Another Beautiful Day in Paradise!

It was another magical sunrise today! I don’t know why I’m surprised to see another beautiful sunrise, but I am! This one completely took my breath away!

I was walking around the lake and the sunrise was reflecting in the water. I was able to take a picture of the sunrise and the reflection in the water from the bike trail.

The sunrise this morning reminded me of my trip to Egypt. The way the sun came up and highlighted all the palm trees.  I always wanted to go to Egypt and see the Great Pyramid of Giza  and when I got my chance, I was able to tie in a trip to the Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. I actually saw the treasures from King Tut’s Tomb!

I arrived in Port Said, Egypt for my trip to Cairo and Giza. If you arrive by cruise ship, those wanting to visit the pyramids are transported by bus. I was one of about 50+ people excited about going to the pyramids. Our bus hostess quietly announced, “Don’t be alarmed. This is standard operating procedure. There will be two jeeps accompanying us to the pyramids. Do not be alarmed! Everyone in the jeep (four guys in each jeep) will be armed. This is entirely standard operating procedure. They will be traveling with us for your safety. So enjoy your trip to Giza”

Suddenly, the 8 guards armed with Uzis in the two jeeps appeared as if out of nowhere. One jeep traveled in front of our bus and the other behind. It was a longer journey than I expected, so I had a chance to see our “armed guards” as they came alongside the bus. I stared in horror and amazement as they appeared to me to be teenagers wielding automatic weapons!

At one point, the bus stopped at a “toll” area for the changing of the guards. Everyone was ordered off the bus. I’m thinking, “This is it.” Why was I thinking that, because, at the “tolls” there were 4 or 5 “bunkers” on each side of the road

complete with guards armed with, yep, you guessed it, Uzis facing the tolls. We were standing on one side of the road by the tolls. Just waiting – and waiting.

I’m thinking to myself, “We’re probably going to be gunned down while we’re waiting on the side of the road for our reinforcements to arrive,” but eventually they arrived and we were off again to the pyramids.

The Orlando Magic was hitting their stride at that time, and my “camel jockey” escorting me to the pyramids on his camel was sporting an Orlando Magic baseball cap, and me being from Orlando, we had lots to talk about!

The pyramids didn’t disappoint! You have to actually see the size of the pyramids up-front-and-personal to see the scale of each individual block. The Great Pyramid is   definitely one of the wonders of the world. The Great Sphinx was amazing, too!

The whole idea of the pyramids acting as somewhat of a springboard for the Pharaohs to the afterlife is intriguing. If they wanted to build something that would last forever, they did a great job, since they were built somewhere between 2550 to 2490 B.C.!

What’s really surprising is that the Giza pyramids  are on the edge of the sand and practically in people’s backyards!

The pyramids are surrounded on three sides by the city and the Great Sphinx faces a TGIFriday’s! So, like everywhere else, urban sprawl is eating away at any and all  available land. Greater Cairo’s population is estimated to be around 20 million people!

If you ever get a chance to visit the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, you must go! I was fortunate to see all the treasures from King Tut’s tomb on display, but it is well worth a visit even without seeing Tut’s treasures. It will blow you away!

Egypt is an amazing place and one that I absolutely loved and will never forget! I’m glad that I have sunrises that remind me of what an amazing planet we live on and how fortunate I am to have traveled to some of the amazing wonders of this world!






Starting a New “Hearts of Space” 48×60 Painting Today!

I’m always excited to start a new painting and today’s no exception!

I love painting to music. It definitely transports me to another place! One of my favorite groups is Jazzmasters. This painting is inspired by their piece, “Hearts of Space,” which has a very ethereal and other-worldly feel to it, so I’m calling this painting, “Hearts of Space.”

I’m also completely blown away by the amazing images the Hubble Space Telescope has captured, so in my painting, I’m trying to transport you, the viewer, into space where you can enjoy that completely immersed “not-of-this-world” feeling.

Painting a big piece like this is somewhat intimidating because of its size (48″x60″). However, a painting representing space, needs to well- have plenty of  – space!!!

I used to paint in oils, but the whole turpentine thing was a huge turn-off. The fumes were terrible, and although I absolutely LOVE the intensity and transparency of oils, they are a royal pain-in-the-neck because they take forever to dry. (I actually added a drying agent to mine, but still, you have to be a patient painter, which I’m not!).

Believe it or not, I actually joined a group of artists in Tuscany and took all of my oil paints and supplies on the plane with me to Italy! We stayed in a hotel that was once  one of the Pope’s special retreats in Bagno Vignoni built in the 1400’s!!!! We painted on site in the Tuscany area and toured Siena, Pienza, San Gimignano and some other incredible towns!

A side note, I absolutely LOVED our hotel in Bagno Vignoni, with one exception. I have a LOT of hair and every day, I would turn on my hair dryer and blow the fuse for the entire hotel! Yep! I took the entire hotel down trying to dry my hair! A bit embarrassing! The staff would see me coming, “Oh, Allison! How is your hair???” It would take me about thirty minutes to dry it on low. Too much hair, too little voltage!

After that episode, and other incidents including me trying to transport my huge wet paintings in my small car when I painted on site on Sundays in the art gallery at the Grand Bohemian Hotel,  I switched to acrylics. Now you can buy water-soluble oil paints on the market that act just like oils, but clean up with soap and water. You can still build up transparent layers and layers, just like regular oils and the drying time is basically the same. If you’re like me and looking for a faster drying media, acrylics fit the bill, but because acrylic paints dry through evaporation, they end up looking darker when they dry, so you have to bump up the color. So each media has its pluses and minuses. You just have to try them and see what works for you!

So, I’ve got this piece started today and I’m feeling good about it! I’m listening to “Hearts of Space,” so I’m totally “in my zone” today.

So, here I am starting my masterpiece so come along with me and enjoy the ride! Allison Painting Hearts in Space








Today is the Day!

This is my first Allison Speak blog! I’m excited about sharing my world of art, creativity, travel, exercise, mindfulness, meditation, book reading and my love of 1940’s “film noir,” with the world!

My hopes are that you will enjoy and add to my journey! So, come along with me, the best is yet to be!