Saturday 30 April 2016

Where are my keys?

Here they are.
Dear Internet, you are welcome :-)

Z is for Zwillinge

We reach the end of our challenge and on the last day I have this very odd offering: 'Zwillinge' (Twins) by Paul Klee. I have tried to include a variety of styles over the month but had not included much abstract art. Klee is an interesting and unique painter; his wiki page does not label him as belonging to any group or movement but describes his style as being influenced by Surrealism, Cubism and Expressionism. He worked in a huge variety of mediums and developed his own techniques and was often influenced by music and poetry. He was Swiss-German but left Germany in 1933 where his work was decried by the Nazi regime as degenerate art.

Well it has been a very interesting April and I feel like I have learned a lot in order to complete my rather spur of the moment challenge theme. I hope everyone out there in blog-land has had an enjoyable challenge. See you all again next year.

Friday 29 April 2016

Y is for Yellow

On the penultimate day of the A to Z challenge I bring you this intensely vivid painting entitled 'Harmony in Yellow' by Paul SĂ©rusier (who I had never heard of). He was a pioneer of abstract art and a member of an avant-garde group called Les Nabis in the 1890s. 

Thursday 28 April 2016

A Better World?

I bought 'Elect Mr Robinson for a Better World' by Donald Antrim for Monkey for Christmas, purely on the basis of reading the first few pages standing in Waterstones. This really is dystopian fiction at its most subtle; the world seems rather normal, so you think you can predict how people might think and act, but in reality things have gone completely to pot. There is no explanation for the timescale or the nature of the breakdown of society as we know it. I spent quite some time expecting to get an explanation, but really Pete is rather too wrapped  up in dealing with an increasingly bizarre sequence of events to tell us how it all began. 

It is good writing because I didn't find myself questioning what was happening, there was no time and the author is too confident in his telling, and it took me quite a long time to figure out what an unreliable narrator our Pete really is, and by that time it was too late, for me and the other characters in the book. As is often the case I don't believe that whoever wrote the blurb on the back had read the book; the mayor has not been drawn and quartered, merely torn apart by wild motorists, and Pete's election campaign is only happening in his imagination; the book is punctuated by snappy election slogans that he comes up with from time to time. People are fortifying their homes and fighting over parkland territory, the school system has broken down but for some reason the library still functions and there is water and electricity, though nobody seems to go to work any more. While trying to ritually dispose of various body parts of the aforementioned mayor our hero Pete finds himself getting to know his formerly well behaved neighbours in a totally new light.

I can't write much more without giving things away, and if you enjoy stories at the weird end of the spectrum I would definitely recommend this. Here is one not-so-little quote to give you a taster. This takes place at a community meeting at the 'Clam Castle' restaurant, where Pete's role is to act as minute taker. I found it somewhat entertaining in the light of the current US election coverage and the populist rants that have come out of some of the Republican candidates (I wonder if the name 'Nixon' was carefully chosen):

"He paused for a sip of water. What would it be like to be this guy's kid? Dismal. Nixon was undoubtably a stern disciplinarian. To be his child would be to endure intolerance in the guise of paternal charity. Bill cleared his throat and embarked on a protracted screed about target marksmanship, home ownership, the joys of gardening, and the Rule of Law. It wasn't particularly coherent stuff. Or maybe it's just my minutes that don't make sense to me - Bill's inflammatory  town meeting speech is all but lost on one of those pages defaced by a water or soda glass. I guess I might've set my iced tea down on the notes without realising it. After all I wasn't, I'll admit, paying especially close attention to Nixon. I was watching his wife, Barbara. I was, in fact, having a hard time keeping my eyes off her. I do not believe it was purely a sexual thing. Bill ranted, 'I don't want some animal lover telling me to put up a chain-link fence around my lawn-based defense cavity because he or she is afraid his or her dog or cat is going to run in there.'  He chuckled at, I guess, this ironic image of a fenced-in trench or moat. Several men and women in the audience chuckled along. Bill puffed out his chest and finished, 'Friends, little Jeff's home with the sitter tonight, and let me tell you I feel a whole lot better knowing there's a network of electronically triggered fragmentation bombs armed and ready in the nasturtiums outside his window.' " (p.75-6)

The Fault in Our Stars (not an A to Z post)

