Category Archives: #FineArtFriday

#FineArtFriday: Mount Adams by Albert Bierstadt

Quote from Wikimedia Commons: Albert Bierstadt enjoyed great success in the years surrounding the Civil War, producing finely detailed vistas of nature’s splendor in majestic canvases that were similarly invested with significance beyond their surface appearance.

The first technically advanced artist to portray the American West, Bierstadt offered to a rapidly transforming nation pictures whose spectacular size and fresh, dramatic subject matter supplied a visual correlative to notions of American exceptionalism, while also contributing to the developing concept of Manifest Destiny.

Trained in the highly finished manner of the Düsseldorf Academy, Bierstadt’s precise style imbued his works with a reassuring sense of veracity despite their sublime subjects and occasional liberties with geographic reality. In Mount Adams, Washington, he characteristically combined an impressively scaled natural background with a foreground view of American Indian life, which serves to heighten the picture’s putative realism even as it enhances its exotic appeal.

The implied movement of the clouds and the sunlit figures on horseback similarly off to the right seems to open up the depicted space for the viewer to inhabit, providing an apt pictorial metaphor for the actual occupation and exploitation of the West by the eastern interests that constituted the artist’s clientele.

Credits and Attributions:

Mount Adams by Albert Bierstadt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:1875, Bierstadt, Albert, Mount Adams, Washington.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository,,_Bierstadt,_Albert,_Mount_Adams,_Washington.jpg&oldid=272380899 (accessed March 9, 2018).





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Early Morning Moon #flashfictionfriday

Early morning moon

Waltzing across the sky at dawn

Lights the frozen land beneath.

Winter morning moon

Not blue, not blood,

Unique only for its rarity.

Early morning moon

Naked, uncloaked by clouds,

Waltzing across the sky at dawn.


Credits and Attributions:

By Jeff Fennell from Oregon, USA (Early Morning Moon) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Early Morning Moon, poem by Connie J. Jasperson © 2018 All Rights Reserved


Filed under #FineArtFriday, #FlashFictionFriday, Poetry

#FineArtFriday: Prusik Peak from Gnome Tarn

The above picture of Gnome Tarn was found on Wikimedia Commons. This serene alpine pool is approachable only on foot, a hike that usually takes two days each way. It a long, steep, and grueling hike that is not for the inexperienced. The trail through The Enchantments (where this photograph was taken) climbs 6.5 miles (10.5 km) to Snow Lake, gaining 4,100 feet (1,200 m). The trail climbs over sloping granite rock to the Lower Enchantments. The entire hike is 9 miles (14 km) one-way, with 6,000 feet (1,800 m) of elevation gain to an end elevation of 7,800 feet (2,400 m).

But those of us no longer able to make such a grueling jaunt can still enjoy the scenery, thanks to Wikimedia Commons and the wonderful imagery of photographers like Niko Kurov. 

Quote from Wikipedia: By the 1940s climbers discovered the area and began naming the crags. Bill and Peg Stark of Leavenworth, became frequent visitors who drew upon various mythologies to name features of the landscape. When they made their first visit in the fall of 1959, they were captivated by the golden splendor of the larch trees in the fall, the numerous lakes and tarns, and jagged peaks towering above. They used fairy names such as Gnome Tarn, Troll Sink, Naiad Lake (officially Temple Lake), Sprite and King Arthur legends in the Lower Enchantment Basin because “the lower basin was not as austere as the upper basin,” according to Peg. They used Norse names and mythology for features of the upper basin, for example Brynhild Lake (officially Inspiration Lake), Lake Freya (officially Tranquil Lake), and Valhalla Cirque because, Peg said, it felt “as if the Ice Age had just gone off.”

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, not too far from where this image was taken. Pictures like this remind me of my youth, bringing back the memories of places where I have walked and the sights that produced such a profound respect for the natural world. These memories find their way into my work, hopefully with the magic still intact!

Credits and Attributions:

By Niko Kirov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia contributors, “The Enchantments,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed January 26, 2018).


Filed under #FineArtFriday, writing

#FineArtFriday: Frost Fair on the River Thames near the Temple Stairs, by Thomas Wyke

Quoted from Wikipedia: During the Great Frost of 1683–84, the worst frost recorded in England, the Thames was completely frozen for two months, with the ice reaching a thickness of 11 inches (28 cm) in London. Solid ice was reported extending for miles off the coasts of the southern North Sea (England, France and the Low Countries), causing severe problems for shipping and preventing the use of many harbours. Near Manchester, the ground was frozen to 27 inches (69 cm), in Somerset, to more than 4 feet (1.2 m).

