Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Fredric Whitaker" .. A smidgen of Art History.....

        I met Kristine at a bus stop, we were both seeing our young children off to school. After a few weeks of our daily meetings and chats, she one day offered me coffee at her home. We had  discovered during our daily meetings that we had much in common,and  similar tastes, so I was not surprised to discover that her home was decorated very much like mine. Antiques, Vintage fabrics, and lots of artwork.
        While she made coffee I browsed the artwork in her sitting room... I was stunned to see four beautiful original water colours on the wall,  all signed by Frederick Whitaker. They took my breath away. When I asked her, if she understood the value of the paintings , she calmly said "Oh yes.. they are lovely aren't they."

Whitaker Watercolor
I told her is one rushed breath everything I knew about Frederick Whitaker.

Frederic Whitaker, N.A. (1891-1980) Born: Providence, RI 

Frederic Whitaker grew up on the East Coast. In the 1920s and 1930s,He left school at 14 and by the time he was 16,  became an apprentice to the Designer at W.J.Feely Co, a manufacturer of Metal ecclesiastical metal ware. By age 23 he had become the head designer. He went on to become  a successful silversmith having worked for several well-known companies including Tiffany. 

 In the 1940s, he began exhibiting watercolors. By the late 1950s, he was a nationally recognized watercolorist and a member of over thirty art organizations. He served as president of the American Watercolor Society, vice president of the National Academy of Design, and was "Mr. Watercolor". Whitaker wrote two books on watercolor painting, wrote eighty-five articles on art for magazines, and also contributed sections on watercolor painting to nine publications. 

Fredric Whitaker was best know for his Architectural renderings,though he included a full range of representational themes from human figures to Whimsical Dolls and imaginary beings in his work.
On valentines Day ,1943 He met Eileen Monaghan, at a one man exhibit of his work, at Ferargil Galleries in New York City. She would become Eileen Monaghan Whitaker, and remain so until Fredrics death in 1980. 
Whitaker Watercolor 

in 1949 Fredric retired from business to devote himself to painting writing, and in a variety of leadership roles within the Art Organizations he was involved with. He and Eileen moved to California in 1969, and continued to develop and create.
His vision of Art was poetic and romantic, to realize his vision, particularly in a temperamental medium like water color, Whitaker had to be absolutely clear as to his objectives, and in total control every step of the way, until completion. That he succeeded, is evident in the hundreds of beautiful paintings he produced in his career. Every piece of work leaving his studio would be Structurally sound, and technically accomplished, His very clear assertion of how seriously the medium deserved to be taken. 

He was firmly insistent that Art should not depend on gimmickry or "fashion" That Moderism, with all it's Ism's did nothing to impress him, especially when you had to "explain it"... Hence his quote....." Art that Cannot explain itself.... is best left undone.

Frederic Whitaker continued to paint until his death in 1980, he left behind a large extended family and an incredible contribution to Art.

Water color Sketch 
As it turns out Fredric Whitaker was Kristine's Grandfather, and the four originals had been left to her at his passing. Kris and I have been friends from that first meeting at the bus stop, and though we live in different parts of the world, we see each other ever few years. Several years ago she gave me a gift, A simple water color sketch. something she found among some family things and thought only I would appreciate. I cherish it.because she understands what it means to me, and I understand what it means to her.

For much more on the life  and art of Frederic Whitaker , please visit the Whitaker Foundation 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Maude Lewis... More Info

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia ( I mistakenly called it the Halifax Museum of Art)

You will find more on the Maude Lewis Collection , Other Artists and works and other gallery information.

A Smidgen Of Art History.... The Primitive Art Of Maude Lewis

When we use the term "Art History" our thoughts turn to names like Renoir, Picasso, Micheal Angelo. Names that have shaped the future of fine it is unlikely that you have heard the name Maude Lewis in the same conversation as the aforementioned. Maude Lewis did not lead a revolution in the Art world, she didn't belong to a group that became representative of a Movement. She was not a darling of society nor a was she a formally trained or  technically adept artist.