This is a quickie, because surely everyone in the book blog universe loves John Green and has already read 'The Fault in Our Stars'. I have reviewed 'Paper Towns' and 'Looking for Alaska' previously, and loved this one just as much. He manages to achieve very authentic voices for his young people, you care about them straight away, and I just allowed myself to get sucked right into this story that I was convinced in advance was going to make me cry. It did. I think it also very convincingly tackles ideas about mortality, and how one faces it; although for young cancer sufferers it is rather more urgent than for most people I think the issue is one that confronts us all in the end. I can also totally sympathise with the idea that when you love a book you want to ask the author all sorts of awkward questions. He manages to make you care and be sad without ever becoming mawkish, so huge kudos for that because I hate manipulative sentimentality.

" 'How's your friend Isaac?'
'Blind,' I said.
'You're being very teenagery today,' Mom said. She seemed annoyed about it.
'Isn't this what you wanted, Mom? For me to be teenagery?'
'Well, not necessarily this kinda teenagery, but of course your father and I are excited to see you become a young woman, making friends, going on dates.'
'I'm not going on dates,' I said. 'I don't want to go on dates with anyone. It's a terrible idea and a huge waste of time and -'
'Honey,' my mom said. 'What's wrong?'
'I'm like. Like. I'm like a grenade, Mom. I'm a grenade and at some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimise the casualties , okay?' " (p.99)

X is for X-ray

Wikimedia commons
For my X post I found some art which is thousands of years old, from the very origins of human creativity. The picture is an Aboriginal rock painting that shows a turtle and is an example of what has become known as 'X-ray art', because pictures would be made that showed the internal structure, bones and organs, of animals and people. It is a style that is still used today by commercial artists. (There is more interesting stuff about the religious and cultural symbolism in Aboriginal art on the Wikipedia page)

Wednesday 27 April 2016

W is for Where Do We Come From

This painting's full title is 'Where Do We Come From What Are We Where Are We Going' by Paul Gauguin, a 19th century French Post-Impressionist painter (though I find, somewhat confusingly, that Impressionism and Post Impressionism were going on at roughly the same time). A copy of this painting hung on the wall of our morning room when I was growing up, so it became very familiar to me and I always liked the dark shadowy quality it has, focussing the attention on the figure in the centre, which consequently made me more curious about the people in the background, and the weird statue that seems to luminesce. It is another picture with much going on, that you could spend a lot of time absorbing the detail (if you click the picture you can see it a little larger).

Tuesday 26 April 2016

V is for Vincent

Wikimedia commons
I realise I have already had one picture by Vincent van Gogh. This one is variously titled 'Vincent's chair with his pipe'. He is somehow the epitome of the tortured genius, his work often seems to be understood in the light of his mental health problems. I like the way his work is mostly of ordinary people and everyday things. The very mundanity of the image of his pipe on a chair feels like an intimate insight into his life.
And, because art influences music as well as literature, it is also an excuse to give you Don Mclean's beautiful song:

Monday 25 April 2016

U is for Untitled

Wikimedia commons
I made the decision to use 'Untitled' for U way back at the beginning of the A to Z but had not settled on a picture. I found this while searching Wikimedia Commons and was very struck with it; it is such a graphic portrayal of suffering, but also containing other more subtle iconography. Art has always been political, but I sometimes feel that it has only been with the 20th century that it becomes more overtly so. The painting, Untitled (dropped rose), is by South African artist Thami Mnyele who saw art, and culture generally, as very much part of the struggle against oppression. He joined the ANC and was killed in Botswana in 1985 during a raid by South African commandos.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Book debris: Readathon ... the morning after

It's been a long night, most of which I slept while Monkey watched over me, but then again I had done a full day's work before starting a 24 hour Readathon. Pizza and cake have been eaten ... and a surprising amount of books have been read. 
Monkey has read:

  • The Island of Dr Moreau by H.G. Wells
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Currently reading Paper Towns by John Green.

I have read:

  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  • Elect Mr Robinson for a Better World by Donald Antrim
Currently reading Boneland by Alan Garner

We have a few hours still to go and I have a fresh cup of tea. I hope everyone out there in readathon land is having a great 24 hours. 

