Painting flowers was nothing new, but no one painted them quite like Georgia O’Keeffe…

Georgia O’Keeffe once admitted, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life — and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” It’s a quote often repeated and it seems she applied the credo to all aspects of her long creative life, not least her art. This bravery led her to a new approach to colour and form which started with her famous flower paintings. These vivid, close-up portraits of blooms such as poppies and cannas are among the most well-known of O’Keeffe’s paintings. …


Considering the final painting of Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo — a still life of succulent fruit, forever fresh…

This colourful still life of watermelons, some carved and cut into wedges, was the final painting of Frida Kahlo, completed days before she died in 1954. It is therefore especially poignant that she labelled the front segment ‘Viva La Vida’ — Long Live Life.

‘Viva la Vida’ (1954) by Frida Kahlo [view license]

Fresh watermelons immediately suggest life and abundance, celebrating the fertility of Frida’s Mexican heritage. Her home, Casa du Azul was full of flora and fauna — she kept a garden, parrots, monkeys… all of which invited tropical lushness into her everyday life. Watermelons are significant in Mexican culture as they are often left as offerings to…


A closer look at the art and science of illustrator and pioneering entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian

It’s hard to believe that around 400 years ago, when the Royal Society was first established in London by Charles II, people still believed in the theory of ‘spontaneous generation’ — that maggots arose from rotting meat, swallows from mud, and caterpillars from cabbages. It seems that nobody had watched caterpillars hatch from eggs, devour leaves they were laid upon, turn into pupa then emerge as moth or butterfly that then repeated this glorious life cycle — until Maria Sibylla Merian.


When Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted his famous ‘Christmas card’ winter landscape, he broke with tradition and inspired a new one…

Hunters in the Snow is an icon of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and rightly so. Skillful in its composition and use of colour, it seems a bridge between the medieval ‘book-of-hours’ and our modern ‘graphic-novel’ sensibilities. It’s considered the first large winter landscape of European art, often reproduced as a popular print — especially at this time of year, as a Christmas card.

‘The Hunters in the Snow’ aka ‘January’ (1565) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder [view license]

Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted it in 1565 as part of a series depicting the months of the year, which was commissioned by wealthy banker and royal official, Niclaes Jonghelinck to decorate his Antwerp townhouse.


Why Albrecht Dürer’s fabulous woodcut still stirs the imagination

In 1515 a one-horned Indian rhino, gifted by the Sultan of Gujarat in Northern India, arrived in Lisbon to be presented to King Emmanuel of Portugal. It had voyaged for 120 days in a sailing ship, evidence of the skill of the Portuguese sailor explorers who forged new trade routes to the East. It is fitting that Albrecht Dürer also used a new technology, the printing press, to produce about 4,500 copies of his famous woodblock print of the beast. An image that would capture the imagination and evoke the idea of what a rhinoceros was for centuries.

Dürer’s Rhinoceros woodcut [view license]

Dürer was…


Retrospective Film Review

A truck driver stops at a small family-run noodle shop and decides to help its fledgling business.


Quintessentially Japanese, yet influenced by Western art and printed with European blue, Hokusai’s print fascinated and inspired many Modern painters.

Hokusai’s The Wave is an iconic image and one of the most reproduced. It could be described as ‘viral’ — it’s even an emoji. Probably, the most well-known image from Japanese art. Yet, it was influenced by European art, and its prevalent blue colour, commonly called Prussian Blue, was a synthetic pigment discovered in Europe.

‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ (c.1830) by Hokusai [view license]

Hokusai literally translates as ‘Studio of the North Star’, and was the ‘moniker’ of the very famous ukiyo-e (‘floating world’) artist during the Edo period of Japan (1603 -1868). It was an era of greater access to affordable enjoyments for the common people, including various…


Film Review

A young newlywed arrives at her husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast and finds herself battling the shadow of his first wife, Rebecca…


Paintings by Berthe Morisot now command some of the highest prices at auction of any woman artist, but it wasn’t always this way…

This small oil painting of a mother and child, by Berthe Morisot, was shown at the first Impressionist Exhibition of 1874, where it appeared alongside the work of exclusively male contemporaries including Cezanne, Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley… Morisot had already shown paintings at the Paris Salon and she was the first woman to exhibit with the Impressionists. Today, it’s perhaps her most famous painting but was never sold and remained with the family until her death in 1895.

‘The Cradle’ (1872) by Berthe Morisot [view license]

The subject of mother and child, of course, is everywhere in Western art, particularly as Madonna and child. In Morisot’s time…


Prolific science fiction and fantasy writer, Adrian Tchaikovsky, talks to ‘The Scrawl’ about inspiration, speculation, evolution & his latest novel, ‘Doors of Eden’…

Adrian Tchaikovsky attracted plenty of favourable attention with his 2008 debut novel, Empire in Black and Gold, the first in the Shadows of the Apt series. By then, he’d already been writing for about a decade and a half, and this momentum continued to drive him on. He now has more than 40 published Fantasy and Science Fiction stories to his name — novels, novellas, anthologies. …

Kim Vertue

Writer on film and food — co-editor of The Scrawl, contributor on Frame Rated and Plate-up. Fiction published internationally and in translation.

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