Gauguin’s Vision After the Sermon

Paul Gauguin’s painting, Vision After the Sermon, is a work about the struggle of temptation, the pain of love, and the conflict of the artist. Vision After the Sermon is inspired by the art of Japan, the Celtic roots of Britany, and a woman. More about her later. Who was Gauguin? Generally Gauguin is portrayed […]

New Lecture Series on Jacques Louis David

Death of Marat by Jacques Louis David

I have a new online lecture series coming in October on Jacques Louis David.  A complicated painter whose work and politics proved pivotal in the history of France. He is undeniably a fascinating study. The French Revolution Living and painting during the tumultuous years before, during, and after the French Revolution, David was intimately involved […]

Sandro Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity

Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity is as beautiful as it is mysterious. With this work we venture into the realm of speculation and conjecture. I hope you find this painting as intriguing as I do. “I, Sandro, painted this picture at the end of the year 1500 in the troubles of Italy.” So begins the inscription at […]

The Backstory of the Merode Altarpiece Robert Campin

The Merode Altarpiece,by Robert Campin, is an annunciation triptych full of symbolic meaning, that was intended to lead the faithful into deep contemplation of the mysteries of Christ, who left heaven to become a man. In this post, we will be exploring the backstory and context of the work. If you wish to read more […]

Introducing Children to Art and Art History

Art and art history have been a part of our school life from the time my boys were toddlers, both producing art and enjoying works by others. This reflects a strong belief in introducing children to art and art history – art is interesting, expansive, and leads a well rounded education.  I enjoy art and […]

Get Your Museum On…

Summer, beaches, baseball, museums…yes, museums. It is a great time to take the family to the museum. We have made two museum trips so far this July. The first trip was to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Next to the La Brea Tar Pits, LACMA is a complex of museums that is […]

Saint Jerome in His Study by Albrecht Dürer

Saint Jerome in His Study by Albrecht Durer is a spiritual reflection on a life well lived. Who is Durer Dürer is often referred to as the DaVinci of the North, a true Renaissance man who led the Northern Renaissance from his home in Nuremberg, Germany. His father was a goldsmith, a trade that provided […]

The Conversation That Is Art: An Introduction to the Study of Art History

The study of art history starts with examining tools. Every discipline has its tools. Writer’s craft with words to stimulate the senses, rouse the emotions, and spark our ideas. Construction workers use tools to make an architect’s drawings a physical reality. Teachers use books, imagination, and dialog to inspire their students to learn. When we […]

Video – The Conversation That Is Art

Check out the video below “Conversations in Art” and the full article here on the Blog: The Conversation That Is Art: An Introduction to the Study of Art History.   Art is an exchange of ideas that expands our understanding of what it means to be human. Across time, geography, and social constructs, artist reveal […]

Video – Nativity Panel by Nicola Pisano at the Pisa Baptistery

Originally I shared the story of the Nativity Panel of the Pisa Baptistery pulpit in a blog, you can read it here, but decided to convert the material into a video for those who prefer that medium. The Baptistery Pulpit is a seminal piece of art marking the beginning of the Italian Renaissance. Nicola Pisano […]

Video – The Horrors of War by Peter Paul Reubens

I’m converting several of my blog post into videos, and here is one of the first.  Peter Paul Rubens’, The Consequences of War, or the Horrors of War is a fascinating study.  Today I was listening to a book about the Italian Renaissance and found it interesting that for centuries there was seldom a period […]

Good Friday ‘Dead Jesus Day’ Meditation

My son, Levi, when he was little was confused by the term Good Friday and insisted we rename the day ‘Dead Jesus Day’. The concept that death could be good was beyond him, and the more literal description brings the hard truth of the day to the fore. Today we remember the cost of our […]

Fra Angelico The Mocking of Christ

Fra Angelico the Mocking of Christ is a compelling vision of the suffering of Jesus. I’ve been anxiously waiting to get to this painting in the Lent Devotional because I’ve found it both intriguing and beautiful.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. If you would like to purchase the the rest […]

The Consequences of War -Peter Paul Rubens

The Consequences of War, (or sometimes The Horrors of War) is an impressive painting by Peter Paul Rubens. The work was painted in response to the Thirty Years’ War and is heavily allegorical. Using mythological iconography to convey an eloquent warning, Rubens gives us a painting of disturbing beauty. The message of ‘The Consequences of […]