In the pedestrian tunnel under the south bank of Southwark Bridge, there is an engraving by Southwark sculptor Richard Kindersley, made of five slabs of grey slate, depicting the frost fair.[19]

The frieze contains an inscription that reads (two lines per slab):

Behold the Liquid Thames frozen o’re,
That lately Ships of mighty Burthen bore
The Watermen for want of Rowing Boats
Make use of Booths to get their Pence & Groats
Here you may see beef roasted on the spit
And for your money you may taste a bit
There you may print your name, tho cannot write
Cause num’d with cold: tis done with great delight
And lay it by that ages yet to come
May see what things upon the ice were done

The inscription is based on handbills,[20] printed on the Thames during the frost fairs.

Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “River Thames frost fairs,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed January 19, 2018).

Frost Fair on the River Thames near the Temple Stairs, by Thomas Wyke ca.1683-1684 via Wikimedia Commons (scan from FT magazine, 2007-09-30) [Public domain]


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#FineArtFriday: Home, Sweet Home by Winslow Homer

Home, Sweet Home is one of the most famous paintings of the American Civil War, depicting a moment in time, painted by Winslow Homer. On opposite shores of the Rappahannock River, opposing armies are caught up in an awareness of brotherhood, as music becomes the medium that lays bare the humanity of the soldiers on both sides.

Winslow Homer was best known for his landscapes featuring the many moods of the ocean, but he also painted many iconic images of that turbulent time before, during, and after the American Civil War. His art captures a sense of familiarity, a feeling that the viewer knows these people and their stories intimately.

Wikipedia says, “Harper’s (magazine) sent Homer to the front lines of the American Civil War (1861–1865), where he sketched battle scenes and camp life, the quiet moments as well as the chaotic ones. His initial sketches were of the camp, commanders, and army of the famous Union officer, Major General George B. McClellan, at the banks of the Potomac River in October 1861.

“Although the drawings did not get much attention at the time, they mark Homer’s expanding skills from illustrator to painter. Like with his urban scenes, Homer also illustrated women during wartime, and showed the effects of the war on the home front. The war work was dangerous and exhausting. Back at his studio, Homer would regain his strength and re-focus his artistic vision. He set to work on a series of war-related paintings based on his sketches, among them Sharpshooter on Picket Duty (1862), Home, Sweet Home (1863), and Prisoners from the Front (1866). He exhibited paintings of these subjects every year at the National Academy of Design from 1863 to 1866. Home, Sweet Home was shown at the National Academy to particular critical acclaim; it was quickly sold and the artist was consequently elected an Associate Academician, then a full Academician in 1865.[10]”

The story behind the painting, Home, Sweet Home, is told poignantly in the autobiography, Reminiscences of a Private, by Frank Mixson, who served in the Confederate Army.

“The Yankee band would play the popular airs of theirs amid much yelling and cheering; our bands would do the same with the same result. Towards the wind-up the Yankee band struck up “Yankee Doodle.” Cheers were immense. When they stopped our band struck up “Dixie,” and everything went wild. When they finished this, both bands, with one accord and simultaneously, struck up “Home, Sweet Home.” There was not a sound from anywhere until the tune was finished and it then seemed as if everybody had gone crazy. I never saw anything to compare with it. Both sides were cheering, jumping up and throwing up hats and doing everything which tended to show enthusiasm. This lasted for at least a half hour. I do believe that had we not had the river between us that the two armies would have gone together and settled the war right there and then.”

Quote from: Reminiscences of a Private, by Frank Mixson (1910)

Sources and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “Winslow Homer,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed January 4, 2018).

Home, Sweet Home: “Had we not had the river between us,” posted by Marek, accessed 04 January 2018.

Reminiscences of a Private, by Frank Mixson (published 1910 by Columbia, S.C., The State Company)

Home, Sweet Home (oil on canvas) by Winslow Homer – circa 1863 | Winslow Homer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed 04 January 2018.


