The Sun That Rises 


Young Woman with a Water Pitcher Artist: Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, Delft 1632–1675 Delft) 1662 Oil on canvas 18 x 16 in. (45.7 x 40.6 cm) Paintings Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1889

I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

— C.S. Lewis

And so, it is still very early in the morning. Stars from the night begin to fade. With birds chirping as dawn approaches, the air is slowly turning from darkness to orange, or, are those colors the sunset? Either way, we are talking about the sunrise here. Meanwhile, by the sun, the morning glow brings life. Structures turn from solid flat silhouettes to objects with sides, color and depth.

And so, early in the morning, the sun is still just rising. First to wake, the young woman rises out of bed in the dark gray space and strolls to the kitchen. By a window pieced together with stained glass, light escapes from the outside in, inviting the young woman to open it, allowing life to flood into the house.

Soon enough the children will wake and stir through the rooms looking for waffles, pancakes and pofferties sprinkled with sugar, as they prepare for their day.

This painting is “Young Woman With a Water Pitcher” Vermeer painted this in Delft, more well known as the land of Amsterdam in 1662. It is oil on canvas hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is 18″x16″.

As she pulls the window frame towards her, dawn escapes in along with the morning cheers and sounds of brass bells rung by sailors on the boats passing through. Looking out the frame both east and west are the rays of the sun glimmering on gray waters of the Amsterdam canals.

And so, sidewalks on the perimeter of the waterways are just waking up. The temperature is still cool and damp. People are stepping out of their narrow, connected, forward leaning canal houses and out onto the brick walkways, sweeping away the morning dew with a broom. Friends are strolling to the market festooned with delicious sausages, meat, bread, cheese, tea, milk, tulips, cinnamon, woven lace, blue and white tiles and other lovely fineries to bring back home. Here in the heart of the city, perhaps Dam Square, friends are bumping into neighbors having friendly conversation, exchanging recipes, and catching up with each other.

In those days it was a time of good fortune for Holland. Delft was a prosperous city. With 165 canals of water (4 seriously major ones) and with names like Singel, Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht and other notable canals like Zwanenburgwal, Brouwersgracht, Kloveniersburgwal, Brantasgracht, Lamonggracht, Majanggracht and Seranggracht (can you pronounce these words? I can’t.), goods were easily transported in and out of the neighborhood.

And in those days Amsterdam was a calm and tranquil society. The people are free and at ease. They don’t look to argue. The village flourishes by their hard work.

Vermeer is a Dutch artist. His paintings do not tell stories, at best he captures the beauty of everyday life (also known as genre art).  “The Young Woman with a Water Pitcher” is one of 35 of Vermeer’s paintings. “The Young Woman With A Water Pitcher” expresses tranquility. Put together with moments and objects from everyday life, the painting is realistic and seems as if it is in a stop action shot. We are looking through the wall of this ladies home, but she does not know we are. The picture will unfreeze at any second and she will begin to move.

Noticing by the detail of the surrounding area, we see the kitchen of a modest home. Vermeer gives perspective to his carefully chosen objects, in particular the table, window, jewelry box, water pitcher and also the dish, giving them life.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art states: “The subject here is an ideal woman in an ideal home, where beauty, luxury and tranquility coexist. The map and jewelry box suggest worldliness, but the sliver-gilt basin and pitcher would have been recognized (despite their expense) as a traditional symbol of purity. The linen scarves covering the woman’s head and shoulders were usually worn during a morning toilette.” The stained glass window also gives the painting a peaceful delicate mood. Reputation of the primary colors red, blue and yellow bring the picture together. The woman’s vibrant blue dress juxtaposed to the red embroidered table cloth creates an outstanding image. Tapestry weaving was a popular product during the 17th century, during the time of Vermeer’s life. In nature the morning sun shining in through the window would cause many shadows. Chiaroscuro, the transition from darkness to light builds depth and structure. He captured the figures that were brought to life by light well. Vermeer lived from 1632 – 1675.

So, light floods in and falls quietly on the woman, the young woman is about to look out of a window, possibly thinking of the voyages of her fellow countrymen returning home. She may even be looking forward to the return of her husband from his new world journeys.

A little bit of history

During the 17th century, the Dutch society had reached a point of political, economic and cultural greatness. A time of such prosperity is considered to be a “Golden Age.” In the previous century  “The 17th century also brought heightened economic competition to Europe. Much of the foundation for worldwide mercantilism – extensive voyage and geographic exploration, improved cartography and advances in ship building had been laid in the previous century.

In the 17th century however, changes in financial systems, lifestyles and trading patterns, along with expanding colonialism, fueled the creation of a worldwide marketplace. The Dutch founded the Bank of Amsterdam in 1609, which eventually became the center of European transfer banking.” Traders could now exchange their heavy precious goods for money, which was much lighter in weight. They did not have to transport heavy goods to use as payment anymore. In the century before, the Dutch found a way to perfect their ship building. Shipping and a lighter load allowed a greater variety of goods that could be traded. Industries were expanding and goods that could only be found in other countries like coffee from the islands, and tea from China could now be brought in to add to the economic wealth. Slaves were captured and shipped to European colonies and the Americas they were used to harvest crops such as sugar, tobacco and rice.

