Tuesday, April 26, 2016


You probably have never heard of Stanislaw Wyspianski unless you grew up in Poland. I did and i would like to introduce him and his beautiful art to you. I have grown up with these images and they hold a special place in my heart. The portraits of young girls, children, mothers tending to their child are the most common themes I remember. Most of his portraits are those of his own family members, wife Teodora and children: Stas, Mietek and Helenka.

"Self Portrait" by Stanislaw Wyspianski, 1894
     Wyspianski (1869-1907) was an artist of many trades and talents. He created oil paintings, pastel drawings, illustrations, designed furniture and stained glass windows. He was a theatre director, draughtsman and a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. He was born and lived in Krakow and many of his artworks portray his beloved city, where he got educated and spent most of his adult life. He also traveled all over Europe including France, taking up fine art studies in Paris at Colarossi Academy. He worked under the famous Polish painter Jan Matejko.

     In addition to his art, he also became famous, among others, for his playwrights like Wesele - "The Wedding" (1901), and poetry ( "Niech nikt and groom mi in place? Let No One Cry over My Grave" 1903 ) and he is considered by Poles as one of most important Polish writers after Adam Mickiewicz, and Juliusz Slowacki.

I don't want to rewrite his biography here, just to share his artwork, so if you are interested in more details of his life or his multitude of literary work, please go to the bottom of this page for more resources.

I found his artwork tender and moody. It places me right there with children and other portrait sitters. I can feel the intimacy of the moment thanks to brisk and quick movements of the line, I can sense the immediacy of the frozen moment in the expressive marks of the faces. I find Wyspianski's portraits captivating and I feel like I can't make myself stop looking at them. Hope you will find his artwork as mesmerizing as I do. Enjoy!

"Motherhood" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Boy with pistols" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Girl in a blue hat" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Girl putting out a candle" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Girl portrait" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Helenka" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Motherhood" 1905 by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Motherhood" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Girl with blue eyes" by Stanislaw Wyspianski 
"Portrait of a girl" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Portrait of a girl" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Portrait of Mietek" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Portrait of Salomea Hankiewiczowa with her daughter" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Sleeping Stas" 1904 by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Study of a child - Mietek" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Vanitas" by Stanislaw Wyspianski
Stained Glass Window of St. Francis Church by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Self portrait with wife at the window" 1904 by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Spiacy Stasiu" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Self portrait"1902 by Stanislaw Wyspianski
"Motherhood" 1904 by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Boy with a flower" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Girl in a native costume" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"A profile of a girl" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"Sleeping Stasiu" by Stanislaw Wyspianski

"View of Kosciuszko Mound" 1902 by Stanislaw Wyspianski
"Sunrise" by Stanislaw Wyspianski


  • Stanisław Wyspiański. Studium artysty, ed. E. Miodonska-Brookes, Kraków, 1996;
  • Magia "Wesela", ed. J. Michalik and A. Stafiej, Kraków, 2003;
  • T. Makowiecki, Poeta-malarz. Studium o Stanisławie Wyspianskim, Warszawa, 1969
  • Skoczylas, L. (1972) Stanisław Wyspiański – życie i twórczość. Cracow: Książnica Powszechna.
  • Zimmer, Szczepan K. (1959) Stanisław Wyspiański, Biographical Sketch, translated by Helena Maria Zimmer

Biography & Works


Sunday, April 17, 2016


My little LA LA world
The idea of my importance in the world always disappears when I travel... As an individual, just like everyone else, I carry my own world in my head and all the problems, joys, heartaches and mischiefs that come with it - all neatly packed in my cranial cavity. I am an individual with all sort of strings attached, family and friends, dreams, ambitions and failures, bad habits, good traits, or... good habits and bad traits, you make your pick...

Travel puts things in perspective

Yet, all this nonsense becomes secondary and obsolete in the scale of cosmic things, when the ratio of my world is shrank to a nanomilimeter in a direct proportion to the number of miles travelled.

Nonsense of my world
Miles travelled                     = Ego

Looking at my life from the top

Flying high above cumulus clouds, not being able to even see the traces of earthly terrain, my perception of what I mean in this world is greatly diminished and rather depressing. I become this tiny, insignificant, slow-crawling insect on a sidewalk of the world, avoiding getting squashed by the sandals of capricious external forces.