Maude Lewis 1903-1970
Maude Lewis was born in 1903 in Yarmouth Nova Scotia. She was effected by birth defects, that gave her an Elf like appearance. She was very small in stature, with hands and arms crippled by defects and exacerbated by arthritis, as a result she was unable to work for most of her adult life.

Maude was born into an affluent family, but her appearance and disabilities prevented her from garnering any significant education and was removed from school at the age of 14, with no more than a grade 4 education. She had little chance of a good marriage because of her disabilities and at the death of her parents, Her father in 1935 and her Mother in 1937, Her brother saw to it that  she was sent to live with an aunt in Digby.As was common at the time , Maude's brother inherited the family business and money... Maude was left with nothing. Destitute and reliant on the reluctant  kindness of her aunt, she found employment as a house keeper for a local Fishmonger, named Everett Lewis. She and Everett were married shortly after. Everett had a reputation as a miserly and cantankerous fellow,  life was not to be easy.

The Lewis Home 
The Lewis Home,  much like it's mistress, was very small. The 10 x 12 cottage, housed her and Everett in a single room, shared by a large wood stove that warmed them through the winters, and a tiny sleeping loft at the top of the stairs. There was no running water, indoor plumbing or electricity.

   As time passed and her arthritis advanced,  her mobility and strength decreased, and she could no longer work around the house,  Maude began to paint. She began with cards, and notes as she was taught by her mother as a child. Everett sold them  to his customers as he made deliveries to supplement their meager income. She then began to paint on found objects, items that others had disposed of. Then on to any inexpensive surface. She used  Oil paint, boat paint, and inexpensive hobby paint, whatever was at hand. and when there was nothing to paint on.. She painted her home,decorating it with bright flowers , and butterflies.
  Maude and her husband sold her paintings to tourists and locals as a means of survival, often they would sell for as little as $2.00 and larger pieces for $5. This was to become  their sole means of income as time passed.

Though her life was less than idyllic, Maude's view of the world was bright, colorful and optimistic and it is delightfully expressed in her artwork. With No formal training, rudimentary supplies and crippled hands , Maude expresses wonder and joy in every piece of work she created.
  Painting from daily life and the surrounding country side, she worked right from the jar, tube, or bottle, and never mixed colors. She used whatever brushes she could scrounge or buy cheaply,(hairs from them are often found in her paintings.)
   Her work exhibits an innate understanding of proportion, perspective, and composition., and while simplistic and primitive in style, there is an underlying sophistication in her paintings. A beauty that is undeniable and inescapable... the spirit of the artist shines through.

She was a renowned folk artist by the mid sixties and was subject of a documentary and books,  There is a story about her told by the Aide of then President Nixon, Maude had been commissioned by the White house to complete two paintings... she either did not understand or did not care who she was doing them for .... She agreed ... but only if she was paid in advance.
She was never a wealthy woman,they barely survived, but she seemed content with her place in life. Her art never took on a somber tone, never reflected any unhappiness or self pity. She painted what she saw and how she saw it. There is an exuberance for life evident in every painting, a sheer joy of living!

Her health and strength continued to deteriorate, and Maude succumbed to pneumonia in 1970. She painted until the day she died. Her husband Everett was murdered 9 yrs later by an intruder looking for the fortune that was said to have been hidden in and around the little Lewis home.

The Lewis Home has been restored and rebuilt and is on permanent display at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. In Halifax Nova Scotia. Along with a collection of her works. Original Maud Lewis paintings  that she sold for 2 dollars now sell today for thousands.

Just a smidgen of Art History.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Poppa, flour bins and Wasabi green... Colour and Memory.

I Don't do pink...... I do , do green. I Love green!  I am particularly partial to earthy greens, Like Plantation Pine and Antique green... those deep slightly dirty greens.. Love em! This year Deco Art introduced ( as they usually do) a host of New colours,one in particular struck a cord... Wasabi Green.

