Walking in the Night

Swimming with the Stars by Kirsten Borror

2011 Acrylic 5x5

It has been a warm winter this year. I don't think I've ever come this far into December without all my winter clothes out of storage. After dinner my husband and I took a very long walk on the beach, talking and looking at constellations such as "Christmas Tree" and "Mitten"; did you know about those? If you stare at Orion with "Christmas eyes" you'll see what I mean. By Grace, there was also a long lasting shooting star. Just the fact that I had been looking at the right part of the sky when the star fell is a clear sign to me of good things to come. My husband asked me if I made a wish and I hadn't, so I will tonight before I sleep. That'll count won't it?

Todd White: SpongeBob to Party Time

Todd White worked on graphic character development in the early days of the SpongeBob SquarePants animated cartoon television program. Then he went on to an apparently successful career making satirical cartoon-like paintings.

I've been noticing his work in galleries in California's arty, affluent Carmel-by-the-Sea for several years now, and the current issue of Carmel magazine (a locally-focused glossy magazine that appears quarterly or thereabouts) contained this article about him which inspired me to write this post.

A sketchy Wikipedia article on White is here, and the biography on his web site here.

White's images are distinctive and can be witty. But they perhaps are best taken in small doses -- something true for the works of many artists who make numerous paintings of similar subjects in a consistent style. For a large dose of White's paintings, here is a page of examples on his web site. And below is a sampling plucked from various Internet sites:


Set 'Em Up Joe
Writers Block
Drinking Boas
Many of White's paintings are bar scenes which gives him license to depict loostened emotions and behavior.

Heaven Beside You
Ballads and Bruises
These two paintings edge slightly closer to straight-up representational depiction. I wonder what would result if White dropped the cartoonishness once in a while.

While I'm perfectly willing to change my mind as time goes on, at this point I don't consider White to be a fine arts painter, his gallery presence aside. Rather, I think of him as someone who could have made a splendid career as a cartoonist for the likes of the New Yorker and Vanity Fair in the 1925-1940 era. Being born 80 years after his time, he has done a good job of surviving in an era not quite suited for him.

Not Forgotten

Protective Caregiver by Kirsten Borror

2011 Acrylic 5x5

Laying your eggs in a protected place makes sense. This Tanganyika Lamp Eye knows this and makes it a point to shoot its eggs into the cracks of rocks where they are sheltered in the space of a solid mass. As big and large as the Creator must be, it is apparent that there are small spaces in which to nestle; away from noise, from currents, predators, and the changing light of day and night. Insulated, the fish eggs simply incubate unconcerned about hunger or sleep; they are becoming fish. The proper time for hatching comes, and out they pop into the rhythmic turning of the earth. Incubation is non-activity; all is suspended as optimal and specific conditions occur, Lord willing, and bring growth and development. May it be so. May we be still and know that He is God.

Molti Ritratti: Otto v. Bismarck by Lenbach

The "Molti Ritratti" set of posts usually deals with views of a single person as painted by several artists. But this time, I'm pulling a semi-switcheroo. It's still a case of a single subject, but this time all the paintings are by the same artist.

The subject is Otto von Bismarck who more than anyone else can be said to have created the German Empire from a scattering of lesser states. The artist is Franz Seraph von Lenbach (1836-1904) who was an important and successful Munich School painter. A plaza in the city bears his name and his house is now an important museum. A major collection of Lenbach works in the United States can be found here.

So why did Lenbach paint so many portraits of Bismarck? (I forget when and where and how many, but once I came upon an estimated number, probably somewhat greater than a dozen. Seems to me that source or perhaps another mentioned that Bismarck did pose for Lenbach, but that Lenbach also made extensive use of reference photos to supplement the sittings. This seems to make sense, but keep a grain of salt handy.)

When I was in the army, someplace in each unit's facilities would be a chain-of-command photographic portrait collection starting with the President and working down through the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Army, Army Chief of Staff, commanding general of the army to which the unit was assigned, various unit commanders, perhaps a post commander and so forth. This sort of thing is found in many kinds of government agencies in the USA and probably elsewhere; it's what bureaucrats do.

I don't know that German bureaucrats and officials in the late 19th century did. Yes, photography was available, but it seems likely that someone as important as the Kaiser or his Chancellor should deserve more than just a photo. Which is one possible reason for Lenbach's Bismarck commissions. No doubt some such commissions were from nobles or major political figures. But lacking a catalogue raisonné for Lenbach, it can be troublesome to locate all of his Bismarck portraits and their provenance starting points.