Shortly after the Netherlands gained independence from Spain in the late 16th century, Dutch businessmen developed cities in the new world, such as New Amsterdam, now known as New York.

About forty years later the British wanted to fight for the land and the Dutch decided rather than to waste their time on war efforts they…. they would turn their heads and allow the British to have the land, and face to another direction, towards the East India Trading Company.

Holland was also the only society allowed in to trade with China, giving Holland a boost with economic growth. Ships could enter into China. Holland was seen as an unassertive trading country that minded its own business; the ships only sailed in to trade, with no interest in influcencing the culture of China to be like Holland, leaving Holland harmless.

And, all other cultures were banned from China because China wanted to protect itself from being changed by other cultures.

The Dutch East India Company, which traded in spices, tea, silk, and other much-wanted commodities from China, was the largest of its kind and — in keeping with Holland’s commercial lead over Britain at the time — it was more successful than the British East India Company.

The beauty of Vermeer’s paintings, is not in his choice of subject but in the ways his scenes are portrayed. It is in how he uses light and color, proportion and scale, to enhance the moods of his figures. He imparts nuances of thought and meaning in his sense which are at once understandable but not totally explicit.

Ultimately, however beautiful or sensitive his paintings may be, they continue to appeal because they can never be completely explained.

Through them, artists strive to relate stories, ideas and moods. But because paintings outlive the generation in which they were created, they take on added historical interest. They become visual statements of the attitudes, moods and ideas of a different age.

Vermeer’s accurate depictions of maps, musical instruments, and paintings within paintings, and his interest in recording differences in textures of materials and the effects of sunlight and shadow, can only be understood in these terms.

Nevertheless realism of Dutch art was not always limited to the precise depictions of objects and effects of light. It is not an exact copy of nature, but it gives the appearance of having copied nature. What is amazing about this painting is that it is real. People actually looked like this,  dressed like this and decorated their apartments like this. Vermeer’s figures are often quiet and reserved and portray no marked emotion.

Now, you might be wondering. Hey, what about the other stuff Amsterdam is known for? Well.. thats not the point of my story. Those details are for another day.

Vermeer is a poetic and not a narrative painter, and the nuances of meaning that one receives are often fleeting and incomplete.
And so, the question is, what is the young woman with a water pitcher doing?

And the conclusion?

Well — paintings are basically a means of communication. Vermeer communicated through mood, rather than narrative. It looks like the woman is about to open the window to allow the light of the dawn flood into the room. After a night of rest and darkness, the sun rises and glows outside waiting patiently to flood the room carrying life in with it.

And so, with the presence of the sunlight, we only know what we see. It is what it is. Standing there with her hand on the window frame. It looks like she is about to look outside the window into the beautiful morning, but really — we just don’t know. Only our imagination can tell us.

DP130155, 2/7/06, 11:18 AM, 16C, 6856x8852 (180+693), 100%, Rona Copywork,  1/30 s, R93.8, G57.6, B56.4  Working Title/Artist: The Great Wave at Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji)Department: Asian ArtCulture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: 10Working Date: 1831-33 photography by mma, Digital File DP130155.tif retouched by film and media (jnc) 8_17_11

Young Woman With a Water Pitcher. 1662. Oil on Canvas. Marquand Collection/Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, New York. 

Feifer, George. Breaking Open Japan. New York; Harper Collins, 2006. Book.

Livingston, Jon. Moore, Joe. Oldfather, Felicia. 1 The Japan Reader, Imperial Japan 1800-1945. New York; Random House, 1973. Book

Wheelock, Jr., Arthur. Vermeer. New York; Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1981. Book.

Chevalier, Tracy. Girl with a Pearl Earring. New York; The Berkeley Publishing Group a division of The Penguin Putnam Inc. 1999. Book. First edition (electronic): August 2001.

Grattan, Thomas Colley. Holland, The History of the Netherlands. Charleston, SC. BiblioBazaar. 2006. Book.

Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner’s Art Through The Age, A Global History, Thirteenth Edition, Volume II. Boston, MA. Thomason Higher Education. 2009. Print.

Schama, Simon. The Embarrassment of Riches. New York. Vintage Books, a division of Random House, inc. 1987.

Lewis, C.S. The Magicians Nephew, (1) The Chronicles of Narnia: New York. HarperCollins Publishers. 1955. Print.

Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, (2) The Chronicles of Narnia: New York. HarperCollins Publishers. 1950. Print.

Lewis, C.S. The Horse and His Boy (3) The Chronicles of Narnia: New York. HarperCollins Publishers. 1954. Print.


For Some Reason. . .