It has taken me quite awhile to figure out what it was about it that appealed to me so much, It's soft and somber, a little gray.. not my usual deep and rustic choice, but  recently it hit me.... Nanas Kitchen. The old house had an old country  kitchen, in fact it it still had a pump in the kitchen sink. I remember it so clearly. There was a Large tin panel behind the Big old woodstove,( It had hooks to dry  our mitts and hats in the Winter) the remaining walls were covered in a  tile like wall paper sporting little nosegays of Pale Yellow flowers in the center of each tile. The cabinets were Wasabi green.

Now how can a person remember the colour of Cabinets that were replaced some 40+ years ago.. well I have some very strong and very happy memories that revolve around those old cabinets. Like Pink , Nana and Mr Bubble... Wasabi Green reminds me very strongly of my Poppa and Hide n Seek..

   Gumpy... as we called him when we were small , was a large man by any standard, but to my small 6yr old frame he was a giant. He had a booming laugh that rumbled to halt instead of stopping abruptly. He laughed with his whole body! Now, Gumpy would spend hours entertaining us kids and of course a favorite game of ours was Hide n Seek. The old house was a rabbit warren of nooks and closets, knee walls and attics, coal bins in the cellar and my favorite.. The Flour Bins in the Kitchen.
   The Old house had been built prior to the Great Depression and still sported many unique features of the period. The Flour bins were cabinets that canted down, tin lined and  deep and wide enough to hold over 100lbs of flour each, and there was at least One full at any given time, and a scant amount in the bottom of the other( a perfect hiding place). Gumpy knew very well that we loved this spot, and even though he would take the brunt of Nana's ire over the Mess we made getting in and out of the bins, not to mention the flour we tracked around the house. He would still rumble with laughter over the squeals of his two grand daughters as we ran for HOME Free!! Funny now that I think about it...... he could NEVER find us when we hid there.

Years later Nana had the Kitchen remodeled and updated, and the old cabinets were moved down to the cellar, along with the Hand pump and the woodstove. The Stove never burned wood again, the Pump ended up in Nanas flowerbeds and the flour bins.....never saw another game of hide and seek, But the last time I saw them.... they were still Wasabi Green.

The Mind at Play.... what the Heck does that mean??

I have been pondering creativity....People talk about it like it's some mystical thing. As if only a select few  are Gifted with it. As if a large portion of the population is somehow missing a gene. I believe that we ALL have a creative bent, we couldn't advance without it!!

I think of creativity as problem solving. There is no book with the solution to every possible problem we may be faced with , we must utilize our creativity and our knowledge to solve them.
When artists use  their creativity to stretch them selves,and  the mediums they use or introduce another medium in a unique way, people are often awed by it. But broken down into the basics.. it is simply the artist using their technical knowledge and understanding how  the mediums work, by themselves and in conjunction with others to arrive at a solution to their problem.. "how do I visually represent my idea".  Lawyers use their understanding of the law, Accountants use their understanding of mathematics, and Doctors use their understanding of the Human Body to find a solution to any given problem. CREATIVITY!

"Creative People" Allow their minds to play.. to think outside the lines, to look for and find the potential in things. We are All creative, whether it is necessity that inspires us, or a whim. Can you imagine a world without creativity?? Imagine if Bill Gates didn't approach computer software with a creative thought, or if Accountants didn't use a creative approach to their work.. we would still be using typewriters and paying even more tax. We would never cure anything,We would only have one flavor of Hamburger Helper, One kind of Coke and one style of painting... Life would be boring!!

So the next time you hear someone claim that they have NO Creativity.....Ask them if they ever substituted Tuna for the hamburger, or added apples to the salad? Changed a recipe to suit them  or made curtains from bed sheets.

 Creativity is the Mind at play..... So PLAY!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Faux Cloisonne ......Easy, safe and fun to do for any skill level!!

PaintWorks Magazine 2010

Paint Works Magazine 2011
Cloisonné  was believed to be first developed in the Near East. It spread to the Byzantine Empire and from there along the Silk Road to China. Chinese cloisonné is arguably the most well known of all the varieties of cloisonne and enamel making. Russian cloisonné from the Tsarist era is also highly prized by collectors. Chinese cloisonné is sometimes confused with Canton enamel, a similar type of enamel work that is painted on freehand and does not utilize partitions to hold the colors separate.

