Dogs Fly, Books, Unsung Art, Vistas, Dolphins in Los Angeles by da-AL

Having people stay over is the best time to get to know my sprawling Los Angeles better! This month we had the bonanza of double guests. I’m kicking myself (metaphorically) for botching photos of some family, so please envision cheery faces between all these shots…

Pasadena’s lovely Norton Simon Museum (of art), is modestly sized yet dense with treasures! Pablo Picasso apparently made the women in his life miserable, which may explain why this one finds sweet refuge in her book…

Woman with a Book, 1932, Pablo Picasso of Spain, oil on canvas.

I knew about Edgar Degas’ captivating ballerina sculptures (the Norton also features some of those), but not that he created atmospheric monotypes…

Autumn Landscape (L’Estérel),1890, Edgar Degas of France, monotype in oil colors on heavy cream-colored laid paper.

Unsung artists sing out! There’s a special place in my heart for ‘unknown’ artists, given my current status as a not-yet-published novelist. In this work by a lesser-known painter, this hat maker might be more content reading a book, no?…

The Milliner by Valere De Mari of the U.S., 1917, pastel on wove sketch pad paper.

Reading Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-winner “The Goldfinch,” which sets an amazing portrait of a little bird at its core, put me in the mood for Dutch art. Unknown artist(s?) committed these masterly tulips to paper for a tulpenboek, a.k.a. a humble flower catalog…

Branson, c. 1640, gouache, watercolor, and pencil on paper.
Root en Geel van Katolikn, c. 1640, gouache, watercolor, and pencil on paper.

Animal lovers, join me in a swoon at this visual paean to dogs! Note the proud master’s coat of arms on the collar, his ‘country house’ in the background…

Aldrovandi Dog, c. 1625, Giovanni Francesco Barbiere (a.k.a. Guercino) of Italy, oil on canvas.

Griffith Park is as wonderful for the park itself as it is for the views. You met this part of my family first here

My year ‘round Valentine and moi in front, Angela and Kim in back, with the sun on our faces, the wind in our hair, and grand Los Angeles behind us.

Our doggie barely touched the ground, she had that much fun at Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach. Thank you, Justin, for your many many good works, including getting the city to okay this canine paradise. As for dolphins, dear reader, your imagination is needed — every dang many times those amazing creatures surfaced only yards from us, they eluded my photography. All the same, they were breathtaking!!!!!…

See the joyous dog in flight, visualize the dolphins cavorting, ignore the oil rigs in the background…

What sight do you most wish you could have photographed?

Inspiration at the Getty Museum Los Angeles by da-AL

My honey, me, Angela, and Kim took a tram up to see the Getty Center.

Having family over to visit is an opportunity to see my own city through new eyes. It’s the best kind of stay-cation! We took them to visit the Getty Center (which shouldn’t be confused with the Getty Villa)…

The Getty Center offers amazing views.

The first area we visited was their gardens…

Getty Center gardens with the Getty’s amazing travertine architecture.

What could be better than art featuring a cat lover?…

Portrait of Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, 1747.

And what’s more manly than manly royalty showing off his 64-year-old dancer legs in tights?…

Portrait of Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701.

Which is happier do you think — horse or rider?…

Angel of the Citadel by Marino Marini, 1950.

Mercury is a god of things good and bad and everything in between, so it stands to reason that his shadow would be as interesting as he is…

Mercury by Johan Gregor van der Schardt, 1575.

All this art was made me hungry…

Still Life: Tea Set by Jean-Étienne Liotard, 1782.

The sun began to cast long shadows across this Getty fountain — we were inspired to make our own art!…

Our great day at the Getty made us want to dance!…
so we danced…
and danced…
and danced!

It was a perfect way to end the day!…

Sunset at the Getty is spectacular!

What inspires you?

Art, Paradise, Fantasy, Productive: Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand

Chinoise Garden at Hamilton Gardens, NZ: How non-Chinese people think of Chinese design is not altogether authentic.