Katsushika Hokusai, Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as The Great Wave, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei), c. 1830-32, polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper, 10 1/8 x 14 15 /16 inches; 25.7 x 37.9 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)


I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and type of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.**

FOR SOME REASON, everything works out the way it is supposed to. The world is filled with elements and each and every detail is here with a purpose. A machine is a noun defined as a piece of equipment with moving parts when given power. Our world is comprised of tiny details that work together to create one great machine.

One possible reason… originating from Asian culture, is that the world is based on five amazing elements; we have water, wood, sky, fire and wind. Water hangs out in the ocean, it evaporates into the sky and proceeds to fall from clouds as rain or snow. Some snow lands on mountain tops, freezes and melts, flowing down hills into running rivers. And you see, the moon and sun control gravity, so depending on this planet and star, water’s currents are pushed forward, sometimes with strong pressure, other times with gentle pressure.

And if you’re living, you have to eat! Thankfully the wind can carry your boat that was made with wood collected from trees, out to the ocean where you can catch fish or all sorts of crazy creatures under the sea. You can bring them in for a meal or sell in exchange for steak from the butcher or potatoes from the farmer or rice harvested from the water fields near the running rivers from down the mountain slopes. Once the food is prepared you can enjoy your dinner while watching a show of Sumo wrestlers as you are safely protected by the Samurai guys, And with pleasure, have a glass of sake poured for you by Geisha ladies, fermented from the harvested rice.

You see that? every element in our world works together, like a machine.

For some reason Katsushika Hokusai depicted Mt. Fuji in a scene with a great big wave surrounding it. Mt. Fuji, in fact, is a sleeping volcano. It is the highest mountain in Japan. During winter, snow sticks to the top. During the warmer months it melts into flowing rivers. It has a chip off the top from its last lava flow in 1707.  The peak is standing confidently, resting quietly and humbly surrounded by roaring, fierce winds and cold currents splashing in a violent direction. Cobalt blue waves of a tremendous size, give off white sprays of water, landing like sharp fragments. These ambitious fishermen are here caught on the sea in the storm. Not to worry, sailing comes as second nature to these go getters, it is what they do. These men are secure in their boats, made of wood which is at ease on the sea. Bravely they sail, carrying the fishing expedition through. Mount Fuji is standing there quietly in the background reminding them of peace, strength and tranquility.

Put together in the time of 1830-32, The Great Wave, is a ukiyo-e / woodblock print comprised of a good balance and proper arrangement of elements. If it was here by itself with out the surrounding details, we wouldn’t really understand its importance. It runs in harmony with the waves and its fishing men. The colors, the wide currents and the surrounding pieces tell us a story about Japanese culture. Like a machine, all of these natural roles work together to tell a story of Japanese harmony.

Traditionally ukiyo-e prints were designs of courtesans and actors. Instead, Hokusai focused on the daily life of Japanese people from a variety of social levels (which, I’d like to add, is something of Genre Art). If your still curious on these prints and would like further detail on Japan, there are plenty of books out there about the specifics.

Mt Fuji is a tiny little triangle and plays a huge role in the perspective of the print. Three repeating points of Mt. Fuji and two waves bring things together. The waves even kind of look like the snowy top of the mountain. To keep it simple, the design is blocked with four basic colors of yellow, blue, white and beige. When looking at the picture the eye begins at the top of the volcano and carries through the story of the first fishing boat to the next fishing boat, to the small wave then to the third fishing boat and then the final hugest wave, and then starting all over again, in harmony to the top of the mountain.

Now, Geisha women, are a distinguished staple in Japanese society. Not to say that other persons are not a key factor. But in the book Memoirs of a Geisha a discussion takes place on the topic of  water and the five elements and the world working together in harmony. Here we have a conversation between Mameha and Sayuri…….

“Waiting patiently doesn’t suit you. Water never waits. It changes shape and flows around things, and finds the secret paths no one else has thought about. There’s no doubt it’s the most versatile of the five elements. It can wash away earth; it can put out fire; it can wear a piece of metal down and sweep it away. Even wood, which is its natural complement, can’t survive without being nurtured by water.

Those of us with water in our personalities don’t pick where we’ll flow to. All we can do is flow where the landscape of our lives carries us.

I’d never understood how closely things are connected to one another. We human beings are only a part of something very much larger. When we walk along, we may crush a bottle or simply cause a change in the air so that a fly ends up where it might never have gone otherwise. And if we think of the same example but with ourselves in the role of the insect, and the larger universe in the role we’ve just played, it’s perfectly clear that we’re affected every day by forces over which we have no more control than the poor beetle has over our gigantic foot as it descends upon it. What are we to do? We must use whatever methods we can to understand the movement of the universe around us and time our actions so that we are not fighting the currents, but moving with them.”3

So when you look at it like that, you can relax freely. Just let the waves carry you along and make your decisions accordingly. Every element including you and I allow our universe to flow in harmony.

