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Category Archives: Art

Hats Off To Stories Shared!

By | Art, Composition, Contemporary rugmakers, Creativity | 7 Comments

In late 2015, rughooker Kris Burnett was contemplating her retirement after 20 years as a librarian at the Howe Library in Hanover, NH. She got the idea to do some hooked wallhangings using the look of vintage postage stamps as a unifying design element. Above, you see her rug Hats Off to Howe, based on a 2010 Netherlands circus poster, and adapted to be a self-portrait.

But the first “stamp” wallhanging she did was this lovely piece, Golden Stag, of a large Czech dancing stag, based on a 1963 Czech folk image stamp (used with permission):

Kris writes, ”This first piece inspired me to consider making a small folk stamp wallhanging as a gift for each of my friends at Howe Library, a remembrance of our years together.

As you will see, Kris’s rugs, with all their fine detail, are impeccably crafted. She makes it look so easy to get all that fine lettering (in a foreign language, yet) looking perfect! And the composition of her designs is so good that you don’t even notice it – each rug just looks naturally balanced.

Here is The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats, an adaptation of a Bulgarian postage stamp from 1964, based on one of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, which I especially loved:

So she started planning. About thirty rugs, with the hope to be finished in three years time, to coincide with her retirement date in August, 2018. Yes, she did worry about the stamina it would take to produce more than thirty individualized rugs for her co-workers, but she did it. What a wonderful undertaking! Kris’s exhibit of these rugs is now on display at the Howe Library in Hanover (through October 3rd), and if you are at all close by, it’s well worth your time to go see these 35 rugs before they each go to their new homes with Kris’s workmate friends.

This rug is called Pot of Flowers, based on a 1963 Czechoslovakian postage stamp:

The thoughtfulness that Kris put in to finding an image that would speak to each separate coworker is obvious. She wrote to her co-workers, “From the wealth of stories we have shared over the years, an idea emerged that somehow spoke to each of you. Some of the designs are rooted in old stamps, folk tales, matchbook covers, posters, program covers, or medieval manuscripts…Some just formed in my imagination.”

As I looked at the variety of rugs Kris made for her friends, I couldn’t help wondering about each individual she had made this particular rug for. The collection of rugs really did seem like a collection of friends, of stories shared over the years. It is not for us, the viewers, to know the full story of each rug, but I could tell that each will be very meaningful to the person Kris has gifted it to. Here is Mixed Breed:

And I found the unifying theme of postage stamps really wonderful. It allowed Kris a wide latitude of images and art traditions – from Pennsylvania Fraktur designs and Pacific Northwest folk images to a tropical scene on St. Croix and a Russian Ballet program cover – while keeping a consistency that ties all the images together. This rug is White Tiger, based on a Vietnamese postage stamp:

When I walked into the library, I went up to the librarian who was at the front desk, and asked directions to the exhibit of Kris’s rugs. The friendly man gave me clear directions, and when I mentioned I was a rughooker, he was interested, and smiled at me. But when I asked, “And did Kris make a rug for you?”, his face absolutely lit up. It was wonderful to see his reaction! He told me a little about the rug Kris made for him, the significance of the tree, the prayer flags hanging on it, the stone wall, the mountains. Here is “his” rug, titled Sacred Places, and adapted from a postage stamp from the Republic of Korea:

Kris writes, “This project fired my creative life for three years… This show is a tribute to the good friends and colleagues with whom I have worked for 20 years. Just as sharing our stories over the years has given me great pleasure, so too has creating these little pieces.

Kris, I am so inspired by the creative vitality of your rugs, and so happy that they are – for the next six weeks – on display all together! And mostly I am moved by the wellspring of friendships that must have sustained you through making each of these pieces as your gifts of thanks!

The Howe Library website is here, with hours and directions. Try to get there before October 3rd! All images are used with the permission of Kris Burnett, and many thanks to her for letting me show them here!

Serendipity and a new friend…

By | Art, Color, Composition | 10 Comments

Let’s just call it serendipity. I have still been struggling to put creative words to paper (ok, to blog post) with recent current events having a jarring and debilitating effect. But yesterday I thought I could try to find another in my series of paintings showing women absorbed in some kind of needlework. It’s been a while since I posted one. So I started searching around for something new – just to send greetings and something interesting to you all…

Through the marvels of the internet, and one link leading to another, I somehow came across this painting, above, by Ugo de Cesare. What a wonderful work of art!

Look how the hard, square lines of the piano, the music sheet and the back of the little girl’s chair set off all the rest – everything else is curved, soft, and rounded.

