Archive | November, 2012

John F. Kennedy’s Assassination

President Kennedy moments before his assassination in Dealey Plaza.

President Kennedy moments before his assassination in Dealey Plaza.

On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

President Kennedy and The First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, arrived at Love Field Airport in Dallas, Texas on the morning of November 22. They were seated in the back of the Presidential limousine behind Texas Governor John Connally and his wife, Nellie, and began their ten-mile drive through downtown Dallas on the way to a luncheon at the Trade Mark where the President was scheduled to speak. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife were traveling in a car just a few behind the President’s in the motorcade.

Around 12:30 PM, the motorcade entered Dealey Plaza and gunshots were fired as the limousine passed the Texas School Book Depository. Governor Connally suffered a gunshot wound to the chest, and President Kennedy was shot in his neck and head. A terrified Jackie Kennedy reached over the back of the car after her husband was shot in the head and returned to her seat as the car sped toward nearby Parkland Hospital. When he arrived at the hospital, staff working in the E.R. declared his wound fatal and knew there was nothing they could do to save his life. He was declared dead at 1 PM. Governor Connally went into emergency surgery that day that saved his life.

The President’s body was not legally allowed to leave the hospital until an autopsy was performed, according to Texas law, but a scuffle in which Secret Service agents threatened Texas officials at gunpoint ended in the President’s body being taken to Air Force One. Aboard the plane, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new President next to Jackie Kennedy whose coat was still splattered with her husband’s blood.

Lee Harvey Oswald, who had recently been hired at the Texas School Book Depository was reported missing by his supervisor. He was arrested 70 minutes after President Kennedy’s assassination for the murder of patrolman J.D. Tippit, who had called Oswald over to his patrol car because he matched the description of the suspect accused of firing shots at Kennedy. Later that night he was charged with both murders.

Two days later, on the morning of November 24, Oswald was being transferred from police headquarters to the county jail. As live television streamed of Oswald being escorted by police, Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner, aimed a pistol at Oswald and shot him at point blank range. Two hours later, Oswald was declared dead at Parkland Hospital. Claiming to be distraught over the assassination, Ruby later said that killing Oswald would spare “…Mrs. Kennedy the discomfiture of coming back to trial.”

There are many conspiracy theories that have sprouted since the shooting of the former President, even after the Warren Commission concluded there was no conspiracy a year later. Many people doubt that Oswald was the real perpetrator and a 2009 CBS poll found that 76% of Americans believe there was some sort of conspiracy and government cover-up involved to keep the public from the truth. One of the most popular beliefs is that there was a second shooter who has never been identified. The  United States House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1978 that the Warren Commission Report was seriously flawed and that individual members of a number of groups including the CIA, the Soviet Union, and other organized crime groups may have been involved.

The event left a lasting impression on the American public, with people still asking the question today, ”Where were you when you heard about Kennedy’s assassination?”

Sources: Wikipedia, JFK Library

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Thanks Given to Calendars.com

A customer called in to Calendars.com asking for Mary Engelbreit 2012 Desk Calendars. Knowing that the year was almost over and these calendars were close to useless, our customer service representative wanted to make sure she actually meant 2012. That simple question provided a heartwarming story that we had to share.

Joann’s mother loved Mary Engelbreit; she was one of her favorite artists. Years ago, Joann bought her mother a plaque of one of Engelbreit’s painting depicting a mother and daughter with a touching caption that reminded her of their relationship. Her mother passed away this year on May 22, and when she went to her mother’s house to sort through her belongings weeks later, she noticed her mother’s Mary Engelbreit calendar. The calendar was still on May 22, and on that day was the same depiction of the mother and daughter from her gift years prior. Joann felt comforted by this strange coincidence, and wanted the 2012 desk calendars to give as keepsakes to the other women in her family.

We were so touched by this story, that we had to share it with the Engelbreit studio and Andrews McMeel publishing. Through a joint effort, we were able to send Joann a print of that painting signed by Mary Engelbreit herself.

“Thank y’all so much for requesting it or doing whatever you did to get that to me. I’ve framed it and have it in my office and it is almost like having my mother there… Thanks again and Happy Holidays.”

This is why we love our jobs. Happy Thanksgiving and be sure to spread joy when you can.

