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THE DARK ART - Ancient and Modern Forgery September 19 2018, 0 Comments

We believed. We were betrayed. We were conned. Experts were fooled. Our trust stolen. Our commitment challenged. From Ancient Egypt, Classical Greece, the Roman Empire, through the European Renaissance to Modern Art, the art of forgery endures.


The Meidum Geese painting, called "Egypt's Mona Lisa" purportedly painted between 2610 and 2590 B.C. and found in the tomb of Pharaoh Nefermaat, might be a fake. It could be nothing more than an elaborate forgery, created in the 19th century.

The authenticity of the bust of Nefritti has been called into question.

                    

It's understood that the ancient Romans copied ancient Greek art. One empire did not forge another empire's art work. Comparing Greek art to Roman art, Rebecca Warner concludes in her article in Quora that “Greek art was more sophisticated in form, and much Roman art consisted of copies of Greek art". Fortunately, for posterity, the Diana of Versailles is a marble statue of the Greek goddess Artemis (Latin: Diana), and is a Roman copy (1st or 2nd century AD) of a lost Greek bronze original 325 BC.The Jennings Dog is a 2nd-century AD Roman copy of a Hellenistic bronze original, probably of the 2nd century BC.  

La Bella Principessa

In A Forger’s Tale, convicted forger Shaun Greenhalgh’s memoir, he reveals that he drew Leonardo da Vinci’s La Bella Principessa, which has been valued upwards of US$100 million. With commitment and talent, it seems that art forgery isn't difficult to do. Many have been duped.

   

                     
authentic Giacometti -  Le Nez                                                       forged Giacometti - Walking Man

Robert Driessen, forger of Alberto Giacometti  reveals how he became an expert in replicating the artist's works.

Forger John Myatt, was imprisoned in 1995, but not before he sold 200 works in the style of Picasso, Van Gogh and Chagall as originals to auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's. In 2008 after his release he launched an exhibition at Harrods of his  "Masters-inspired" paintings.

Forgery is an immense global enterprise. The court case which led to the downfall of the 150 year old Knoedler Gallery, revealed forged art works of Abstract Expressionists Rothko, Pollock, Motherwell, Diebenkorn and De Kooning. An article in ArtNews exposed the behind-the-scenes activities of the New York gallery.

in Sotheby’s scientific research department

In a New York Times article by Anita Gates, Where Art Forgeries Meet Their Match
we understand that forgers should never wear synthetic fibres, and they should know how to sign the artist's name correctly.

My explorations into the concept of "the Other" in the history of art continues with this blog post, and the next...

 

 
 



ANDY WARHOL - ANDY WARHOL September 12 2018, 0 Comments

Andy Warhol was a legend in his own lifetime. He mastered the art of repetition, mass production, irony and overuse colour for his artistic creations of the Double, the Other.

   
 Andy Warhol Double Self Portrait                            Mickey Mouse Double

Andy's World

Pop Art, which began in the 1950s, replaced Abstract Expressionism as the new vital face of art in the New York art world.


Andy brought imagery into his work. He became a Pop icon who envisioned Pop Art images that would glorify and criticize consumption.

Double Torso

The technique of silk screening allowed Andy to create double and multiple images of movie stars, soup cans, flowers, Brillo boxes. The visual shift from one image to its double creates appealing visuals of movement and excitement.

 

                

Rachel Small article on Edvard Munch and Andy Warhl highlights the similarities that that the artists shared in their understanding of the value multiple image in the art market.

 

In Elvis Presley we see the never ending glorification of imitation, freedom, the thrill of becoming an Other, any time.

        

Double Elvis  and more Elvis

 

Duality and Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol portrait

It’s impossible  to know the truth about the life of Andy Warhol. As his fame grew, and demands made on his time, Andy was represented by a double: Allen Midget, and hardly anyone noticed. A robot was created in Andy’s likeness for a Broadway show, but limited technology could not complete the vision. He wanted the robot to go on the road and make public appearances in his place.

Andy skillfully used contradictions and veils to create mystery around his public persona. The private Andy was a shy, religious man who went to church on Sundays, and lived with his mother in New York. In contrast to the chaotic atmosphere of the Factory, the front parlor of his home was tidy and tastefully decorated--but the other rooms were packed to capacity. Andy was a hoarder of epic proportions.

If you'd like to know more about Andy Warhol's life, let me suggest the biography, Holy Terror, by Bob Colacello. The Andy Warhol Diaries is always an entertaining, yet semi-fictitious read. Andy Warhol: A Documentary is a good primer available on YouTube

A dual image, the Other image, allows one of us to hide and be anonymous. You can go anywhere when you’re somebody else.

