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Archive for the ‘On the Web’ Category

GroundsForSculpture-SJohnson2

This piece is titled “Were You Invited?” and was inspired by Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”

This brilliant sculptor is now having a major retrospective at the Grounds for Sculpture museum. Seward Johnson founded the non-profit museum whose doors opened in 1992.  Johnson is known for his likenesses of famous figures as well as characters in well-known paintings from different eras, some of which are life-sized and some of which are truly of monumental size. He is also known for his sculptures representing people of all ages from all walks of life, including the boy bicycling in front of the post office in town to the couple looking up at the towering version of “American Gothic” by Grant Wood near the highway exit.

You may have stopped by and viewed some of his amazing sculptures in previous posts on my blog – you can start with Grounds for Sculpture III; the others are all linked. When my friends and I went to visit this 42 acre outdoor sculpture museum, there were so many examples of his work, and so many other wonderful sculptures as well, that I went into a picture-taking frenzy, and never found the time to get them all up. When we  go again over the summer, I plan on just focusing on Johnson’s sculptures that I haven’t yet seen or photographed, including the 26′ tall Marilyn Monroe, titled “Forever Marilyn.”

The retrospective will be on view from May 4, 2014 through September 21, and if you are anywhere within traveling distance and can make it to the Grounds for Sculpture, I promise you will not be disappointed in Johnson’s amazing work or the collection of sculpture on the whole. Read more here about the exhibit, and more here on his own website. I can’t wait to go!

UPDATE: By popular demand, the Seward Johnson Retrospective‘s stay has been extended and will be available through July 2015!

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StrayDog2There is never a shortage of amazing things one can find on the web, and the site I recently came across is no exception.

As both an animal and movie lover, I am particularly sensitive to animal suffering and death on film. I have a very hard time watching cruel or violent  treatment of any animal even if I know it’s an animatronic sit-in for the real animal. It’s still inordinately painful. I also much prefer to know that the animal lives happily in the end, but I know, realistically, that may not be the case. I also know, despite the oversight by a humane organization, that unacceptable behavior towards animals in film has been known to occur.

So if I’ll be upset by animal suffering, what about children? How much and at what age can they accept and understand animal suffering or the dog/cat/horse/whatever dying at the end, even though it may be a logical plot ending?

Well, here’s the site that will guide you to whatever you or your kids can tolerate – Does the Dog Die?  Does the Dog Die has currently reviewed 680 films and indicates by a happy, neutral or crying dog icon if animals live, recover or die in the end. Click on any of the film names and you’ll get details about how every animal in that film is treated and what happens to it.

There’s an awful lot of violence and death in films (and TV) today, both human and animal. Sometimes we just don’t need to watch it. So check out Does the Dog Die? and decide for yourself how much you want to take in.

 

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Cheers to reading! And cheers to children’s books of all genres!

And here we come – a whole bunch of us aspiring writers and illustrators flocking to the annual NJ SCBWI (New Jersey Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), June Conference for one 3-day weekend where we eat, breathe, drink children’s books. Today, Friday, is the day of the intensives. These are in illustration, picture books, novels, and many more. The next two days are packed with workshops, one-on-ones with agents and editors, first page sessions, meals with the editors and agents, and outstanding keynote speakers – Kate DiCamillo and Dan Yaccarino. There’s a Book Fair, book signings, scholarship raffle, mix and mingle, and more. It’s simply an amazing event. (Take a peek at what the schedule looks like.) All to inform and guide us to being the best children’s book writers and illustrators we can be.

So cheers to everyone attending – faculty and attendees alike, and to all the wonderful people in NJ SCBWI that organize and work the event.

Whether lost in a traditional book or engrossed in an e-book, children are still reading and loving it. And all of us in SCBWI are inspired to be a part of it.

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The Joy of Images

One of my friends laughs at me when he stops by and looks at my computer. Why? Because my desktop is always different.

For the same reason that I have at least 6 calendars around the house, I change my desktop daily or have images rotating on an hourly basis. And usually on a theme. It’s a continual art show, and for whatever reason, it makes me happy. Right now, not surprisingly, my desktop theme is fall, and here is one of my favorite images from the photo folder of the same name.