Am I an insect ready to be squashed?

Travel always teaches me a new lesson every single time I go away and this time the question posed during my recent escape was:


Discovering yourself while discovering new sites

The one important value of true travel is not only to discover new sites, but to discover yourself while being there.

This rather simple concept is rather shocking realization to my overfed obese ego living in its special "la-la world" where I am the queen. By traveling I'm removed from the comforts of my known matrix, where "court" habits, associations and comforts made me the center of my world, a gravitational black hole that sucks in everything around me.

Getting the right perspective

Travel is like a detox treatment, removing all the impurities of selfishness, shedding pounds of ego and looking at the world and yourself with a brand new healthy attitude.

Travel is a toast to life bigger than myself and I'm invited to raise my glass.

Travel is my snappy rubber band to yank me right back into long-term perspective of my own life.

Travel is recharging my understanding of myself as insignificant in the grand scale of time, space and relativity.

Looking at the grand scale of time, space and relativity

This cosmic "put down" is not meant to diminish my potential as a human being, but to remind me that in the scale of things, I need to live my live to the fullest. Neither the smallest of problems or one large tragedy of my life will be known or remembered by anyone in the distant future, but will only impede my life and distract me from my goal of achieving happiness.

Bump on the road in my  journey

Therefore, every time I'm faced with difficulties, I must step back as often as possible to refocus on what is important in grand scale of things and to get the right perspective to dismiss it as a small bump on the road in my journey.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


I was always in love with Roman Architecture, especially after our trip to Italy. My admiration for modern open living spaces with outdoor garden inside of the house merged with a necessity for self-sustainable and defendable structure and I began to dream about designing and building a house in Roman House Villa Style fitted for the 21 century.

The doomsday phase of stocking up canned goods and prepping house for emergency prompted me to start doing research about the best way to turn the house into a structure that is inaccessible from the outside, yet allows for the sustainability inside for its inhabitants. I decided to go back in history and look at the ancient house of Rome. I also got a good sense of the space by watching famous HBO series "Rome".

Here is an example of typical ancient Roman House

Roman House 

What is appealing in this ancient design, that the building is in a way a fortress with a long tall wall around its perimeter with the entry doors from the front (the shops were usually set up to be entered through separate entrance in the front) and natural light coming from the openings in the roof to Atrium and Peristylium.  The tall wall would allow some light with small windows close to the roof top, but most of the light would come through the center of the house. The outside conditions would determine if the air would be flowing through the house. To make adjustment for colder climates I envisioned sliding glass panels letting the light in but still sealing the home from inside if necessary.

Rooms in Roman House, courtesy of Barbara F. McManus

Roman Villa Rebuilt

Although my modern Roman house was envisioned as a protective structure for its inhabitants, it was further developed to serve as a simple, yet functional, flexible and aesthetically pleasing space.
The sketch below shows a possible floor layout of the house with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. It's not to scale. The second floor is not shown but can be added if more space is necessary.

The front of the house is the living space: kitchen with large island on the left, (possible large fire place for cooking), with a shallow pool (impluvium) for drinking water collection directly under a retractable skylight (compulvium) in the center and the living room on the right side. This whole area is tiled except the bedrooms. There is a double-sided fire place in the living room spilling into the master bedroom. The front rooms by the entry would be used as cold storage, food pantry and armory.

Other areas in the house include the library in the back of the house with entry into the garden, master bedroom in the right wing with large walk in closet/master bath while the other bedrooms are on the opposite side of the house sharing a bathroom. The pool area is connected to the garden and there is no roof above either one.

This house was designed to be operational without electricity. The tall walls of the house prevent intrusion. Large reinforced doors in the front of the house plus 1 escape door in the back, prevent from entry through the first floor. The manual retractable skylight allows for gathering of water while raining as well as refill of the pool used for bathing. The well is not shown in a design but could be added in the garden/pool area. The garden in the back can provide source of food and possible chicken coop could be set up in this part of house. The 3 fireplaces would heat up the space as well as be used for cooking. The glass sliding doors and retractable skylight window could be used for ventilation and cooling during summer time.