Without Vicky Apps’ (more about her here) recommendation that we visit New Zealand’s Hamilton Gardens and had we not followed it, I’d have missed what’s my new fascination: Chinoiserie, namely the idea of it. The term has to do with European imitation of Chinese design during the 1600s and 1700s, and then again in the 1930s.

Replication isn’t what fascinates me, however — it’s the revelation that I’m so accustomed to seeing European-ized versions of Chinese art — that the non-real stuff looks more real than what’s authentic!

In addition, thanks to the park’s Katherine Mansfield garden, I’ve discovered that she was a pivotal New Zealand short story writer, feminist, and activist for Māori rights.

Khashayar at Katherine Mansfield’s garden.

Vacationing from Auckland to Rotorua, from New Zealand’s Redwoods to Huka Falls, from Craters of the Moon and Waitomo Glowworms Caves to Taupo, my husband and I had the good fortune of meeting kind and wise Vicky in Pirongia. (Later in Australia’s Gold Coast, we visited family and birds of Australia Part 1 of 2 plus Part 2 of 2, we marveled at the Spectacular Views in and Around Gold Coast, enjoyed a delicious meal on the beach, saw some wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, had fun with Rita Rigby, met the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there, and enjoyed Sydney this much and that much, as well as the purring there!

Created in the 1960s on an old rubbish dump, 1.1 million people a year visit Hamilton Gardens! The ongoing mission of the park is to tell the International Story of Gardens as it relates to the evolution of culture. The result is an expanding collection of gardens inspired by various nations, arts including story-telling, and our use of plants on a day-to-day basis…

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What comes to mind when you think of gardens?

Chinese Lantern Festival Videos, North Carolina

da-AL in front of lighted Chinese astrology banner
Pigs are great!

What’s a Chinese Lantern Festival? It took visiting a good friend in North Carolina for me to discover. Theories vary about its origins, but always it’s tied to the Chinese New Year. This one was an eye-popping expanse of light sculptures beautiful enough to make all ages brave the cold outdoors …

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… And there were even performances! …

Here’s about Georgia O’Keeffe in North Carolina. Also, here’s about the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Women-Powered Art, and its Outspoken and Ancient Art and its Cutting Edge Art.

Have you attended a light festival?…

Women Powered Art in North Carolina

Great art, impressive art, and terrific art! That — though foremost the wonderfulness of spending time with our dear friend in North Carolina — defines the marvelous visit that my husband and I had. In this post, I explained how we had the good fortune to catch an exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art that featured work by the enormously influential American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe. (And here and then here I tell about another wing and more of the museum, plus here I tell about NC’s Chinese Lantern Festival.) In addition to her art, the show featured works inspired by O’Keeffe…

Table Setter, 2016-17, by Monica Kim Garza
Table Setter, 2016-17, by Monica Kim Garza


The Land's Part (yellow, blue, green) 2017, by Loie Hollowell
The Land’s Part (yellow, blue, green) 2017, by Loie Hollowell


Confession, 2018, by Tschabalala Self
Confession, 2018, by Tschabalala Self


The Bridge, 2007, by Negar Ahkami
The Bridge, 2007, by Negar Ahkami


LA Curbed, 2017, by Carline Larsen
LA Curbed, 2017, by Carline Larsen

Is there an artist who inspires you?

Antique and Vintage Photos by Val Erde

Val Erde’s sensitive and artful photo coloring truly brings history to life. Based in the U.K., she kindly contributes this for you to see…

Dog in garden before and after. Photo coloring by Val Erde

Antique and Vintage Photos by Val Erde

In the blog I used to have, I show the colouring work I do on my collection of antique and vintage photos. I’ve been an artist all my life and have been doing these photos since I had my first pc and graphics program. I usually colour photos of people, though I have a few that include dogs and cats, but this is the first in a long while that I’ve done just of a dog. I hadn’t intended to colour it, but well… look at it. Wasn’t it barking calling out for colour? Or, more likely, food.

