Cosmic Coffee Break

What better excuse for a break from work than a delicious cup of coffee? Usually I enjoy my coffee alone, while reading an article or watching a podcast, but today I felt the need for company, so I invited a good friend: the Cosmic Lady. She comes from time to time for a chat and she always have some interesting mysteries of the universe to unravel or some great pieces of advice to give me that I cannot ignore.

Today she was in the mood for poetry and she quoted William Henry Davies:

What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?

And then nothing. We sat in silence, drinking our coffees and staring: at clouds, at birds, at trees, at everything around us. It was a nice, enlightening coffee break.

PS: Initially, I intended to write a longer post, but I really want to take my time and just stare some more! So…this is it! Enjoy your coffee and stand and stare! 🙂

To My Dear Nemo

I promised myself that every week I’ll post a new design with a story attached. Unfortunately, life showed me, once more, how fragile our resolutions are, how fragile everything is. I didn’t have much time or disposition for any new art these days as I spent all of my time taking care of my dying four-legged friend, watching life slowly leaving his earthly body. We have spent almost 12 years together with many ups and downs. He was my joy and, sometimes, he was my hell, as he was a difficult dog. But he was mine and I was his and I loved him deeply. But it comes a time when life tells us we must follow different paths. For a while, at least. This is the thing with our dog partners: they have a life span that doesn’t fit ours and we have to witness their deaths. He could have stayed a bit longer but, for some reason, he chose to go away now. Maybe it is like the doctors say: in their old age, dogs hardly accept changes. And our lives have drastically changed lately and he didn’t find the energy or will to adapt anymore. Well, it might be that or, maybe, as my father says, Tara, his female dog friend that died an year ago, is calling him. You know, on the other side is not always that fun. If you don’t have your friends or family by your side, it might get a bit dull. So maybe, my Nemo heard Tara’s call and he decided to go entertain her. She is, probably, really bored and wants some good company. And with Nemo life is anything but boring. He goes knowing that he is leaving me in good hands: with my other three younger dogs that will keep me company until they will hear, in their turn, Nemo’s call.

But until then, I am saying good bye to my sweet companion that is leaving now, one of the few beings I have been blessed to walk my life with on this Earth. He’s part of me and he’ll always be. He filled my life with many experiences and all kind of emotions and I am what I am because of him, too. I’ve learned so many things by having him by my side: about dogs, about me, about life! A dog is a special friend. A true one. Maybe the only true one.

It is a difficult thing to witness my furry friend’s last days. Until death will embrace him, and I hope that will happen soon so he can be free of pain, I try to enjoy for the last times the light in his eyes, the warmth of his now frail body, the smell of his fur, the roughness of his paws. I will never see or feel them again. At least not in this form, not in this way. I really hope he felt loved! And until we’ll meet again, we’ll see each others in my dreams and we’ll talk during my sleepless nights, as I do with every dear one that left this realm.

But, sometimes, miracles happens, so…who knows? I don’t dare to hope, though.

Dancing Like No Other

Sun was gaining more and more power, winter was fighting its last battles, spring was spreading slowly but steady and I felt like dancing. With my dogs, with the birds outside, with the delicate spring-flavoured wind.

Everybody should dance. At least twice a day. I do. It gives one such a rejuvenating feeling. Just like spring does.

The joyful energy of dance filled my every cell and I felt the need to paint it. I started searching for protagonists for my painting story. Since I was always in awe with the elegance and the grace of ballerinas, I thought it would be a great idea to paint one.

Ora, the prima-ballerina I had chosen to model me for my painting was not a regular ballet dancer. She was special. A bit eccentric and really spoiled and stubborn, but extremely talented and devoted to her art. She lived for her ballet. And she wouldn’t model for me by dancing with just any partner. She wanted the best one, because she wanted to give a performance to remember and that couldn’t be done with a regular man. So I had traveled far and wide, searching/looking for what she asked for. And just the moment I wanted to quit, he appeared in front of my eyes: the red-crowned crane, Akio, from Japan. His dance was exquisite. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. My presence didn’t seem to bother him. He was so absorbed in his dance that he, probably, hadn’t even noticed me. I felt like my quest was over! There he was: someone who not only danced like no other but who was, also, so passionate about what he was doing that everything disappeared around him while he danced.