All of this research about Andy Warhol has inspired me to create some graphic images which I'll share in my next post.

Until then,

Hasta luego amigos

Val

 

 


TWINS LOOK TWICE September 06 2018, 0 Comments

I'm Beside Myself
I’m a twin. Virginia is my counterpart. There’s a second set of twin sisters: Patricia and Donna. Twin nephews and twin aunts appear along my family line. It’s no wonder that I’m inspired to create designs based on the Twin motif, the Double, the Other.

  

Girl Before a Mirror - Picasso                 Las Dos Fridas - Frida Kalho

 

Twins appear throughout history and in mythology, in literature and the visual arts, in science (Einstein’s “twin paradox” explains his special theory of relativity), and in modern culture (Elvis Presley was a twin). Syriac traditions recognized Thomas, “Didymus,” as Christ’s twin. In Roman mythology, twins Romulus and Remus founded the ancient city of Rome.

 

       

In the visual arts, the twin image appears in many guises, but not always recognized as such. The Double appears in a mirror, as reflection, in a shadow, as imitation, in optical illusions. The idea of twins invites us to look at the familiar in a different way. To think twice, to think again, and explore.

 

I'm working on some new designs and they'll be available soon on Society6. More information soon. Until then...

Hasta luego amigos,

Val

 

 

 

 

 


LA CATRINA FINDS YOU August 15 2018, 0 Comments

La Catrina is an icon of the Day of the Dead in Mexico. Even though she is a skeleton, La Catrina is a tradition full of life wearing her elaborate somberero and elegant dress.

     

Death is not feared in Mexico: offerings, songs, respect and humor are common Mexican expressions towards death, and Catrina, the Grande Dame of Death, is admired and respected. Her beginnings as Mictēcacihuātl go back to the Aztec era. During the twentieth century, in the creative hands of artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, Catrina's image was transformed. She gained political importance and became a cultural icon.

 

In Diego Rivera's satirical political mural Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central, Catrina dominates the centre.

 

                                                    

Catrina's image is seen all over Mexico:  on the streets, in the parks, and in the tiendas/shops.  El Museo de Arte Popular has a fantastical collection of Catrinas. A search on the web shows the many forms Catrina takes: tatoos, makeup, chocolates, candy. Clothing such as dresses, hats, headbands, shoes, baby and children's clothes, dog clothes, display her image. She appears on the top of cakes, as a bride, and as a pregnant woman.

In Mexico you don't have to look for Catrina. She finds you. She is an extraordinary example of how the Mexican people embrace the reality of death and bring it into their every day life. La Catrina is educating me.

For now, and only now,

Hasta leugo amigos

Val

 

 


AM I SEEING THINGS? August 07 2018, 0 Comments

 Earthquakes and Other Surprises in Mexico City

  

Mexico City aftermath                                                             Second Tower of Arcos Bosques Mexico City

The Mexican people live with the reality of earthquakes, too often. And they are brave. My explorations have shown me that although this catastrophic and destabilizing event destroys edifices, a surprising number of buildings in Mexico City seem designed to echo some of the effects of earthquakes. These bold and daring architectural creations exist in many cities in Mexico.

      

Cineteca Nacional  Mexico City                                                     Roberto Cantoral Cultural Center  Mexico City

A common feature of urban Mexico is a circle called punto de reunión - meeting point - which appears on sidewalks in the city. Each circle marks a predesignated evacuation point for a nearby building.

   

 

Their usefulness is debatable. I wonder if this symbol is an attempt to give people a sense of safety and control in the middle of a crisis. They need it.

 

       

       

I like serendipity, and it finds me sometimes just walking down the street. An afternoon's meander has taken me past rooftop guardians, through the grounds of a modern art museum with its giant ant installation, past an auto parts store with velvet sofa, and delivered me to a tranquil garden with a sculpture shouldering its tiny burden.

 

When you visit Mexico, you must stroll through these parks. You'll be delighted with what will find you.

Bosque de Chapultepec
This sprawling city park is nearly 1,700 acres and features many attractions.

Parque Hundito

Low-key city park set below street level featuring walking paths & an off-leash dog area.

Alameda Central
Alameda Central is a public urban park in downtown Mexico City. Created in 1592, the Alameda Central is the oldest public park in the Americas.

Parque México 
The Parque México, also known as the Parque San Martín, is a large urban park located in Colonia Hipódromo in the Condesa area of Mexico City.