Faux Cloisonne Rose Clutch

In The Faux Cloisonne Version as is demonstrated in the Short videos below, Acrylic paint, and a variety of other water based products are used to create a rather pleasing variation.  The Contrast between the HIGH GLOSS of the Cloisonne and the MATT background gives this finish Plenty of Impact!!

Of course this is much easier than the following ( Just a tid bit of info for you!) 

The True Cloisonne Process
The artist forms metal (such as copper, bronze, or silver) into the shape of the finished object. The material usually used for making the body is copper, since it is easily hammered and stretched.
Filigree-soldering. which is pure silver wire usually about .010 x .040 inches in cross section, is bent into shapes that define the colored areas. The bends are all done at right angles, so that wire does not curve up. This is done with small pliers, tweezers, and custom-made jigs. The cloisonné wire pattern may consist of several intricately constructed wire patterns that fit together into a larger design. Solder can be used to join the wires, but it causes the enamel to discolor and form bubbles later on. Instead, the base metal is fired with a thin layer of clear enamel. The cloisonné wire is glued to the enamel surface with gum Tragacanth. When the gum Tragacanth has dried, the piece is fired again to fuse the cloisonné wire to the clear enamel. The gum Tragacanth burns off, leaving no residue.
Enamel-filling. The basic elements of enamel are boric acid, saltpetre and alkaline. Due to the difference in the minerals added, the colour differs accordingly. Usually one with much iron will turn grey, with uranium, yellow, with chromium, green, with zinc, white, with bronze, blue, with gold or iodine, red. In time of filling, all the colours, ground beforehand into minute powder and contained in plates, are placed in front of the workers and are then applied to the little compartments separated by filigree.
Enamel-firing. This is done by putting the article, with its enamel fillings, to the crucible. The enamel in the little compartment will sink down a bit after firing. That will require a refilling. This process will go on repeatedly until the little compartments are finally filled.
Polishing. Some pieces of hard carbon are used for polishing to produce some lustre on the surface of the article.
Gilding. The article is placed in fluid of gold or silver. The exposed parts of the filigree and the metal fringes of the article will be smoothly and evenly gilded. Alternatively, the exposed metal is electroplated with a thin film of gold to prevent corrosion and to give a pleasing appearance.

The Above information was sourced from Wikkipedia and is consider to be accurate.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Latest Toys and a fun Project for ya!!

Ok so it's not paint... but there is SOME paint and some ink and some paper and some stencils and some other goodies!!
Several weeks ago I was asked to participate in a Creative Challenge... I agreed and within days I began receiving goody boxes... treasure boxes... TOYS for my Sandbox!! This and a can of red Bull and I was set for a month!!

Of Course DecoArt provided me with goodies...  and fun stuff to!! all the Newest Products to play with.New Colours!!  New Mediums!!
And Harmonie.. Amazing Scrapbook Supply company in Canada .... Ooooh the COOL paper and great do dads!!!   And  Canvas Corp... I died and went to heaven!! SOOO Outside the Box!!
And Tsukineko Inks....This was a new one to me.. and Oh My!!!  Amazing Colours....effects.....applications....oh I could go on for days!!
So just so you can try your hand at using ALL of these great products from ALL of the GREAT Companies... Heres a fun Multimedia Project for you!!So get Started!!

You need!

Shopping List:
Versa magic Ink pad : Turquoise Gem  VG-15
Brilliance Ink Pad: Crimson Copper BR-97
Brilliance Ink Pad: Sunflower Yellow BR-11
FireWorks ! : Green and Brown
Goosebumps! Texture Spray
Americana Wasabi Green DA296
Americana Mulberry DA294
Paper Effects  Golden pearl PE04C
Scrapbook Paper: Kimono PA085
Chipboard Precuts: Bird CHO15 , Floral Vine.
Canvas Corp:
Scrapbook paper:Black and Craft live love laugh CCP2354
Medium Texture Cotton Duck natural 12 x 12 CVS1210
Paper and Mounting Glue GLU2023
Burlap Scrap , Ivory Trading Card CDS1049

To Begin :

I used one of my own Templates, and placed it over the unsealed canvas, then liberally sprayed the canvas with the Fireworks Green, I added a few spritzs of The brown just to keep it from becoming too solid, I liked the variation that this gave me.  I let it dry then removed the template.

