Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Maxfield Parrish: Inspiring Illustrator



It was such a pleasure to grow up when book and magazine illustrations were so beautifully detailed. One of the best and best known of all the illustrators was Maxfield Parrish (1870-1996) We young un's  and many adults looked forward to his works. He created a world as we'd like to believe is possible. 

It's interesting to note that he was a very popular artist working in illustration detail in a time when the Impressionist evolution was running parallel. Yet, his painting titled "Daybreak," is considered the most successful art print of the 20th Century and is still in print. (An interesting fact about this piece is that Parrish's prints have outsold Warhol's "Campbell Soup Cans" and even Da Vinci's "Last Supper!") 



As an illustrator, Parrish designed for the business world, too. Some of his notable clients were: Colgate, Edison and General Electric. His income from all of these successful illustrations gave him the opportunity and reputation to move away from illustration and onto painting, which he continued to do in his 90s. 

His inspiration reaches into today's art in such as: Elton John's album,  "Caribou," Enya's "The Memory of Trees," and  Moody Blues' "Present."

Below are samples of Parrish's beautiful outdoor scenes. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Fidelia Bridges: Once Famous Pre-Raphaelite Painter




In this hectic holiday time, it's good to feel a peaceful calm by looking at the small beauties of nature - especially when the eye can fall on what is (unfortunately) referred to as "negative space." It gives the eyes and the mind a sense of well being. Such an artist, who recreated that environment in her paintings was Fidelia Bridges (1834-1923).



Once again, we rediscover a woman artist who was renown in her time and who made a living at her art, but whose name has almost disappeared in our time. 


 If it wasn't for her art, her life would be a mirror of life for women as written by Jane Austen. She and her 3 siblings were orphaned by the loss of both parents. Her oldest sibling, Eliza, supported the other three by working as a school teacher - one of the few professions considered respectable for women.




Fidelia was sickly and spent time in her room drawing. When she was well enough to find work, she was a nanny to a wealthy family. Meanwhile, she pursued her growing interest in oil paintings. 


Through her employer, she met a renown painter of pre-Raphaelite nature art. His style not only influenced Bridges, but he sold some of her paintings to his patrons.It was the recognition from this patron of her art that led to support from her employer into creating a studio in the top floor of their house.They even provided the funds to send her to Italy for further training. 



By age 34, her reputation as a specialist nature painter led to membership in the American Watercolor Society - the first woman to be invited to join. Her circle of patrons included Mark Twain.

In later years, she lived in a hillside cottage overlooking meadows and a stream. There, she continued to paint, but rarely exhibit, enjoying her quiet rural setting and using the scenery for inspiration. (She was named in the book titled: "Notable American Women: 1607-1950") 


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Suzanne Crane: From Professor to Artisan



 Born into a family of birders and botanist, it was the most natural thing for Suzanne Crane to find her inspiration for her beautiful and elegant vessels in nature. As she writes, "Each of my botanical pieces begins with a walk in the mountains and woods of Central Virginia where I gather my wild plant specimens."



From these specimens, Crane incorporates the leaves, birds, berries and even the occasional frog into her works. 





As with many artists and musicians, she covered her need to earn a living by getting a Master's degree in English. With her degree in hand, she worked as an English professor at community colleges for 13 years. During this time, she was taking classes in pottery making. 




It was after the purchase of a 19th century house and barn that the opportunity came for her to have her own studio. It was this transitional three years, that lead to enough pottery sales for her to quit teaching and focus on her love of nature and the feel of the earth in clay.


Crane is a prolific potter and here are more examples of her graceful works: 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Jacob Hendrik Pierneef: Father of South African Style

There was a painter born in Pretoria, South Africa of whom most of us know very little. Yet his paintings are auctioned at very high values by those familiar with his works. His name? Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957) 


He came to my attention when the collection of Microsoft's co-founder, Paul G. Allen, was being auctioned after his death. The painting that Allen had was a stunner in the breadth, coloration, and drama of the landscape.


Pierneef was of Dutch ancestry. In the 1900s, with the Boer vs. English war, his family decided to return to their roots in the Netherlands. It was there that he took art classes and by the time he returned to Pretoria at 18, was an established artist in painting, linocuts, and etching.


In the years that followed, Pierneff studied South African art and evolved his own style. With the failing health of his wife, he applied himself even more to lecturing and exhibiting for the sake of providing. His efforts paid off handsomely. 