Desierto de los Leones
Desierto de los Leones National Park is located entirely within the limits of the Federal District; it stretches between Cuajimalpa and Álvaro Obregón boroughs.

Until next time

Hasta luego

Val


  


 


Art of the Paper Cut - Papel Picado August 01 2018, 0 Comments

 

Papel picados are elaborate decorative cut paper designs found all over Mexico. Although commonly on display during secular and religious occasions, papel picados are seen in abundance during the Day of the Dead ceremonies. The history of this art form, as with all of Mexico's artistic past, is very interesting. Mesoamerican cultures such as the Otomi and the Aztec created images in their designs for use in rituals to combat disease, misfortune, dangerous spirits, and for protection.

     

                          Joanna Koerten, Amsterdam                                     Vtynanky, Ukraine

Cut paper artistry is found in countries world-wide:  China's long tradition with this artistic form began in the sixth century. Since the 16th century in Germany it's been called scherenschnitte.  In Amsterdam during the 1650s the artist Joanna Koerten created landscapes using this artistic style. And in the Ukraine the art of vytynanky began in the fifteenth century and became an integral part of the country's decorative arts during the 19th century.

 

   

During the  final decade of his life, Henri Mattise created many wonderful works of art using cut-out paper designs. 

                            Peter Calleson                                                         Lisa Rodden

The art of paper cutting is not confined to the past. Today, contemporary artists continue to create exquisite elaborate works of art using cut paper. The article by SA Rogers "15 of the World’s Most Creative Papercraft Artists" tells us that the art of cutting paper is still a vibrant form of artistic expression. In Hannah Shaffer's article "A Cut Above: 10 Incredible Papercut Artists, we see a remarkable range of imaginative creative works when artists are most experimental with simple tools: paper and blade.

 

 

Some of the colourful Mexican papel picado designs can be seen on my Society 6 webpage. They're exuberant and fun to have around. Hope you enjoy them.

If you liked sugar skull designs, there's more to come...

Hasta luego

Val

 


 

 


VANITY VANITAS July 25 2018, 0 Comments

SKULLS IN ART

          
        Symbolism of Chance (Fortuna's Wheel)                      16th-17th French ivory pendant
Skull symbolism is the the attachment of symbolic meaning to the human skull. The most common symbolic use of the skull is as a representation of death and mortality. This iconic image populates the history of art.

      

        

ivory Renaissance memento mori                                    ancient Tibetan citipati skull mask

In many countries memento mori is an object which serves as a warning or reminder of death. Images of death are portrayed in all cultures through the ages, from classic antiquity, medieval Europe, the Victorian era, Buddhism, Japanese Zen, Tibet, and in Native American culture.

   

      18th century was tableau Queen Elizabeth                                        early 20th century postcard

Anika Burgess in her article introduces us to some masterpieces of memento moriMenachem Wecker's article suggests that memento mori is one of art history's spookiest and misunderstood genre.

In the fashion industry today, skull imagery is glorified, and this has been the case since ancient times when people wore bone necklaces to show respect and as signs of power. Today we find skull imagery on jewellery, clothing, ceramics, home furnishings, on stationery, baby clothes, even doggie clothes. The skull also makes its appearance on outlaw biker gear, on vehicles, and in tattoos.

     

Sugar skulls appear all over Mexico for Day of the Dead celebrations. Mexican folk art abounds with fantastical images of the skull. 

Death was once defined as the cessation of heartbeat. But now without a functioning heart or lungs, life can sometimes be sustained with a combination of life support devices, organ transplants and pacemakers. My emergency trips to the hospital for heart complications have saved my life. Early detection and state-of-the-art treatment for cancer have saved many lives. My life was one of them.

I know a truth: No matter one's station in life, the Dance Macabre unites all.

My near death experiences have inspired me to explore the symbolic depictions of death in art. My skull art collection had begun.

Hasta luego amigos.

Val


Amo México - Walking in Colour July 11 2018, 0 Comments

I’m inspired to create by what I see around me, and what's inside me. Exciting colours and complex patterns motivate me to explore. Artists, past and contemporary, influence my creations. I don't feel alone when I’m in unknown territory.

I see a lot while I'm walking though Mexican cities and villages. A spiraling Mexican cactus at the side of the road and colourful paper cutouts overhead in the mercado stay in my memory sketch book.

An ancient gold Aztec lip plug in the shape of a serpent's head offers the opportunity to explore mystery and the dark side. I believe that ancient creations have inspired many modern jewellery creations.

 

Rambling through the bohemian quarter in Condesa in Mexico City with all the  colourful casas simply makes me happy and playful. And I like to recreate those feelings in my own creations.

