Musée d’Orsay – Van Gogh Collection

Musee d'Orsay

I’ve loved Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings since I was in elementary school.  My elementary school P.E. coach, Georgia Moore, was passionate about art and literature, and all of her students benefited from her knowledge.  I have vivid memories of our Friday Humanities classes (Humanities replaced P.E. on Fridays).  I remember learning about Shakespeare, Matisse, and Van Gogh.  I remember going home and telling my parents about The Starry Night — they bought me a framed copy of it shortly there after for getting all As on my report card.  In addition to The Starry Night, I specifically remember learning about his sunflower paintings, Bedroom in Arles, and Self Portrait with Pipe and Straw Hat.  At the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam I learned that he painted so many self-portraits because he wanted to practice painting people but couldn’t afford to pay people to model for him.  His work didn’t become highly regarded until after his death.

I had never heard of Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, but upon finding out about their many Van Gogh paintings, I know that the Musée d’Orsay had to be part of our itinerary.  We visited Musée d’Orsay on our second day in Paris, and the museum, as a whole, was fantastic.  We got there right when the museum opened, so it wasn’t very crowded.  I relished being able to examine the Van Goghs in near-solitude (much unlike when I saw The Starry Night at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City).

The photographs in this post were all taken at Musée d’Orsay.  Someday I’ll have to write additional blog posts about the other Van Gogh paintings I’ve had the opportunity to see.

This self-portrait (below) is suspected to be Van Gogh’s last self-portrait.  He painted it during September 1889 and gave it to his beloved brother, Theo.  He died on July 29, 1890.


Self Portrait
September 1889

Bedroom in Arles [third version]
September 1889


Portrait of Dr. Gachet [second version]

1890

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Life Imitates Art

The Daily Post issues weekly photo challenges.  I’m sure that the challenges are intended for people to use to create new photographs that intentionally meet the requirements of the challenge, which I’m sure would help improve my creativity and photography greatly, but I’m just not sure how to make that work with the constraints of my location.  I want to participate in the weekly photo challenges, though, so I decided that I’d create new photos when I can…and select old photographs for the challenge when I can’t create a new one.

This week’s challenge is “life imitates art.”  When I think of something living imitating artwork, one photograph in particular always comes to mind.  I took this photograph, which I titled Houston Street Meets Abbey Road, when I was in college.  The people in the picture are fellow chemical engineers, and they were all on the same plant design time.  They wanted me photograph them recreating The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover on the Texas A&M University campus so that they could use the photograph on the cover of their final project design book.  This crosswalk on Houston Street (between Sbisa and Lechner Hall) ended up being the perfect place to recreate the Abbey Road album cover.  This photograph is on my Flickr page and has been viewed 11,158 times (probably because  it has Beatles-esque tags) — I only have three photos with more views than this one.

Houston Street Meets Abbey Road

Flower Friday – Full House Amaryllis

All of this talk about Netflix’s Fuller House series reminded me of the full house amaryllis I bought from American Meadows during December 2010.  It bloomed (a total of eight flowers) during February — this photo was taken almost exactly five years ago (2/15/2011).  I thoroughly enjoyed having a bit of color (and something to photograph) inside during the gloomy winter months.  I need to remember to buy one to have inside next December!  If you want some tips for growing amaryllis indoors, this site has easy-to-follow instructions.

Full House Amaryllis

The Louvre – Egyptian Antiquities

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We spent a small amount of our time at The Louvre looking at the Egyptian antiquities collection.  I suspect that we would have spent more time in that area of the museum had we not spent so much time in the Egyptian antiquities section at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art just five months earlier.  I find objects from Egypt fascinating and wanted to share the a few of my favorite photos from The Louvre’s collection of Egyptian antiquities.


Statue du dieu Horus


Statue du dieu Horus

The Seated Scribe (bel0w) has intrigued museum-goers for years. It was carved from white limestone, and its colors have been fairly well-preserved given the age of the statue.  This video provides interesting commentary on the statue.


The Seated Scribe

2600 – 2350 B.C.