The fact that he was a crane, was a bit of a problem at first. But we overcame that. After many discussions (lucky me he was a good English speaker), Akio agreed to be my ballerina’s partner and so I introduced them to one another. They spent some time togheter to get to know each other so they could bond in the spring-celebration dance they would perform for me to paint.

Akio told Ora that his kind has been dancing since the beginning of time and they consider dance a sacred thing. In their society, they dance for sheer joy, celebrating life. Otherwise, they only dance with their mate. Their unison dance is a celebration of their love, a ritual the pair will perform together many times over the years, to strengthen their lifelong bond. Parents teach their babies to dance and young cranes practice dancing for years before they choose a mate. Akio was a young crane who didn’t have a mate, yet, but he had an innate dancing talent.

Ora had also found out that the red-crowned crane was on the brink of extinction in Japan due to hunting and the destruction of their natural marshland habitat for agricultural development. But, happily, the Japanese people took action and, in 1920, a group of farmers started feeding the birds in the wild. The crane population grew and nowadays there are over a thousand birds in Hokkaido region in Japan, but they are totally dependant on humans for food during the winter, therefore their future is still uncertain.

Many other interesting things did Ora find out that day, like the impressive wingspan of Akio, that is 2.5 m, his height that is about 1.58 m, that the red patch on his head is not a feather but bare skin, or that the red-crowned crane is one of the longest-living species of bird, living up to 30-40 years in the wild or up to 70 years in captivity.

When Ora’s time to talk came, she didn’t know what to share. She wanted to tell so many things but she had to choose the most relevant ones. And…she did. In her way. Akio learned that she was the only child and maybe that’s why she was so stubborn and spoiled, that she wasn’t a natural brunette (I don’t know why she considered that an important thing to share, but she did) and that her secret wish was to ride a bear. Her favourite ballet piece was Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”. That was not such a surprise, knowing her, but, even if she would have liked “Swan Lake” the most, she couldn’t have said that to a crane. Akio had also found out that even if the ballet dancers are typically known for their grace, poise, and dedication, they are incredibly strong and probably are the strongest athletes out there, as several studies had found. One mustn’t be fooled by the delicate appearance of a ballerina. They are really tough, both physically and mentally. Ballet is such a complex art sport that many athletes take ballet lessons to improve their performances. To name a few: Eddie George, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barry Sanders. Also, The Chicago Bulls used to train with the Joffrey Ballet troupe in the off-season during the Michael Jordan Era.

I definitely have to google for Arnold, the ballet dancer, to see if she was not making things up because, sometimes, she really seems to live in her own fabricated world.

That was all the sharing Ora did. She wanted to say so much more but she couldn’t decide what, so she stopped.

But the crane was pleased with the things he learned and they started to dance and I started to paint. They totally completed each other: the most graceful dancers from two different worlds dancing like one. A strange but superb duet. At the end of one week, my painting was ready, but the Ora and Akio hadn’t noticed I finished. They kept on dancing like no other couple had ever done. I left leaving them moving gracefully under the blossomed cherry tree. They were a weird pair. But perfect.

Earth’s Dream

Sometimes, when I put my ear against the acacia tree in my garden, Earth speaks to me, so I know for sure that she desperately needs a vacation, but she took a vow a looong time ago and she cares too much about her duty to allow herself to take a break. She promised to carry us, to feed us, to sustain us and she cannot abort her mission. She could, but she chooses to stay and fulfill the things she signed for, eons ago even though she is exhausted. All the pollution, the noises, the garbage, the negative thoughts and energy of people drain her life force away. She needs a holiday like plants need water to grow, like animals need air to breath, like humans need love to flourish, like my dog needs my foot to put his head on in order to fall asleep.

Knowing how desperately Earth needs a break and knowing that she chooses to stay, we might respect her for that decision and make her life a bit easier, her duties a bit lighter. We can do that. It is not that hard. For start, I’ll drive my car less and also, I won’t use the hairdryer anymore. I’ll let the wind do that job. He is so fun: he sometimes puts dandelion seeds in my hair, and, in spring, he leaves my hair perfumed with lily scent, and he always whispers all kind of secrets from around the world in my year. Yup… the wind is a playful one. I love him.