 
You'll find some of my creations on Society6. There's a colourful skull to tell you the time and a pillow to help you dream. And there's more....

While you here, you can visit my website to see some new card designs.

Hasta luego amigos,

Val


Amo México - Death Inspires Art July 05 2018, 0 Comments

Calaveras - Skulls in Art in Mexico

                     

Mexican art and religion celebrates death and uses images of skulls and skeletons as their motifs. That's because death in Mexico is treated differently than in other parts of the world. Death is a daily part of life. It is not mourned or shunned. In November, on the Day of the Dead - Día de Muertos, deceased loved ones are celebrated. Altars (ofrendas) are built and favourite foods and confectionaries in the shapes of skulls populate those altars.

Mexicanidad

Artistic representation of the skull began in ancient times, but was suppressed during the Spanish-Aztec War (1519-21), then emerged as a symbol of Mexicanidad after Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. 

Famous Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913) was known for his satirical and politically acute Calaveras. His skeleton images became iconic when they took on a whole different meaning socially and politically, and came to represent the feelings of the Mexican people leading up to the Mexican Revolution.

Famous internationally known artists Frida Kalho, Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo added their creativity in support of Mexicanidad.

                     

From sculptures and monuments in ancient times in Mexico to present day artists like  Damien Hirst,  people have been inspired to look death in the face, and create.

                                   

                    Aztec Calendar Stone                     Damien Hirst

 

In my next post I'll reveal new skull motif designs which are inspired by the skulls in Mexican folk art.

Hasta luego amigos, Val

 


Amo México - Inspired by Mexican Tin Hearts June 28 2018, 0 Comments

Something that has always been personal to me is the symbol of the heart. It represents, love, life, and faith. It's the symbol for February 14th, Valentine's Day, which is my birthday. Whenever I see the heart symbol, it reminds me of love lost and found, and of trips to the hospital with heart complications. On my many visits to Mexico City, I'm overjoyed when I see the beautiful tin hearts in the mercados.

For these reason, I want to share some joy with you. I've been collecting original tin hearts for some time, and I've created some designs based on them.  They are now available online, in different materials and objects for you to enjoy in your home.

 

Head over to my profile on  Society6.com to see my tin heart designs. For now, here are a few things you can buy.

 

Hope you enjoy these. More to come.

Hasta luego,

Val

 

 


Amo México - Hearts On Fire June 08 2018, 0 Comments


I’ve fallen in love with Mexican FOLK ART, especially the colourful tin hearts seen in markets all over Mexico. Although the heart symbol has many unique decorative expressions, including tattoos, my  favourite remains the tin heart. During my recent trip to Mexico City, I saw many.



History tells us that the heart symbol appeared in Mayan and Aztec civilizations long before the arrival of the Spanish, though not in the delightful lovely ways we see today.

                 

The Mayan civilization - 1800 BC to AD 250.  During the pre-columbia era, the Mayans held the ritual of human sacrifice. The most common method was decapitation and heart removal in the belief that offering the heart provided nourishment to the gods.

When the Aztec Empire flourished between c. 1345 and 1521 CE the heart held a central position. During the human sacrifice ceremony, the heart would be removed and raised to the sun as an offering to the gods. In the centre of the sunstone monolith (calendar stone) is the face of the solar deity, Tonatiuh, shown holding a human heart in each of his clawed hands. The altar-like stone vessel of the jaguar was used to hold the hearts of sacrificial victims.

Catholocism in Mexico
The Sacred Heart is one of the most common motifs in religious folk art created in Mexico. The Spanish conquest of Mexico brought with it the Catholic religion and images such as stained glass windows and sculpted silver hearts. The devotion to the Sacred Heart is one of the most widely practiced and well-known Roman Catholic devotions. 
                        

Mexican Tin Industry- In Mexico, traditional metal working dates from the Meso-american period with metals such as gold, silver and copper. After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire metal working went into decline, especially for gold and silver jewellery, but rose again during the colonial period. Today gold, silver, tin and copper are are used to create decorative and functional items such as jewellery, toys, and more.
 
Here are images of some hearts I brought back home with me.



Hasta luego amigos,

Val

 


Amo México - Folk Art and Modern Art June 01 2018, 0 Comments

I travel to Mexico City to be inspired. This city is rich in artistic styles from the Mayan, Olmec and Aztec civilizations, which can be viewed at the National Museum of Antropology (Mexico).

Popular art, and Modern art, Architecture and Design are important inclusions to the visual feast Mexico has to offer.

