January 5th – Unleash your inner turmoil into a constructive channel. Simone de Beauvoir wrote, “Art is an attempt to integrate evil.”

Art comes in many forms. When we put care, effort, and intention into what we’re doing, it has great potential to become art. Art can be ephemeral like a song, only to be enjoyed when played, concrete like web that a spider weaves, or abstract like an idea that changes how people think. Art surrounds us all the time. As much as critics would like us to think so, critics are not the ones who determine what art is. We do!

Art can be inspired by great moments of joy, pain, and even everyday monotony. This year I practiced the art of cat watching by observing interactions between my felines and their visiting friends who come to explore my ever growing catnip bush. It’s very fascinating! I didn’t experience any significant turmoil yesterday as my horoscope suggested, but I did have a busy day. Doing something creative after work was just what I needed.

I had dutifully followed my foodscope for most of the day. It advised, “Delicious it’s not, but keeping yourself healthy is worth it!” After a day of eating quinoa and vegetables, I didn’t feel too guilty about making these miniature edible art pieces.

Two Bite Kolackys

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It’s a simple dough of flour, cream cheese, and butter. I didn’t have any more honey sweetened jam at hand so we used the regular stuff. It’s not the best thing that you can make, but certainly not the worst thing either!

Recipe is here.

October 15th and 16th (Part 2) – “Better plan to work this weekend.”

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Picture books are not just for kids. Last night, I started reading Renoir: His Life, Art, and Letters by Barbara Ehrlich White. This oversized book made me feel like a kid again. My little hands could barely hold the heavy 1 x 2 foot hardcover and I needed a couple of pillows to prop it up. There were pages and pages of glossy illustrations sandwiched between the meticulously researched narrative of Renoir’s life. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading words and seeing a story with my own imagination, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little help.

Renoir isn’t a picture book in the traditional sense (i.e. The Cat in the Hat), and the pictures alone didn’t tell the entire story. The book was much more complex than that. The writing provided the facts, names, and dates, and the images helped set the mood.  The rest was up to my imagination.

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In 1800s France, young penniless Renoir was supported by wealthy patrons. They bought him painting supplies, commissioned portraits, and provided room and board at their extravagant properties. Here are some samples of his portraits. I particularly like the red head one. She has attitude!

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I let myself pretend that I was Renoir for a while. How wonderful it would be to paint all day, indulge in meals garnished with truffles, drink other people’s wine, and wake up whenever I pleased. Then again, I would probably have to hang out with those fancy patrons all day, and I didn’t like them that much. One is tone deaf and likes to sing until 3 in the morning. Another thinks his foie gras joke is so funny that he has to tell it every night. Maybe it’s not the kind of life I want after all!

Renoir made me think about artists today. The artists I know have far less glamourous lives, but there are probably people who do live like Renoir. If you need help imagining what the former is like, check out the film Inside Llewyn Davis. It is a clever and dark depiction of the life of a struggling musician. Despite the vast differences between Renoir and poor artists like Llewyn Davis, they do share something in common. Like all artists, they both rely on the love, kindness, and support of others to practice their craft.