He was commissioned for a 3-year contract to paint the 28 panels of the Johannesburg Train Station, followed by 7 murals in the South African House in London and successful exhibits in several cities and countries.



Oh, and Christie's auction sale price for the one Paul G. Allen owned? Almost $300,000! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Diana Beltran Herrera: Beautiful Paper Birds


As many of you art fans know, birds are a favorite subject of mine. I can't tell you exactly how many birds I've painted and sculpted. There is an artist who also is inspired by their beauty. This artist sculpts them with what I regard as the most available and humblest of materials - paper. Her name is Diana Beltran Herrera, (1987-)



She grew up in Colombia and makes her home in England where she also received her MFA in art & design. It was while she was researching ordinary materials to use for creating her works that she found paper to be one of the best materials for her birds, flowers, and produce. (This blog features her birds. You can see her other subjects at her website.)

Herrera has exhibited in many parts of the world - Asia, Europe and America. Presently, she's preparing for an exhibit in Singapore. Her clients are also from all over the world. Of course, who doesn't enjoy being able to see a beautifully executed and colorful bird?

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Sophia Prestiagiacomo and Homo Algus




Starting the week with Halloween reminded me of a post from years back that was so popular. It was made by a French artist & sculptor named Sophia Prestiagiacomo. She created a series she titled, "Homo Algus in Habit the Séné Marshes."

Ms. Prestiagiacomo lives near the marshes in Brittany. She enjoyed her walks in the marshes, and as happens with artist, she found inspiration in the algae and mud.

She dried the algae and realized that once dried, it felt like human skin. She began to form swamp creatures mostly out of mud and algae. 

These strange, primordial creatures seem to be lost in time, uncertain of who or what they are. All that they can know is the change of seasons. They exist with the pulse of the tides, shaped by the winds and the sun. From time to time, their creator comes to restore them... for now.


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Bauhaus and the 100-years Legacy


Last week's blog was about how Art Nouveau styling still shows up in this century. The same holds true to even a higher degree with the Bauhaus School of Design that began in Germany in 1919, but was closed by the Nazis in 1933. Although the school only existed for 14 years, the premise lives in our designs to this day.


Bauhaus represented an aesthetic sense that in architecture, furniture, appliances, posters, fine art, textiles and furnishings tended to an early "form follows function" premise. There were no elaborate decorations and a belief that furnishings should follow the design of the building. 


Rounded corners were often designed for walls, furniture, and even fonts. In many respects, Art Deco and Bauhaus ran parallels in geometric forms, time and theory; although the former was more likely to have decorative aspects.




There's still many examples of the Bauhaus belief in not only designing the architecture of the building, but also every single bit of lighting, art, furniture and furnishings that made for a complete experience. This theory of design can be seen in the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and a local Oregon beauty - Timberline Lodge.     

The inspiration of Bauhaus can be noted when describing "mid-century" or "modern" or "contemporary." Nevertheless, the source is the 14 years that Bauhaus-inspired designers and artists - over 100 years later. 

Below are samplings of either Bauhaus designed or Bauhaus inspired. Care to try to guess which is which? 


Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Anton Seder: Major Designer of Art Nouveau

 Art Nouveau was very popular art form inspired by natural forms that began in 1890. It was the most popular from then until 1910.The style was represented by flattened and abstract objects with sinuous and flowing forms. 

A highly recognized artist, designer and art professor in this form was Anton Seder (1850-1916). He was born in Munich, Germany and trained as a painter, sculptor and architect. Later, he became the first director of the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, founded in 1890, in Strasbourg, Alsace. (now France)

Three years after becoming the director, Seder would submit the winning design for a new building to house the school. It is a beautiful campus and the building looks quite imposing. Here's a couple of photographs to try and capture his hand in Art Nouveau. (If you're a fan of this art form, you might enjoy visiting there on your travels.)

Besides Seder's teaching and his design for the school, he was also involved in gold and iron works for a church and wrote at least 10 books in 11 years! His books are still available and as recently as 2020 there was a calendar printed of his Art Nouveau designs.

Alas, post WW1, there was a shift in the "modern" style of art towards Art Deco. In many ways, it's the opposite of Art Nouveau with its geometric patterns and Asian influences. Seder would live long enough to be criticized as his work went out of style, but not long enough for him to evolve. He was such a brilliant man, one can only wonder what he might have done.