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

Museo de Arte   
Museo Soumaya

Popular art is everywhere in Mexico city. The Museo de Arte has many extraordinary images  to delight and impress the art lover. In Mercados such as Ciudadela Market folk art and hand crafts from all over Mexico are on offer. Many buildings and  restaurants display the talents of local artists.


 

Mexico City is also a city full of modern art and architecture which can be seen by

just walking down the street or by spending an afternoon in a gallery or a museum.
  
 
               

 

A  few of my favourite museums are the Museum of Modern Art (Museo de Arte Modern)Museo Rufino Tamayo.

More about my by Mexico trip and inspiring images and symbols in my next blog.

Hasta leugo,

Val


Amo México May 28 2018, 0 Comments

Just back from Mexico. I love Mexico: Mexican art, Mexican colours, Mexican customs and celebrations, Mexican food. I've visited the country many times and each time I get to see something new, and see some of the same things in a different way. Mexico always surprises and delights me.

 

    

During my visit to Mexico City in May this year, two unique events were taking place at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)the exhibition: HYBRIDS the Body as Imaginary and a performance by the American composer Phillip Glass.

The Palacio de Bellas Artes is a prominent cultural center in Mexico City. It has hosted some of the most notable events in music, dance, theatre, opera and literature and has held important exhibitions of painting, sculpture and photography. The palace is a mixture of two architectural styles: an Art Nouveau exterior, and an Art Deco interior. And I was pleased to find out that there many Art Deco buildings and Art Nouveau buildings in Mexico City.

HYBRIDS The Body as Imaginary

This exhibition included incredible images across time from ancient Egypt to contemporary artistic works. Some of the artists included were Victor Brauner, Prune Nourry, Pieter Brueghel, and Mathew Barney.

The hybrid beings created by the diverse cultures that have inhabited the planet throughout history and their role within the western imaginary of the 19th and 20th centuries are some of the topics that the temporary exhibition Hybrids addresses: the body as imaginary.


 

Victor Brauner (1903-1966)Estereofigura (Steréofigure), 1959 
Prune Nourry (b. 1985) Squatting Holy Daughter, 2010.
Pieter Brueghel, el Joven (1564-1637) La tentación de San Antonio, ca.1625

 

On May 12th I saw Philip Glass perform with Mexican musicians Daniel Medina de la Rosa Raweri (Violin Wixarika), and  Erasmo Medina Medina ,  Kanari (Guitarra Wixárika), the work Hikuri (The Sacred Cactus).

Phillip Glass loves to experiment with many types of musicians. My Mexican friend Luis was very proud to be experiencing this moment. This inspiring performance was followed by the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional.

 And this was just the beginning of my ongoing explorations in Mexico City....

Hasta luego,

Val


THANK YOU: Say It With a Card April 27 2018, 0 Comments

 

 

I have many people to thank, and I thank people often. Never underestimate the value of saying thank you. Showing gratitude and appreciation, giving credit when credit is due, and recognizing the kind and thoughtful actions of another, are all great reasons to give thanks. Whether it's in the workplace, within your community, family, or circle of friends, "thank you" goes a long way.

 When we say thank you and show gratitude it makes a person happier and healthier, and increases our sense of connection with others. Receiving recognition increases our sense of self-worth and belonging, and reinforces the value of doing good things. 

For these reasons I've created some thank you cards. They're great for sending to a colleague for a job well done, a family member you recently visited, a neighbour who helped you out, or a friend who was there when you needed them most.

There are six cards to choose from: You Helped Me, Your Kindness, From the Bottom of My Heart, Much Love, I'll Never Forget, and It Was Wonderful. You can get them all here.

As a thank you to you, my reader, and in celebration of International Jazz Day on April 30th, here is Lonnie Smith's version of I Want to Thank You.

Hasta leugo,

Val


MOTHERS - HEROES WALK AMONG US April 10 2018, 0 Comments

Mothers are not always recognized and acknowledged for their powerful position in the world. On Mother’s Day, May 13th, we have the opportunity to celebrate our mothers, in person or in memory. This is a day to formally honour the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.



The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew's Methodist Church in West Virginia. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May.

The enormous debt we owe our mothers is acknowledged in many ways. In his essay “The Difference Between Mothers and Heroes” Lance Conrad summarizes three things all heroes have in common:
    •    Heroes answer the call
    •    Heroes have what it takes
    •    Heroes are willing to die for their case

History reveals that giants sometimes walk into the room holding a bag of groceries, driving a car, inspiring children to shoot for the stars,  saving our lives, changing destiny. The below three links that tell amazing stories about heroic mothers.