Ukiyo-e is the name for Japanese woodblock prints made during the Edo Period. Ukiyo-e, which originated as a Buddhist term, means “floating world” and refers to the impermanence of the world. The earliest prints were made in only black and white, but later, as is evident from Hokusai’s work, additional colors were added. A separate block of wood was used for each color. Each print is made with a final overlay of black line, which helps to break up the flat colors. Ukiyo-e prints are recognizable for their emphasis on line and pure, bright color, as well as their ability to distill form down to the minimum. 1


** The quote was discovered and brought to my awareness by my cousin Al.

** Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Scholastic Press: New York, 2007

2 “Mount Fuji Symbol of Japan.” National Geographic Education.  Sue, Caryl. Web. 6 April 2015. <>

3 Griffis, William, Eliot Griffis. History of Japan 660 BC to 1872 AD.

3Golden, Arthur. Memoirs of a Geisha. Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc.:  New York, 1997

Feifer, George. Breaking Open Japan. New York; Harper Collins, 2006. Book.

Dance Like Nobody Is Watching

At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance // Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec // 1890 // Oil on canvas // 45 1/2 x 59 inches // Made in Paris, France, Europe // 4

“He throws large parties and I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”¹

Dance like nobody is watching. NOBODY is watching? ah! You need privacy for that! You can dance like nobody is watching in large parties. Beats are pumping, lights are streaming, arms in the air, floating, frenzied feet, lots of people, it is not possible to get through the crowd with out saying excuse me. Laughter is roaring and cocktails are spilling. Lights are streaming through the spaces of the legs on the dance floor. Who could ask for a more intimate world? At small parties there isn’t any privacy.¹ At small parties there isn’t any privacy because everyone is focused on each other.

Dance like nobody is watching. A little party never killed nobody² because parties invite happiness. Right here right now is all we got.² Not withstanding the dramas of today, tomorrow and yesterday — time is frozen when you’re having fun. In party mode the main focus is self-happiness. Friends are laughing and chatting away. If you want to take a break you can step aside off the dance floor, grab a cocktail or a water and have an intimate conversation with the person you just squeezed yourself up against at the bar. Big parties, especially ones with dancing, allow the soul to be filled with passion, energy and happiness. No one else can hear you and no one else cares to pry in and listen, and even if people are watching you, no one cares, because everyone is focused in their own bubble of joy.

Toulouse Lautrec found a career whose office was the Moulin Rouge. In the end of the nineteenth century Montmartre, Paris was the talk of the town. It was a time of prosperity and entertainment, known as ‘belle époque’ or the beautiful age. The Moulin Rouge was a festive new music-hall which opened in 1889. Here Toulouse captured the sense of movement and freedom of dancers. In the Moulin Rouge the public came in mass to discover this extravagant place with its huge dance floor, mirrors everywhere, and galleries that were the last word in elegance, to mix with the riffraff and girls of easy virtue, in a garden decorated with a big elephant with rides on donkeys for the ladies’pleasure. There was such a wild atmosphere that the show was not only on the stage but all around : aristocrats and louts in caps had fun side by side, in an atmosphere of total euphoria. 6 And Toulouse captured this distant world that surrounds them with his paintbrush.

To make a long story short; Toulouse was born in 1867. He was a lively, noisy and curious boy. He was a smart kid but always got himself into mischief. He was raised from an elite family with a father who was an outdoorsman, a mother who loved him and an uncle who was an artist. Toulouse instinctively took to the excitement of his fathers horse riding adventures but he could not always ride them himself because he possessed a frail physique. When he was too sick for the outdoors with his father he stayed in with his uncle and sketched. His legs were frail but became disfigured after particular events. In May of 1878 at the age of thirteen, he stepped off a low chair with the help of his walking stick, tripped, fell and broke his left femur. Fifteen months later, on a walk with his mother Henri fell into a four – five foot dry ditch and fractured his right femur. With two broken femur’s his limbs healed improperly and refused to grow, but his torso grew normal with age. His total adult height amounted to about five feet. Despite his differences he filled his spirit with life in the Moulin Rouge.

When he was a boy, his father gave him a book, and in the book he wrote remember my son that an outdoor life in the fresh air is the only healthy one; every thing deprived of freedom wilts and soon dies. 5 So Lautrec spent his life submerged in freedom and made a career of painting parties.


Here he is in 1891 // 5

“He throws large parties and I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”¹

Lautrec’s post impressionist works reflected the energy of his soul and his passion for life. He spent late nights in the Moulin Rouge drinking to capacity and sketching. Contrary to drinking consequences, drinking did not effect his talent. Opposed to the latest impressionists techniques, Toulouse stripped off the detailed analysis of light, shadow and colors, his emotions brought out simplistic shapes and color values of yellows and pinks reduced to their essentials. Inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e prints. 7 he used areas of flat color bound by strong outlines, silhouettes, cropped compositions, and oblique angles clear and delicate, simple tones and vigorous and eloquent lines. In “At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance” visual hierarchy and movement is designed of the smallest point of the person in orange towards the upper left corner towards the back of the crowd bouncing closer to the front through the orange tights of the woman dancing in the middle and then landing on the fair skinned woman with the pink dress and yellow hat in the foreground.