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Thanksgiving

Pumpkin PieWhat is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a federal holiday for giving thanks for whatever it is you’re thankful for that year and celebrating your blessings with a bountiful meal. Traditionally celebrated to give thanks for the food collected at the end of a good harvest season, Thanksgiving originated in 1621 when the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians shared a three-day autumn harvest feast to celebrate the success of their first harvest in the New World. Today, the 1621 feast is acknowledged as the first Thanksgiving.

Learn more about the history of Thanksgiving and controversies surrounding the holiday by clicking here.

When is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

How do people celebrate Thanksgiving?

Government offices, schools and businesses are closed on Thanksgiving and sometimes on Friday. People celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering with family and friends for a delicious meal traditionally consisting of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls and pumpkin pie.

Did You Know…Each year, the U.S. president “pardons” one or two Thanksgiving turkeys from being slaughtered and sends them to a farm for peaceful retirement.

How much do you know about Thanksgiving? Find out with Thanksgiving: Fact or Fiction.

 

Sources: timeanddate.com, history.com
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Black Friday comes EARLY!

Surprise!

We decided to start our Black Friday sales EARLY! Everything on site is 10-60% off, including our Custom Calendars, and every US standard order ships FREE!

What are you waiting for? Start shopping!

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World Hello Day

Hello! November 21 is World Hello Day!

Created by Brian McCormack and Michael McCormack  in 1973, in response to the Yom Kippur War, World Peace Day promotes the creation and preservation of peace through the means of communication. The holiday also promotes peace by encouraging people to use communication over violence to resolve conflict.

According to worldhelloday.org, celebrating World Hello Day is as simple as greeting ten people today, whether they are close family members, acquaintances or complete strangers. Better yet, learn how to say “hello” in different languages. We’ll even give you a head start:

Spanish – Hola

French – Bonjour

German – Hallo

Swahili – Jambo

Chinese – Ni hao

 

Sources: holidayinsights.comworldhelloday.org, wikipedia.org
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Absurdity Day

I’m an orange! Don’t peel me!

Orange ManThis orange doesn’t have to explain himself. November 20 is National Absurdity Day, the one day a year you have an excuse to let loose your inner weirdo, make absolutely no sense, and act completely and ridiculously absurd. Why? Perhaps the unknown creator of this strange day was stressed out, bored with day-to-day life, or had just worn out his or her brain trying to make sense of everything all the time. 

How far you take your absurd antics is up to you. Unfortunately, tomorrow isn’t Erase Your Memory of Yesterday Day, so be careful with your absurdity.

Sources: holidayinsights.com, theultimateholidaysite.com, zanyholidays.com
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Have a Bad Day Day

November 19 is Have a Bad Day Day!

Let’s be honest: how often do you wish people a good day and truly want them to have a good day? Whether we say this common phrase to be polite or say it  so often that it just comes out naturally at the end of casual conversations, Have a Bad Day Day gives us a break from hearing “Have a nice day!” by encouraging us to replace the overused phrase with “Have a bad day!”  Sure, it’s nice to wish others a nice day and to be wished a nice day, but don’t you just want to wish people a bad day every now and then?

So shake things up a bit today by wishing everyone you cross paths with a bad day, especially if you honestly want them to have a bad day.

Note: Have a Bad Day Day is copyrighted by Wellcat.

Sources: wellcat.com, holidayinsights.com
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Interview with John Sloane

John Sloane always wanted to be an artist, and his talents were noticed as he went through school. His teachers encourage him to develop his talents, and he decided on a career as an illustrator while he was still a teenager.

Sloane opted to pursue a liberal arts degree, but spent his spare time in college developing his skills in painting and composition. Shortly after his graduation, he began to obtain free-lance commissions and has since developed a loyal clientele of publishers and collectors.

Sloane’s paintings highlight the beauty and variety of nature in all four seasons and the simple pleasures of country life. Check out John Sloane’s 2013 Country Seasons calendar line at Calendars.com.

You’re able to capture perfectly the sense of each season. Do you have a favorite season or particular time of year?
I love experiencing every season, so I would have to say that my favorite season is whichever one I’m in at the moment. Whenever possible, I like to paint pictures in the months in which they are set, as this allows me to feel and observe the many nuances of the season from life. I enjoy trying to capture the feeling of the sky in different seasons, the foliage of trees in summer and the texture of snow in winter.
 Of course, an observer soon notices that there are many seasons within each season, as nature is in a constant process of unfolding. I think the most challenging months to paint are November and March, as those months are bare and rather colorless, and it can be hard to come up with new ways to portray them. But I have found that some of my favorite paintings turn out to be for those months!