Because my mind seems already primed to want to look at beautiful images, and I’ve spent a fair amount of my life engaged in photography, I am also quick to grab fantastic photos,  (copyright free, of course), and squirrel them away. But it’s not as time-consuming as it sounds. It’s really more of a drive-by kind of experience.

I have folders on all kinds of subjects. The only one that is potentially problematic is food. When I have that dark chocolate bark with almonds on my desktop … well, you can only imagine what happens.  Mmmmm … maybe I’ll put that up tomorrow.

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There’s still time to order! If you’re a French Bulldog lover or just want to send out a warm holiday greeting with artwork featuring this adorable breed, take a look at my Frenchie holiday cards. I have several to choose from, all with lovely messages, and the original artwork is, of course, mine.

Or … give a French Bulldog holiday gift! Choose from Frenchies Apres Monet smaller blank note cards, or 5×7″ Frenchies Apres Rousseau blank note cards, Frenchie fairies, and more! Perfect for the French Bulldog lover on your list. Visit my Etsy shop and see!

Note: All illustrations, drawings and photographs are © Jeanne Balsam and may not be reproduced in any format without written permission. Thank you!

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My only occasional posting has less to do with lack of things to write about … but rather more to do with not enough time to write and too many things to write about. A million things were flashing through my brain that I would have liked to write about, but were zipping faster than I could catch them, and then … I was reminded of something that I’d seen on the web awhile back which never fails to put a smile on my face. It seemed like a good thing to share.

Need a smile? Watch this …

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Everyone had a favorite Beatle.  I came to Google yesterday and found it would have been John’s 70th birthday. Fittingly, there was a great graphic and a short play of Imagine. It was actually that song that inspired my blog name. Nice job, Google.

But the song that’s been running through my mind  has been Across the Universe.  “guglielmoniki” did a lovely tribute to him, and I brought it in here for all of his fans. John was my favorite.

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Just a quick note – if you haven’t checked the Duke Farms Eagle Cam lately, and are interested, take a look. The two chicks are growing in leaps and bounds are are now half the size of momma! One of the disconcerting things about watching the eaglets is that they sleep in the most bizarre positions, and more than once, I thought one of them must have died. But no – they’re alive and well and just sprawled all over the nest. For a little background, you can read an earlier post of mine from the end of March.

This is a unique opportunity to watch nature … hope you find 2 minutes to look in on the little family. They’ve come a far way from March 10, when this photo was taken.

And … Happy Earth Day!

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This is the second year I’ve been watching the live streaming web cam of a Bald Eagle pair at Duke Farms. Although eagles are very sensitive to humans in their habitat, the camera installed on a nearby part of the tree has been accepted by this nesting pair, and allows for viewing and monitoring by researchers. They have shared this with the public as a way of our observing an aspect of nature we would otherwise never see. Take a look at the nest in Duke Farms.

On the endangered species list, the Bald Eagle is slowly making a comeback in New Jersey. In 1973, there was only one nesting pair. Today there are approximately 80 nesting pairs, many in South Jersey in Cumberland and Salem Counties, but now eagles can be found nearly statewide. They are highly sensitive to environmental toxins, habitat loss and disturbance by humans, and in part, their comeback is attributed to increased protection of the land areas and waterways they call home.

In this particular nest, two eggs were confirmed and thought to have been laid around February 20. As of March 15, two eggs could be seen. (See photo above.) But now the young have hatched! When watching the eagle cam, you may find not much is always happening … sometimes mom is just sitting on the babies — or, as I just saw now, mom is feeding the two little snowy eaglets. Too cute! Other times the 2 adults are moving about, one flying in and out of the nest. Whatever is happening, it’s a unique opportunity to check in with this magnificent bird and see how the family is coming along.

Photo courtesy of Duke Farms


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honestscrapawardI recently found I was chosen for an award by a fellow blogger, The Battered Trunk.

I readily found what I, as a new recipient, needed to do, but was unsure exactly what the award was about. A little online delving, and I found the following definition of the Honest Scrap Award on Buddhist Minister Rev. Danny Fisher’s, site. He says the following:

This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant. This award is about bloggers who post from their heart, who oftentimes put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul.