All though this painting ‘At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance’ presents a full house, a sense of privacy is depicted by putting the surrounding friends in the darker hues. Privacy is offered because our eyes pay little attention to our friends in the dark. Lautrec’s color blocking technique from his selected point of view captures the passionate energy shining throughout the crowd along with the women dancing, (as if no one is watching), with her orange socks in the air and drapes of her brown dress in flight and in the foreground, the woman in the pink dress is happily enjoying the crowd.

Furthermore, Lautrec was notorious for his love affairs with the brothel workers of the Moulin Rouge, they cared for him and he cared for them. By doing so Lautrec left these party goers a legacy of privacy by not revealing the status of their lack of virtuous ways through his forever renowned paintings. He left no indication of a comparison of the distinct class between the prostitutes and women of higher class society. His works were documented only incidentally; they were in no sense records of prostitution. In the first instance, they were works of art, but they were also, in their own way, a plea. Lautrec disassociated these women from their profession because he wanted to paint them as he would have painted any other woman and with the same implacable truth. He could then state with all the greater firmness that no one in the world had the right to make anyone an outcast. Lautrec watched, drew and painted. Yet his canvases have neither romanticism nor vulgarity; he evaded to the equivocal and the lewd as much as he did the sentimental. Much of the women he painted were brothel workers, but to Lautrec, he saw right through them to their joyful heart. No where in his paintings does it indicate the sadness and sorrow of their life as an object. Even ugliness had its beautiful aspects; you simply had to be able to see them. The dancers would perform for their own pleasure and for these regular customers, inventing the most acrobatic steps, their whirlings reflected in the mirrors on the walls which multiplied their wild improvisations. 5 In parties there is no judgment. Parties fill the soul with joy and happiness. In these parties it did not matter the past present or future, they were all simply there to have fun.

Horan_RizziesWorld_ToulouseLautrec copy

Here is Mr. Lautrec painting “At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance” in his studio in 1890 // 5

“He throws large parties and I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”¹

Dance like nobody is watching. You can dance like nobody is watching in large parties because nobody is focused on you, they are focused on their own self-happiness that they feel when they are dancing with you. Toulouse’s legs were not up to par of the standard adult size but he loved life and spent his time designing visual images of  parties and happiness. Mr. Toulouse Lautrec drank himself to death, and he died at the age of 36 in 1901. Observing by his passion for painting, dancers and joyful night life… he seems to have had a lively soul. According to Feng Shui; a Chinese decorating system of harmony (it would’ve fit so perfectly with my story if Feng Shui was Japanese, like Toulouse’s painting style!), it isn’t the way the picture looks, it is the energy that the picture emits. The Dance by Toulouse Lautrec fills the soul with energy,  joy and freedom. So if you don’t want any more sluggish days, keep “At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance”  displayed on the walls of your house and you’ll feel like you are in a party with Toulouse-Lautrec every time you look at it.

Please watch this clip below of the movie The Great Gatsby to understand the idea of the parties and energy I am describing from his painting, and listen for Jordan Baker and her statement “He throws large parties and I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”¹ Lautrec’s paintings emit a sense of something like this…


Lautrec has applied himself to capturing hundreds of scenes with canvases, water color and drawings. If you’d like to see more of his work you can find him on Artsty’s website on their  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec page. If you browse around you will even find some of his drawings of horses, as referenced in this story.

FYI – If you happen to be in Madrid sometime between October 17, 2017 to January 21, 2018, be sure to check out the Picasso/Lautrec exhibit at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum where you can see his work up close and in person!




¹Scott, F. Fitzgerald. Book.  Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1925. Print.  

² Fergie, Q-Tip & Goonrock. “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody(All We Got).” The Great Gatsby Soundtrack. Interscope 2013. CD.  

³ The Post Impressionists – Toulouse Lautrec (Full Documentary)

At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance. 1890. Oil on Canvas. European Painting / Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia.

5 Perruchot, Henri. Toulouse Lautrec, a definitive biography. Cleveland: The World Publishing Company. 1958. Print.

6 Brightman, John. “The Great Periods” Moulin Rouge. Le Bal Du Moulin Rouge. 2013. Web. 18 March 2015.

7 Michael, Cora. “Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901)”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (May 2010)

From Lemons to Lemonade: Fighting for an Adventure

Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your heart and soul are precious things that can never be taken from you. Remember that…

—Oscar Wilde

When a journey starts out bad and we have to fight through it… it earns the title of an adventure. Adventures are precious irreplaceable thoughts locked in our heart allowing us to travel from here to then, right now. It is something so bitter it will make you tear with a sour face, but then, with the tiniest bit of sugar, is twisted into a thirst quenching refresher that you can not get enough of.

From mid December to mid January of 2010 I had the opportunity to travel to Italy for a month, Turin to be exact. From beginning to end, the trip was filled with unforgettable sub adventures. But today I will tell you about this one.