Look at how the two girls (surely sisters?) are arranged to form a rough triangle on the canvas. And the focus of both girls’s attention is so interesting. The older girl is so concentrated on her needlework, while the younger one is so focussed on her big sister. Having three older sisters myself, I remember well looking on at their accomplishments, watching the things they could do well that I was still a beginner at. So as well as admiring the painting, I found something quite true in the relationship between these two girls. Lovely! It is oil on canvas, and titled Music and Embroidery.

So I looked up Ugo de Cesare, and was expecting to find something like “Italian painter, 1835-1900”. Well, I was right about the “Italian painter”, but he was born in the same year I was, 1950. He is our contemporary, and lives close to Naples, Italy.

An online bio for de Cesare says “Ugo de Cesare, Italian painter, was born in a small village near Florence. He studied at the Academy of Naples and Florence, and originally wanted to become an art teacher. To get his degree, he had to create an oil painting, which created such a sensation that he was awarded his degree with distinction.“

There is something so classicly beautiful about his work, and for me, there is an emotionality that shines through. Here is another oil painting by de Cesare that I liked just as much as the first one, titled In The Garden.

Are these the same two girls? I wonder if Ugo has sisters? Look at the embroiderer’s blouse, and all the subtle color shading that have gone into painting this “white blouse”. And if you look at the girl’s hat, and how it shades her face, you can determine just where the light is coming from. And that foliage background! Wouldn’t you be pleased to get that effect in a background?

And the nicest part of coming across this wonderful artwork? Ugo is on Facebook! I contacted him (in English) asking for permission to show his work, and he wrote back quite promptly – in Italian. Thank goodness for Google Translate, but even I could understand his “thumbs up” icon! And later in the day, he even sent several “likes” for my rugs that have shown up on my own facebook page!

Here is one more of Ugo’s works for you, again oil on canvas, titled Friends. Just look at the sunlight and shadows:

So beyond feeling inspired by his wonderful paintings, and being able to thank this living, breathing, talented painter personally for his lovely artwork, tonight the world seems a little smaller, a little less harsh, and a little more friendly.

All images are used with the permission of the artist – “Ciao Maria. Grazie per gli apprezzamenti per la mia arte. Ti dico già che puoi disporre delle foto di ogni mio.dipinto che ti piace. Buona giornata.”

My version of a Lalique design

By | Art, Design, Making rugs | 7 Comments

I was walking through the Rejksmuseum in Amsterdam. I turned into a smaller room, and on one wall there was a very small frame alone on one wall. Amid the hundreds of huge artworks, I almost passed it by, but for some reason, I went over to take a look. It was a small drawing, a sketch for a piece of jewelry, done by René Lalique in 1901 or 1902. The photo I took, above, is almost full size – the drawing was maybe 3”x 5”.

Among all the artwork I admired in the museum, this was the only piece that made me think, “Ooh, I would love to do a rug of that design!”. I knew from the age of the piece that it would not be copyrighted, but of course I will always make clear that my rug is my version of his design.

When I got home, I converted my photo to a line drawing, using an app on my iPad called “Sketch”. Here is the line drawing, which I then had enlarged to rug size at my local copy shop:

When the line drawing got blown up to the size I wanted (about 30” across on the long side) some of the lines got darkened in. But it was good enough for me to trace onto linen on a light table, and I used the original print of my color photo to refer to as I hooked the details, like the little stems the pearls hang on.

The places in the design that were the color of the paper he drew it on (the yellow/brown) were meant to be open. That is, if you were wearing it on a blouse, the blouse’s color would show through those parts. So when planning the colors, I decided to keep his aqua tint where he used it, and would use a deep hand-dyed purple for the “open” areas. And I picked a mottled tan/brown for the vines and stems. Here is what it looks like so far:

For the pearls, I have used three shades of white, though you can barely notice the shading in the photo. And five of the pearls (marked with an X on my linen) will all end up being sculpted in the Waldoboro style. Here is the one Waldoboro pearl I have done so far – the top of it stands out about two inches from the surface of the rest of the rug:

I am afraid that the rug will not be as graceful as his original design was. But I do like it, and have been loving working on it.

Lalique was well established as a jewelry designer in the art nouveau style before he started making art glass, though today he is more recognized for his work in glass than his jewelry. He went on to be the first glass designer to find a way to mass-produce art glass so the pieces could be owned by more than just the wealthy.

I will end this just by giving you a glance at one of his glass pieces to admire. This is his piece called “Oranges Vase”:

It is February! Surround yourself with warm wool and hook on!

