Beautiful Vermeer Exhibit at the Rijksmuseum…


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© Joan Currie – The Milkmaid by Vermeer

The wonderful, serene paintings of Jan [Johannes] Vermeer – although sadly few in number – show a world of Dutch order and domestic calm. His work illuminates the quiet life of ordinary Dutch men and, particularly, women going about their lives: cleaning, chatting, cooking, drinking, playing music, and quietly contemplating life. Their existence is shown as measured and predictable, comfortable but not glamorous, unhurried and orderly with nothing out of place. from Vermeer by Sandra Forty

I just returned from Amsterdam having had the good fortune to see the sold-out Vermeer exhibit at the Rijksmuseum twice, while I was there. In addition, I traveled to The Hague to see the Girl with a Pearl Earring, as the painting was removed from the Rijksmuseum on March 30, 2023 to return home to the Mauritshuis.

Johannes Vermeer is my favorite painter. The Rijksmuseum’s retrospective exhibit (until June 4, 2023) features 28 of 37 known Vermeer paintings. It is the first time since the Dissius Auction in 1696 (when, allegedly, 21 Vermeer paintings were put up for sale), that so many of his paintings have been on display at one time.

Although I have seen several of Vermeer’s works before, the exhibit lighting was spectacular and it allowed me to see details of the paint texture and layering that I had not noticed in the past. Below are some my favorite Vermeer paintings.

© Joan Currie – Woman in Blue Reading a Letter
© Joan Currie – The Glass of Wine
© Joan Currie – Detail of Girl Interrupted at Her Music
© Joan Currie – Detail of Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window

Beautiful Toil…


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© Joan Currie – Detail of A Bunch of Spring Flowers Needlepoint

The toughest wood with brightest blaze will greet:
The hardest nut contains the sweetest meat;
So wisdom, gained by light of midnight oil,
Gives richest recompense to patient toil.

From Industry By Charles Eugene Banks

I came across a half-finished needlepoint canvas while looking through my tapestry wool stash. I began it over a decade ago and decided at the time that I just didn’t have it in me to finish it – much like when I started reading the 1,072-page classic, Don Quixote, and decided enough was enough and put it back on the shelf.

After examining the needlepoint canvas further and determining that I had just enough wool to complete it, I resolved to push through and finish it. It took me just over a month of incessant work. It is, hands down, my favorite needlepoint piece to date. I sewed it into a pillow using silk fabric backing and velvet piping from Chennai and wool stuffing from a sheep farm in Pennsylvania. I love it and it was well worth the effort!

Beautiful Taking Flight…


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© Joan Currie – Detail of my watercolor of a Grosbeak

When a bird, takes flight
Wings, sail on air
Silhouettes of time
Upon clouds, inspire
No height, inconceivable
Nor dream, unreachable
Fear, no longer, an obstacle
Hunger, no more, high I soar
Tears retreat, from, the earths floor
The sky, stretches out, its arms and opens its door
from A Bird Takes Flight by Bernard E. Harris

After months of contemplation, I awoke this morning and knew it was time to move. Although I haven’t settled on the exact location for my new home, I am ready to take flight!

Beautiful Do What You Say You Are Going To Do…


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© Joan Currie – My self-portrait in acrylic on canvas

If you don’t mean it with every bone in your body, then just don’t say it. – Danielle LaPorte

I have learned over the years that beguiling promises, theatrical proclamations, and seductive statements of intent mean absolutely nothing without action, follow-through, stepping up to the plate, becoming a stakeholder, and/or demonstrating observable results. So please, no more talk – take action!

Beautiful Bugs…


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© Joan Currie – Fun watercolor bugs in my sketchbook.

It‘s a children’s book…It’s mostly about very small animals; the hero is a moss beetle. – Noël Coward.

For several months I have been utterly enchanted with the animal world and now insects, in particular, are capturing my attention. Previously, I associated insects with mostly the stinging kind; yes, occasionally a monarch butterfly or ladybug would land on me, but mostly I was a target for anything that would bite, be it mosquitoes, bees, wasps, deer flies, fleas, spiders, fire ants, etc. So my relationship with bugs has not been the best over the years.

But last October that all changed when I attended an exhibition called Crawly Creatures at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and became fascinated with the images of bugs on the pages of illuminated manuscripts, oil paintings, and ornaments. Since then I have discovered the beauty of these small creatures – be it their colors, textures, and/or intricate body parts- especially the wings!

Last week, as I walked around my neighborhood, I starting noticing insects everywhere- lurking on the edges of branches, flower greenery, and flying through the air. They have transmuted in my mind from being creatures of nuisance, to be cast off (or squashed!) to being fellow creatures to adore and to behold for their sheer beauty!

© Rijksmuseum

Beautiful Primroses and Kaffe Fassett…

© Joan Currie. My newly completed Lichen Auriculus needlepoint designed by Kaffe Fassett

Welcome pale primrose, starting up between,
Dead matted leaves of oak and ash, that strew
The every lawn, the wood, and spinney through
‘Mid creeping moss and ivy’s darker green,
How much thy presence beautifies the ground!
How sweet thy modest, unaffected pride
Glows on the sunny bank, and wood’s warm side!
And where thy fairy flowers in groups are found
The schoolboy roams enchantedly along,
Plucking the fairest with a rude delight,
While the meek shepherd stops his simple song,
To gaze a moment on the pleasing sight,
O’erjoyed to see the flowers that truly bring
The welcome news of sweet returning Spring.

