Mad Magazine and a Flemish Artist Named Bruegel the Elder

What Me Worry

mad mag-2

One of my favorite things to read growing up was Mad Magazine. I loved it because it was sarcastic and every page was jam packed with so many things to look at. I’d do my first read through and then I’d go back and meticulously look at all the details. I managed to get years of enjoyment from those magazines.

In college I was in an art history class focusing on the Renaissance period. I loved classes taught by this particular professor. She loved art and she lived in Italy and various other places where she studied art up close. She gave the class an assignment where we were given a partner and an artist and we had to prepare a lecture to share with the class.

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Getting Mooned

A Great Flemish Artist

I was assigned Pieter Bruegel the Elder. My first thought was this guy could have painted for Mad Mag. His paintings are full of crazy behavior, everyday life, tons of details, and a large depth of field. In his painting below, Netherlandish Proverb, you can see all kinds of crazy behavior and someone sticking their butt out the window, just like on the Mad cover.

netherlandish proverb

Getting Mooned from the window at top right portion of painting

It’s 39 degrees outside and overcast and my dog is expressing her primal need to hunt. It’s definitely feeling like winter. So, I thought I’d take a look at a Bruegel painting that’s so cold it will have me reaching for another blanket.

Hunters in the Snow 1565 

A wealthy tax collector named Niclaes Jonghelinch commissioned Bruegel to paint a landscape series of seasons of the year. You can see up close details of this painting and watch a short video about it at this website.


1. First, I notice the broken sign. Not a problem at the moment, but that thing could fall and some unlucky person is gonna have a pretty bad headache. Better get that fixed.

2. Next I notice the warmth from the fire and the hunched over positions of the people. They look so cold. The hunters and dogs in the foreground are all hunched over too. It doesn’t even look like they got very much on their hunt.

3. Bruegel did a good job of creating a composition that slowly leads the viewer around the image. My eyes go from the hunters down the slope, past the plant, and down to the little scene at the bottom right corner. I can barely see the tiny birds underneath the bridge where that person is carrying something across it. You can see a few more people doing their daily things.

4. We’ve pretty much just seen peasants working so far which is very common in Bruegel’s artwork. Right here we’ve got funner activities of people skating and playing.

5. The mountain peaks are my favorite part. This scene isn’t an exact replication of any real Flemish landscape. Bruegel was inspired by the Alps. I’m personally reminded of the famous Vasquez Rocks in Southern California.

6. The sky is so overcast that you don’t actually see any shadows being cast. At first I thought that there was light shining on the tree limbs, but I guess that’s actually snow. The snow pops off of the tree limbs really well and makes me notice the birds again.

7 and 8. I spend some time looking at the distant background and noticing all of the details that I can see.


A look without the numbers

Well, I’m tired of being cold and frankly, I’m tired of staring at the details in this painting. Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a great painter and we can learn a lot and be entertained from studying his work . I hope you enjoyed his winter themed painting as much as I did.



What Is The Ghost of Xmas Past?

I don’t have much time to live in the past when I’m living in the moment. Growing up, I hated to watch the older people in my life cry in their beer over the past and whine about how much today sucks. I didn’t understand . . . especially since I was standing right there.

Don’t get me wrong, I love remembering the past. I live in the house my grandpa built. I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know him since he died when I was almost 2, but I love hearing my parent’s memories of him. I’m living on his property in the house that he built when my mom was a teenager, so that his family would always have a home. It’s a great way to remember something we don’t have anymore.

Feeling Nostalgic

Most of my memories are vivid because I was living in the moment and actively storing them in my heart and in my memory banks. I wanted to fully experience it right then and always remember it. And I often go back in my mind and re-experience those moments and it’s awesome.

I’ve never actually longed to go back, or felt such a strong sense of loss that I desired a time machine. BUT these past couple of months I have been haunted by strange feelings of nostalgia. It’s not that awesome. Or is it? 

Nostalgia – a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.

Like when a child becomes a teenager. It’s beautiful to watch and see who they’re becoming, but at the same time I experience loss because I’ll never be able to be with him as a little child anymore.

