2016: A Tale of European Cities

Monument to King Alfonso XII.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness….it was the season of light; it was the season of darkness…”

I thought about this Charles Dickens quote from the “Tale of Two Cities” when reflecting on my accomplishments and disappointments in 2016. I started the year complaining on the road with fans from the Orange Bowl. I checked everything but the traffic when planning my road trip. Thanks to that mishap I now look at the traffic on Florida 511 and Florida events when traveling.

A view of Madrid.

A beautiful view of Madrid at Parque de la Montana.

The following month I traveled to London and Madrid. In Madrid, I was spellbound at the monuments at Parque del Retiro. I saw “Guernica” by Picasso at the Museo Reina Sofia. I visited The Museo Nacional del Prado home to paintings by European Masters like Durer, El Greco, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Rubens, etc. My favorite painting were “Las Meninas” by Diego Velazquez and “Adam and Eve” by Albretch Durer.

Museo Nacional del Prado.

Museo Nacional del Prado.

After Madrid I flew to London. In London, we stayed a block away from Buckingham Palace at the Nadler Hotel. We watched the changing of the guards several times.

Changing of the Guards

The gallantry of the Changing of the Guards.

We walked to West Minister and saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and worshipped at West Minister Abbey.

Big Ben at London.

Big Ben with a view of the London Eye.

The next day we rode the Tube to Trinity Buoy Wharf where I sketched a lightship and a lighthouse. Somewhere along the way, I went to the Tate Museum and saw the paintings JMW Turner bequeath to the people of London.

Self portrait of Turner.

Self portrait of JMW Turner.

My daughter wanted to stroll down her childhood memory lane so we visited the London Bridge. She was disappointed but satisfied that she had actually seen it.

London Brige

A view of London Bridge.

We ended our stay with a look at the Tower Bridge and The Tower Castle.

The Tower Bridge of London.

The Tower Bridge of London.

A few days after I returned from Europe, I had a kidney stone. The only relief was that I didn’t get sick while traveling overseas. That would have been a bigger pain than the kidney stone.

Sunset at Blackhead Lighthouse.

Sunset at Blackhead Lighthouse, Northern Ireland.

After the kidney stone, I felt a sense of urgency and decided to book a lighthouse trip to Ireland instead of waiting next year. During the summer, I visited The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland where I stayed at Blackhead Lighthouse. I had an oceanfront room with a fireplace for two nights. That alone was worth the cost of the trip. We saw over 24 lighthouses in the course of 8 days. It was an amazing trip.

As I look at my disappointments in 2016, I realize that I wouldn’t have accomplished much without them. I actually better prepare for my trips, drink more water, take advantage of more opportunities and have gratitude for the little things in my life. Without the darkness, we can not relish the light.




Preservation 50 Friday: London’s Lightship

Trinity House Lightship

Trinity House Lightship, London UK copyright elainemarieartist.com

I admire the art of JMW Turner. When I visited London this past winter, I stopped by the Tate Britain Museum. I was excited about the museum because Turner bequeathed over 300 paintings to the Tate.

A few days before visiting the Tate, I had traveled to Trinity Buoy Wharf to sketch London’s only Lighthouse. While there I also sketched the Trinity House Lightship. As I sketched, I thought about Turner and pondered how I could pay tribute to him.

Back in the United States, I looked at my yellow foreground and became inspired when I thought about how much Turner used yellow. According to the book “How to Paint like Turner”, “Some of Turner’s most daring and experimental innovations centered around his use of yellow. It seems to have been his favorite color and he used it liberally. ” “For more than thirty years his use of yellow became one of the most frequently mentioned aspects of his art, with critics variously accusing him of yellow fever”…


Should BP Stop Pumping Money into the Arts?

Self portrait of Turner.

Self portrait of JMW Turner at Tate Britain.

British Petroleum will end its sponsorship of Tate Museums in London. Activists are applauding the end of the relationship. Its seems like a “catch 22” situation. Corporations who don’t give to back to the community are called greedy and insensitive.

Death of a Pale Horse.

Death of a Pale Horse by Turner.

Not sure I agree with the environmentalists on this one. I visited the Tate Britain Museum which offers free admission. How will this impact the museum’s ability to offer free admission to the public?

Waves breaking on a Shore.

Waves Breaking on a Shore by Turner.

Tate Britain has a large collection of paintings by JMW Turner. Britain’s greatest artist bequeathed over 300 of his paintings with the stipulation that they be exhibited for free.

Oil blackened waters of Mississippi.

The oil blackened Gulf in Biloxi, Mississippi.

I understand the outrage overĀ the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. I’ve visited MississippiĀ and I’m from Florida so I’ve seen the impact. I’m just not sure how this really makes sense to penalize Cultural Institutions.

“Turning” Point at the Tate Britain Museum

Self portrait of Turner.

Y Self portrait of JMW Turner.

I admire the works of JMW Turner a romantic artist who is known as Britain’s greatest artist. I had seen the movie “Mr. Turner” and was thrilled now to be in London where his works were exhibited in the Tate Britain Museum. There are other artists in the Tate Britain but it was only Turner who I wanted to see.

As I entered the museum, I asked about the Turner paintings. Walking toward the gallery, I was hoping the paintings would not be a disappointment. Thankfully, I was overwhelmed by breadth of the exhibit. It was like taking a walk with a mentor and learning what inspired him. Each group of paintings captured a phase in his life and gave me a clearer understanding of my life as an artist.

Turner's sketchbook.

Seeing Turner’s sketchbook was very moving for me. When an artist shares his skektch he is sharing his heart. It reminded me of my sketchbook.

For most of my life, I had struggled with my calling as an artist. Coming from a family of mathematicians and scientists, I was never truly understood or appreciated as a child. At the Turner exhibit, I finally found self acceptance and inner peace as I strolled through his life.

Turner had the support of a loving father and excelled early as an artist. He won many accolades throughout his life. Turner would sometimes finish a painting while it was hanging moments just before an exhibit opened to the amazement of fellow artists.

Chichester Canal.

Chichester Canal.

Turner loved the ocean and captured it eloquently. He unleashed the fury and power of the ocean in his paintings.

Waves breaking on a Shore.

Waves Breaking on a Shore.

His art revealed life with all its sorrows and emotions. Turner felt deeply about life and it is reflected in his paintings. He did not paint as a spectator.

Death of a Pale Horse.

Death of a Pale Horse.

He was not afraid of controversy. He faced criticism as his paintings became more expressive and less representational. He continued to challenge societal norms and himself throughout his life. He left an indelible mark on Great Britain and me. Here’s to Turner! Britain’s greatest artist.