Many of the scenes you paint have the feel of a bygone era.  How do you accomplish that without having lived during that time?
I have always felt an affinity for anything old-fashioned, so I just naturally tend to think in that way. I find old houses, barns, horses and buggies, antique autos and period clothes to be much more interesting to paint than their contemporary counterparts. Also, I admire the ideals of traditional country values and the importance of our nation’s agricultural heritage.

Your Victorian farmhouse, Hearts Haven, that you and your wife renovated sounds like a labor of love. Tell us about it.
It is indeed a labor of love.  Growing up in the city and suburbs, my wife and I shared a life-long dream of someday living in the country. We were fortunate to find a small nineteenth century farmhouse for sale, in need of renovation and situated in a lovely country setting. I was just young and idealistic enough at the time to be willing to undertake what would become a huge challenge of renovation. I think that over the years we have replaced or re-built just about everything on our old house, from the foundation to the roof. For one summer the entire house remained jacked up on a hydraulic lift as a new basement was dug and concrete was poured under it!And I designed and built a wrap-around veranda for the house. My dream was to be able to sit with my wife on an old wooden swing on an open front porch. Working together, we made the dream come true.

The places you depict in your paintings are so lifelike. Are they real places, or do they spring from your imagination?
The subjects of my paintings are imaginary, though they are often based on places I have been. Each painting usually begins with a kernel of reality that inspires me, and I then let my imagination take over. It has been said that writers often write the kind of books they would like to read. I guess I paint the kind of scenes I would like to inhabit.

People and animals populate your idealized landscapes. Are the people based on people you know?Do you have pets, and do you include them in your paintings?
Like my landscapes, the people in my paintings are a blend of the real and the imaginary. I like to include figures in my paintings whenever I can, in order to give life to the scenes. Often I will pose myself or my wife, attired in appropriate costumes, in order to get just the right look for what I’m trying to achieve. Sometimes family or friends are called on to pose.
 Over the years, all of my dogs have been featured in my paintings, as well as local farm dogs, animals and wildlife.  

What inspires your paintings?
Living in the country and enjoying the cycle of the seasons as I do, I would say that just about everything is a potential source of inspiration. I have so many ideas that it can sometimes be difficult for me to choose what to paint next. Sometimes a scene will inspire me to paint, while at other times an old-fashioned activity will be the starting point, and a scene will develop around that. In each series of paintings, I always try to present an interesting assortment of images and moods.

Tell us about the space where you paint.
I paint at home, in my finished basement studio that I had specially built when the house was renovated. In it I have plenty of room to paint, work tables, a cutting board, a storage area and a darkroom. I also have plenty of shelves where I keep a large collection of audio books and music CD’s. I have always loved listening to audio books while I paint. As I listen, the hours of work seem to fly by.

How long does it generally take you to complete a painting for your calendars?
I am very methodical in my creative process. Each painting takes me about a month to complete, from the conception to the final brush stroke. I begin by making thumb-nail sketches of my ideas and developing my subjects patiently until I am satisfied with the composition. I make a small but very detailed preliminary sketch, trying to work out all potential difficulties before I get to the final drawing stage. Once I’m satisfied with the design, I transfer it to my large drawing board by means of drawing grids and eye-balling the image, drawing lightly, square by square, until the entire outline is transferred. From there, I refine my final composition freehand in pencil. After that, I’m ready to begin painting. The more figures or architectural details and perspective that are depicted in the picture, the longer it takes me to paint. But I can usually finish everything within about thirty days.

You’re incredibly prolific. How do you maintain the discipline required to continue to create for so many years?
I don’t think of myself as being particularly prolific, but I am steady in my work habits. As a self-employed person, I learned long ago the value of maintaining discipline in my work days. I am now working on the new series for what will be the twenty-ninth collection of my calendar paintings. That will make 348 paintings painted in as many months!Yes, it’s prolific in the long run, but it is the result of long and steady work, over decades. I am especially fortunate to have the opportunity to share my vision and my art for so many years.