Saturday 23 April 2016

T is for Tea

I found a very different style of image today with this sketch by the Dutch artist Isaac Israels showing a lady with 'A Cup of Tea', I love the wonderful quiet, wistful quality it has. Israels was a member of the Amsterdam Impressionist movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Friday 22 April 2016

Dewey's Readathon 2016 (not an A to Z post)

This fox was basking in the sunshine in our garden a couple of days ago and I always consider it a privilege to encounter wildlife at close quarters; she stayed for quite a few minutes, grooming herself and then stretching out on the grass, until she became aware of being observed through the kitchen window and made off through the undergrowth. Just sharing because...

We are all ready for the April Dewey's Readathon tomorrow; books are stacked, snacks are purchased, and I am hoping for a swift day at work so I can get back for a reasonable time. I looked up a few 'saved' book reviews and managed to find some of them available in the library, and we did a swift charity shop trawl this morning and came home with Asimov (for 10p), 'Dune' and 'Into the Wild' for Monkey and 'Tony Hogan bought me an Ice Cream' for me from the 99p table. I am going to start with 'The Fault in our Stars' by John Green, because I can rely on it to be a quick enjoyable read. Good luck to everyone participating, we will certainly do a bit of visiting and join in with some of the crazy challenges.

S is for Self Portrait

Today's A to Z brings us S, and a selection of self portraits, another subject that has been widely tackled by artists throughout the ages. This first is Zahari Zograf, a leading Bulgarian painter of the nineteenth century.
Wikimedia commons
The second is a famous portrait of van Gogh, painted after his notorious self injury bought on by a psychotic episode.
Wikimedia commons
Thirdly I found this intriguing portrait of an Finnish artist called Maria Wilk (Finnish Wikipedia there she has no article on the British one). 
I just loved her rather suspicious expression.
Wikimedia commons
This final one is of Amedeo Modigliani, an Italian painter who had a distinctive style of elongated faces. He was little recognised during his lifetime, sadly died young and only achieved popularity afterwards.
Wikimedia commons

Thursday 21 April 2016

R is for Rain Steam and Speed

Wikimedia commons
The letter R brings you 'Rain Steam and Speed' by J.M.W. Turner. This has been one of my favourite paintings since childhood; we had a game called Masterpiece where paintings were paired secretly with values and you went around the board and had opportunities to build your art collection, the aim being to make the most money and to try and trick your fellow players into buying your forgeries. I am sure we all had favourites that we liked to buy, and this was one of mine. 
I would also highly recommend the film of Turner's life from 2014:

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Q is for Quincy

Q has been a really tough letter since I am trying to use the titles of artworks. After much trawling of various sites I am back with the Impressionists. This quaint little painting, entitled Quincy, Massachusetts, is by Childe Hassam, a most prolific American artist of the late 19th and early 20th century. He was very commercially successful in his life and apparently denounced the modernist trends of Cubism and Surrealism. 

Tuesday 19 April 2016

P is for Parapluies

Les Parapluies by Pierre-August Renoir. What is there to add, I mean, just appreciate all those shades of blue. Strangely it is not a rainy picture.

Monday 18 April 2016

O is for Oberon
Another of my must-haves for my art A to Z is William Blake. He was included last year in my poetry A to Z (being the ultimate Renaissance Man), our abiding fondness originating from his influence on Philip Pullman's Dark Materials Trilogy. Blake has many links to classic literature, having worked on illustrations for the Canterbury Tales and Dante's Divine Comedy (a project interrupted by his death in 1827). This painting however references Shakespeare and shows 'Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing', from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Sunday 17 April 2016

Turkish Coat Part 1 (not an A to Z post)

I saw a picture of the Turkish Coat in a quilting book about twenty five years ago; I wrote to Folkwear and acquired a copy of their catalogue. At the time it was hard to buy stuff from America without credit card, and I didn't have any money anyhow, so the catalogue stayed at the back of my desk, just waiting. A few years ago, clearing stuff out, I came across it and looked them up on the interweb, and what do you know but their range of patterns has remained utterly unchanged in all those years. Making the coat was still something of a pipe dream, but what's the point of dreams if you don't occasionally get to fulfil them. Last year I used some birthday money and finally sent off for the pattern. The time since has involved much fabric research and indecision. Anyhow, birthday money this year was allocated to fabric and, after further dithering, I bought two 'jelly rolls' (long strips of coordinated fabric for quilters) of batik fabric from Casperhouseks on Etsy. It cost me nearly as much again in customs charge when it arrived as the fabric cost, but it is lovely.
The coat is made in three layers; outer, lining and cotton batting between, the layers are then quilted together. Today's efforts have produced a 3 metre length of fabric that has been enough to cut out the main front and back pieces. This is going to be a long term project, but hopefully, now I have made a start, I will aim to do updates every week or so. Fabric for the outer layer was also ordered today after acquiring a couple of swatches, and Monkey and I are going for batting and thread and new sewing machine needles after work tomorrow. 