Anthony Van Dyck – The Triumphal Entry

Welcome to the 2nd Video in the Lent Devotional. If you have tried to purchase the devotional series and have run into technical difficulties, I apologize. We’ve been working round the clock to get the website changes operational. Hopes are everything is squared away. If you still need to purchase the Devotional you can follow […]

Lent – Penitence and Preparation

Although many Christian traditions no longer observe Lent, I’ve found preparing for the celebration of Easter deepens the experience. Combining my research in art with Lent I’ve created a Visual Lent Devotional. I’d like to invite you to join me on my journey, exploring the Art of Christ’s Passion. These devotionals will begin on Ash […]

Frames and Pedestals, They Matter!

Our first impression of a piece of art is greatly influenced by how the work is displayed and by what surrounds it. Making the effort to consciously take note of these elements can increase our ability to read a work correctly. A closer look at a few sculptures will illustrate just what I mean. Before […]

Botticelli’s Venus and Mars Explained

Botticelli’s Venus and Mars is both beautiful and humorous. Mischievous satyrs, clear bright colors, hidden symbols, and missing legs all deserve a closer look so let’s get started.  Botticelli’s paintings of mythological stories are among his most famous. Botticelli’s Venus and Mars is telling the story of the illicit love affair between Venus and Mars. […]

Dürer’s Rhinoceros Print, Part 2

Albrecht Durer’s Rhinoceros print is a woodcut that is part scientifically accurate and part charming fantasy.  We’ve examined how the description of a Rhinoceros came to Dürer in this post, now we will move on to the actual print of Dürer’s Rhinoceros, how it was made, and what the words on the top of the print […]

Durer’s Rhinoceros Print, Meet Genda

Albrecht Durer’s Rhinoceros is one of the most famous prints to ever be made. The print is based on the real life rhinoceros, Genda. Here is her story.  Genda, The Gift That Keeps Giving In 1515, an Indian rhinoceros was gifted by Sultan Muzafar II of Gujarat, to the governor of Portuguese India. Genda, the […]

The Grand Tour

For nearly 300 years there was a tradition among the aristocracy of Europe to take a Grand Tour of prominent cities and their holdings of art in young adulthood. As I’m developing an Art History Curriculum, I’ve been excited to share the shape and scope of what I am working on. Art is a wonderful visual […]

Let a Child Lead You

Color in art is…complicated. While working on writing a clear, somewhat comprehensive article on the subject for my curriculum, I’ve struggled far more than seems reasonable. Connected to my thoughts on color, in a round about way, is another topic I’m interested in: teaching art to children. Color in art can be realistic, symbolic, emotive, […]

Color Crash Course – Part 1

Quick color crash course. Color is one of the foundations of art, and  so we need a basic understanding of color theory. For thousands of years artist and craftsmen have been passing down their knowledge of color and how to use it effectively.  In the 1660’s Isaac Newton began experimenting with light and prisms, and […]

Entering The Conversation That Is Art

Article on the Visual Language of Art

Every discipline has it’s tools. Writer’s craft with words to stimulate the senses, rouse the emotions, and spark our ideas. Construction workers use tools to make an architect’s drawings a physical reality. Teachers use books, imagination, and dialog to inspire their students to learn. When we want to know more about art, how to read […]

Bruegel Resists, A Painting With Many Stories to Tell.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a Flemish Northern Renaissance painter  who lived from 1525 to 1569, dying when he was 44. Of his children, two sons also became famous painters. Bruegel was known for his landscapes and genre paintings. In fact, he was a pioneer in genre painting, or painting the common people. He used […]

Prayer Nuts

Article on the medieval Prayer Nut

A prayer nut is a Gothic, miniature sculpture contained inside of a sphere of boxwood. Prayer nuts were all the rage during the 1500’s, and personally, I’m not sure why they fell out of style. I find them fascinating Prayer nuts: Are they made from nuts The name ‘prayer nuts’ comes from a Dutch word […]

