Art of Our Presidents, Iconic Images Illustrate History

Presidential Portraits of the Obamas, Barack and Michelle
Iconic portraits by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald: Kehinde’s oil on canvas of President Barack Obama and Amy’s oil on linen of First Lady Michele Obama

Art of Barack and Michelle Obama in the Smithsonian

Thanks to patriotic benefactors, two prestigious portraits now hang in the Smithsonian: Kehinde Wiley’s oil on canvas of Barack Obama and Amy Sherald’s oil on linen of Michelle Obama, our 44th President and First Lady. These insightful character studies offer a measure of creativity and embody the essence of why America fell in love with Barack and Michelle and elected them our First Family.

The unveiling ceremony, February, 12, 2018, was part of the Smithsonian’s  50th milestone anniversary of its Portrait Gallery. Continue reading Art of Our Presidents, Iconic Images Illustrate History

Merry Moosmas & the Flying Moose

A Wish for a Merry Moosmas!

Red criss cross ornamentMy flying moose began as a sketch by Darrell over a year ago. I think he was still laughing when he got out his paper and pencil.
While watching a promo for Warbirds and the Men Who Flew Them, he heard the moderator refer to photographer Moose Peterson as the “Flying Moose,” a nickname the  pilots gave him for his many flights to photograph the noble planes.
So, visions of a flying moose leaped into Darrell’s head and onto paper. Darrell added runaway sleigh bells to the sketch for me because I was in a Christmas state of mind.

I copied the sketch to my iPad and used it as my layout in Inkpad to wish you a Merry Moosmas!

A flying moose is better than a goose! -D. Wiskur

A Fireplace, a Hallmark Movie, and an iPad

Snowman ornamentI binged on Hallmark Christmas movies while on vacation. It was the day after Thanksgiving, and I was feeling rather festive.
I don’t know how the Hallmark Channel has eluded me all these years, but it was perfect for my holiday, particularly since it rained the first three days of vacation.

Watching Christmas movies in front of a fireplace, overlooking the lake, at Big Cedar’s five star woodland resort, with my husband, is hard to beat.

gingerbread tree cookie
Gingerbread tree

When you check into your room at Big Cedar, you are welcomed with freshly-baked cookies, waiting on your night stand. Each evening during your stay, cookies magically appear to your room, thanks to the Cookie Lady. So, I ate cookies and drew cookies.

Angel cookie covered in frosting with stars on her wings
Frosted Angel Cookie

I worked the hardest on the angel cookie because I wanted it to look like it had piles of fluffy icing on top.

Of course, I made snowmen and stars and bells and a row of penguin cookies, each a little different from the other.

Continue reading Merry Moosmas & the Flying Moose

The Art of China Dolls

Hi, doll face!

Blonde China head with defined shoulders, brown eyebrows, ears showing
Blonde China head with defined shoulders, brown eyebrows, ears showing

A china head is art on a doll. With or without a body, these remarkable china heads tell a story from the 1800s about a doll industry of artisans who created beautiful art for a child’s toy.

cloth doll body for a china head doll
Cloth doll body, with leather, stitched hands and large feet

China heads are made into dolls by attaching the head to a body of fabric, leather or wood,  either by threading  lengths of twill fabric through sew holes in the shoulder plate, gluing the head to a leather body, or fitting it onto a peg, wood body.

Civil War china head on a kid leather body
Civil War china head on a kid leather body, dressed in a lavish gown

In dolldom, a china head alone, without a body, is classified as a partial doll. It’s valued at 65% of its book price. And if the doll head was damaged any time within its 100 or so years of play, with or without restoration, its value is diminished to 50% from that of a pristine head. [Source: 200 Years of Dolls, Dawn Herlocher, ©2005]

By contrast, a collector can add to a doll’s value by (1) dressing the doll in spectacular or “appropriate” clothing or (2) providing the provenance of the doll and its unique history. Continue reading The Art of China Dolls

President George H.W. Bush Shook My Hand

President George Herbert Walker Bush
Bush 41, rock star, at the Springfield, Mo., Airport

1992 – the Year President George H.W. Bush Shook My Hand by Happenstance

Hubby Darrell snapped this photo of President Bush while jumping in the air, above a crowd, with daughter Stephanie’s Instamatic camera in hand. His beloved Nikon cameras were at home because … we were on a road trip.