8 Heroic Mothers from the Past
Jewish Mothers in the Holocaust
Top 12 Warrior Moms in History



We can honour and celebrate our mothers best on May 13th by acknowledging her special place in the world. Now would be a good time to get her a card which will reach her just in time for Mother's Day. I've created four new cards to choose from. Order  one from the online catalogue of card today.

Motherhood is powerful. The continuation of the world as we know it depends on them.

Hasta leugo

Val


A Newsletter Offering Just For You March 23 2018, 0 Comments

What a year it's been so far...lots of new cards and blog posts and activity on social media. I'm getting feedback that some people would prefer to receive news updates and special offers via email. As a reminder, this option is available. You can either add your name at the bottom of my homepage or send me an email directly. Either way you'll get a confirmation email and begin enjoying a quarterly newsletter which features new designs and interesting stories and dates for sending cards, as well as special offers.

 

Hasta leugo!

Val

 


New Friends and Identity Activate as February Begins February 03 2018, 0 Comments



What's in a name? A rose is a rose but would Oscar be as much of a grouch if he was Oscar the Friendly? We invest so much in our names, their etymology, and sometimes derive personality from it. Is Beatrix as fun to be around as Sasha? Is Bruce as smart as Norm? We sometimes make assumptions about others based on their name. This can lead to personality traits that are either shy or very open. Are there baby names more commonly used for babies born in the summer than in the winter? That's something to think about while watching the snow.

It certainly has been winter lately. It's cold. We close in. This is a good time to challenge yourself to break out and make connections, to make new friends, to consider who we are no matter what our name. Here are three special days in February prompting us to do just that.

 February 11 - Make a Friend Day

Friendships matter. Whether five or eighty-five, we are social being and our survival depends upon our connection with others.

Spending time with friends improves our well being. It reinforces our place in the world and our sense of belonging and self worth. Isolation can result in poor physical and mental health. It’s not easy for everybody to make a new friend. Sometimes you just feel like a square peg in a round hole. So today's the day to find some square pegs like you.

We can start by going to new places, doing new things, and by not limiting opportunities by avoiding people who do not have the same life experiences or background as we do. When we step out of our comfort zone, we learn something new. That’s exciting. That's connecting. That’s what friends do.

 

February 13 - Get a Different Name Day

You'd be surprised at the people you know who have changed their names. Confucius: Kong Qiu, Catherine the Great: Sophie Frederike August von Anhalt-Zerbst in Stettin, Bob Dylan: Robert Zimmerman, to name a few.

Why are some people eager to change their names, while others would never consider it. It’s a matter of identity. People change their names for different reasons, such as religious conversion, transgender name changes, stage names for entertainers.  This article gives ten reasons why people have changed their names.

Countries change their names too, for political or nationalistic reasons, or to reflect ideologies of the government in power. The history of these three name changes is fascinating: ancient Constantinople changed to Istanbul,  Zaire became Democratic Republic of the Congo, Persia changed to Iran.

Fruits and vegetables also have name changes, usually for marketing reasons:  alligator pears are now called avocados, the Patagonian tooth fish is now the Chilean sea bass, prunes became dried plums, and the Chinese goose berry is now called kiwi.

 

February 16 - Do a Grouch a Favor Day

This is the day to do something nice for someone, and for ourselves.  That grouchy face you see would love and laugh and sing and dance. That usually takes two. Here are some ways to celebrate this day:

  • If you see someone who is grumpy, do something nice for them. A smile can lift the heart. 
  • If you know of someone who is having a difficult time, take them to dinner, eat lots of ice cream with Cointreau.
  • Sit and listen to them instead of forcing cheer on them, sit with them with their feelings and let them talk.

Fruits and vegetables change their names too...usually for marketing purposes: 

Avocado were once called alligator pears, the Patagonian tooth fish was renamed Chilean sea bass, Chinese goose berry became the kiwi, and prunes are now fashionably called dried plumbs.

 

Here are some funny new greeting cards ..... to celebrate those special February name days.

Until next time amigos.

Hasta luego.

Val

 

 

 


January Days, Connections & Puzzles January 18 2018, 0 Comments

 

January can be a tough month for many people...myself included. In the North, we are challenged with bad weather, trapped inside, lack of sunshine, feeling confined and isolated. This wet and cold can impact our mental health and well being.  To cope, we find ways of cheering ourselves up by connecting with others, staying warm, doing activities that make us feel happy. What better way to do this than to create special calendar days to get us out and active. Special theme days, in the second half of January, connect to the human condition: intimacy, friendship, emotions, opposites, and puzzles.


