Turning Despair into Beauty

The painting Girl in the widow by Edward Munch

The Girl by Window by Edward Munch maybe longing for better days.

Artists are known for turning moments of despair into beautiful paintings. Edward Munch according to Rick Steves, painted his most famous paintings when he was suffering from depression. Once his depression ended so did his magnificent paintings.

Vincent van Gogh painted La Berceuse five times.

Vincent van Gogh painted La Berceuse five times.

Vincent van Gogh suffered mental anguish throughout his life. He finally ended his life in suicide. Yet, Van Gogh was a prolific painter. Monet continued to paint wonderful water lilies while losing his eyesight. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s physical maladies never impeded his art.

The Moulin Rouge by Lautrec.

The Moulin Rouge by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. The cabaret was the source of much of his inspiration and where he found acceptance.

I thought of this paradox while training my grandcan obedience in the midst of disobedience. I also recalled how I turned to painting after the death of my beloved father. I painted a picture of a chair he often sat in when eating dinner at my home.

I painted the painting bonds while grieving the death of my father.

I did the painting, Bonds, while grieving the death of my father.

Dinner times were special for my family. They were sideshows where my mom played the “straight guy” as the pun of my dad’s hilarious jokes.





TGIF Travels: How to make a group tour work for you

The Eiffel Towel

We stopped by the Eiffel Tower but I ventured out on my own to visit the Louvre.

I’m not one for following crowds or conforming to popular opinion. So it was with a little consternation that I booked a group tour.

Group tours can be pricey but what’s more costly and disappointing is not getting the experience you personally hoped for. I’ve been on group tours to France and Ireland.

When I traveled in France, I failed to do research and missed seeing some of the sights that I was personally interested in. Here are the lessons I’ve learned on my group tour of Ireland:

Mountain view of Ireland.

A view from Tory Island


1. Plan ahead. Before the group tour in Ireland, I voiced my interests and objectives with the tour guide before paying my fee. I’ve learned you have more leverage before a transaction than after.

2. Talk openly. Open communication before a tour is one of the keys to having a successful self group tour. The tour in Ireland was primarily for lighthouse enthusiasts not lighthouse artists like me. So I inquired about how many lighthouses I would be able to draw. The tour guide was not immediately forthcoming. I think he was concerned about promising something he couldn’t deliver because of bad weather. Once I assured him I was aware that weather could alter things he gave me a tentative lists of lighthouses.


3. Get support from fellow travelers. I made friends with others on the tour and looked for opportunities to be helpful. It got to the point where the other travelers teased me about getting my sketches started before we approached the lighthouse. And by the end of the tour the driver was sketching lighthouses too!

Painting of Chaine Memorial Lighthouse

We stopped 5 mins at Chaine Lighthouse.


4. Express appreciation and be cooperative. Show gratitude for the tour guide’s flexibility. I knew the tour wasn’t all about me so I thanked the tour guide often for accommodating my wishes. The tour guide delivered more than he promised and I kept my word about brief sketches.

5. Be kind but firm when sticking to your agenda. I missed the final dinner but enjoyed the spectacular sunset at Blackhead lighthouse instead. Don’t forget courtesy goes a long way when cross purposes arise. After the final dinner, I stopped sketching and went on the moonlight tour.

I’ve learned the hard way to voice objectives in advance, research the tour as if I am traveling alone, reaffirm my objectives along the way and stick to my personal agenda. But it was well worth the effort and the money spent.

For exciting photos of my Ireland Lighthouse trip, visit http://www.elainemarieartist.com.


TGIF Travels: Discovering Ireland

Wild Atlantic Way

I visited Limerick  before exploring the Wild Atlantic Way.



Limerick, Ireland, gets a bad rap on safety from a few travel books. An Irishman at JFK Airport even told me it was a rough town! I was somewhat anxious when I arrived at Limerick but the George Limerick Hotel front desk clerk allayed my fears. I was happy I didn’t have to don a money belt and watch out for pick pockets like I did in Paris.


I felt pretty safe as I walked the city. True—it’s not a quaint Irish town but it still has much to offer. In 2014 it won a Culture award.

King John's Castle

King John’s Castle on the Shannon River.

Every restaurant I dined at had great food, low prices, and good service. Great customer service must be an Irish trait. I grabbed some food for my Ireland Lighthouse road trip at Dunnes and was happy the prices were reasonable there too!

Limerick was a great place to start my trip to Ireland.

I learned about the history of the Irish people at the Hunt Museum’s exhibit “A Terrible Beauty” and the invasion of the Vikings and British at King John’s Castle.

These visits help give me valuable insight into the culture and the history behind the formation of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Downtown Limerick.

Downtown Limerick.


Not sure I would recommend Limerick as the only destination for an international trip but it was a wonderful place to stay for two days.

The city is clean, shopping is great, restaurants plentiful and affordable, the locals are kind and there are lots of sights to see. It’s not that far from the Shannon Airport and a great place to stay during a layover or start a visit of Ireland.


“A Terrible Beauty” Exhibit at the Hunt Museum

The History Lesson

“The History Lesson” and other thought provoking paintings on display.

Limerick was a perfect place to begin my lighthouse tour of Ireland. I learned about the history of the Irish people at the Hunt Museum’s exhibit “A Terrible Beauty.” It gave me valuable insight into the culture and the history behind the formation of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Silver coin Judas received to betray Jesus.

A silver coin thought to be the coin Judas received to betray Jesus.

The Hunt has a collection of 2,000 original works of art. I was fascinated by a coin said to be one of the silver coins Judas was given to betray Christ. There were modest works by Renoir and Picasso I admired.

I enjoyed the special exhibit “Terrible Beauty” by Robert Ballagh. It is a centennial reflection on the Irish uprising. Ballagh revisits paintings like Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading  the People”, Goya’s “Third of May” and other reinterpretations to bring to light the universal struggle for social justice. They provide a powerful backdrop to Ballagh’s other paintings that are a personal narrative about the courageous leaders of the uprising. I was especially intrigued by “The History Lesson.”

View of the Shannon River from the Hunt Museum.

View of the Shannon River from the Hunt Museum.

After touring with a docent, I stopped by the Museum cafe for tea and a light bite. I walked along a walkway outside the Museum to catch a glimpse of the Shannon River and King John’s Castle to complete my visit.


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Monet Art Trip

The Port of Honfleur, France.

The Port of Honfleur, France.

The name Monet conjures up images of France’s country. Monet’s waterlillies are synonymous with Giverny.

Artists get a chance to look over the master’s shoulder and visit Paris, Honfleur, and Giverny with seasoned artist and traveler, Sue Ann Hum.

I went last year and it is well worth the investment. Not only did I get a one woman show as a result of the trip but it changed the way I see color and light.

The trip includes three nights in Paris and six nights in Giverny. In Paris, we toured four museums and were wined and dined by our host, Sue Ann. In Giverny, artists journeyed to the Gardens and painted.

When also visited the wonderful coastal town of Honfleur in the province of Normandy.

The registration deadline is fast approaching. For more details, visit www.MyArtTrip.com.