What Art Can Do for Us

Can you spot the new item in the Reading Room?


There it is, over the fireplace; a closer look:


I had meant to hang it on the interior wall, behind our reading chairs… where the brass charger is hanging now, but I thought it would look nicer over the fireplace.


I’ve loved this room since I transformed it from a hardly-ever-used dining room into a Reading Room for us. Alas, Paul hardly ever reads in here; it’s mostly just me you’ll finding sitting there, along with the dogs because wherever I go, they go. But this room is where I can relax. Looking out the front windows has been grand, up to a point. Once we got the onslaught of winter snow, it became rather monotonous and boring to look out at all that white stuff.

My new picture, up closer, before I hung it:


As some of you will already know, we saw the recent film “Mr. Turner” the other day, maybe a couple of weeks ago…. and fell in love with his works. J.M.W. Turner, that is. Probably the most well-known British painter of the 19th century. Or so they say. The film starred one of our all-time favorite actors, Timothy Spall. I make sure I get a copy of all his movies and he does some nice documentary-type shows, as well. Like the time he took his wife, Shane, and and “sailed” the barge, called “Princess Matilda”, all around the coastline of England and Scotland.. The series was called “Timothy Spall – Somewhere at Sea”. Well, it was almost all the way around, I think he took a short-cut in Scotland inland. It was a wonderful series. And now I see he has made two more subsequent series! He’s unique. We love his work. And as J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), the artist, he was wonderful, as well. What else?

In the film, there is a scene about him painting what is known as his “Snowstorm” painting. The actual title is “Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth Making Signals in Shallow Water, and going by the Lead. The Author was in this Storm on the Night the “Ariel” left Harwich.” Quite a name, no? It’s more often called just “Snow Storm,” or “Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth.” This was painted by Turner in 1842.

Turner wanted to experience a snowstorm whilst out on a steamship, so he went out in one during a wild snowstorm and even asked to be lashed to the mast so he wouldn’t be washed overboard! This is the painting he did from his memory of what he saw

I immediately knew I wanted that picture in my home, so after exploring a few places, (and of course I couldn’t get an original), I found a web site called http://www.art.com where they make reproductions of artwork and will do all the framing. It gives you quite a large choice as regards matting, frame choices, sizes, etc. It took me most of a complete day and a half to finalize my order, checking it over with Paul, of course. He loves it, as well. We decided, in the end, to give each other this gift for our 29th wedding anniversary, which comes up on May 10th of this year. We split the cost 50/50. It wasn’t exactly cheap but then it’s not small and is framed nicely, and is just what I/we wanted and had in mind.

So it came yesterday. Only days after I’d ordered it. Amazing service… I am very pleased.


It’s not something we needed, but when you get to be our age, some things just are worth paying a little extra for, if they contribute to some inner peace. And this picture does that for me. I am going in there now (I usually write in the living room) and put some nice classical music on the CD player, and just sit and look at this wonderful new addition to Crow Cottage.

Cheers for what art can do for us!


I think I could turn and live awhile with the animals…

They are so placid and self-contained,

I stand and look at them sometimes half the day long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied… not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.

~ [Walt Whitman, from “Leaves of Grass, No. 32”] ~

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11 Responses to What Art Can Do for Us

  1. Bex says:

    Nina, are you home? Haven’t gone yet to “Ocean.”

    Paul reads on his bed upstairs. I have tried and tried to get him to move to the Reading Room, but the other day he just said that he has “always been a bed-reader” and that is where he is most comfortable. He has a big old pillow for propping up and it’s quiet up there… not that it’s loud down here but I do keep the TV on for background noise, or else the radio/CD playing nice music…

    He did try sitting in the reading room once and I guess that was it. He likes his bed! The weird thing is that I only ever sit in my chair and never in his… (his is nearest the fireplace). I should use both of them! Different perspectives!


  2. Nina says:

    Where does Paul read?


  3. TopsyTurvy says:

    Ah, no. So sorry to hear that L’Empress passed away. My condolences to you and her other friends and family.

    That’s a wonderful picture, Bex, and I’m really liking what I see of Turner’s works. Very nice!


  4. I really like the painting and where you placed it. I think it brings the entire room together. I love a reading room.


  5. Susan Honthumb says:

    Nice piece of art. I learn so much when I read your blog. Thanks.


  6. Bex says:

    Yes, Bonnie. I posted some stuff on FB about when Harriet passed. It is very sad. She was a force and a wiser-than-wise woman – human being. She always taught me something. Always. It seems unreal that she is gone, and I’m sure her family feels the same as they were very close.

    For anyone who never read her words, here is her blog:


    Harriet’s Archives

    And going back to the first blog entry here that she wrote, apart from a very short opening one, this entry, if you will read it through, is quite ironic now — you’ll see why.

    Harriet’s first full entry in 2002.


  7. sandy freel says:

    “WOW”…Nice and it looks so good over fireplace…you see it the min you walk into room.


  8. Turner is one of Attila’s favourite artists. I too immediately thought of the irony of the snow, after the winter you have had! Just goes to show you that you cannot keep a great spirit down! You must really love that room, it is so very inviting!


  9. Bonnie says:

    Funny that I remembered what was in the room, well not really but I chose the painting as new so must of remembered some of it. 🙂 Wish I could sit in your room, looks so comfy.

    btw You knew Harriet didn’t you? She passed.


  10. Bex says:

    Eric…don’t worry, Paul is wise enough to know never to go on the ocean in a storm, or even the possibility of a storm… yes, this is just like you described, probably considered “modernistic” at the time he painted it. And yes, I think I’ll be getting lost in this picture for many years to come.


  11. Eric Mayer says:

    That’s a great painting. Turner was amazing and probably a bit ahead of his time. My own taste in art runs to pictures that are largely abstract/non-realistic but yet retain a realistic element. So Turner painted real scenes but emphasized elements like the effects of light. I think a painting like this is something you can look at endlessly without tiring of it, as you probably would tire of something that was merely photo-realistic. But, I have to say, considering the winter you’ve had, it is a mite ironic that you chose Turner’s depiction of a snowstorm at sea. Oh also, let’s hope it doesn’t give Paul any ideas.


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