Grand Sphinx

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Wildlife Wednesday – Osprey

Normally photographs are accompanied with stories about whatever the picture is of; however, my treasured osprey photographs are accompanied with a story about how the picture was taken.

Dad, Mom, and I were bird watching at Indian Point Pier near Portland, Texas during March 2008.  The bird watching there is fantastic, especially if you’re interested in coastal birds.  When I take bird pictures, I always take my first picture the moment I see the bird.  Then I move a few steps closer and take another picture….which eventually results in the bird flying away.  Since Mom and Dad were with me this time, I decided to use them as my assistants.  I got about as close as I thought I could get without making the osprey I was photographing fly away.  Then Mom and Dad strategically walked towards the bird (who was perched high on a powerline-pole…probably keeping an eye out for a fish to eat).  I stood still — focused on the osprey — ready and waiting to get my shot the moment it started to fly.  Our plan worked, and I was able to get a couple of decent shots of the osprey.  Eight years later these are still two of my favorite bird photographs!

Osprey Pre-Flight

Osprey Taking Off

The Louvre Palace

While most posts about The Louvre are probably about the art (like my Mona Lisa post and Sculptures & Statues post), I decided that The Louvre Palace is pretty enough to deserve its very own post.  The Louvre Museum is housed in The Louvre Palace.  The palace is 652,300 square feet and holds nearly 35,000 artifacts.  The museum is the most visited museum in the world.

Construction of The Louvre Palace began in 1202, though it was renovated throughout the years, including the controversial addition if the infamous pyramid (completed in 1989).  How the Louvre was named is unclear, though some think it is a form of “leouar,” a Latin-Saxon word for castle.  The Louvre served as the seat of power in France until Louis XIV moved to Versailles.  It continued to be used as a formal seat of government until 1789, at which point it became a museum.  Following the 1870 renovation, Napoleon Bonaparte III became the first ruler to live in The Louvre since Louis XIV.  You can visit Napoleon’s apartments at The Louvre.

Looking back, I wish I had taken more photographs of the buildings, but it was hard to remember to pay attention to the building when you’re surrounded by so many beautiful works of art.  In addition to the photographs in this post, I also took some nighttime photographs of The Louvre.

We ate lunch on a terrace overlooking the area enclosed by The Louvre Palace.  It definitely offered a neat perspective of the buildings, and I enjoyed getting to see the statues up close.

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Wildlife Wednesday – Pronghorn Antelope

In order to post blog entries more regularly, I’ve decided to attempt to do certain posts on specific days of the week.  I know that Wednesday is almost over, but I figured that it’s better late than never.

The first time that I saw a pronghorn antelope was on the drive from Borger to Amarillo following my job interview at the then-ConocoPhillips Borger Refinery (now a Phillips 66 Refinery).  I was with a classmate who was interviewing at the Borger Refinery on the same day that I interviewed, and he kindly turned the car around so that I could get a better look (and a few photos) of these exotic-looking creatures.  I’ve lived in Borger for 7.5 years now, and I see pronghorn antelopes on a fairly regular basis, but I will certainly never tire of seeing these majestic creatures grazing on the wide-open Panhandle plains.

Fun fact: Though the pronghorn is commonly referred to as the pronghorn antelope, it is not technically an antelope.  It’s closest living relatives are the giraffe and the okapi.

Someday I hope to be able to photograph a baby pronghorn antelope.  Until then, here are a few of my favorite pronghorn antelope photographs.

The following photo is definitely NOT my best pronghorn photo, but it’s the first chance  I ever had to photograph pronghorns.  My camera equipment has improved significantly since this photo was taken.

Home on the range...

He's Back, Mom :-)

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Mona Lisa

It just didn’t seem right to write a blog post about The Louvre without mentioning the Mona Lisa, so I decided that this painting needed its very own post.

We arrived at The Louvre just after it opened and made a beeline to the Mona Lisa.  The museum gets more crowded throughout the day, and the Mona Lisa is the main-attraction, so we wanted to go ahead and get that out of the way.  Given how crowded the Mona Lisa Room was when we arrived, I’m glad that we didn’t wait until later in the day to see it.

Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa between 1503 and 1506 (while living in Florence), though several people believe that he continued working on it as late as 1517 (while he lived in Ambois).  The Mona Lisa is an oil painting on a white, Lombardy poplar panel.  Though much mystery used to surround the painting, it seems to be fairly well accepted that the Mona Lisa is a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, a member of the Florence & Tuscany-based Gherardini family.  Her husband was Francesco del Giocondo, a Florentine silk merchant.  The Mona Lisa is currently valued at $782 million USD.

Seeing the Mona Lisa without a huge crowd present just wasn’t a possibility, so I decided to embrace the craziness and tried to take pictures that captured the experience of seeing the Mona Lisa along with hundreds of other tourists.

When you enter the Mona Lisa Room, this is what you see.  There are several other paintings in the room, but we didn’t take time to see them because there were too many people in this room for our liking.

After you wade through some of the people, you’re able to get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa.  I thought that this photograph of someone taking a picture of the Mona Lisa with an iPhone would be a fun picture to look back on in 30 – 50 years (will iPhones still be around then?)!

A few people, like me, still use stand-alone cameras to take pictures.  Notice the lady on the right-side of the photo taking a selfie with the Mona Lisa.  I’m always amazed at the amount of people taking selfies with artwork.  To each, his (or her) own.

I tried to be polite and spent several minutes waiting for a clear path to the front of the group of people staring at the Mona Lisa, but it became evident that manners weren’t going to get me very far.  Sooooo…I gave up and started acting like everyone else and pushed my way to the front so that I could get an unobstructed photograph.  They don’t let you anywhere close to the painting, so this was the best I could get.

Mona Lisa
by Leonardo da Vinci
1503 – 1506, oil on white poplar panel

After I managed to get out-of and away-from the crowd, I snapped this photo of people viewing the Mona Lisa.  Not exactly the calm, serene, life-altering experience one would hope for while viewing the most popular painting in the world.

The painting across from the Mona Lisa is The Wedding at Cana (1563) by Paolo Veronese.  It is the biggest painting in The Louvre.  This painting depicts the New Testament wedding during which Jesus performed His first miracle by turning water to wine.  The painting hung in the refectory of a Benedictine monastery in Venice for 253 years at which point it was stolen by Napoleon (in 1797) and shipped to Paris.  The painting measures 21.8 ft by 32.5 ft.

I took one last shot of the crowd and the Mona Lisa before we (gladly) vacated the Mona Lisa Room.

Jardin des Plantes

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After leaving Luxembourg Gardens, we walked 1.4 miles to the Jardin des Plantes.  The Jardin des Plantes is a large botanical garden located just to the east of the Seine in the 5th arrondissement of Paris.  It covers 69.2 acres and was the first botanical garden to be created in Paris.  Though it was founded in 1626, it did not open to the public until 1640.  It was originally planted by Louis XIII’s physician, Doctor Guy de la Brosse as a medicinal herb garden.

I am currently reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and I’ve enjoyed the many references to the Jardin des Plantes.  I can picture Marie-Laure and her father traipsing through the gardens on their way to the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of locks.  If you, too, are reading this wonderful book, I hope that my photographs will help bring the Jardin des Plantes to life for you.

There were many plants that I had never seen before, and I didn’t do a very good job of taking photographs of all of the name placards (shame on me), so there won’t be much information to share in the post — only pictures of pretty flowers.

Here’s a link to the Imgur photo album containing the photographs in this post.

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Russell Hybrid Lupines

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Walking The Streets of Paris

When Bryan and I visit foreign countries, we tend to do a lot of walking.  If our destination is within three miles or so of our starting point, we’ll choose to walk over taking public transportation because when you walk you get to see things (metros don’t tend to be all that scenic)…time spent walking is never wasted, it is invested.

We thoroughly enjoyed walking around Paris during May.  The weather was pleasant, everyone was happy, flowers were blooming in window-boxes, and signs of life were everywhere.  I don’t really know the exact locations of most of these photographs, so this post won’t contain much writing.  Even still, I wanted to share these pictures with you because the streets are what made me fall in love with Paris.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien

Here’s a link to the Imgur photo album containing the images in this post.

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Rue Cler Neighborhood

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