Spill Simmer Falter Wither (not an A to Z post)

'Spill Simmer Falter Wither' by Sara Baume (who's website has pictures of dead animals, so I think I can see where some of the images in the book have come from) is a most unsettling book. It is sad, without any redeeming moments. The blurb on the back describes it as showing 'the restorative power of friendship' but I did not get that *at all*. It concerns the life of Ray, who describes himself as 'old' but is only 57, who has lived his entire life in his father's house (which he never refers to as his home), utterly without companionship, who adopts an equally damaged dog. 

"I'm a boulder of a man. Shabbily dressed and sketchily bearded. Steamrolled features and iron-filing stubble. When I stand still, I stoop, weighted down by my own lump of fear. When I move, my clodhopper feet and mismeasured legs make me pitch and clump. My calloused kneecaps pop in and out of my shredded jeans and my hands flail gracelessly, stupidly. I've always struggled with my hands. I've never known exactly what to do with them when they're not being flailed." (p.11)

She captures something so utterly pitiful that you are bound to read on with horrified fascination, wondering how a person could feel this way and carry on. 

"Sometimes I see the sadness in you, the same sadness that's in me. It's in the way you sigh and stare and hang your head. It's in the way you never wholly let your guard down and take the world I've given you for granted. My sadness isn't a way I feel but a thing trapped inside the walls of my flesh, like a smog. It takes the sheen off everything. It rolls the world in soot. It saps the power from my limbs and presses my back into a stoop." (p.51)

"When I was about as tall as the letter slot and riding in the back of my father's car, we were passing through town one day, driving along the main street, and I remember seeing a woman through the window, standing in her doorway. After a moment she turned and went back inside, closing the door behind her, and then of course I couldn't see her any more. I know it sounds like nothing much, but it was the first time I realised that other people's lives go on. All the time, out of sight and without me. It was the first time I realised that everything just goes on and on and on. Regardless, relentless." (p.98)

He avoids contact with the people in the village, having the same meaningless exchange with the man in the shop, always wary and self-conscious of his own difference:

"They've long since marked me down as strange, a strange man, I am a strange man. And it's because of my strangeness that they make a special point of knowing where I live. And they wait, and have been waiting all the time I've been in this house in this village, all my life, for strange things to happen for which they can finger me, for which they can have me and my threatening strangeness removed." (p.117)

The dog attacks another dog, it's what he's been bred and trained to do, and when the dog warden comes to take him away the man panics, and they run away. 

"It's hard to learn anew how to make it through from dawn to dark without all of the props and pointers inside me father's house. Without plant-watering, yard-pottering, chair-rocking and channel-zapping. I expected it would be exciting; I expected that the freedom from routine was somehow greater than the freedom to determine your own routine. I wanted to get up in the morning and not know exactly what I was going to do that day. But now that I don't, it's terrifying." (p.135)

The driving, driving, driving is as meaningless and repetitive as his former existence. They are going nowhere, running away, but towards nothing, just round in circles. The few times he encounters other human beings, people who show any sign of friendliness, he backs away, and is afraid. He has become attached to the dog, but the dog is a nasty little thing and does not improve with companionship, does not appear to reciprocate his loyalty. 