I find it interesting how much variety Lenbach was able to introduce in the form of costuming and even poses. No doubt this was influenced by what sort of commission he was working under. Even so, some near-duplicates are known to exist: the text in this link to the Walters Art Museum notes that the Baltimore painting is like one in Munich's Lenbachhaus.

Drought Ability

Hardy Survivor by Kirsten Borror

2011 Acrylic 5x5

The Steel Blue Killifish of Nigeria survives or dies annually in waterways that often dry up, or become stagnant. It's eggs remain viable under the mud waiting to hatch the next time the rains come.

God watch over my vitality and regenerate my essence when the time comes for this dark period to end. A spectacle of red, green and blue iridescence contained in a 3 inch fish that may or may not survive this year's dry season. It's a lot of celebratory display in a little creature, isn't it?

Christmas is Today

Wired for Satisfaction by Kirsten Borror

2011 Acrylic 5x5

The Golden Wonder fish has a sensitive nerve that gives it the ability to detect a mosquito landing on the water above its head. It is an insect predator in South East Asia similar to our North American Bats.  Their hunger for insects combined with their unique capacity to locate the target means that they succeed in eating quite a few bugs.  I am praying for God to form in me a similar "cephalic lateral line nerve" to know that every moment is to be targeted for savoring. We have reason to rejoice all the time; whether it is painful, happy, dull or thrilling. Celebrating doesn't have to stay on big holidays like Christmas! May I recognize that every moment contains beauty and purpose. All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

If you have ever had someone dear to you die, you know that it is all of the times you had together that are filled with weight of meaning. The laugh, the cry, the turning of their eyes, their voice hollering or teasing. All are moments valued and measured over and over. We realize afterwards how glad we are for them. Even the conflicts become glad moments because it all meant we were alive together. The French know how to handle the day in day out; they tell it straight with honest emotion; and then they embrace and let something new begin. 

Paul-Albert Besnard: Adventuresome Careerist

Paul-Albert Besnard (1849-1934) was French turn of the 20th century artist who gained most of the important Establishment honors while being ever-so-slightly adventuresome in his style of painting. For some background on this, his Wikipedia entry is here.

I had never heard of him.

No doubt that was partly because, like most largely traditional painters of his time, he became an unperson once the Modernist Establishment came to the academic and art-critical fore. Still, in the more than six years I've been blogging about art, I've spent a lot of time reading art history and biographies of artists. Plus, I've visited the Musée d'Orsay and other important museums with good 1850-1920 era collections. And still, Besnard's name and art never stuck in my mind.

According to the link above, Besnard paid attention to the various modernist movement of his time, starting with Impressionism, and borrowed a bit here and there while backing somewhat away from his academic training. The same could be said for many other contemporaneous artists whose names are better known today. Where Besnard stands out is that he was able to gain all sorts of official recognition up to and including a seat in the Académie française

Here are examples of his work.


Garnet Joseph, Viscount Wolseley - 1880

La Parisienne - 1885

Madame Roger Jourdain - 1886

The Eclipse - 1888

Madame Georges Rodenbach - 1897

Decoration for a ceiling

Actually, Besnard was pretty good, as nearly as I can tell from viewing digitized images instead of actual paintings. His style varied over time, and his paintings are more intellectually stimulating than purely decorative alternatives would have been. One gripe I have is that he tended to suppress facial detail in places (note some of the figures in the final image above). Most viewers, I believe, want to see a face with recognizable details rather than blurred-over eyes and so forth.

Eliel Saarinen, Uncomfortable Modernist

Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950), father of the more famous Eero (1910-61), was a modernist of sorts -- of the romantic, Art Nouveau departure from historical styles that was modernist in the almost trivial sense in that it was indeed a departure, modest though it was. Otherwise, its adherence to modernist dogma was circumstantial.

As Saarinen approached his fifties he drifted along with the evolution of Art Nouveau into Art Deco while retaining a fondness for traditional northern European and Scandinavian building forms. It was only by the late 1930s when he was around 65 that his designs became simplified and ornamentation almost disappeared. My feeling is that his heart really wasn't into modernism, but that he felt he had to comply with the New Order for professional reasons. I suppose some documentation might be found to refute my conjecture. Nevertheless, his later buildings tell me otherwise.

The Wikipedia link above contains photos of some of his important buildings. Below are views of some of those.


Kansallismuseo (National Museum), Helsinki - 1904
Saarinen was comfortable with Finnish vernacular architecture and doubtless sympathetic to the sense of Finnish nationhood percolating during the final decades of the land's status as a Russian duchy. As befitting a national museum, it looks very Finnish. I walked past it in 2005, but didn't have time to explore it.

Main railway station, Helsinki - 1909
Another impressive structure (which I did enter) is the railway station. It's Art Nouveau, but more severe and stripped down than how the style was practiced across the Baltic in Riga, Latvia.