Turin is the home to the winter olympic games of 2006*. Two days after my arrival, my friend and friend’s room mate took me skiing on the renown mountain. We woke up earlier than the crack of dawn that morning, bundled up with layers of clothes worn under water proof clothes, covered our extremities with socks hats and gloves and we were on our way. The train ride took some time. I don’t remember.. maybe an hour – or two – or three, I forgot, but thats not the point. As the train trailed through I sat with my head leaning against the window and slept, occasionally opening my eyes to see the snow and trees passing by in the dark early morning.

Last stop. We’re here! As the doors split apart I stepped forward pressing my feet onto the ground and into the snow. I was greeted with a powerful blast of cold fresh air. The sky was still a midnight blue, lightened with gray, waiting for the sun to break through. To the right of me was the mountain inviting us over, looking above, the sky was sparkling with delicate crystals of ice finding their way to either the tip of my nose or the ground.

Stop! Photo op! We took lots of pictures here.

Here I am outside of the docked train parked at the station of Bardonecchia. Do you see how much snow there was? The snow is up to the seat of the bench behind me. I love it.

Here I am outside of the docked train parked at the station of Bardonecchia. Do you see how much snow there was? The snow is up to the seat of the bench behind me. I love it.

Moving right along we socialized with the workers, rented our skis, smashed our feet into the boots and were carried to the top of the mountain by a chair lift.

The day was filled with fun and excitement, slaloming down the mountain and such, stopping at the cabin on the top of the mountain for the most amazing hot chocolate and fantastic pizza.

One lemon. After hours of winter fun, we grew heavy and sluggish. Mutually, the three of us decided to give the mountain one more go. The chair lift picked us up at the bottom and slowly arrived to the top. Time to get off. We all did. except WACK! what was that? why is everything blank? Five blue birds and six sparkling gold stars were fluttering around my head. Slowly I trickled down into the snow. why are people running over and smashing snow into my head? don’t do that.. it will make my hair frizzy

My ski’s had gotten stuck under the ski’s of the people I was sitting in between as we were sliding off the the chair lift, preventing me from moving forward and the swing hit me in the head! Urgh.. How am I gonna get down now?

….Plus water…. From the moment I slid down and plopped to the floor the chair lift stopped dead in rotation. Friends, passerbyer’s and mountain workers came running over. My head hurt so much and I was in shock. Patrol guys were flashing lights into my eyes to make sure I did not have a concussion. They reacted quickly and concocted a plan. While waiting for help, I was invited to wait in the control room with the chair lift workers. I love this moment! I was able to hang out with them and talk to the Italian’s about their culture. They spoke some english and I spoke some Italian. Together, the three of us we were chatting up a storm. They were making  jokes and telling me everything will be fine. and Christmas was coming up! How nice it was hearing about the holiday lifestyles of these people. Thirty minutes later help had arrived. I was to ride halfway down with the patrol guy and be driven to the bottom on a snow mobile. Amazing! More time to share cultural stories. And down we went.

Can you see how wonderful this is? Instead of going down the mountain in your expected average way, being carried up by the chair lift and sliding down on two feet, I was given the gift of encountering a minor head injury allowing me to socialize plus a ride down on a snow mobile. The head injury was a small price to pay for the exciting adventure in return. What a gift!

With a dash of sugar…  At the end of the trip—on the train ride home, naturally it was very late. My two friends and I were resting in our seats. I noticed a young foreign guy sitting up ahead laughing with a group of his friends. He got up from his seat and headed towards us with a smile. He began to speak with us in Italian, with a non english nor Italian accent, but then it was an unsaid understanding that English was a common ground for all of us, so he changed his dialect. He wanted to know if we could help him choose the correct stop to get off from, and we did know. I knew our help meant a lot to him because when the conversation was over, he declared a great warm “God Bless Us!!” I’m pretty sure he meant God bless you, except his language translation jumbled up the content. Or, perhaps maybe he did mean “us” and wanted to include himself in the circle of blessings. Any how, I am grateful that he said his words that way, because had he not—I wouldn’t be sitting here with a great big grin on my face flashing back to that moment.

Creates lemonade! Adventures can not qualify as an adventure until after it has a happened and the moments have settled. Then we can look back and are able to know — that was an adventure — and it is preserved safe in our souls forever. I can save my ski trip in my pocket with out worries of losing it and keep it handy for whenever I am in need of smile.

What’s in your pocket?


Here I am at the top of Bardonecchia mountain preparing to make my way down (before the incident).

Thanks to this adventure, I was able to use the photos for a practice identity package for the KASTLE Ski Company for a class project. Check it out!
Kastle Ski Identity Redesign

Included is a composite of my ski pass from the day.