Looking at the pictures on Sara's website, there is even the porpoise which appears in the book, you see a morbid fascination with death, which comes through in the man's thoughts:

"Hares and mice, wagtail and rooks, squirrels and mink. Every kind of creature every kind of killed. Eviscerated and decapitated, lobotomised and disembowelled. Sometimes the only remains are a puff of uprooted plumage, pale down dancing in the whoomph of air from passing vehicles, no sign of the bird from which it was bashed loose. The people inside the grim reaper cars don't care, they have places to go, they keep going. Now we circle the roundabout and circle again, and as we circle, I watch the traffic. I wonder where everyone is going. And I wonder if any of the road-kill creatures actually wanted to die, and threw themselves beneath the speeding wheels. A lethargic swallow who couldn't bear the prospect of flying all the way back to Africa again. An insomniac hedgehog who couldn't stand the thought of lying awake all winter with no one to talk to." (p.148)

There is a tiny moment when they find themselves at a farmer's market and he is offered a sample of tapenade on tiny bread. He takes some and is overwhelmed, as if really tasting something for the first time. He says he feels like an ordinary person, doing an ordinary thing, and when the girl smiles he feels it is real. I wanted it to mean something, for him to see a way to connect with others, but it is too late and he is too far away. Later:

"I'm still holding the jar-shaped paper bag in my hand. I place it down beside me. But as I place it down I start to wonder if maybe I didn't seem to regular in the market after all, inconspicuous, unsuspicious. Maybe the girl at the tapenade stall was conniving against us all along. Maybe what we've been given is a poisoned dose, a jar reserved for those who seem strange, those who walk the streets unarmed with tiny screens. Now I knock the bag onto the floor mat with a sweep of my fist, now I lean over and push it beneath the passenger seat." (p.219)

I am not sure what to conclude. It is a beautifully written book, very intense, but I found myself sucked in to the man's character, there is no relief from him because it follows his thoughts. You seek an explanation for how and why he ended up like this, but it is not really forthcoming, and his acceptance of his existence is almost the most soul-crushing part of the tale. I would probably avoid it if you are having worries about the meaning of life.

N is for Nesting Stones

Barbara Hepworth website
I have returned to sculpture today with 'Nesting Stones' from Barbara Hepworth. It is quite representative of her style which is very organic and abstract, though often suggestive of human figures. I think my image of her was influenced by the novel 'Notes from an Exhibition' by Patrick Gale that I reviewed back in 2010; it is the story of the life of an artist but Hepworth appears as a character, and is referred to as TBH (The Barbara Hepworth), which seems indicate the level of awe that she appeared to command amongst her fellow artists. I am however beginning to feel that significant, influential women artists are few and far between. 

Friday 15 April 2016

M is for Mother and Child

I am running late today but we have another selection of images, because motherhood is another of those subjects that has captured the imagination of artists for millennia. 
This first sculpture originates from the Bamana people in Mali, and dates some time from the 15th century.
The Met Museum
 This picture is Mother and Child by Harold Gilman, painted in 1918.
Auckland Art Gallery
 This one made me smile because it captures so well the trials of motherhood; by Pieter de Hooch, it is entitled 'A Mother and Child with Its Head in her Lap' and shows a mother delousing her child.  It was painted in the 17th century, it's lovely how little life has changed.

Thursday 14 April 2016

L is for Little Dancer of Fourteen Years

Wikimedia commons
'Little Dancer of Fourteen Years' is my entry for L today. I have always loved Edgar Degas' dancer paintings but then when the children were little I came across this book,
'Degas and the Little Dancer' by Laurence Anhalt, that takes the statue and creates a background story of the young ballet dancer who poses for the artist to help pay for her ballet lessons. It was lovely to find stories that also want to interest children in art. 
The sculpture itself is quite unique, being sculpted in wax and wearing a real tutu and slippers and with real hair. After his death many copies were cast in bronze and are on display in museums all over the world. 

Wednesday 13 April 2016

K is for Kiss

Love in all its forms has always been an inspiration for artists over the centuries, so inevitably K brings you 'The Kiss'. But there are so many Kisses to choose from, so I decided to offer several in different styles (though really it is my excuse to include the Klimt.)

Tuesday 12 April 2016

J is for Japanese Bridge

Wikimedia commons

J brings us the wonderful Claude Monet and one of the many paintings that he did in the 1880s and 90s of the garden at Giverny in northern France, where he moved with his family. This is strictly titled 'Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge' but I'm sure the challenge police are not going to give me a hard time about it. I am a huge fan of all things Impressionist, which (I read) emphasises the representation of the qualities of light and movement. 

Monday 11 April 2016

I is for It Turned Me to Admire ...