To be able to hold him and watch him experience everything for the first time. I can go back anytime and experience my vivid memories and photos/videos but now, in the moment that time is gone forever.


I recently heard from a friend I haven’t seen in 9 years. We’ve known each other for 22 years and she sent me a picture of her wearing these xmas earrings I made for her in the 6th grade. I had completely forgotten about them until I saw them in that pic and they triggered so many memories that I haven’t thought of in a long time. 


The earrings 

Photos and Memories

It made me wonder about these moments we experience and the effect photography has on them. Some people say that you’re not really living in the moment when you’re so concerned about taking a picture. It’s possible to do both. I’ve managed to photograph moments with my camera and my mind . . . and sometimes photos will trigger memories so strongly that it becomes easier to remember.


Rd Trip through Louisiana

What about in psychology where studies show that memories aren’t really that accurate? Humans tend to remember the past better than it actually was. Or what about when memories have been tainted by time and discussion?

Maybe that’s why they cry in their beer and long for that old relationship or wish their children were young again. Maybe the changes or lack of changes a person has made, creates a rift in relationships and makes you feel an unreasonable longing for the past.


Box of Photos

I guess a healthy dose of nostalgia isn’t so bad. The passage of time exists and we gotta embrace it and enjoy it. Like that Doris Day song says, Que Sera Sera, whatever will be will be.

ghost of past

Disney Version

If we fully embrace the good, the bad, the neutral, the everyday we can experience life in it’s rawest and purest form. How about you . . . are you being haunted by the ghost of xmas past? Maybe it’s not a ghost at all . . . maybe it’s just a little bit of wisdom about life.

Can Snapshots be Art? Quick Pics 13-17

These are the last 5 quick pics that I took while hanging out with Speedy. I’ve had a lot of fun with this concept and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep shooting the Speedy way, even when he’s not around. A lot of my pics were crap and I’ll be deleting them, but I think it’s safe to say that snapshots can definitely be art.

Quick Pic 13: Guy with Untied Boots

We just stopped to eat and I saw this guy with his boots untied . . . he actually looked like he wasn’t completely finished getting dressed.Wow, and up hill too. 🙃

Quick Pic 14: Lady with Bright Orange Kicks

We were sitting at a very long red light when I noticed this lady’s bright orange shoes. I’m torn . . . I kinda like this pic but I also don’t. After I tried a few things, I finally decided to turn down the saturation on everything except their shoes and purses.

Quick Pic 15: Gnarly Tree 


I like how gnarly the branches are so I included it.

Quick Pic 16: Her Piano Keys 

We stopped at someone’s house and I wandered into this dark room where I found a piano. I shined the light on my phone and snapped a couple of quick pics. I liked this one the best and I played with the split toning in Lightroom.

Quick Pic 17: Fish Tank Dragon


We ran into this giant Pet Sense to get a new collar for my dog, Sunny. Their selection was pretty sorry for such a huge store, so I didn’t get a collar . . . I did grab this pic in the fish area though. And I played around with the split toning with this one too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my quick pics and I’d love to know your thoughts about snapshots and their place in the art world.

Can Snapshots be Art? Quick Pics 7-12

A quick Google search says that a snapshot is an informal photograph taken quickly, typically with a small handheld camera. I enjoy shooting with my purple Panasonic DMC-SZ3 Lumix because it’s small and easy to carry anywhere I go. It’s got a Leica Lens and it allows for a wide range of control over the settings. It’s also pretty sturdy and has withstood my clumsy abuse.

Below are 6 more quick pics I took while hanging with my friend Speedy.

Quick Pic 7: View of East Texas Land +18 Vibrance

There’s really nothing spectacular about this picture but I like it. I like how blurry the foreground is and thought it would be fun to add a bunch of vibrancy and make that blue, green, and yellow really burst.

Quick Pic 8: 2 Old Cars


I love shooting old cars. Speedy was driving fast as usual, but after staring at this pic for a while, I’m not sure I could have gotten a better shot if we stopped . . . I mean, I could have of course, but I probably would have made it too complicated.