What’s a typical workday for you like?
As I hinted earlier, I am a creature of habit, so my workdays are pretty much unvarying. I begin every morning with a long walk with my dog down the old cow path through the meadow behind my house. I find these walks to be creatively stimulating, as I often get some of my best ideas while on these outings. It also keeps me from spending too much time sitting at my drawing board.
 After breakfast, I usually spend some time on business and e-mails. As soon as possible, I head into the studio. I customarily paint through the afternoon and evening, while taking periodic breaks and walking my dog. I sometimes think that I spend as much time walking my dog as I do painting!
 It may seem like a long working day, but my enthusiasm for each painting carries my along.

If you could choose to live during the times that you depict in your paintings, would you?
I think we are blessed in the present day with the highest standard of living in history, so I wouldn’t choose to live in the past. Nevertheless, I believe that many vital traditional values and folkways have become lost or obscured over time. Each year I am saddened by the ongoing loss of the natural countryside to the relentless sprawl of urban development. In the years since I began painting, I have witnessed the gradual loss of many irreplaceable old barns, farmhouses and farmlands.  Part of my mission in painting is to celebrate traditional ideals and to capture and preserve the symbols of our vanishing heritage.  

Your fans have purchased your calendars for years. To what do you attribute their popularity and longevity?
The imaginary world that I depict in my paintings is my dream of an ideal realm of peace and rustic beauty. It is a contemplative world where life follows the unhurried cycle of the seasons. By contrast, the real world continues to rush on at an almost impossible pace, and day to day living can become quite hectic at times. I like to think that my paintings offer viewers a peaceful place to rest from time to time, a spacious country of the mind, far removed from the stress and distractions of daily living.

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An Interview with Valentina Ramos

After 15 years working as a graphic designer, Valentina Ramos started to create other arts and crafts in her Miami studio. From these creations, Valentina Design was born, and her artwork has been reproduced on clothing, posters, stationary, and bedding. Valentina’s signature style consists of colorful, detailed images and intricate designs in black ink.

You can enter to win an autographed Valentina Art Print in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest!

We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

Where did you grow up?  Did you spend hours doodling as a child?I grew up in Venezuela. As a child I really enjoyed spending time drawing and coloring in. I spent many hours creating and dreaming up images.

How did you come to your current signature style? And how did your beloved Rapidograph mechanical pens figure in your distinctive look?
I’ve always been drawn to highly detailed artwork. I think I started to develop my signature style with Rapidograh pens when I attended a Graphic Design School. I was once set a project at school, which was to create a poster in pointillism with a Rapidograh set, and I found the project to be really therapeutic and meditative.

Tell us about your creative process.
Honestly, I don’t have any set rules to my creative process. Every single day is totally different! The only constant variable in my life is the need to create something every day.
Most of the time I work by project. I have a list of clients with specific requirements, and in some ways that is easy because I know what I should be doing ahead of time.  Many times (and I mean, many, many, many times!) I hit a creative block. I usually call those moments “my downtime”. If I feel totally uninspired, I then have to just take my pen and some paper and draw something, or I just start doodling, and many times I surprise myself with a new pattern or image.

How did it feel to see your artwork in such a popular television show as The Good Wife?
Honestly? It’s awesome ;) From the first email from the show producer to finally seeing the prints in the show, I was thrilled! To receive so many emails from people because they recognize your work… it’s just awesome. It’s a big sense of accomplishment.

Who are your favorite artists, past and present?
Oohhh I have many favorite artists. The list will be huge! And also the list constantly changes. Right now I can’t get enough of Gustav Klimt, and Charley Harper is always going to be a full force of inspiration in my artistic life.

The 2013 Valentina calendar features whimsical animals. What is your favorite animal?
Definitely the Elephant. I can paint elephants every single day, but I think people will get bored. ;)

“In dreams and in life, nothing is impossible.” “Something good is going to happen.” Did these sayings that are on many of your pieces of art help you personally to achieve your goals?
Absolutely! Brilliant colors and uplifting messages are a big constant in my artwork and life. One of the biggest motivators on my artist career is to inspire other people to reach their goals, to follow your dreams, for that reason I always try to create art with positive messages.

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Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Birthday

Happy 35th Birthday, Maggie Gyllenhaal!

Celebrate the actresses’s and political activist’s birthday by watching one of her Gyllenhaal’s films, which include The Dark Knight, Secretary, and Donnie Darko, to name a few.

 

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