Murillo’s Adoration of the Shepherds

Bartolome Esteban Murillo’s work, Adoration of the Shepherds, brings to life the phrase, “the people who walk in darkness will see a great light.” Creating an intimate scene of adoration, Murillo invites us to join the shepherd’s in worshipping the Christ Child. Who was Murillo Bartolome Esteban Murillo, a Spanish Baroque painter spent his entire […]

Rembrandt’s Dream of Saint Joseph

Rembrandt’s Dream of Saint Joseph emphasizes Joseph’s connection to the Joseph of the Old Testament, and to his role as the Saint of Hidden Things. Additionally, this work makes us reconsider the customary image of the sleeping Joseph. This painting is one of several that Rembrandt made of this story and I find it refreshing […]

Tintoretto’s Nativity

Tintoretto’s, Nativity provides the viewer with a unique portrayal of the familiar nativity story. Skillfully using light, and the distinctive architecture of a two story barn, Tintoretto connects the iconography of the Nativity with that of the Last Supper. Providing multiple examples of food, drink and nourishment, Tintoretto links our physical need for sustenance with […]

Caravaggio’s Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence

Caravaggio’s Nativity with St. Francis  and St. Lawrence is famous, not just because it is a masterpiece but because it is on the FBI’s 10 Top Art Crimes. The artist has given us a controversial depiction of the Virgin Mary that challenged the doctrines of Catholic church.  Rejecting the exaggerations of the Mannerists (see El […]

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Census at Bethlehem

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s, Census at Bethlehem, shifts the Biblical story into the political and physical world of 16th century Netherlands. One of the first snow landscapes painted in Europe, the Census at Bethlehem is at once a beautifully composed genre painting and a biting social commentary. In many ways it is a painting of a […]

El Greco’s Annunciation

El Greco’s Annunciation was painted late in the artists career when his style had fully developed. Combining the exaggerated colors and figures of the Mannerists with the mysticism he practiced while living in Spain, we have a truly unique envisioning of the Biblical story. Here, El Greco has included the unusual iconography of the burning […]

The Annunciation by Titian

  The Annunciation by Titian is one of the artist later works displaying his innovative loose brushstrokes and dramatic lighting. Containing more of the heavenly realm than the earthly, Titian alters the traditional Renaissance envisioning of the story. Who was Titian The Venetian master, Titian was born Tiziano Vecelli. He was an Italian Renaissance painter […]

Matthias Grunewald, The Annunciation from the Isenheim Altarpiece

Grunewald’s Annunciation Panel on the Isenheim Altarpiece was painted to give comfort in a hospital that could offer little hope. With his mystic, emotional style, Grunewald’s Annunciation plays on the theme of Mary as the church, bringing Christ to a dark world. For the hospitals patients and family any hope was a welcome respite. Grunewald, […]

The Holy Family by Michelangelo

The Doni Tondo by Michelangelo portrays an intimate moment of the Holy Family done on a round panel and encased in an elaborate frame. The work  was completed just before Michelangelo began work on the Sistine ceiling and gives hints of Michelangelo’s movement toward Mannerism. The work shows the progression of time, from the pagan […]

Giorgione’s Adoration of the Shepherds

Giorgione’s Adoration of the Shepherds exemplifies the distinctives of this Venetian artist. In this work his penchant for enigmatic themes is fully expressed as he paints Christ as the Eucharist and Mary as the Altar. Surrounded by the evocative landscape we have the shepherd’s arriving to worship the baby Jesus and learn from Mary. As […]

Albrecht Dürer Nativity Woodcuts

Albrecht Dürer’s Nativity Woodcuts Albrecht Dürer’s Nativity Woodcuts communicate complexity with nothing but lines, and it is astounding. Realistically representing space, emotion, perspective, with nothing but lines cut into wood amazes me with the delicacy he achievies. Dürer has always been my favorite artist and I’m looking forward to sharing some of his work with […]

The Portinari Altarpiece by Hugo Van Der Goes

Hugo Van Der Goes’ Portinari Altarpiece, was shocking when first revealed to the public. The unprecedented portrayal of the shepherd’s amazed viewers and emphasized Van Der Goes theme of humility. A monumental work that challenged both the art world, and the individual, to reconsider what is truly important. This work stands as a testament to […]

Filippo Lippi’s The Annunciation with Two Donors

Filippo Lippi’s Annunciation with Two Donors Filippo Lippi’s, Annunciation with Two Donors, is a beautiful Renaissance work that brings together the iconography of the nativity story. Today we’ll explore both the art and the controversial artist. Lippi, Artist and Scoundrel Filippo Lippi…his art and his life are fairly incongruous. He was a bit of a […]

Jan Van Eyck’s The Annunciation, The Hidden Meanings.