One more from Amsterdam…

By | Art, Composition, History of Art, Museums | 3 Comments


I took this photo directly across the street from the Hermitage-Amsterdam Museum – my “one more” museum stop before heading home tomorrow. And here is one more Rembrandt painting I saw. This is Portrait Of A Man Sitting At His Desk, painted in 1631, when Rembrandt was only 25 years old:

This man looks up from his work, as if surprised at our appearance – much like Rembrandt posed the later “Wardens of the Drapers’ Guild” portrait we saw the other day. His mouth is even slightly open in surprise, not typical in a portrait, but otherwise he looks entirely natural. Now look at this close-up I took of his hands, pen and books:

Amazing!

You can’t look at Dutch art without learning about the country’s culture and history. In the 1600s, other European countries were run by monarchs, sovereigns, nobility and the Church establishment. But the Dutch culture was based around trade and the individual, and in the mid-1500s, there was an uprising against the Church, and many religious artworks and statues were destroyed. By 1648, the Dutch rebelled outright against rule by Spain, and separated completely from the Catholic church. No more portraits of cardinals, popes and bishops. The Dutch “Golden Age” put citizen groups in the center focus of their art:

There were group portraits of leading merchants and citizens – militias for the public defense, guilds of tradespeople and craftsmen, and many civic groups that combined the power of running the city in an orderly way, with friendship and what we would call “networking”:

There are a lot of these group portraits, tracing the rise of the merchant class from hardworking “burghers” and traders to a class of incredibly wealthy merchant-nobility as the city prospered. Here is one single room in the museum:

And I was happy to see quite a few women represented:

These women were most often the directors of charity groups, running hospitals, poorhouses, schools. Men would oversee the finances of the institutions, but these women ran the day to day functioning, and had veto power over all decisions.

One other thing I noticed. In these group portraits, many times everyone would be looking out directly at the viewer. Each individual included would contribute to the cost of the portrait. But, in a few group portraits, as in this example, only one or two of the subjects were looking directly at us. Only the man closest to us, in the lower foreground (looking over his shoulder) actually meets our gaze completely:

And the effect of this not only gives him prominence, but it makes us continually look around at the others in the canvas. What’s going on here? Who is that guy looking at, who is this fellow talking to? What is this guy pointing at? It definitely adds movement to the composition. It took me a minute or two to realize what kept my eyes moving around the canvas, and why I kept returning to the guy down in front, who was looking straight at me!

Finally, at the end of this exhibit, there was a whole section of very recent group photographs of today’s prominent citizens of Amsterdam – leaders in industry, law, art, science, trades, medicine, education and cultural groups. The photos are now being made into paintings, as a way to continue the tradition of the classic “Dutch Golden Age” (and the importance of the individual) into the future:

And you notice, in this group photo, only one person is looking directly at us…
Very nicely done, and one more good memory to end a busy week in Amsterdam. Tot ziens!

More of Amsterdam

By | Art, Color, Museums | 4 Comments


This is the best picture I have taken here in Amsterdam. I had just come out of the Rembrandt House Museum, and crossed the street to take a photo of the canal and row of houses. I noticed the sky was getting very dark, but all of a sudden, the sun came out. And I spotted a bird flying over the canal: click!

Here is Rembrandt’s house:


It was quite a palatial home in the mid-1600s, since Rembrandt was already well recognized by the time he bought it, at age 33. The kitchen:

And the living room, or “salon” where he would welcome patrons and visitors:

By chance, I went on a good day, since there was a woman doing an etching demonstration in Rembrandt’s printing room:

And there was a man in Rembrand’s studio demonstrating how his paintbrushes were made, how canvas was prepared, and how, in the 1600s, paint was made from linseed oil and pigment:

Some pigments were so expensive that the painter would first paint a dress, for example, in paint made from less expensive pigment like red ochre, and then just lightly brush the more expensive paint made with vermillion pigment for the highlights. It gave an optical illusion that the entire dress was painted in vermillion. And Rembrandt and his students would be working on several paintings at once, and mix up a very small batch of the most expensive pigment, lapis lazuli blue, and apply it to all the paintings that needed it at once.

I walked through the city on the way home, and came across a fabric store, with a rainbow of buttons on display, that made me realize how much we take for granted the almost unlimited selection of colors available to us:

and a very limited selection of wool, most either in black and gray for making suits, or much too thick for most hooking:

Still, it was fun to find this store, and it was a good day.