We were driving to Nevada, Mo., on highway 44. It was daughter Stephanie’s freshman year of college, and we were headed to her dorm.

We had two teens and suitcases stuffed in the back seat of our car. Windows down. Radio blaring away.

In the middle of the usual teen debate on which radio station to listen to – country music or rock music – we heard a tidbit of news, “President Bush would make a campaign stop at the Springfield airport!”

Screech! Detour! Darrell turned our car around and headed to the airport.

We were not the first. A huge crowd gathered at the airport to see 41 that day. The sun was shining. It was a beautiful day in the Ozarks.

When we arrived, Air Force One was parked on the tarmac, looking presidential.

There was already an expectant crowd waiting to see the President and First Lady depart Air Force One. People stood three-rows deep, cordoned off behind ropes.

Everyone was smiling as they politely elbowed their way forward to be in front, constrained only by security ropes.

I, myself, was maneuvering to nudge and weasel forward as we waited for the President.

Albeit, everyone was as eager to see 41 and shake his hand as I was. Nobody in the crowd budged an inch to make room for me.

My attempts to inch forward a row could be likened to busting through a military barricade.

I wanted to shake the hand of our beloved President

When at last I heard the President’s voice, I jumped and screamed. The louder Herbert Walker’s voice grew and the nearer he came to where I was standing, the more jumping and screaming I did.

I heard him, but I couldn’t see him behind the crowd. I stretched my hand forward as far as humanly possible, hoping he would see my hand and shake it.

Stephanie later likened my actions to a teenager at a rock concert.WOW Barbara Bush

Then I heard the warm, honey dripping voice of Barbara Bush as she walked and greeted the crowd, steps behind the President. I went ballistic.

“Barbara! Barbara!” I screamed, jumping, hoping to get a glimpse of her.

I propelled my body forward with every ounce of bounce I had, hoping not to tumble on top of the people in front of me.

My unseen hero

Suddenly, the nicest thing in the world happened to me. Someone unseen in the crowd in front of me grabbed my wrist, pulled my hand forward, and plunked it into the President’s hand.

That’s how I touched greatness.

I have no idea who this stranger was in the front row, but I can still feel his warm hand wrap around my wrist as he pulled it forward.

I imagined him as anxious to shake the President’s hand as I was but through kindness, he gave that opportunity to me.

No knowing who it was, I never got to thank him.

The Impossible Became Possible

Shaking the President’s hand was about as impossible as getting his photo. The President was flanked by Secret Service Agents, newspaper photographers, TV camera crews, and the crowd. It was impossible to get a photo third row back.

But Darrell, a seasoned action and editorial photographer, pulled a sage photographer’s trick and turned himself into a human tripod. He raised his arms to tower above his head, aimed, and snapped.

Then he jumped and at the apex of his jump, he snapped more photos.

Of course he couldn’t look through the viewfinder with his camera above his head. There was no way to see what he was capturing, let alone compose a photo.

He aimed best he could and snapped a complete roll of film in high hopes he would get one, good photo, a photographer’s dream.

Surprise! Photo Prints of 41

Imagine our delight when we developed that little roll of film from my daughter’s point-and-shoot camera. Sure, we had photos of the tops of people’s head, but in the mix, photos of beloved President George Herbert Walker Bush.

photograph of George Herbert Walker Bush and the press
Kind and polite, President George H.B. Walker Bush embraces the public

My hand became golden the day I shook the hand of Bush 41. I didn’t want to wash it ever again. I felt like what I imagine a teen girl feels at a rock star’s concert.