Trace and transfer the design element  onto the canvas using graphite paper..Position it just to the right of the center.
Base coat the Petals of the flower with Mulberry, The Leaves and stem with Wasabi Green. When dry outline the entire
element  with the Paper Effects Golden Pearl. Let it dry.  Flood the area inside the paper effects with Goosebumps.. Just pour it in in small amounts and move it around with a brush or a toothpick until it fills the entire element.  Let it dry.

Cut the Kimono paper into  strips 11 inches long and 2 inches wide using edging scissors. Then cut the Live Love Laugh paper into  10 inch strips 1 inch wide keeping straight edges. Cut  one each of the strips with an angle at the top using the edging scissors.

Cut the burlap 3 inches wide and 12 inches long, Fray it by pulling a few strands out from each side all the way around, leaving a fray of 1/2inch all the way around.

Distress one of the trading cards by first trimming it with the edging Scissors then Rubbing the Copper ink Pad along the edges of the paper.

 Step 1:

With the Copper ink Pad dab colour all over the Chipboard Vine and the Bird. It should be nearly opaque. Let dry well.

Step 2:

With the Turquoise  ink Pad dab colour  over  a few selected areas of the Chipboard Vine and the Bird. It should be sparse in some areas and heavy in others.  Let dry well.

Step 3:

  With the Sunflower Yellow  ink Pad dab colour  over  a few selected areas of the Chipboard Vine and the  Bird. It should be sparse in some areas and heavy in others.  Let dry well.

Once completely dry spray with a liberal amount of Goosebumps! ( I love the texture and it makes the Colour POP!)

 Use the Glue to adhere the  Burlap to the left side of the canvas , about 1/2 inch in from the edge. Glue the angled strip of the Kimono paper to the center of the Burlap. Then glue the Angled craft paper strip to the Kimono paper, ( Blank side up )leaving a 1/2 border of the kimono paper showing.  Let dry.

Glue the Textured and Patina Vine  to the lower end of the Burlap and paper strips. The Glue the Remaining strip of the Kimono paper across the bottom of the  canvas about 1/2 inch up from the edge. Glue the remaining Craft paper strip, ( Lettering side up)  to the Kimono paper , leaving a 1/2 border of the Kimono Paper showing.

Glue a small piece of Cork, or foam core to the back of the Trading card and glue it over the  intersecting papers. The glue the textured and patina Bird to the  center of the Card. Let Dry Well.

Give the entire piece a light spritz with the Goosebumps( I LOVE this stuff) just to add a little  surface texture and a slight sheen. Let dry , hang and enjoy!

Hope you have fun with this textural piece,.

Thanks for Playin in My sandbox!!


 My Advice ... Check them All out and try something New!!.. It was just what I needed to Add a kick to my designing!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Crafty Nest

I have surfed around this site for over an hour.. and am Loving everything I see!!

This is a great resource if your looking for ideas to repurpose , refinish or reuse some old piece or a new Find!!

Crafty Nest......

Crafty Nest

I was hunting for Ideas for a piece of furniture, ( I have a nifty little table to paint:)) While I was frittering about the internet, I fount "The Crafty Nest" and I had one of those OMG moments! What a great Site, Stuff to do, decorating Ideas, painting Ideas, Whole makeover Ideas!! But what grabbed my attention was a wine bottle.... I know what you thinking... BIG SURPRISE! but seriously.

I remember a professor giving us a similar assignment... to paint a replica of a famous painting, done by the artist of our choice.. I did one by Monet.. it was terrible .. just so ya know. I had forgotten about it until I came across this site and saw the very cool wine bottle that the sites owner had done.

ooohh what fun it would be to do!! She has complete Preparation instructions on the site and great pictures!

You have GOT to check this out!!