A day at the museum

By | Art, Museums | 10 Comments

After a day at the Rejksmuseum, I can only say oh my! Oh my! I am on art overload. I took so many photos that my phone battery started declining rapidly! First, the photo above is just a view from one of the canals I passed on the way.

And I liked this painting, done in about 1560 by Pieter Piterzs, showing a woman with a small spinning wheel:

The curator label said the portrait carries a clear message – as she looks directly at us, she is having to choose between virtue (the spinning wheel) and vice (the suitor with the tankard).

And here is my photo of the very famous painting by Rembrandt, “The Wardens of the Amsterdam Drapers’ Guild” (also known as “The Syndics”), painted in 1662:

The Syndics were elected for a year, to inspect the quality of dyed cloth, comparing the color of each batch to the official samples of each color. Rembrandt portrayed them looking up from their work, as though our arrival had interrupted them. The curator’s label said this was an artistic device to involve the viewer. I heard one of the tour guides also point out that the table they are working at is slightly tipped up, because Rembrandt knew the painting was to be hung high up on the wall in the Drapers’ Guild Hall. Very clever, that Rembrandt! Can one fall in love with an artist that lived five centuries ago? I think, yes.

And I do get the feeling that the portraits of these men gives us a very precise rendering of what they each actually looked like. Just transporting!

One more. Here is a photo of three Dutch fishermans’ knitted caps from the 1600s. Apparently they would be so bundled up during the winter, that each fisherman would wear a distinctively designed cap so they could easily recognise each other. The colors were quite bright, but I could not use my flash, unfortunately:

And one more, a plate that I thought had a scalloped border that was definitely rug-worthy:


That is all from me for today, my head is still so art-spinning, I have to go lay down for a while!

Taking a closer look…

By | Art, Color, Composition | 6 Comments

I just came across this lovely painting, for the first time. It is The Homestead, by John Whorf (American, 1903-1959) and it is a watercolor done in about 1945.

Let’s look at it together, and see what we can see. After my very first glance (“what a beautiful old cape! Oh dear, abandoned…“) I notice that almost half of the painting, in the foreground, is taken up by the soft diagonal of the field. The black of the wellpump stands out from the tans and browns of the grasses. The pump draws my eye right to the house itself. In terms of color, the field has a bit of green and even some yellow in with the tans and browns.

Where does your eye travel when viewing the painting? I looked at the brighter colors of the field first, then the black pump led me to the green back door of the house’s ell, and the roofline. And then my eye goes to the hard shadow line across the house, and to the far door… My eye travelled back to the patch of black in the window just to the left of the white door – a broken window, I think, that adds to the abandoned feel of the house. And from the far door, I took in the boarded-up window on the far right.

It was only on the second looking that I really took in the angles of the roof, the two chimneys, and how the house is framed and softened at the top by the unseen tree’s branches.

Look at how the angle of the shadow falling across the house is as hard a line as the house itself. Look at the shadows from the tree on the top roof and far side of the house. Where is the sun coming from?

Did you notice that the diagonal of the hard shadow-line on the house is just the same as (parallel to) the diagonal of the left-most roofline? How do the different diagonals of the roof itself play off against the soft diagonal of the field?

The green bushes here and there in the field balance the greens of the branches overhead. And the field itself: it puts the house at a distance from us, doesn’t it?

Of course the shape of the house itself – the placement of the doors and windows, the rooflines and horizontal lines of the clapboards – is determined by the architecture of any good old cape. But the artist chose just that angle to view it from, with the sun and shadows falling at just that moment, when he contemplated his choices – his composition.

What is the focal point of the painting? I am not sure, and maybe it is different to different people. But I decided that for me, it was the white door – what I took to be the main door that would be used every day.

The whole abandoned look of the house brings to mind who lived there, why they left it, who went in and out of those doors a hundred times, a thousand times. And, at least for me, that is the emotional impact of the painting. I can so easily picture a woman coming out of that green door of the ell to pump water – for dyeing wool or yarn on the top of her old stove. Don’t you think there might have been a hooked rug in front of the stove?

Each art medium has its own look. Watercolor allows that very softness of color, and the wonderful almost blurry top edge of the field grasses, allowing you to feel you are looking right through the grass where it overlaps the house’s foundation. You could dye wool to get the different colors of the field, but it would be beyond me how to create that soft edge where field and house meet.

John Whorf’s The Homestead (August), c.1945 is being sold by Childs Gallery, Boston, MA for $8,500, and they are online at childsgallery.com.