January 21 - National Hug Day
This warm day in January coaxes us to show our emotions. The mental and physical benefits of connecting with hugs are infinite. Do you know that animals love hugs, with each other and fellow humans.


January 23 - National Handwriting Day
This day encourages use to pick up a pen or pencil, a piece of paper, and a greeting card.

Writing with a pen positively affects the brain by increasing neural activity, it sharpens the brain and helps us to learn, and forces us to slow down and enjoy the moment. 

There are many reasons why the art of the handwritten letter enhances the lives of the sender and the receiver, such as creating memories, making us feel good, and sparking creativity, unplugging us from the screen.


January 24 - National Compliment Day

A compliment has a powerful effect, on both the receiver and the giver. It’s a wonderful way to brighten someone’s day. A genuine compliment tells the receiver that they matter, they are unique, and that the giver is sincere.  There's a scientific explanation why people perform better after receiving a compliment. We can enrich someone’s life by sending a special card with a special compliment. It'll make their day.

In his unique way, Mark Twain expressed his feelings about receiving a compliment:




January 25 - National Opposite Day
This is a day to have fun by saying and doing the opposite of what you want to say or mean to do. As comical as it might appear, this opposite activity can have a profound effect on our thinking. We are encouraged to be experimental, to break habits, to be brave. Cake for breakfast with chop sticks…that can’t be wrong!  

Puzzles typically necessitate trials and errors. We might find solutions to familiar frustrating questions by considering the the opposite answer. The solution might be just outside the box, or under it.  Consider the words of wisdom contained in this story.


 

January 27 - National Chocolate Cake Day
One day? One day only? For some of us, any day is chocolate cake day. Having a good day or a bad day: chocolate cake! Alone or in a crowd: chocolate cake. Hungry or not hungry: chocolate cake. Fork or fingers: chocolate cake. Having difficulty solving a puzzle: chocolate cake will help find the solution.  There are many recipes for chocolate cake. This one sounds delicious.

 


January 29 - National Puzzle Day
Puzzles stimulate the brain, keeping it active. When we work on a jigsaw puzzle, we use both sides of the brain and improve memory, cognitive function and problem-solving skills. Crossword puzzles increase our vocabulary and language skills. Solving puzzles significantly assists our brains in the production of dopamine and accelerates ingenuity. Here are some more benefits of solving puzzles, however big or small.


Spending time with a friend, working on a jigsaw puzzle, is a fun way to connect, having some chocolate cake, and a hug. What a great way to get rid of the winter blahhhhhhs.

Until next time.

Hasta lego,

Val


 


 


All Love Is Good Love January 09 2018, 0 Comments

 

I’ve asked myself, ‘If love is so ancient, why is it always new?’. If love makes us act silly, how can it also move mountains? If love hurts, why do we need love’s balm? And why so many sappy love songs? It’s a mystery! — and undeniable… And if we’re lucky, then smart enough, that mystery will call us…and when we answer, it can be the beginning of something magical.


But before we get into magic words, modern psychology has broken this human condition into seven types of love. Gary Chapman has also had great success in sharing his book, The Five Languages of Love. But is that how we experience it?

The kind of love that asks us to send Valentine’s cards is romantic love. It is the love of great novels. It has inspired music, dance, poetry and theatre. It is, at the same time, the ailment and the elixir. It is the cause and the cure of great heartache. There are many great verses through time’s line which capture the essence of love which transcends gender, race, religion. Here is one I love.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."


Witchery sometime claims to do what wisdom cannot. Here’s a great link from Huffington Post from a few years ago which outlines the five easy ways to creating love spells.


What better way to create your own love spell this Valentine’s Day than by sending a beautiful card. There are eleven new cards for you to share. Order now to get them out on time for Valentine's day.


Hasta luego,
Val

 

 

 

 


LITTLE BUT LARGE: Tiny Steps Toward Your Centre December 19 2017, 0 Comments

It’s the little things that count. That sweet gesture at the right time, an unexpected smile, the anonymous kindness, favourite music drifting in, a shared memory, the ease of an extra five minutes.  This holiday season is a busy time, when the little things get overlooked. It’s a time to stand still, look around, take deep breath, pay attention to what’s immediately around you, listen to the sounds in the room that you’re in, and give thanks. It’s a great time to make connections. To give a little. It comes back in unexpected ways.

Here are three great books to help guide you through these excitable times:  


The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

A great step by step guide to centering yourself and being mindful of the world around you. Following these instructions will result in a more meaningful way of living and help identify your triggers for unhappiness.