This idea is very clear in my head but I would like to take it to the next level and find someone who would like to draw it out into real architectural plans, estimates of building costs and feasibility costs. Maybe an architecture student will find it as a challenge and collaborate with me on this project one day, but as of now it's an idea.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


"What is it that I like so much about the house you're building for me, Howard?"
"A house can have integrity, just like a person," said Roark, "and just as seldom."
"In what way?"
" Well, look at it. Every piece of it is there because the house needs it - and for no other reason. You see it from here as it is inside. (...) But you've seen buildings with columns that support nothing, with purposeless cornices, with  pilasters, moldings, false arches, false windows. You have seen buildings that look as if they contained a single large hall, they have solid columns and single solid windows six floors high. (...) Do you understand the difference? Your house is made by its own needs. Those others are made by the  need to impress. The determining motive of your house is in the house. The determining motive of the others is in the audience."
Conversation between Howard Roark and Austen Heller from "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The need to impress others is a strong drive for many ambitions, habits and lifestyles. The opinion of others, their perceptions of us and what we have, have done, where we have been is often more important than what we think of ourselves. 

Or, is it possible, that the low opinion of ourselves is a driving force to raise the opinion of us by others to a higher level to make up the difference for the deficit between the two? It's so much easier to put up a fake facade and create deceivable perceptions of who we are and what we stand for in the eyes of others than within ourselves. 

Our own soul mirror doesn't distort, lie and fool what we know, do and believe. The only honest way of seeing a true reflection of something that is worth in us, is by living to our fullest potential, standing for our ideals and dreams, and going through the struggles, hardships and disasters with our heads held high. When one forfeits everything that is dear to him or her, passions and dreams that keep him or her going, one forfeits his or her own spirit that keeps one truly alive and living. 

For what is life that lacks passion for what you do? 

It's a living nightmare, a rainy day on a beach, a steam-engine without steam, a sail without wind.

We are social animals, who need human interaction, acceptance and often approval. The integrity of an individual who refuses to follow the herd-like mentality of social circles, just to fit in, is truly admirable.  We crave admiration of our families, spotlight among coworkers and praises of admiring stranger. We seek to project our minuscule attempts at achievements with a hurricane force of a PR agent, upgrading them to lifetime achievements and making them a milestone markers of life not being wasted. "Look at me" we scream on the top of our lungs..."Look how smart I am!" without being able to back it up  without any solid proof of true scholarship and innovative thinking. "Look how wonderful my life is and I'm really really not wasting it..." as it the high school reunion was around the corner, and shedding of 10 lbs and successful resume were the requirements to attend the party.

Who would you rather have for a friend: a brilliant writer, whose selfish drive to create keeps strangers and friends at bay or drunken socialite who will waste tons of any one's time on an empty chatter? Or a innovative engineer whose idea of conversation includes nothing but constant search for solutions or a big mouth suck up whose parasitic tendencies drain your energy and time from what is really important to you. 

The pretentious relationships between people based on who knows who, who has connections and how one can benefit from such connection is what history is made of. Taking an easy path to success by calling on your connections as opposed to building on its own merit and struggle carries a smaller price tag on the value of your soul. We are selling ourselves cheap for search of recognition in our lifetime hoping to enjoy the material and intellectual fruits of our talents and skills. And its absolutely understandable... for what is success after death, it's pointless unless one seeks more than material rewards. 

The genius of any talent is about revealing the truth about the nature of things around us, showing its timeless beauty, irrevocable wisdom and passionate spirit. It will stand on its own despite of time, politics or connections. It will linger in the air like a delicate perfume or a strong weft of a good cigar. It will survive the graveyards of mediocrity. It will sustain itself in the new generations on a hunt for their destinies and life fulfillments.

Live as you are, don't pretend to be someone else. Those glasses won't make you look smarter, unless of course you do something with that knowledge. Those expansive clothes and diets won't make you look thinner, unless of course you put in effort and dedication in being healthy. Those travels won't make you wiser, unless of course you harness the wisdom beyond collection of postcards and magnets. Be honest, be a true reflection of who you are on the inside, don't mask it with a false facade, fake columns that support nothing and cornices that decorate nothing.