Quick Pic 9: House with Slanty Roof, b&w


This is one of my favorites. I’m so drawn to it. I love the lighting and the composition. It gives me a feeling of nostalgia and it triggers feelings associated with random memories that I can’t really fully remember. I also think of Miracle on 34th street . . . I guess I thought of that movie because she wanted a house. Hmm, I should watch that soon.

Quick Pic 10: Little White Sign


Another favorite. I think Speedy was actually speeding because I barely remember taking this pic. I like odd things in odd places. Why is there a tiny little white sign all by itself out there? Maybe the words are on the other side of the sign. Oh, and those oil spots on the road add a bit of visual interest and balance. Not too bad for a quick pic. If it was hanging in a gallery it would get some attention. Sometimes it’s the simple things that spark lively conversation.

Quick Pic 11: The Surveillance


Ahh feels good to photograph the surveillance. They’re everywhere, always watching, always focusing. I tried to create a sense of discomfort. Eh, it’s an ok quick pic. Not a fav. I had fun playing around in Lightroom though. 

Quick Pic 12: Untitled, b&w


We had just pulled into a parking spot and we were sitting there for a minute waiting on the lady who parked right next to us. All of a sudden we heard a loud thud and slight movement. She actually hit his door with her door and left a tiny paint mark. I snapped this shot very quickly as I was walking by. 

Can Snapshots be Art? Quick Pics 1-6

At times, when I’m chillin with my friend (let’s call him Speedy), who doesn’t like to stop, I am forced to take pictures while going 70 mph down the road. One day Speedy absolutely refused to stop and I missed so many picture opportunities. I could have gotten very discouraged and frustrated . . .  but that didn’t sound like fun so I decided to challenge myself and see what kind of snapshots I can come up with.

I like to embrace the freedom and possibilities of stepping out of my comfort zone, or challenging any lingering, pre-conceived ideas about the process of making “art” especially with photography. Many artists and non – artists have asked the question: Can a snapshot really be considered art? Hmm . . . 

Quick Pic 1: Wooden Fence, B&W






I’ve taken many pictures on this road and something always grabs my attention. I managed to get Speedy to stop for this one, but only while he turned the car around. I’m not crazy about this quick pic, but I chose to include it because there’s just something about it.

Quick Pic 2: Shadow of a Tall Tree

I had a few minutes to shoot this one because Speedy had a quick stop to make. The sun was pretty high and casting this huge tree shadow. I didn’t like the warmer image on the left, so I tried to be inspired by cross processing, and made it a little bluer.

Quick Pic 3: Objects in Mirrors, b&w





I like that baby mirror in the corner, and including the camera and photographer can be fun sometimes. Especially with that pinky up for balance purposes. I also thought it was more interesting in b&w.

Quick Pic 4: Blurry Trees


I like the angle, the blurriness, and the way the sun is glowing. Reminds me of a picture taken on a toy camera.

Quick Pic 5: Birds on the Power Lines at the Gas Station

In one of my b&w film classes, I remember being very captivated by a guy who did a series of birds on power lines. It’s hard to remember all of his thoughts behind his photographs, but his series was in the back of my mind when I took this quick pic.   

Quick Pic 6: Xmas Light Pic the Speedy Way


I was ruthlessly picking on Speedy by this point and taking pictures of everything as the world zoomed on by. This one reminds me of the red and blue blur . . . y’know, Clark Kent on Smallville . . . aka Superman.

Why Does Pope Francis Want to Change a Verse in The Lord’s Prayer?

I heard this morning that Pope Francis wants to change the wording of The Lord’s Prayer. He said that God does not lead us into temptation, but that is Satan’s job. He said this verse implies that God leads you into Sin and a father wouldn’t do that but that a father would help you get up immediately. Instead he wants it to be, “do not let us fall into temptation.”

I enjoy digging deeper into the Bible and getting a better understanding of what it’s teaching us so let’s jump on in.

First of all, temptation isn’t actually sinning. Temptation happens before you sin or don’t sin. It’s important to distinguish between temptation and sin because, come on, who isn’t tempted to do something they shouldn’t? I know that I get tempted but I don’t always follow through on the temptation. And it’s God, and the things I’ve learned from His word, that helped me overcome the temptation.