“Please give me a treat. Anything will do, really. Maybe something you’re eating? I like your food. I like everyone’s food.”

I haven’t a dog so have to rely on photos for colour references and as I don’t know what breed it is, I’m not sure I got this one right. I suspect it’s a bit of lots of different things. Well, doggy things, anyway.

So… any ideas what sort of dog it is? And – the dog aside, can you by any chance identify the flowers to the right? The ones on the left are roses, that I know, but the rest – what the heck are they? To me the blossoms look like Cosmos, but the leaves are wrong. Anyway, to be safe, I coloured the innards yellow and the outtards (yes, I know) varying shades of pink. But they could be anything really.

There’s more to do on this photo but I decided to call it a day. Well, actually, I’ve called it a dog.

My thanks to Da-AL for inviting me to guest blog!

What kind of dog is this?

Female Shamans and Art in San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is a constant hustle bustle of strollers, musicians, shops, and street vendors. Museums feature local artists, past and present. It’s the rare place where you’ll find ancient sculptures of female shamans.

Great facts about Costa Rica

  • Literacy there is 96.3%, among the highest in Latin America. When Costa Ricans abolished their army in 1949, they vowed to replace it, “with an army of teachers.”
  • They elected their first female president in 2010. In Latin America, female presidents are common.

Hover over or click photos for captions and to enlarge them.

Learn more about Costa Rica here and here.

Art Love: My Art by da-AL

"Guajira" flamenco monoprint by da-AL.
“Guajira” flamenco monoprint by da-AL.

Before I started working on my novels (more about them h-e-r-e), I had a two-year degree in business, but worked as a journalist. As a reporter and producer in print, radio, and video (more on that h-e-r-e), many people said higher education would advance my career, and that any degree would do.

Hand-dyed Ikot weaving by da-AL.
Hand-dyed Ikot weaving by da-AL.

So I picked something easy: fiber art. Hah! Talk about challenging! In most schooling, there’s no arguing with multiple choice quizzes and single-answer tests. However, art is subjective; grades rely on the professor’s opinion. It was rough but fun!

"Fandango" flamenco monoprint by da-AL.
“Fandango” flamenco monoprint by da-AL.

Fiber includes traditional drawing and painting, as well as paper making, weaving, fabric dying, pattern making, painting, screen printing, sewing, book binding, sculpture, felting, and more. It even allowed me to incorporate design, writing, and videography.

Silk hand and eye batik art by da-AL.
Silk hand and eye batik art by da-AL.

An amazing collection of fine papers became a collage tribute to my Argentine grandmother. In it, her daughters and the two husbands she outlived surround her, as do references to her love of making music, folk dancing, and gossiping over yerba mate tea.

Collage of my grandmother, Abuela in Spanish, by da-AL.
Collage of my grandmother, Abuela in Spanish, by da-AL.

Around when I was studying art, I stumbled upon the joys of dancing. My father was a Spaniard who instilled in me an awe for flamenco, but it wasn’t until my Persian husband became inspired to learn flamenco that we began taking classes for it together.

"Siguiria" flamenco monoprint by da-AL shows guitars, shoes, clapping hands, and flowers.
“Siguiria” flamenco monoprint by da-AL shows guitars, shoes, clapping hands, and flowers.

Flamenco was glorious and difficult. Nowadays we dance Argentine tango, which you can see h-e-r-e and h-e-r-e and h-e-r-e and h-e-r-e and h-e-r-e and more if you type “Tango” into the search bar.

"Tientos" flamenco monoprint by da-AL shows guitars, shoes, clapping hands, and flowers.
“Tientos” flamenco monoprint by da-AL shows guitars, shoes, clapping hands, and flowers.

What sort of art do you indulge in?