Meanwhile, Earth can, at least, dream of a weekend on a beach, away from everything and everyone, only she, and the stars, and the ocean. Not so far away, in Andromeda Galaxy, there is a cosmic ocean with a delightful cosmic beach where only planets are allowed, but Earth wasn’t there for some time and, as I know her, she won’t go there too soon. She’s too responsible. But she can dream. And while she dreams, we can make her life easier. It’s the least we can do.

I’ve tried to reproduce the Earth’s dream as she whispered it to me. I don’t know if it is totally accurate, but I did my best so other people can find out about it.

The Lady With The Bird Feeder Hat

During the cold season things get harder for the wild birds, food is sparse, weather is cold. Many birds that enter the winter won’t see the spring sun again. Some will die of starvation, some of cold, some of broken heart. [And that is not a joke. It is said that some birds (like parrots, parakeets, cockatiel, to name a few) can die of broken heart.] Being aware of the hardships of winter for the wild life and knowing that we, humans, do many bad things to nature through our actions, I thought I might do something good, for a change. I have formed a new habit and started to feed the birds in my yard every winter. Over the years, they have multiplied so much that now it seems like all the birds in town are feeding in my garden. 🙂 They heard that there’s a lady somewhere in town who doesn’t have any other job than to fill and refill several bird-feeders a day. And birds talk. And they are not selfish. If one finds food, she tells the others, which tell the others and so on. It happened just like that in my case, too. The birds spread the word until my yard was bird-full and I had to buy more bird feeders and, of course, more food. Also, I had to diversify it, as more bird species came and some of them had a different diet. Therefore, besides seeds, I had to start feeding them fruits, and dry worms, and bacon, and what not! And if, God forbid, I forget to refill the bird-feeders, the army of birds send their messengers at my window to notify me about my unforgivable mistake and they chirp and flutter their wings at my window and, sometimes, they knock with their beaks in the glass until I finally understand what is going on and go out and fulfill my duty. At last!

There are voices telling me that by feeding the birds I interfere with nature and I mess up their habits. While that might be true, at some extent, it is also true that we harm nature and, implicitly the birds, in so many ways and we don’t think about that too much or at all. Polluting the planet, destroying their habitat by cutting the forests, imprisoning the birds by making them our pets and so on are overseen by so many, therefore, feeding my winged friends is the least I can do to counteract the negative impact on the bird populations due to man irresponsible actions. In an ideal world, I’d probably let the nature just be, but in this society, I feel like I had to do something, a little bit, to restore the frail balance of nature.

Besides feeding the birds in my yard, I, also, stuff my bag with bird food every time I go shopping or just for a walk in town, just in case I happen to meet some lost hungry birds that haven’t heard yet about my bird-heaven-yard and they are starving somewhere, in the cold winter.

Being like I am, I often think it would be extremely nice to have a bird-feeder winter hat, so I can easily feed the birds wherever I go, whenever I go and, with this dream-wish in my head, this painting came to life! And who knows, I might build myself the hat someday and wear it during the cold season. I know for sure that the birds would be absolutely delighted; and so would be the people in my city … but for entirely different reasons! 🙂

This is one of the images that inspired my piece: my army of sparrows that I see from my kitchen window while they are eating in my yard.

You Are Safe

This piece is a tribute to all the parrot species that are on the brink of extinction due to humans altering their habitat and due to parrot trafficking.

The inspiration for this piece came after a visit to a pet shop from last week.

A man who was buying a parrot asked the saleswoman if he had any warranty for the bird since it didn’t look that well, at least so it seemed to him and he was concerned for his money (not so much for the poor bird). The woman answered that he had one week warranty and if anything happened to the parrot during that period, he could bring it back (dead or alive) and he would got a refund. All the conversation sounded so insensitive to me. It was like they were talking not about a living soul, but about an electronic device or something. That hit me hard! I’ve realized once more the importance of things in our society. We came so far since the beginning of human kind but we still have a long way ahead! Unfortunately, speciesism is still a fact in today’s society for most of the people. For me, we are all (humans, animals, plants, everything) of the same importance (or no importance, as you like) in the big scheme of things.

