Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Paul Osborne Jones: Flora Teacher, Painter, Print Maker

Hard to believe, but very much in keeping with Pacific Northwest weather, we had a terrible ice storm. (aka "Icepocalypse") For about one week, it was too risky to drive or walk. The silence from children indoors and cars parked were almost eerie. 


A week later, our warmth is such that early Spring flowers are blooming. So far, Daphnes, Jonquils, and Daffodils have all poked out.Yet, much of the country remains in the throes of winter. 



For all, let's celebrate an early Spring with an master artist of flora. The artist is Paul Osborne Jones (1921-1998) of Australia - a country presently in the middle of Summer.



Jones was an art teacher, painter and print maker. He studied at both technical and art schools. After completing his schooling, he worked as a commercial artist for a department store until 1941 when he enlisted to fight in WW2. Part of his service time was spent in New Guinea, which was inspirational to Jones, who loved painting flora.

It was in an exhibition of his flower paintings that he caught the eye of a botanist, who hired Jones to illustrate two books. In the 1970s, he would author his own two books: Flora Superba and Flora Magnifica


He also worked for the UN, as a forest and forestry planner. For all his kudos, he would be granted the OBE for his services to art. Well done, Master Jones! (Please note: His use of negative space is quite good)



Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Japanese Quilting: Evolution from BCE to NOW

 A friend, who creates beautiful art quilts, and I were in Paris. Of course, she had to check out the French fabric store. It was a surprise to me that almost all the quilters purchasing fabric were Americans and the fabric was from America!

Did you know that the USA is the leading exporter of Cotton? Or that we still have cotton textile mills? (I thought they went overseas and Sally Fields cum Norma Rae lost her union job!) In fact, these mills are spread over Southern states and the largest employs over 3500. 


Through my friend, I knew that Japan has many extraordinary quilters. Thinking that it was probably the result of their exposure to American post WW2, I was wrong about that, too. Seems they've been quilting since sometime around 300 BCE and 300 CE!



Japanese history follows the same route as American... or perhaps it's the reverse since they were first. Quilting was made for practical purposes... a warm coverlet or to offset the cold while outside. By the 8th century, quilting became an art form used to decorate the home such as futon covers or wall hangings.

 Just as Japanese decoration influenced the Impressionists, in turn, the growth of art quilts from other countries influenced the Japanese. Today, modern Japanese quilters eschew intricate patterns and motifs in preference for a minimalist approach making for visual stunning quilts in their simplicity.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

František Kupka: Evolution of an Artist

One of my delights is to find art books with beautiful reproductions of an artist's works. I was in a local used book store when I came upon an artist who was new to me. His name? František Kupka (1871-1957).

The colors and the rhythm of his works were captivating. I wanted to know more about him.


Kupka was born in Bohemia and studied fine arts at the academy in Prague. He continued his studies in Vienna and Paris. During the course of his career, he evolved from the realism of his studies to pure abstraction. (He was a pioneer and co-founder of the abstract art movement.)

Let's move through the evolution of this gifted artist, yes?

"The Book Lover" (1897)

"The Wave" (1902)

"The Cathedral" (1912-13)

"Creation" (1920)

"Two Grays II" (1928)

"Sourire O" (1933)

"Prism" (1947)

Do you have a favorite period of his artistic evolution? Could you say why?

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Antiquity of Yoruba Sculptures


After seeing a finely sculpted head of Yoruba origin from between the 12th and 14th century, I realized that I needed to share some of the art history of African countries. Yoruba artists began making terra cotta clay using the lost-wax method as far back as 11th century!



The Yoruba Kingdoms of West Africa have a very long history as artists and crafts people. They are regarded as some of the most skilled in the use of leather, glass, bronze, weaving, ivory and wood. Their sculptural works are referred to as "restrained."

Figures were usually symmetrical and dignified - much like Egyptian sculptures. They were largely religious figures or leaders reflecting the scarification patterns practiced which indicates the tribe and beautification of the individual. 


 Between the 14th and 15th centuries, Yoruba artists took their clay sculptures to a new level when they began pouring their clay sculptures into bronze.

None of the ancient sculptures are signed by a particular artist as all artistry was attributed to the "orishas" or spiritual gods. One of them is Obatala. As Wikipedia quotes, " Today, it is customary for the Yoruba to wish pregnant women good luck with the greeting: May Obatala fashion for us a good work of art "