Great Eastern Sun by Chögyam Trungpa
I fantastic read and lessons on how to be more present. After implementing these lessons, you will have a lot more focus, and live with greater intention in your daily life.

 


The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
This fable of a person on a spiritual path is loaded with riddles and lessons. While following the adventure there are cues for unpacking your own sense of self and your place in the world.

These are great books for yourself or as a gift for someone you know who might need some guidance today. Send this along with a card to let them know you care.

Take care of yourself and see you next time.

Hasta leugo!
Val


Time is Flying December 13 2017, 0 Comments

How to stop time from flying forward? Time travel back to childhood. Begin by celebrating National Ice Cream Day on December 13th. Save some of that ice cream and add it to a cup cake on December 15th  National Lemon Cupcake Day.

There's a new card on the website waiting for you.

 


Making Connections During the Winter Holidays December 05 2017, 0 Comments

At this time of year, special memories come calling. It's a great time to reflect on the moments when you were closer, your successes, and the challenges you've overcome.  A special card with loving words is a wonderful way to reconnect with family and friends or someone you haven't seen in a while: https://valtheartistgraphics.com/. Here are two days which celebrate the value of a written card. 

 December 7 - Letter Writing Day

Letter writing is as old as written language.  Archaeologists have discovered letters written on wood, metal and ceramic plaques, leather, and fabric.

Modern means of communications has made letter writing a less popular activity, but Letter Writing Day aims to change this. The holiday season encourages people to hand write letters and send them to their loved ones the old fashioned way. A handwritten letter conveys sincerity from the moment it arrives.  Here are some tips on writing that special letter.

 

December 9 - Christmas Card Day  

Today honours Sir Henry Cole of England, who created the first commercial Christmas card in 1843. That makes today the perfect time to get started on your own cards for the holiday season. Although technology has changed delivery methods, the Christmas card tradition remains robust today because people love to receive a special card with hand-written words from those who keep the traditional celebration of Christmas.

We all want to receive special holiday cards. Sometimes we are at a loss what to say when we send one to loved ones. Here's a little guidance on letter writing to help you to express yourself.

That makes today the perfect time to get started on your own cards for the holiday season! You can see my newest Holiday greeting cards here

Te veo pronto,

Val


THE SIGNS ARE EVERYWHERE: BE PREPARED! November 28 2017, 0 Comments

 

December arrives in a few days and signs of Christmas will be everywhere: you'll hear it, you'll see it, you'll smell it, it will touch you. It can seem overwhelming with so many choices and decisions to be made.


It's important to stay healthy and strong as the season inserts itself into our lives. Here are a couple of upcoming international days to help you to remind you to stay healthy and keep active.

December 1 - Eat a Red Apple Day    

How To Celebrate Eat A Red Apple Day

There are 7,500 varieties of apples grown throughout the world? This healthy fruit contains antioxidants that help reduce damaged cells and fight diseases and they are fat, sodium and cholesterol free. Not feeling like a pure healthy treat, to celebrate this this special day, why not try spiced-apple-nog

December 3 - Make a Gift Day

This unofficial holiday encourages people to lovingly hand craft gifts for special friends and loved ones. A special gift shows love, concern, and respect. In China, gifts wrapped in red paper are believed to bring luck to the recipient. 

Having trouble choosing gifts? A greeting card  may be just what you want to show you care. If you find yourself overwhelmed with the holiday season, here's a great survival guide.

Hasta la proxima vez,

Val

 


NEW CARDS: SEASONS GREETINGS WITH ORNAMENTS November 24 2017, 0 Comments



Hola amigos!

Have you ever wondered about the history of some of the traditions which celebrate the winter festive season? The beautiful colours and music, the customs and decorations. Christmas tree ornamentation has a long history. Trees were once adorned with apples, candy canes and pastries. Over time, glass, metal, wood, ceramics and elaborate ornaments were added to the splendid display.

To celebrate this rich and colourful history, three new ornament-themed cards are now available here. These beautifully designed cards will look great on a desk, on a mantle, or on a Christmas tree.

 

These new card designs were inspired by Christmas ornaments and Hermann Rorschach's famous inkblot test. Few devices from the world of psychology have entered popular culture quite so much as Hermann Rorschach's famous inkblot test.

 

These new cards have been added to the previous holiday cards made available. Be sure to check them out here

Stay tuned next week, when we talk about some wonderful things you can do to celebrate the season in early December. 

 

Hasta luego, amigos!

Val