Tag Archives: Birthday

The Suspension Bridge between the Provinces of Hida and Etchu

Katushika Hokusai  Nishiki-e  1830

Today, January 21, 2017, would have been Kip’s 44th birthday.  If you didn’t know him or me, you can read a little about him here.  Who is reboArts?  His artwork of choice was Japanese prints, particularly Hokusai and Hiroshige.  So this post is in honor of him today.

Nishiki-e is a form of blockprinting originally developed in Japan in the late 18th century.  The technique involves carving separate blocks for each individual color.   Printed calendars became popular during this time, and colored prints were highly sought after.

Hokusai is one of the most popular Japanese artists of all time, most well-known for his 36 Views of Mount Fuji, specifically the The Great Wave.  To call him prolific would be a bit of an understatement.  It’s believed he produced more than 30,000 works, including paintings, drawings, and woodblock prints.  This print comes from a series of prints of famous bridges.

I believe many can relate to this traveler.  The bridge over the great chasm of life is long and difficult.  The burdens one carries are heavy and make your journey sometimes nearly unbearable.  The bridge bends and bows under the weight.  If you take a misstep, you fall so far.  Look, those are the tops of trees in the foreground.  There is always some one or something behind you, making the crossing harder,  never letting you rest.

But just in your view is the end of it all.  There is a serene bliss, if you can just get there.  If you’re able to look up, you can see the grazing deer and the birds flying.  You just have to hang in there, and do the best you can.






Sally Ride

sally ride

Simon Kregar  Acrylic on Canvas  2015

Happy Birthday to one of the greatest woman in American history, Sally Ride.  She became the first American woman in space in 1983 on the space shuttle Challenger.  She also continues to hold the record for youngest person in space at the age of 32.  Sort of makes you feel a bit like a slacker, doesn’t it?

If you think that makes your feel like a slacker, being an astronaut is just one of the great accomplishments of Sally Ride.  She was a pioneer in STEM education long before “STEM” was even a thing.  She co-wrote multiple books and even tried her hand at a bit of acting in an episode of Touched by an Angel.

NASA began accepting and actively seeking female candidates in 1978.  Sally Ride was one of six in that first class.  Every one of them made it into space, including Judith Resnik, who died on what would have been her second trip during the Challenger explosion.

As part of the Challenger crew in 1983 and 1984, Sally Ride was the first woman to use a robot arm in space to retrieve a satellite.  There is a super cool Google Doodle animation that shows a representation.  Check it out here:  Sally Ride.

She was eight months into her training for her third mission aboard Challenger when the shuttle exploded.  Following the accident she was part of the presidential commission that investigated the accident.  She is also generally considered the only person to stand behind engineer Roger Boijoly, the engineer who warned of an imminent disaster due to faulty 0-rings before the shuttle launch.  She was also part of the commission after the Columbia explosion.

But her real contributions began after she retired from NASA.  Starting in the 1990s she was actively involved in encouraging  young girls and women to pursue careers in science fields, particularly space.  In addition to her books for kids and young adults, she also worked with NASA to start the KidStat program, now called the Sally Ride EarthKAM, which stands for Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students.

EarthKAM encourages students to actively participate in NASA missions.  Originally designed for shuttle missions, the project has been picked up by the International Space Station. It allows students to direct the camera on the ISS and take photos.  See lots of cool images and learn more here: EarthKAM.

In 2001 she co-founded Sally Ride Science, a non-profit designed to inspire young people, especially girls, in science, technology, engineering and math.  They offer summer camps, classes, and tons of resources for students and teachers.   You can take advantage of those resource on the this website: Sally Ride Science.

Simon Kregar is also actively involved in STEM education.  Primarily a space artist, he belongs to a genre of artists called Neuroesthetics.  Essentially, they use neuroscience to explain why we like what we do when it comes to artwork.  It’s really quite fascinating.

What I love about this painting is her skin tone.  If you look closely you can see five, six, ten different colors mixed perfectly to create the highlights and shadows.  He also does a great job at capturing Sally Ride’s amazing smile not just in her mouth but also in her eyes.  And I absolutely love how well he represents the light and reflection on her microphone.  It’s perfect, just like a photograph.  Check out more of his awesome space art here:   Simon Kregar

Today, Sally Ride would have been 65 years old.  She died in 2012 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.  Today we celebrate the life of not just an astronaut, but a pioneer in education for girls, especially in STEM fields.  Happy Birthday, Sally.  You are truly what stars are made of.


As a side note, in the 1960s there was a group of women training for space, going through the same rigorous training as the men.  However, they were not officially part of NASA and by a violation of their civil rights were not allowed to proceed with their training.  (Look for a post on Lovelace’s Women in Space Program sometime in the future.)







Queen Victoria

Franz Xaver Winterhalter  Oil  1843

Today we celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria, who was born this day in 1819.  Sorry to the folks in Canada and Scotland that celebrated on Monday as a bank holiday.  I guess you’ll all be at work today and can’t read this anyway.