The Gallery description of the painting reads “John Whorf was one of the most accomplished American watercolorists. In this watercolor he treats a Cape Cod house… with a style and technique reminiscent of two of his favorite artists, John Singer Sargent and Frank W. Benson.”

Whorf was born in Winthrop, MA, and died in Provincetown. I did not find much biographical information on him, but it is clear, after searching, that many galleries actively are interested in finding works by him. And a book has just been published about him, John Whorf Rediscovered, available from AFA Publishing. You can see a few more of his paintings here, all lovely.

Today, don’t look at the eclipse without special precautions, so you can continue to look, and then look again, at everything else.

Breaking boundaries

By | Art, Contemporary rugmakers, Creativity | 3 Comments

Alexandra Kahayoglou’s family runs a carpet factory in Buenos Aires. She takes scraps of leftover thread from the factory, and uses a hand-tufting process to create wool rugs that are inspired by nature’s surfaces – moss, water, grass, trees, meadows. Some, like the one shown above, break the boundary between wall and floor, between inside and outside.

And sometimes, she breaks the definition between furniture and rug:

Part tapestry and part rug, Kehayoglou has managed to take the leftovers of more standard carpetmaking, and go in her own direction.

Many of her creations remind me of looking down, from an airplane, to see the colors and forms of the earth-bound landscape:

To me, Kahayoglou’s work displays real creativity. Using cast-off material, useless for the purpose it had served, she sees something, and puts it together in a new way. In doing so, she gives us a new perspective of viewing what is all around us. She sees her rugs (“her grasslands”) as a statement of concern for our fragile environment, “like I’m flying the flag for mother earth”.

I have few details about the tufting method she uses – she calls it weaving or hand-tufting, using a “weaving gun” – but I love her work and her creativity. Here is a photo of her in the process of making a rug:

She writes, “I like pieces that can be used, that lie between design and art.” She’s had numerous shows, and coverage in international fashion and interior design magazines, and has her own website at alexkeha.com. May your own rugs fly the flag of your own creative spirit!

One by Corot

By | Art, Composition, History of Art | One Comment

We have not looked at much art history lately, so here is a very nice painting I came across yesterday. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot painted this work in 1851, and it was sold last week at Sotheby’s in London. It is titled La Rochelle: L’Abreuvoir (Watering hole) View taken near the Ramparts, with the Tower of the Lantern.

Does this painting have to do with rughooking? Well, let’s just say that if you spend a little time looking at it, you will absorb the evidence of good composition and design.

Take a look at how Corot created balance in his composition. There is a row of large trees on the left. What balances them out, on the right? How does your eye travel around the canvas, and what leads your eye? And though he painted from an actual (chosen) view of La Rochelle, why do you suppose he placed the figures of the woman and the man on the horse just where he did? Look, too, at the quite limited range of colors he used – virtually no bright colors at all… and that lovely sky! How does he give structure to the sky that enhances the balance of the view below?

I always like to look, when considering a painting, at where all the horizontal lines are, where the verticals and diagonals are, where the curves are.

There is only one master here – Corot. We are nothing compared to him, nothing.” – Claude Monet, 1897

He is still the strongest, he anticipated everything …” – Edgar Degas, 1883

Corot (1796-1875), a native of Paris, was considered a master of Romantic landscapes, but is credited with being a progenitor of Impressionism. His method of painting en plein air (painting in the outdoors, from the actual scene) drew the interest of much younger artists – Renoir, Monet, Degas and Pissarro, all of whom either experimented with Corot’s technique or called themselves his “pupils.” He anticipated the plein-air innovations of Impressionism.

M. Corot has a remarkable quality that has eluded most of our artists today: he knows how to invent. His point of departure is always nature, but when he arrives at the interpretation of it, he no longer copies, he remembers it”. (Du Camp, 1864)

Several decades later, Impressionism would revolutionize art by taking a similar approach — quick, spontaneous painting done in the out-of-doors; but where the Impressionists used rapidly applied, un-mixed colors to capture light and mood, Corot usually mixed and blended his colors to get his dreamy effects.

Corot studied in France and Italy. In northern Europe, the true reality of the actual landscape was considered most important to capture (the “Northern Realism” school), while in the south and Italy, landscapes were painted in an idealized, more romanticised manner. Corot learned from both schools. His notebooks reveal hundreds of precise renderings of tree trunks, rocks, and plants. He learned how to give buildings and rocks the effect of volume and solidity with proper light and shadow, and would place suitable figures in his scenes to add human context and scale, as in the painting above. He considered his best works his “souvenirs” – small, accurately rendered landscapes, but filtered through his emotional reaction to the scenes – his “memories” of the scenes.