Pope Francis is using the KJV, so I wondered what the original Greek translation is actually saying. According to Strong’s Concordance, the word “lead” (1533) could be better translated as “carry” or “bring”.

So, instead of “Lead us not into temptation,” it would be more accurate to say “please don’t carry or bring me into temptation”? I wondered what the original word “temptation” is actually saying.

The word temptation here could be better translated as “trial” (3986) So, we would be asking God, “please do not carry me or bring me into a trial or test, but deliver me from evil”? This reminds me immediately of Job, who God actually brought to Satan’s attention.

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” Job 1:8

God said to Satan there’s nobody on Earth like Job, who is upright and blameless. Satan replies that God blesses Job and if God took away all those blessings then he’d surely curse God.

“The LORD said to Satan, “Very well then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Job 1:12

God is outright testing Job, carrying him or leading him into temptation. The heading over this section is even titled, “Job’s First Test.” Even though He is allowing Job to be tested by Satan (who God created) He also ordered Satan not to lay a finger on the man himself.

Hmm . . . in the book of Job, I see no implication of God leading him into temptation. I see that God outright carries him into temptation which is directly brought about by Satan. So, Pope Francis is partially right that it’s Satan’s job to tempt humans into sinful behavior. But, who created Satan and gave him that job? God did.

It might be hard for some people to look at God as being in control of everything, including Satan, or whomever else he created. I feel comforted because I know that God is in charge, and I personally don’t want to be tested the way Job was tested. God allowed him to go through some pretty bad stuff. But God also protected Job while he went through these tests.

I was reminded of another verse:

“If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23,24.

Many verses in the Bible let us know that God will get us through difficult situations that will surely happen, but he won’t let us fall. So, the Pope’s concept about asking God to not let us fall is definitely a common concept in the Bible. But I still wonder if it is an appropriate or necessary translation for this particular prayer?

The Lord’s Prayer was given by Jesus as instruction on how to pray. And if we study it carefully, and combine this one prayer with other things the Bible is teaching, I believe we can continue to deepen our understanding until the cows come home.

come home cow.jpg

Let’s look again at Pope Francis’ proposed translation “do not let us fall into temptation.” Is this a better translation? Does it give us a deeper meaning of what the prayer is asking for? Does the Pope’s reasoning behind the change make sense? Are his reasons consistent with the rest of the Bible? Does it actually water down the truth? 

I’m glad I looked up the original meanings in the concordance. Gives me a little more wisdom to chew on.

Cows Butting Heads at Sunrise

1st cow pic

First cow picture taken

In the early days of my exploration of photography, I was 7, visiting family in Texas where these strange creatures called cows were everywhere. I was living in the Mojave Desert in Southern California at the time where cows weren’t so common, so they definitely had my attention. Everyone was confused and weirded out that I was wasting the film in my disposable camera on boring things like cows. “What is she taking pictures of?” they would all ask in bewilderment.

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Well, I am still taking pictures of boring cows. But, they aren’t that boring. Once they notice that I’m there, they quit what they’re doing and all of a sudden 20 cows are staring at me and walking quickly towards me. Each time this happens, I immediately have a flashback of the time I was fishing with my dad on his family farm for the first time, and I turned around and saw a herd of cows appear out of nowhere and start coming at me. I totally freaked out, while my dad was totally chill. “It’s ok, they’re just looking for food.”

That’s what I was afraid of . . . they’re ready to get back at me for all those delicious cheeseburgers I’ve enjoyed. 

cows butting heads-2.jpg

Lately we’ve been having some psychedelic colored sunrises so I got up bright and early hoping to get something interesting. I stopped at a ranch on the picturesque farm road I drive down daily. I was sorta bummed out that the sunset colors weren’t as cool looking as the previous mornings when I didn’t have time to stop.

As the sun was rising, I noticed cows were grazing in the distance and then I spotted 2 cows butting heads. I love when I get the opportunity to see animals behaving in their environment.



cows butting heads-4

If I could have gotten inside the fence and gotten closer I could have included the sunset and gotten some better detail of the cows and the water. I wasn’t about to trespass though, so I had to take the pictures from really far away.

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