Wow! A special thanks for the award, then, Marstead!

And the instructions for the award are as follows –

THE HONEST SCRAP AWARD:

1. The Honest Scrap award must be shared!
2. First, the recipient must reveal 10 true things about themselves in their blog that no one else knows.
3. Second, the recipient must pass along this prestigious award to 10 more bloggers.
4. Third, those 10 bloggers must be notified they have been given this award.
5. Those 10 bloggers should link back to the blog that awarded them the Honest Scrap award.

OK – first the 10 things –

1. I was pretty much sewing all my own clothes starting at the age of 11.
2. In high school, I was accepted to all the top NYC/Phila Fashion Design Schools until I had that duh! moment and realized that I would be snuffed out like a bug under a stiletto heel. What was I thinking?! And I went back and re-applied to art school. Whew! That was close!
3. I don’t think there’s a creature on the planet that I wouldn’t find fascinating given the proper introduction (or distance, depending on the animal) I’m remembering an all-too-close encounter with a baldface hornet a few years ago.)
4. I miss the ocean.
5. I thought Howdy-Doody was an incredible waste of time and never ‘got’ the Three Stooges.
6. Notwithstanding the health implications, I could happily live on homemade bread and sweets, the best array of cheeses, and really good coffee.
7. I easily embarrass myself doing mental math in front of people (thank you nuns with flash cards starting in first grade.)
8. I always believed in angels.
9. After seeing the movie On the Beach as a child, I really believed the world could end. Like then.
10.I remember the flute passage in Seven Beauties playing in the courtroom while the proceedings went without sound being one of the most lovely pieces ever, but am not sure I could watch the movie again right now to listen to it.

OK – the blogs – let me say first, I have very little time to check out others’ blogs, and barely enough to keep my own freshened up regularly. I am not a big blogger, and honestly don’t know a lot of blogs to even list. However, that said, here are 4 that I visit regularly or periodically that I will say put their heart on display, and yes, two are dog rescues. I may add more later – this is what comes to mind right now.

Diary of A Children’s Book Writer

Writing for Kids While Raising Them

BAD RAP’s Blog

French Bulldog Rescue Network’s Blog

And thank you again Marstead of Battered Trunk for noting me for this award.

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How often is it that you watch something on the web and you are moved to tears while feeling an inner kind of joy? Not that often in my book, but every now and then – something really hits the mark. This one did it for me.

Go take a look at Where the Hell Is Matt? and click on Dancing 2008. And then watch his Dancing Outtakes, and whatever else strikes your fancy. This guy is joining the world through dancing – he’s not going to win any dance awards – that won’t be why you check it out. You’ll be going to watch a young guy wearing a joyous smile with an energy and a love for peoples of the world who wants to share it, AND get people dancing with him. It just blows me away, and so far, everyone I’ve sent it to.

Oporto-PortugalIn his About Matt section, (his FAQ’s are pretty funny, BTW), one of the things mentioned is that Matt believes that Americans should travel abroad more. That really struck a chord with me, and I truly agree. I find that Americans as a nation are rather insular, but to travel outside of the U.S. borders is truly eye opening. The first time I left this country was to visit my cousin Norman in Portugal – I was 23 years old and had never been on a plane, leave alone in a country where I couldn’t understand one word anyone said.

Perhaps this visit should be for another posting, but let me say that the vast difference in cultures, landscapes, language, food, architecture, etc. gave me memories I’ll never forget. And yet, there was nary a soul who didn’t go out of his or her way to be kind to me, a total stranger. I think many people’s world views could change just in knowing that, despite the differences between us, there are amazing common bonds. Matt is sharing one – dancing. It really has touched me. Go look – Matt is one cool guy.

p.s. I apologize that this photo is not mine – mine are in slide format and I’ve never taken the time to learn how the thing-y that came with my scanner converts them to images I can use – but this one, taken in Oporto, (where I also visited with my cousin), is a decent stand-in for the loveliness and simplicity found in the older areas of Portugal.

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