After the little incident from the pet shop, having my soul filled with compassion for the innocent little bird, I did some researches about parrots and found out that they are thought to be some of the smartest non-human beings on our planet. They are as smart as a 3-4 year old human child, being able to solve puzzles and understanding the concept of cause and effect.

Unique fact in birds’ kingdom: Parrots are the only birds that can lift food to their beaks using their feet.

But what I like most about parrots is the fact that they are, with few exceptions, monogamous (well…I’m a romantic, what can I say?) and spend their lives with only one mate forming strong bonds and remaining together during the nonbreeding season, too.

One thing led to another and I’d started reading about parrot trafficking and found out many disturbing facts!

Blue Macaw, the parrot that inspired “Rio”, is now officially extinct in the wild due to deforestation and trafficking. And so are many other birds especially in the South America and Brazil.

For my piece I have chosen to paint a Hyacinth Macaw, another wonderful endangered species. He is called “the parrot king” and he is one of the most trafficked birds. Trade in wild hyacinth macaws is strictly prohibited and one can only sells captivity born birds. Breeders do that by selling them with 10000 $ per piece at least. At the same time, as hyacinth macaw fails constantly to reproduce in captivity, breeders encourage egg trafficking. Egg smuggling is a growing crime because eggs are easier to smuggle than live birds—they’re small, don’t make noisy birdcalls, and if a luggage inspection is anticipated, they’re easily destroyed (National Geographic). People adapt fast when it comes to thrive at another species expense. People adapt in many situations, actually. This is how we reach so far in our evolutionary path. But nowadays, it seems like it is imperative to exercise our adaptation capacity in a different way then we did before, to be more careful with every step, every decision we make or it could be the last one.

Let’s start by being more conscious about Hyacinth Macaw and all the beautiful (and ugly) parrots and by being more aware of the fact that when we buy a parrot (or any other bird), we actually, might contribute to its extinction. And a world without parrots would be a less beautiful one!

Fly Me to the Moon

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What could be more romantic than flying above the clouds to the Moon in a vintage plane? I know… some of you would say that it would be a bit cold up there in a vintage plane but… the romance of the moment would warm the atmosphere, wouldn’t it? Of course, the fuel could also be a problem… 🙂 But leaving the fuel and the cold aside… the experience would be a most romantic one!

Love is strongly tied to the Moon. “I love you to the Moon and back” lovers say, “Bring me the Moon” a girl would say to test her partner’s love,  Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” is such a playful romantic song and what about Mancini’s Moon River? So dreamy and romantic! All the romantic poets and artists talk/write/paint at least one time in their lives the Moon and they associate it with love and romance.  I am fascinated with this romantic heavenly body. And I love stars and clouds and vintage planes and I love Love, therefore this piece just  had to came out somehow, someday. And it seems that someday is today 🙂

James Joyce wrote a wonderful, poetic description of the Moon:

“Her antiquity in preceding and surviving succeeding tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all her phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence: the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible”- James Joyce, Ulysses

Enjoy the piece!

Love and Moonlight!

 

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read a bit about this piece.

Little Wonder Bunny

I wanted to create an image that is magical, yet believable. After wandering through my mind’s drawers for a while, I came to this solution: making a photo-like image using a romantic starry night sky above a warm sunny hill scape. I was inspired by Magritte’s “L’Empire des Lumière” but I didn’t push the limits, so the image wouldn’t look too artificial. The rabbit is here to guide you to your own Wonderland. At first, I let the rabbit out, but then, I came to the conclusion that the magical feeling of this image requires a wonder-rabbit for guidance so I asked Alice to send me a relative of her magical white rabbit. She agreed and…here he is! The magical day-night field guarded by the cousin of Alice’s rabbit who is anxious to take you to the world of magic!

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You can make this image yours here and here and let the wonder-bunny bring more magic into your life.

Thank you for stopping by and for giving me some of your precious time!