From the sonnet To a Primrose by John Clare

The Primula auricula, common name Primrose, is one of my favorite flowers! When I was a child, my mother would take me to tea parties at her friend Dorothy’s house. Dorothy had a reputation as the local green thumb and garden queen. I loved going there because this lady had a magnificently fecund display of primrose plants. They were housed in a jumble of assorted clay pots sitting on exquisite porcelain saucers lined up along the sill of a huge picture window. The plants’ petals were enormous and each plant boasted a unique two-toned color combination. My favorite colors were: magenta, fuchsia, violet, and sap green. The centers of the petals were a very deep yellow. Those wonderful colors have remained in my memory and although I have never been able to grow primroses with the same success as Dorothy, I take time to admire them whenever I get the chance!

Bloemenstudie by Maria Margaretha van Os at the Rijksmuseum

Beautiful Pre Springtime Starlings…


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© Joan Currie – Starlings from my sketchbook.

The starling is my darling, although
I don’t much approve of its
Habits. Proletarian bird,
Nesting in holes and corners, making a mess,
And sometimes dropping its eggs
Just any old where – on the front lawn, for instance.

It thinks it can sing too. In springtime
They are on every rooftop, or high bough,
Or telegraph pole, blithering away
Discords, with cliches picked up
From the other melodists…

From The Starling by John Heath-Stubbs

Despite the snap of cold weather, the starlings were out in full force today perched on the branches of crabapple trees – mostly hidden by the burgeoning pink blossoms. It seemed as if they were rehearsing a mixture of musical numbers and squeaky songs for a springtime premiere. They put a smile on my face!

© Joan Currie – Crabapple blossoms from my sketchbook.

David Bowie and Beautiful Repurposing of Ticket Stubs…


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© Joan Currie – Some of my old ticket stubs.

An art book is a museum without walls. – Andre Malraux

A while back, I came across a box of old art museum, music, and attraction ticket stubs from my various travels. I am so glad that I saved them as not only do they serve as touchstones for wonderful memories but because they are quite beautiful – miniature works of art in their own right! I took them out of the box and now use them as bookmarks in my art books. I have also done the same with airplane boarding passes, tram and train tickets.

During my travels last year, scan codes were used for all the attractions and I did not come home with a single ticket stub from any of the venues I visited! Photos, postcards, and maps will have to suffice but will not be the same as ticket stubs. Now I have no tangible connection to the time and place I visited nor do I have a beautiful work of art or photograph that was the best part of the art museum and attraction tickets.

My David Bowie concert ticket stub (above) reminds me of David Bowie performing on stage in a torrential downpour in Wellington, New Zealand! A scan code on my phone would not evoke that memory the same way the ticket stub does.

Beautiful Atomic Habits and Needlepoint Projects…


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Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound and turn into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years. – James Clear

I began the needlepoint project, pictured above, in October. It is entitled Hedgerow, from Elizabeth Bradley’s Natural History Collection. After I started working on it, I realized that it would take me about a year to complete due to the size of the canvas, the number of color changes (24 different colors of tapestry wool!), and the amount of time I had to devote to it – typically on a catch-as-catch-can approach. It usually takes me about three months to finish a needlepoint, so this one was a bit daunting by comparison. I knew I had to just get on with it. The needlepoint wasn’t going to get done by itself, but I wasn’t sure how to speed up the process.

However, last month I read James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, after which I decided to make some changes to my morning routine. I now get up an hour earlier every morning to work on my needlepoint. The needlepoint canvas and wool are laid out on the sofa ready for me to pick up in the morning so I am able to start working right away – no set-up time is required. This activity may or may not be accompanied by a podcast or new music stream or just thinking about how I am going to structure my day to get the tasks done on my to do list.

Although it is still early with my new habit formation, I have to report that I am thrilled with my progress! I only complete a tiny square of stitches each day but I can see that over the last few weeks these tiny squares are accumulating nicely and the textile will, indeed, be completed by the summer – probably four months earlier than my projected finish date! Yay! (I will still have to sew it into a pillow, but that is another story.)

I have so many textile, studio art, and home improvement projects in the works that I have been somewhat frustrated (more like overwhelmed) wondering how I am going to get them all done. This needlepoint project is only one positive data point, but I plan to apply this process to the other projects and I am looking forward to the results!

Beautiful Valentine’s Day Thoughts…


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© Joan Currie My champagne and raspberry truffles.

Both feel that this first touch of a hand in a cab, even if it was expected by the woman, means a decision of the first order; it contains, basically, all of what is to follow. There is nothing to compare with this gesture in all the living together of human beings. The man felt nothing at all like this, when he kissed that hand of the lady, at their introduction, though he was in this way very close to a strange lady; but today, the little touch of her glove means a surrender that makes both tremble.
– Emil Ludwig

Happy Valentine’s Day, especially to those who truly and unabashedly take joy in making those they love feel cherished! ❤️