Included is a composite of my ski pass from the day. Overall, the design of the pass looks good. The colors are refreshing, energetic and pleasing to represent the mood of a beautiful cold day for skiing. The visual hierachy of the logo stands out with an emphasis on the first capitol B and ending in a capitol A. The logo is a little close to the top and could be moved down for more breathing room.  In order to make the appearance of the pass a little more visually pleasing, the white glow around the text should be eliminated. On the image to the right, a consistent right alignment of the text would look nice as well. In addition, the the circular seal and text could be adjusted to be a little more balanced with the words on the card.

Thanks for reading. As I stated in my last post… to take the pressure off of dear Frida Kahlo for sharing her lemons with the universe in my article “When life hands you lemons… ROCK ON!” I would like to share with you one of my lemons that can now be preserved as lemonade.

*2006 Winter Olympics

*Title inspired by Nick Montano who instructed me on the proper usage of the connection between from and to, inspiring the topic of the title From Lemons to Lemonade

When life hands you lemons… ROCK ON!

And I will show that whatever happens to anybody it may be turned into beautiful results.

Walt Whitman

The Two Fridas, painted in 1939
This painting is a self-portrait of Frida Kahlo. Represented is split between her two selves. From her period of turmoil and self-doubt. Frida on the right is her Mexican self in traditional tehuana dress. The Frida on the left is her European self dressed in a colonial white dress.

Whatever lemons life hands you, you have to keep going, you have to rock on and pursue the beauty that can come from it. No one’s life is easy. We all have difficult situations, even celebrities like Surrealist artist Frida Kahlo. Somewhere down the line, someone made the analogy, that obstacles are equivalent to lemons, this person said… When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. No matter what the situation is, beautiful results will occur if you keep going. Sometimes things happen that may seem like the end of the world, but just keep trying. Frida is a great example of someone who managed to turn bitter lemons into beauty.

Everyone has problems. I do, Frida Kahlo did, so do plenty of other people in the world, I bet. Sometimes it feels like whatever problem we are going through, it is the worst problem in the world. Just a few weeks ago I was in an unpleasant situation. It wasn’t life or death. I’m still here. I didn’t lose my home, I wasn’t physically hurt, neither was anyone else. I’m still pretty much me, just with another experience. In my mind, it was rough patch to go through. I wanted to drop everything and create a new life. I wanted to move to Hawaii. I wanted to abandon everything I had going on here and start fresh in a tropical world. I felt like I was the only one who had such a situation. If I moved to beautiful Hawaii everything would be fixed. Let me remind you I have never been there. I’ve only experienced it second – hand through stories and photos. This is a place where no one has problems ever…  I could start fresh and adapt to their completely problem free environment where I am guaranteed to never encounter a problem again, right? Right.

Leaving everything to move to Hawaii was the most logical way to solve the issue. Now I am laughing at how silly this idea was. Moving to Hawaii would be wonderful, but it wouldn’t have been the solution. Problems probably occur there too. Shortly after my situation was done and solved, a friend  of mine, who knew nothing about my issue and wanting to move, told me something very similar! She said she was upset and just wanted to move to Tennessee and start over. So, I know im not alone with this thought process. My point is that sometimes we — maybe not all of you, but some of us… have situations where we feel like life would be better if we just ran away from everything, and moved far, far away to start over. Lets not forget about Frida, I wonder if she ever felt like running away.

What happens when we don’t run away? We rock on and conquer our problem! How wonderful is that? When we win!? We get to keep our life and continue with the process that we’ve been working on so hard to put together.  It’s so easy to forget about the big picture during these inconvenient situations. Frida Kahlo was a Surrealist painter. To me — it appears that she lived a rough life but managed to pull out the goodness that she could. She made lemonade.  Ms. Kahlo was born on July 6th 1907. I will tell you, her life was one hardship after another. First — when she was 6, she acquired Polio. This left her with a leg significantly thinner than the other. But she didn’t feel sorry for herself and run away, she made the most of it. It didn’t kill her. She said… hey, i’m still mobile, I can fix this, let me just wear long skirts to disguise my leg and I’ll be on my way…

Continuing on, Frida excelled in her education and attempted to pursue a medical degree. She studied hard and was accepted into one of Mexico’s top notch schools, the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria. But what happened?? Shes not famous for her medical discoveries, shes world renowned for her paintings.

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter. She lived a life with many hardships. When she was 15 she was in a bus accident and A sharp pole went through her vagina. These are the words of my Spanish professor. She introduced Frida’s story to our class in 2006. I can hear the biography through her voice so clearly.

On September 17, 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus that collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries because of the accident, including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. Also, an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, compromising her reproductive capacity.

From that day on, she spent the rest of her life painting while she was trying to recover. She kept going. Frida was even a social butterfly. She was married to a painter she admired, Diego Rivera, and she didn’t stop there, Frida pushed the envelope and had several affairs. Her work is so unique. Her paintings were real — but not real, they were surreal. They had elements that seemed real but exaggerated. Illogical images were incorporated into the scene. Frida turned this tragedy into a beautiful result. She represented her thoughts through her paintings. Frida Kahlo said I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality. If you look at her work you will see how truthful it all is. There is no censorship to her thoughts. She’s blunt. Some stuff may offend the faint at heart, but it was her life.