Corot was financially independent, so unlike many painters, he could paint what he wanted. La Rochelle was painted in 1851, and, after initial rejection by the Paris art world, Corot’s reputation was established by then. The 1850s was the period when his style became softer and his colours more restricted. In his later landscapes, he employed a small range of colors, often using soft colored greys and blue-greens, with very few spots of strong color, often confined to the clothing of the human figures. Topographical detail was suppressed in favour of mood and atmosphere, above all in his ‘souvenirs’, small works like La Rochelle (which is only about 13″ x 19″), which he considered his mementos of real landscapes.

This painting was sold at Sotheby’s about two weeks ago (June 6th, sale price unstated) but the pre-sale estimate was £100,000-£200,000 (about $130,000-$190,000). This painting was oil on canvas, actual size: 13¼ in. by 18¾ in.

Towards the end of his life, Corot became an elder of the Parisian artists’ community and would use his influence to gain commissions for other artists. He was well known for his kindness and charitable gifts, with large donations to the poor of Paris, other artists, their widows and families, and support of a day care center in his Parisian neighborhood.

Notes on Corot were compiled from the National Gallery of Art, Sotheby’s, and Wikipedia. To look at all of Corot’s work, and a detailed biography, go to www.jean-baptiste-camille-corot.org.

May all your rugs be just as you like, and balanced. Hook on!

Away We Go…

By | Art, Creativity, Museums | No Comments

It’s coming up on Memorial Day, kids getting out of school, road trips and, hopefully, some great day trips. I am off to Sebago Lake Rug Camp (in Maine) and since I have never been to it before, there is the excitement of going to a new place as well as the always-wonderful anticipation of going off to any rug camp.

I came across this photo, above, from the Belvedere Museum in Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria, and fell in love with the photo. I’ve never been to that museum, but the image of this little girl encountering that larger-than-life artwork communicates the experience of seeing any museum. The magic of going through a museum is about getting out of your own usual life and experience for a little while, seeing the creations made by artists from different eras of history, how they captured the people, costumes, landscape and milieu of their time and place, trying to grasp the designs and techniques that go into any fine work of art.

Just take a second look at the photo and let it sink in a bit.

As you set goals and think of outings for your summer, do try to work in a museum or two – it is so good for all of us! And try to take a kid or two along. You’d be surprised (or saddened) at how many kids have never been to a museum.

It doesn’t matter that you can’t easily get to Vienna or Rome. New England (and most states) have terrific big-city and regional museums, and most towns have little history museums, or historical homesteads.

Here in New Hampshire, there is the Currier Museum in Manchester, but also the Canterbury Shaker Village, Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, and the wonderful St. Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish. There are railroad museums and town museums, a telephone museum and a great state history museum. It doesn’t matter what sort of museum you pick – they all take us out of our own lives and time, and enlarge our perspective. Look around for a museum, then go and, well, look around.

Hints:
If you are going on a road trip, google the area and see what sorts of museums are along your route. You don’t have to go nuts, just pick one, and stop to check it out.

You do not have to see the whole museum. It is probably better to slow down and look at a few paintings or exhibits, instead of feeling like you have to rush through in order to see everything. Slow down. If you find yourself walking at a fast clip, giving only a glimpse and a nod here and there, you are probably tired, or have had enough. That is okay.

In each gallery or room, pick one painting or work (like the little girl in the photo) and just stop and look. Absorb what is going on with the lines, the curves, the diagonals – the composition. Why did he put that there? What has the artist done with the use of colors? If you could get to take home just one painting from the exhibit, which one would you pick, and why -that is, would you like looking at it day after day? If you could choose one or two details to make into a rug design, what would you pick?

Take a little notebook with you, just so you can jot down ideas. Once you start looking at creative works, often creative ideas will jump into your own mind. Catch them while you can!

If you are taking kids along, once you get home, ask them to draw a picture about going to the museum, or about something they saw there. See what happens.

Today, the Belvedere Museum houses the greatest collection of Austrian art dating from the Middle Ages to the present day. The home, studio and gardens of Augustus St. Gaudens (online here) in Cornish, NH, offers afternoon concerts, working artists, and plenty of gardens (with St. Gaudens’ wonderful sculptures) for kids to explore. The Currier, in Manchester, has a big Monet exhibit opening July 1st (online at currier.org). And here is a website listing museums of all kinds, state by state:
List_of_museums_in_the_United_States