Filed under #FineArtFriday, writing

#Drabble “Ted”

Today is the first day of 2018! An area of writing that I really enjoy is called The Drabble. Writing such short fiction forces the author to develop economy of words. We will be exploring Drabbles and the craft of writing short fiction more closely here on Life in the Realm of Fantasy during the month of January.

A Drabble is an extremely short story, usually no more than 100 words, although some contests will allow as much as 300 words.

My first Drabble was this one, penned in 2013, and it remains one of my favorite short pieces.



Edna stirred her coffee and looked out the window toward the shed.

“Did you feed the chickens?” Marion always asked, despite knowing Edna had.

Edna tore her gaze from the shed. “Of course.” Her eyes turned back to the small building. “We won’t be able to keep him in there much longer. He’s growing too big. We should have a barn built for him.”

“Ted was always a greedy boy.” Marion sipped her coffee. “I warned him he behaved like a beast, and now look.”

A rumbling bellow shook the shed. A long green tail snaked out of the door.

“Ted,” by Connie J. Jasperson ©2013 – 2018

Garden Shed, Australia, By Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia (Garden Shed, Australia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ( ], via Wikimedia Commons

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Filed under #FineArtFriday, #FlashFictionFriday, writing

Goodbye 2017 #amcelebrating

Christmas Day has gone, taking with it the snow that lent our small valley transitory beauty. It left behind the memory of cozy warmth, of a table laden with comfort food, and old friends sharing a holiday meal.

The old year is nearly over, and while it has been a difficult year in many ways for my family, I have far more blessings than I can count.

My New Year’s Eve wish for you is: May you never lack for good food, warmth, and the companionship of witty people. May you always have books to read, and may happiness regularly cross your path.


Filed under #FineArtFriday, writing

Thoughts on a Christmas Card 2017 #FineArtFriday

Somewhere, long ago,

An unknown artist painted

A warm, wonderful picture.

A feeling of home and family and joy,

That fits neatly in an envelope.

A piece of fine art arriving in the mail,

Along with a little poem.

“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

I wish the same to you, and you, and you.

Credits and Attributions:

Thoughts on a Christmas Card (2017), by Connie J. Jasperson ©2017, fine tuned from an earlier poem of the same name.

Christmas Eve by J. Hoover, 1880, Published by J. Hoover, Philadelphia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Glædelig Jul, ca 1906 By Nasjonalbiblioteket from Norway [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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#FineArtFriday: Winter Scene in New Haven, Connecticut, by George Henry Durrie

I frequently find myself perusing the vaults at Wikimedia Commons, looking for clues about how people lived in times past. Winter Scene in New Haven, Connecticut, by George Henry Durrie is an intriguing window into the winter of 1858, a surprisingly intimate view of life in America just before the Civil War.

Durrie had a modest reputation during his lifetime, an indie struggling unsuccessfully to market his works. After his death, the American printmaking firm, Currier and Ives, ensured his works were kept in the public eye.

The grandeur of the sky is reminiscent of Constable’s work, and the painting, overall, is both bold and comforting. Under a large sky, we find a small farm. It’s a simple pastoral scene, a moment painted during a winter long passed into memory. It’s pleasant, almost boring scene in its common hominess. When you look at the larger picture, you may ask, “How is this intimate? The landscape and the sky provide the drama, while the people are completely overshadowed by the scenery.”

But there is another, deeper story, one that is overshadowed by the majestic landscape and threatening winter skies, and Durrie included these people for a reason.

In Connecticut in 1858 things were not as simple and bucolic as the wide view of this image portrays.

Quote from Matthew Warshauer in his article for Connecticut History:

The state descended into chaos at the start of the war, splitting into warring Republican and Democratic factions that sometimes faced off violently.  Before the Southern states even seceded, the two parties faced off in the 1860 gubernatorial election, a contest that would decide the level of the state’s involvement once the war began.

Artists, then and now, frequently deal in allegory and misdirection. Then, as now, they were pressured to portray an acceptable vision life as it should be. They had to sell their work to live, so they did do that, but they still painted what they saw, inserting the truth into each painting. The story that Durrie hid within this painting can be found by examining the painting in detail. I have enlarged the important section for you.

A sled, drawn by a single horse and driven by a woman, has pulled up beside the gate. A man has emerged and is talking to her. In the doorway of the farmhouse, a woman and girl stand, watching the scene at the gate.