Hondartza Fraga

After several works of literature inspired by art we now have a work of art that is inspired by literature. This drawing has captivated me. It is entitled 'It Turned Me to Admire the Magnanimity of the Sea Which Will Permit no Records', and is by the artist Hondartza Fraga. It is currently on display in a quiet little corner of the Manchester Art Gallery and Monkey and I came across it quite by chance when we visited a few weeks ago. At first glance it is a book, but look closer and the cover becomes the sea, and it is apparently inspired by a line from Herman Melville's Moby Dick.
I love it, partly because it is a book, but also because of what it manages to achieve; the sea in this drawing appears vast. Most paintings of the sea encompass some land or shore, which gives the sea some bounds, but here it is just sea, empty of vessels, devoid of sky or weather of any kind, and to me this manages to achieve some abstract quality of infinite water. It made me think of arriving at the Pacific Ocean when mum and I went to Costa Rica two years ago and how somehow I could almost feel the vastness of the body of water, in a way that the English Channel is not.

Saturday 9 April 2016

H is for Horse

Painters and Poets

The Painters and Poets blog I have linked to above is dedicated to finding poetry written and inspired by works of art, and on it I found the painting 'The Horse With Violin in Mouth' by Marc Chagall, who was a real pioneer of modernism and someone who used a huge variety of mediums to create his art. I love his paintings because they are so bold and imaginative, often with a chaotic dreamlike quality. Horses and Violins feature quite regularly, and this painting is referenced in Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poem:

Don't let that horse
eat that violin
cried Chagall's mother

But he
kept right on

And became famous

And kept on painting
The Horse With Violin in Mouth
And when he finally finished it
he jumped up upon the horse
and rode away
waving the violin

And then with a low bow gave it
to the first naked nude he ran across

And there were no strings attached

Friday 8 April 2016

G is for Goldfinch

When I was two days into the challenge I realised I should have done Art meets Literature as my theme, so after yesterday remembering about Frida and The Lacuna I thought I might come up with a few instances of the meeting of disciplines; either literature that references art or art that references literature. 
Wikimedia commons

I wrote about this painting, The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, eighteen months ago. It is the main character in the novel 'The Goldfinch' by Donna Tartt; a painting that gets stolen and hidden and obsessed over, and stolen again, and pursued across continents. Apparently the novel has lead to a huge increase in visitors to see the painting. It is such a beautiful, delicate little painting, contrasting quite sharply with most of the pictures I have posted so far. 

Thursday 7 April 2016

Letters of Note (not an A to Z post)

Yet another Brainpickings book is 'Letters of Note: Correspondence deserving of a Wider Audience' complied by Shaun Usher that I have been dipping in to over the last couple of weeks. The collection covers everything from ancient bits of clay and bark, through significant moments in history, to connections between significant cultural and political icons of the 20th century. You can read about Queen Elizabeth's recipe for drop scones, Bukowski's views on censorship, how Monty Python's Life of Brian nearly didn't get made, Einstein on the potential creation of nuclear weapons and Dostoyevsky's near execution in 1849. Some of the most moving ones are love letters, several to deceased spouses. Some are just funny moments that tell us something about the human condition. What I liked is the fact that in many cases there is a reproduction of the actual letter alongside the more legible text, so here are a few of the signatures of some interesting notables:

Roald Dahl
Charles Darwin
Abraham Lincoln
Elvis Presley
Mary Stuart
Fidel Castro

The one that amused me is a job application letter from Robert Pirosh, hoping for a screenwriter job in Hollywood:

"I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn angular words, such as strait-laced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-whet words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demimonde. I like suave 'V' words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, lands'-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp."

I would definitely have given him a job.

F is for Frida

F would always have to be for Frida Kahlo, and since much of her work consists of self portraits it seems appropriate to use her name for today's letter. Her work is influenced by her radical politics and images from Mexican culture. She contracted polio as a child and then as a teenager she was involved in a bus accident that left her with health problems that continued to plague her throughout her life. Periods of being bed bound meant that she was often her own subject and much of her work also catalogues her own suffering, both physical and mental. 

I wrote about her diary back in 2012, which is a fascinating look inside the mind of an amazing woman. Interestingly she and her husband Diego Rivera also appear as characters the novel 'The Lacuna' by Barbara Kingsolver, that I reviewed back in 2011.