Happy Halloween of Horror

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.

~William Shakespeare

The artists of the past were not exempt from painting images that scare the beejeezes out of you.

Let me share some famous nightmares with you.

 

Salvador Dali, 1940

 

Mark Powell – 1985

 

Zdzislaw Beksinski

 

Henry Fuseli – 1781

 

Artemisia Gentileschi, 1620-1621

 

Vincent van Gogh, 1886

 

William Blake, 1820

 

Katsushika Hokusai, 1830

 

Hell- Hans Memling, 1485

 

Peter Paul Rubens, 1636

 

Wayne Barlowe

 

Titian, 1570

 

Theodore Gericault. 1818

Sweet Dreams!

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Ray Villafane

Artists who truly create from the heart leave lasting impressions on our minds and hearts

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Sometimes, those memories are mixed with a bit of awe, a bit of amazement

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and a bit of fear

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Ray Villafane graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1991.

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Having a passion for children, he elected for a career in teaching.

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After several custom-carved requests from students’ parents, Ray realized he was on to something with his pumpkins and started offering them to local hotels and restaurants.

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Ray’s hobby of pumpkin carving exploded after winning the Grand Prize for Food Network’s Outrageous Pumpkin Challenge I and II.

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The rest, as the cliché points out, is history.

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More of Ray Villafane‘s extraordinary talents can be found at his website

http://villafanestudios.com/.

Get Past the Black Cat Thing

black-cat-946162872Let’s get this out of the way first.

I know this doesn’t apply to my readers, but get the message out:

DON’T HURT ANY BLACK CATS THIS HALLOWEEN! IF YOU KNOW OF SOMEONE PLANNING SOMETHING NASTY, CALL THE POLICE!! THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS AS CATS TURNING INTO WITCHES AND VICE VERSA. Cats can’t help the color of their fur, no more than people their skin.

Now that that’s over…

All Hallow’s Eve.

That magical time of the year that embraces too much candy, Midwest rain, and follow-up visits to the dentist. How can you not love a day like that?

According to http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween, Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death.

Okay, I see where the death part comes in. Cold weather, not much fire, working in the fields 18 hours a day — not a happy recipe for long life.

But then empty heads turned to black cats and witches and things they couldn’t explain. Black cats used to rule. They were held in high esteem in early Egyptian times, dating back as far as 3000 BC. I mean, who doesn’t know Bastet? bastet_statue

It wasn’t until  the middle-ages in Europe that the black cat’s rock star status started to go downhill as they began to be associated with so-called witches. The hysteria of witches practicing black magic had just hit Europe and alley cats were often cared for and fed by the poor lonely old ladies (funny how some things never change) later accused of witchery.

So all this nonsense of sacrificing black cats and dark magic and hibbery jibbery came from the fear of cat ladies. Can you imagine? Imagination is one thing, nonsense is another.

I say let’s take this ghostly, spooky, totally Americanized holiday and bring it back to its ancient roots in Egypt. You don’t have to like cats to respect them. Worship you cat. At least let him sit and type with you on your laptop. Embrace the millennium in which you exist and embrace life. Get rid of the fear of the hokus pokus associated with this really delightful celebration of candy and pumpkin pie and the Monster Mash. And knock the nonsense out of anyone who says different.

They say the border between worlds is thinnest at Samhain. I’m going to go out and check the communication between worlds tomorrow night.  Who knows? Maybe my mom will stop by. Or dad. Or my dog Rennie.  Maybe I can catch up on the gossip from the other side. Who’s hanging with who. Who’s doing the Irish Jig on the table and who’s sleeping under it. Who’s got the best bonies in the neighborhood. Which cat is hangin’ with which dog.

There’s always a story somewhere. Whether you’re looking for it or not, it’s there, waiting for you.  Find one this Halloween. Write it. Live it. Sing it.

Who knows — maybe your black cat will sing with you!

 

 

HallowThankMas

christmas-scraps-145Ahhhh….All Hallow’s Eve is just a few days away. Time for candy and pumpkins and ghosts…and the official start of Christmas advertising.