Jan Van Eyck’s Annunciation, is a work that shimmers with a luminous clarity, infusing spiritual meaning into every small detail. Van Eyck is true to the Flemish tradition of hiding symbols in the everyday, and using complicated iconography. In particular, Van Eyck explores the connections between the Old and New Testament of the Bible, the […]

Rogier Van Der Weyden’s The Visitation

Rogier Van Der Weyden’s, The Visitation Roger Van Der Weyden’s, The Visitation, explores the story of Mary’s visit with her cousin Elizabeth. Today we will be focusing on a small panel painting of the Visitation, and then taking a look at a Nativity by Van Der Weyden’s workshop which has another version of the Visitation. […]

Donatello’s The Annunciation

Donatello’s Annunciation Donatello’s Annunciation is the focus of today’s post. I’m excited that today we get to examine a work by one of the esteemed Ninja Turtles. I have four sons and the Ninja Turtles hold a special place in my heart because my son’s started checking out books from the library about the artists […]

Fra Angelico’s The Annunciation in the Cortona Altarpiece

Fra Angelico’s Annunciation Fra Angelico’s Annunciation in the Cortona Altarpiece is probably my favorite of the many Annunciation works. Beautiful, and filled with symbolism, the painting provides us with a great deal to contemplate, which was exactly what Fra Angelico intended. You can view this post in a video here.  Who was Fra Angelico Fra […]

The Limbourg Brother’s Book of Hours

The Limbourg Brother’s Book of Hours Today we journey into the Limbourg Brother’s Book of Hours, or the wonderful world of illuminated manuscripts. These manuscripts are one of my favorite art forms, tiny perfection. The Limbourg Brothers (there are 3 of them) wrote and illustrated the Belles Hours for Jean de France, the Duc of […]

Simone Martini’s The Annunciation

Simone Martini’s Annunciation Simone Martini’s Annunciation is a wonderful example of Gothic art. We’ve explored Duccio’s, ‘Maesta’,  earlier in this series, Martini is one of Duccio’s students and is believed to have worked on portions of the Maesta. In that post we discussed how Duccio chose to continue in the Gothic style of art, despite […]

The Duccio Maesta Altarpiece Nativity

The Duccio Maesta Altarpiece Nativity is the subject of our tour of Nativity art. You can view this post in video form on my YouTube channel here. Evolutionary thought can blind us In the last article we examined a work by Giotto, who was a contemporary of today’s artist, Duccio. Giotto represented the city-state of […]

Giotto Arena Chapel Nativity

Arena Chapel Giotto di Bondone

The Giotto Arena Chapel Nativity is the subject for day 3 on our Advent in Art Series. Background of the Giotto Arena Chapel In a Northeast corner of Italy is the city of Padua. Even in 1303, Padua was a cosmopolitan center boasting a prestigious University. One of the residents was a man named Enrico […]

Mosaic in the Chora Church

A mosaic in the Chora Church will be the focus of todays advent art. The mosaics and frescoes of the Chora Church are some of the finest examples of Byzantine art that have survived to our modern times. History of the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora The Church of the Holy Saviour in […]

Nicola Pisano Nativity Panel in the Baptistry in Pisa.

Background on the Pisano Nativity Panel The Piazza dei Miracoli The work we will be considering is the Nativity panel in the Baptistry in Pisa from a pulpit designed and sculpted by Nicola Pisano completed in 1260.  This information is also available in video here. A bit of background is necessary to put this work […]

Advent in Art

I’m excited to invite you to participate in Advent in Art Reawaken the wonder and beauty of the Christmas story as we explore 25 masterpieces. For the first 25 days in December we will explore 500 years of art dedicated to the nativity. Rich with imagery, the story of the incarnation is made visible. Artists […]