Her Majesty Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India was born fifth in line to the crown.  Just months before her 18th birthday, her uncle, King William IV, was the last man standing between her and the crown.  He swore to her he would stay alive until her 18th birthday so her mother (his sister-in-law) would not be regent.  He kept his promise, and died a month after her birthday.

However, even as a queen she needed a chaperone as she wasn’t married.  She wasn’t thrilled about her mother living with her.  Her mother’s overbearing “advisor” (most likely lover) was unwelcome and powerful, a dangerous combination.

The best remedy to an overbearing mother living with you is to get married.  Victoria’s beloved Uncle Leopold (her mother’s brother), King of Belgium, put forth his nephew Prince Albert, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.  Yep, that was her first cousin.

The Queen had always enjoyed his company and found him handsome and intelligent.  They were married in 1840 and had nine children and 32 grandchildren.  Theirs was a love affair of the ages.

The Victorian age is generally known for its extreme modesty.  This is mostly given to the fact that the Queen was raised in practical seclusion with intense rules set forth by her mother to avoid any scandal to ensure she would be queen.  That’s why this painting is so fascinating to me.

This oil painting was only recently unveiled at Buckingham Palace.  The Queen commissioned it herself as a gift to her husband, Albert.  It was painted in 1843 by renowned royal painter Franz Xaver  Winterhalter.

Winterhalter was the court painter of King Louis-Philippe of France, but painted portraits for several royal families around the world.  He was in demand all around the globe, including Russia and Mexico.   He painted over 120 portraits for the English royal family during Victoria’s reign.

Queen Victoria was 24 when she sat for this painting.  It reminds me a bit of those “boudoir” photos that have become popular recently.  It’s meant for her husband alone, and it shows a side of her only he should see.

It’s not so much the amount of skin shown, as the off the shoulder costume was quite popular, but other aspects that would have made it quite scandalous (at least to her mother).  The necklace rests on her chest, which draws your eyes down the pristine white skin.  Of course, she’s completely covered.  The hair seems almost carelessly tossed over one shoulder and lands near the necklace as well.

Her look is far off and wistful, longing.  She is not a queen in this portrait.  She is a young wife.

Queen Victoria reigned for over 63 1/2 years before her death at age 81.  Until this year when her great-great granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II surpassed her, she was the longest reigning monarch in history.  She is most commonly known for her long mourning period after the death of her husband.  She continued to wear black from the time of his death in 1861 until her own death in 1901.  She was buried in white, by her own request.

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty.




Her Majesty the Queen

Lydia de Burgh  Oil Painting  1955

Happy 90th birthday, dear Queen!  I could spend days and days writing about Her Majesty, but instead I’ll just hit some highlights.

HRH Princess Elizabeth of York was being raised to be a royal princess, the niece of King Edward VIII.  It wasn’t until she was 10 years old that her future changed.  The King abdicated for the love of a woman (certainly worthy of a post of its own in the future.)  She would now become the daughter of the King and heir to the throne.

At just thirteen she met the man she would marry and never had eyes for anyone else.  He was the extremely handsome and downright dreamy navy man, Philip, Prince of Greece and Denmark.  Not a bad catch.  This wasn’t an arranged marriage and was discouraged by her father, the King.  Again, look out for a future post about their lives together.

At 18 years old, after much persuasion, her father allowed her to join the war effort.  She joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service with the rank of subaltern.  She was trained as a mechanic and ambulance driver during WWII.  To this day, she still loves to drive.  She is the only female member of the royal family to join the military in history.

In 1947 she wed her prince, who gave up his titles, his religion, and his navy career to become a naturalized British citizen and the Duke of Edinburgh.  She used her war rations to purchase her wedding dress.  The ingredients for her cake were donated by the Australian Girl Guides.  She would send a layer of her cake to Australia in appreciation.

Just a few years later at the young age of 25 she would ascend the throne after the death of her father.  Officially, her title was by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Queen, Defender of the Faith.  She was Queen not only of Great Britain, but also Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and numerous islands and smaller countries.  Throughout her reign she has been the Queen of many countries and territories, including Pakistan, Kenya, Jamaica, Malta, and many others.  Her reign is now the longest in British history.

Lydia de Burgh was the first resident Irish artist commissioned to paint Her Majesty the Queen in 1955.  She was a student of the masters, and I believe that shows in this portrait, which I love.  The coloring of her skin is lovely, and the detail in the fabrics and the wall are subtle but intricate.

The queen is young and pensive, but somehow strong and determined.  I think her face has a hint of sadness at the loss of her father while he was so young, and also the loss of the freedom she would have enjoyed as the niece of a king as opposed to a queen at 25.

You can send Her Majesty a birthday greeting here: https://www.royal.uk/messagetothequeen