Forget what used to be — forget that one didn’t hear “Jingle Bell Rock” or see a decorated Christmas tree until Thanksgiving. I’ve been in stores with entire sections cut off for Christmas decor already, and even heard a Christmasy song on TV last week, too.

I’m not even done raking my leaves.

I’m sure there will be hundreds of blogs and articles about getting back to “old-fashioned” Christmases and values and saying bah-humbug to commercialism. And thousands more toting their wares.

How can we escape the mania that is now called HallowThankMas?

I have a 5 year-old and a 8-week-old in the house these days. They make me want to go all out for Christmas — something I’ve let slide the last few years. Trees and decorations and Christmas Villages — all the stuff that made my Christmas fun through my formative years.

Yet they start advertising toys and merchandise so early, that by the time you get around buying that one “special” thing, that “special” thing is sold out. You don’t even have your Thanksgiving turkey bought and you are expected to decorate your house with garland and lights and blow-up snowmen. If you don’t, your kids, your grandkids, wonder what’s wrong with you.

I know it’s a bit early to gripe about a holiday three holidays away, but sometimes the pressure to roll along with the tide gets to be too much. I already don’t put my tree up until after Thanksgiving; I don’t watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas or Elf or It’s a Wonderful Life until Christmas week. I do drive down Candy Cane Lane during December, and enjoy the parties and appearances of the pretend Santas and the choirs in church.

But there has to be a line drawn between the golden hues of autumn and the snowfall of Christmas Eve. There has to be an appreciation of each special day for its own sake. It’s hard to buy Halloween decorations for your own little celebration when Christmas lights are blinking down at the end of the aisle. It’s hard to get your family together for a Thanksgiving Day dinner when everyone’s planning New Year’s Eve already.

I admit, I’m not an angel. “Sleigh Ride” and “Christmas in Sarajevo” never get old. I make an effort to share the “old ways” with my kids and grandkids, the meaning behind the words, the love, the magic of the Christmas season.

But I refuse to give in to full-fledged commercialism.

At least until Black Friday. That’s when my new TV will go on sale.

Something Wicked This Way Squats

CAM00855 I love Fall. It’s the time of the month/year that blogs and Facebook and other visual media are filled with golden colors, leaves and woods and pumpkin patches. I love the crispness of the air, the chill of the day, the blankets and the hot chocolate. It’s also the time for my favorite holiday — the little haunting ritual of Trick-or-Treat.

I could share memories of Halloweens past, but I’d rather share a confession.

Now, I am one of those tree-hugging grannies. I move worms from the wet pavement to the grass after rainstorms, talk to bunnies that peek at me from the grass line, and give my pets extra food all the time. I cry at the end of Face Off and Bones, and refuse to listen to sappy music (except for at Christmas time) because of the same cry factor. So, needless to say, I’m a softy.

Flash backwards to last Sunday. Trick-or-treating with my little grandbaby. It was a family affair, everyone out to trick and treat and eat a lot of food afterwards. I pulled out my very cool hooded cape, grabbed a pair of matching gloves, and a mask I got at our annual camping cookoff, and decided to be the candy-giver-outer. (I’m usually the trick-or-treat guardian granny).

Now for my confession. I took a perverse delight in sitting perfectly still, holding the candy bowl, waiting for the treaters to come to the door, moving only when they came up close. I didn’t jump at them; I didn’t spook them. I just turned veerrrryy slowly and let them pick their treat. It was one of those “is it a statue or is it real?” kinda things.

Not a big confession as far as confessions go. But what did surprise me is that there were times that I wanted to scare them. Not a Freddy-Krueger-kind-of-scare…just a little make-their-eyes-bug-out scare. A make-them-jump scare. I chastised myself, wondering if all of my Walking Dead and American Horror stories had  finally came home to roost. If all the bullies that picked on me during my middle school years were hidden behind the Batman and Jake the Pirate costumes. If this was a control thing: dominate the little children, be in charge of the moment, hold the Sword of Damocles above their head. If this was a psychological game that only psychos play. If I could slip in and out of being a psycho without anyone knowing it.

The reality of it was that it was just a creative writing granny, chilled and stiff, waiting for her family to come back from trick-or-treating.

Getting older is a trick. And I am a trip. Is there a treat in there too?