When life hands you lemons, its important to make the most with them. Frida turned a series of unpleasant events into beauty. She painted over and over again and brought us into her world. Life is hard sometimes and its easy to feel like you’re the only one who has it rough. But sometimes when I am brought back to reality and reminded that no ones life is easy, it makes me feel better. Not because I am reminded that other people are having a rough time, but to know that I’m not the only one that is, to know that the world isn’t ganging up on me. When times get tough, its important to remember that things will get better if you rock on.

Quality Over Quantity

Hello everyone, I am sending my apologies this week. I was a bit crammed with additional work and my blog post is not quite up to par as I’d like it to be just yet. I am one for quality over quantity Rather than throwing the topic that I have in my mind together really quick, I am going to make the difficult choice of not posting a blog for you on my scheduled Sunday nights. I will continue to work on my writings so that it is something of more substance when I do post the next one, in a week or so.

Thank you for visiting! You’re the best!

Look for Chua!

Ladies and Gentleman, If I may-I would like to take this weeks post as an opportunity to share with you about my new friend Chua. Look for Chua. He is a New York City taxi cab driver. I would like to tell you about this past weekend, Saturday, September 22nd-to be specific, when I met him.

It certainly is incredible to think that my own personal world is the world-my world. Yet so many other people on this earth have their own world and possibly feel the same way. We all bring our visions together to create this massive interactive society of worlds. On planet Earth there is over 7 billion people in existence. In New York City there over 8 million people. What does it take to be noticed here? to feel like you’re world actually means something amongst everyone else world? Not to get too personal but, when I’m in the shower, no one else is there to bother me, and I am the center of my world. When I get out, I grab my big fluffy towel to dry off, and I’m safe, and dry in my own world. We aren’t always protected by a warm comfy towel. Sometimes I may feel like I’m on top of the world, on my journey through life, other times I feel like i’m just one tiny little grain amongst all thee other people in existence.

On Saturday I spent the day galavanting the city. By the end of the night I had made my way down to St. Marks Place. The path from St. Marks Place to Penn Station is not really reasonable walking distance. After walking all day I was tired and ready to take a taxi cab back to Penn. During the ride I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with the driver. He had a heavy accent, I could tell that he wasn’t from the U.S. I asked him about himself and what he was doing here. He told me his name is Chua, and he came here from Hong Kong to start a better life for his family. Chua wanted to give his children the opportunity to go to college and create great lives for themselves. Chua works his tush off so that his children can go to college. This man spends every day driving strangers around all over the city. Some strangers are kind to him, some are not so kind. Some give him a great tip and some don’t give him any. So much of his time- his life, is sacrificed for his children, to help them make their dreams come true.

Now, here is the exciting part!! During the ride, I knew where I was, I just didn’t want to walk. After a portion of the way, I knew that if I got out now and jogged at a moderate speed I’d make it to Penn Station in a timely manner (I wanted to get out sooner then later because I didn’t have much cash in my pocket and I wanted to save some as much as I could, just incase I encountered an emergency). The sky was dark out and the weather was drizzly, but I knew I would’nt melt. I told Chua he had taken me far enough. He knew my ultimate destination was Penn Station and asked multiple times if I was sure that I wanted to get out. I told him I am positive, this stop is great, I paid Chua, told him it was a pleasure chatting with him and thanked him for the ride. Shortly after I got out of the cab it began to pour! Now my un-meltable feeling was backfiring. All I could think about was making it to my train on time and wrapping myself in a big fluffy bath towel when I got home. Beeeeep!! My dreams were interrupted by a loud car horn. Once, twice, then over and over again. The sound was getting closer each time. I looked over my right shoulder and saw the noise was coming from my new friend Chua!! He noticed the rain and knew I had a distance to walk so he came to rescue me! He honked and told me to get in. While waving my arms, I said no, no, no and he kept insisting that I hop in. It was raining and the ride was tempting, so finally I got in. We chatted some more the rest of the ride to Penn. When we arrived I offered to pay him the rest of the fee but good old Chua refused to take any money! So-not only did this stranger, a cab driver, rescue me from the rain but he gave me a ride for free!! He wouldn’t even accept a tip. This random person rescued me from the rain. He wasn’t a creep nor was he a perv. I could tell he did this because he was genuinely doing a good deed out of the kindness of his heart. He took care of me as he would take of his own child.

After I got on the train I sat down, relaxed an processed the recent activity. I didn’t need the comfort of a five star hotel bath towel any more. There we were, two harmless strangers amongst the milions of people in this world. I had never met him before and will probably never see him again. I don’t know what the world is like through his eyes. But Chua took care of me. The situation I had just been a part of engulfed me in a warmth of emotion. Sitting there in wet clothes meant nothing to me. I was so happy to have experienced such a kind act. This moment sent me back to the top of my world.

Please keep Chua in your hearts for being so kind. If you ever happen to run into him, please wish him well!!