Pauluse Kirik (Paulus Church), Tartu - 1917
Compare this to Saarinen's 1940s churches below.

Chicago Tribune Tower competition entry - 1922
Although his design failed to win, it greatly impressed the architectural profession and led to his move to America in 1923.

Cranbrook view
In 1925 Saarinen moved to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a northern suburb of Detroit where he designed and also taught at Cranbrook. The style of the buildings shown in this photo similar to what he used in Finland, though other structures had modernist elements.

First Christian Church, Columbus, Indiana - 1942
Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis, Minnesota - 1949
These church designs of the 1940s are modernist in their simplicity of form. But brick is used and repeated window shapes and other details create a smidgen of ornamentation that Saarinen apparently could not bear to completely abandon.

Messages of Love in the Deep

Daddy Fish by Kirsten Borror

2011 Acrylic 5x5

This small fish has a unique reproductive strategy which is that the male stays with the eggs, guards them and fans them to keep them aerated in the fresh water where they live. If a 2 1/2 inch fish can care for it's eggs, I suppose the Creator of the Universe can watch over me with infinitely deeper care.  During my time in the deep of suffering He has shown up. Today He sent oxygen over my spirit by way of my friends and family who reached out with phone calls, texts, gifts, cards, prayers, and kind words. God knew I needed help today with my Christmas enthusiasm. Saying yes to kindness is a benefit of learning I need help sometimes to carry out right attitude. Relationship is give and take. Thank you for helping my attitude today; you know who you are!

Ghost of Christmas Past

Wearing Magic by Kirsten Borror

2011 Acrylic 5x5

I am responsible for my response. You are responsible for your response. Hurt others with your rude behavior so that the person won't have any expectations of you; or is it that we want them to "get it" or to "get them". That's what it is. Rude behavior for the purpose of cutting the line that keeps people tied and off you go to your unencumbered future, or so you think. The other is adrift, bobbing up and down, on their own to fall apart. That's what the Dark Side wants to happen; that we will be and remain torn apart. Suffering rips into our relationships; we are raw eviscerated community. Baby Jesus has the power and desire to put us back together with His supernatural healing.

 I called up someone tonight who had abandoned me in a significant way many years ago.  As I apologized for rejecting his Christmas presents, I began to break down. Up bubbled sadness I didn't know was still there. I am responsible for my response today, tomorrow, and for the ones I had in the past. The memory of this pain I had inflicted on him came up in a flash this month as I thought about Christmas, presents, and rejection. The Holy Spirit brought it up so that I can make peace with a brother. I think what I did not expect was all the tears I shed while talking! Part of my confession of sin is finding out that not only did I hurt him with my response, but I maimed my own soul. Positive, affirming words and "Merry Christmas to everyone!" ended the conversation. Christmas presents under the tree on Sunday will remind me of the healing gift of forgiveness.

Wyndham Lewis' Deco Portraits

When Americans find themselves thinking about Art Deco portraits, I suspect the work of Tamara de Lempicka comes to mind first. But the English just might be more likely to conjure paintings and drawing by Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957).

The above link to Lewis has a good deal of information, as does this book review from 2000 posted on the Guardian's web site. There also is this site devoted to Lewis, but it is patchy.

Many people can be considered multi-talented in that they can do more than one thing passably well (skiing and cooking, dancing and gardening, etc.). There are a few who are multi-talented at levels at or near professional quality, but such folks usually focus on one talent or another as the tool to build a career or notoriety. Lewis is exceptional in that he was successful in both art and writing, as the links attest.

For example,he was a co-founder of Vorticism, a British version of Cubism. After serving as an artillery observer officer in the Great War he returned to painting and then for a few years writing dominated his efforts while he began to focus his art on portraiture.

If he had a problem, it was and is that his political beliefs were, shall we say, unfashionable. That is, he was extremely right-wing in the 1930s sense. This is mentioned in the Wikipedia and Guardians links.

That aside, his abilities as a portraitist were widely recognized in his day. Augustus John and Walter Sickert held his portraiture in high regard.

I consider Lewis' portrait style Art Deco because of (1) when they were done, (2) the simplification of forms towards a geometrical basis, and (3) the crisp, clean style of delineation. Lewis did not go nearly as far as did Lempicka in these respects, but the underlying spirit is consistent.

Below are some examples in drawn and painted form.


Portrait of the Artist As the Painter Raphael - 1921

T.S. Eliot

Froanna, the Artist's Wife - 1937

Rebecca West - 1932

Self-Portrait With Hat - 1932

For more images, here is a link to London's National Portrait Gallery collection of Lewis' works.