We can imagine that some drama exists in their relationships, beginning with the way the man is standing there, not inviting the woman in. She obviously doesn’t expect to be invited in by him but has come anyway.

The man speaks to the traveler, but his gaze is not focused on the woman who has traveled through the snow, bringing a large sack filled with… what? Presents? Food-gifts? Instead, he looks away, focusing on the fencepost. Is the visitor an unwelcome mother-in-law, or is she, perhaps, a travelling merchant and he is negotiating with her?

Did she purchase something? Perhaps they’re merely chatting and he just happens to be looking away.

The sky can be a clue to the deeper story, too. Dark clouds take up fully half of the scene, dwarfing the homestead. Storms threaten the peace and prosperity of this farm, and barren trees flourish. It’s 1858 and the country is divided politically and ideologically, and the threat of a civil war looms.

The final subliminal clue is in the title: Winter Scene in New Haven, Connecticut. The artist names the picture after the larger community, a town that doesn’t appear at all in the painting, instead of offering the farm’s name. Thus, the scene. the approaching storm threatening the peaceful farm, is an allegory depicting the mood of the larger community.

Does this small detail hidden in the larger picture depict a travelling merchant, a customer, or a disliked mother-in-law bringing gifts despite her son-in-law’s aversion? Or is there something deeper here? Nothing breaks up families or divides communities as surely as strongly held opposing opinions, and we were deeply divided in those turbulent times.

The story is there, and the world in which it is set is all prepared for you. George Henry Durrie painted it, and if you are looking for a deep story that echoes our modern political state of affairs, here it is.

Or, it could simply be a passing stranger, asking for directions on a winter’s day.

When you examine the art of the past closely and look for allegories, you may find a large story hidden within the the image.  It’s up to you to interpret it and then write it.

Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:George Henry Durrie – Winter Scene in New Haven, Connecticut – Google Art Project.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository,,_Connecticut_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&oldid=249454341  (accessed December 14, 2017).

The Complicated Realities of Connecticut and the Civil War, by Matthew Warshauer, Ph.D., Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University. Copyright © Connecticut Humanities. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 License. (accessed December 14, 2017)


Filed under #FineArtFriday, writing

#FineArtFriday: Winter Landscape with Brabrand Church, by Christian David Gebauer


The above painting, Winter Landscape with Brabrand Church, by Christian David Gebauer, is a perfect illustration of a day in the life of a Danish village as captured by the eye of an artist. One of the last paintings made before Gebauer’s death in 1831, it is considered a centerpiece work of the Danish Golden Age, a period of exceptional creative production in Denmark during the first half of the 19th century. Gebauer was heavily influenced by the works of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history roughly spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence.

If you are writing fantasy, which is often set in rural late-renaissance-era environments, you can find all the details you need in the art of the past.

Artists painted details, not visible from a distance, but which combine to give the mood of the piece. They painted not only what they saw, but what they felt. They gave us a hint of how people really lived, laughed, and loved before the industrial revolution transformed the world into the modern, technologically driven place we see today.

In Winter Landscape with Brabrand Church, Christian David Gebauer shows us villagers dressed for warmth, enjoying themselves on the ice. Others are working, bringing in sledges filled with hay. A hunter and and his dogs are returning, perhaps empty handed. A bag hangs at the hunter’s side but isn’t full. The ice-fishermen are having better luck.

A woodcutter admonishes a boy, perhaps his son, to stop fooling around. His machete hangs in his right hand, as he fights what he knows is a losing battle. It’s evening, the day has been long, and children who have worked all day just want to play and have fun.

The sky takes up fully half of the painting–the church and the people are small beneath it. Beneath the powerful sky, there is an air of busy enjoyment to the painting. The hilarity of those skaters unable to keep their balance is juxtaposed against the hard-working laborers and the cozy prosperity of horses pulling laden sleds.

The entire story of one winter’s evening in this village lives within this painting, all of it captured by an artist nearly two-hundred years ago.

Is there magic here? Maybe. Is there life and passion? Definitely. There is a story in this image. Certainly the details will emerge in my work in the form of setting and atmosphere.

Regardless of how I use it, this window opens onto a time I can now visualize more clearly, less blurred by my modern perspective.

Credits and Attributions:

Winter Landscape with Brabrand Church, Christian David Gebauer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Filed under #FineArtFriday, writing