. Hope allows us to embrace gratitude and to build resiliency. Courage gives us the ability to live in alignment with our highest values. Humility allows us to realize that life is a gift, and that minimizing the human dignity or potential of another human being does not give us power, rather it makes us powerless to realize the true purpose of our creed.

In a world of increasing chaos, discord, violence and upheaval it is the men and women from the C suite to the warehouse, from the most revered professions to the humblest of occupations who can decide that they want to make their foot print, the foot print of a giant, or to support the giants among us. Both are equally important, both are critical.

We cannot all become the change we seek, but we can be inspired and motivated by the footprints of giants like Ed Mirvish. We can be inspired to help build and sustain the footprints of the visible and less visible giants whose faith, courage, hope, humility, leadership can help us embrace an evolution of self that will take us past what is, so that we can create what can be in our lives, our communities, our workplaces, our society and our world.