Dancing in the Dark

Wear your Dots by Kirsten Borror

2011 Acrylic 5x5

I talked with my friend who said she's lonely. She and I don't want to stay lonely. So I said, "You don't have to be. Just reach out and share. Let's pray power prayers together!"   It's weird this adventure I'm on, just plain unbelievable. Is this really happening? Am I actually here, going through THIS?! I feel exceptionally odd, but it is what it is. I am asking God to build me up so completely that I can sing and dance no matter what-even in this dark trial. Ultimate joy is having it whatever your situation. I'm tired of being banged about because I  lack trust and faith that I'm in Good Hands. This story isn't over, I keep waking up to a new day, and I guess this isn't killing me. If this is the last day I have to live, well, I want to dance in it! I still have two legs to dance on before the Lord; and I know where I'm going after I take my last breath! Thank God for sending a little child to lead us, Baby Jesus! I can dance because He was and is and is to come.

Grateful for Less than Excellence

Small and Sufficient by Kirsten Borror

2011 Acrylic 5x5

The minnow is a small fish without much acclaim in comparison to other fish. I love that God honors the small things in His book, the Bible. He highlights His ability to work mighty victories through less than ideal people, things and places. I'm speaking of renowned events such as 5 stones in the boy David's sling to bring down the large enemy Goliath; the least important family member Gideon from the weakest tribe to save Israel from their enemies; a few small fish from a boy's lunch to feed multitudes; faith the size of a mustard seed to move a mountain; the highly valued temple offering of a widow's two small coins; an insignificant town called Bethlehem to birth the Prince of Peace (Jesus Christ).

Are you scoffing at the insignificant, the weak, the young, the fragile, the bleakest of circumstance? Thank Him for it, because there He may choose to mightily show forth His victory.

Se vive y se lucha...



Molti Ritratti: Georgette Magritte

Rather than posting a usual Molti Ritratti where views of one sitter by many artists are displayed, I thought I might as well show several views of the same subject painted by a single artist. So today we feature Georgette Magritte, wife of Belgian Surrealist René (1898-1967) who used her as a model for many of his works. Salvador Dalí's wife Gala had the same gig, but Georgette is far less well known, so why not give her a break?

According the the Wikipedia link above, Magritte met Georgette when he was entering his teens and (other sources say) again in 1920, this leading to their 1922 marriage. Magritte had formal art training 1916-18 while the Great War raged and didn't do his army service until later. This was because his part of Belgium was occupied by the Germans in 1914 and remained under their control until the war ended.

Georgette was about two years younger than Magritte. Pretty and photogenic, she apparently didn't mind being her husband's model and muse. After Magritte took up Surrealism in the late 1920s (and perhaps even before), images based on Georgette's modeling were not always intended to be portraits. For example, one has her nude from the waist down and from the waist up is the front half of a fish.

Below are some photos of Georgette along with a few of Magritte's paintings that were either actual portraits or images using her as a model.


Georgette and René at the time of their marriage

Georgette - 1929
The photo is probably reversed; she should be looking to the left.

Georgette - c.1935-38
One source has this as from 1938, but 1935 photos show her in the same dress and hairdo.

Nu allongé - 1923

Drawing of Georgette - 1924

Georgette double portrait - 1935

La magie noir - 1935

Portrait of Georgette - 1937

Portrait of Georgette - early 1940s

Based on post-1930 photos of her, when Magritte's aim was to do an actual portrait of Georgette, he usually took care to accurately depict her.

Taking Care of Worry

Look Up & Shine by Kirsten Borror

2011 Acrylic 5x5

Today was pay-attention-to-and-purposely-relax-your-body day. I noticed that although my appetite is back there is tension in my stomach. What is in the core of my gut that has me under constant apprehension? I spent time observing, working hard to see and understand the feeling, "what is it like?" Finally I put my finger on it; it's the feeling of having been punched in the stomach without any warning, so you keep tensing your abdomen against the next punch. It was diligent effort to release that apprehension to God. I asked Him for just a bit of faith to believe that I'm in His care, and to stop worrying.  Worry does nothing to change my situation except rob me of joy.  After that I felt light and happy today! By extension, I chatted with people out Christmas shopping like me, gave a nice tip to my hair dresser, and danced to music.

Hope for the Hopeless

Light Bearing by Kirsten Borror

2011 Acrylic 5x5

Spiritual darkness covers the earth, but I don't need to be full of woe because there is more to the story.  Have you experienced a set-back recently, or do you recall a time in the past when you suffered under such circumstances?  You can choose to discover what God provides to you in the middle of your painful time. His intention for us is to bring us into His goodness and He does this through Jesus Christ.

 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn."