Thursday, January 31, 2008

Snow at Louveciennes

by Alfred Sisley 1878

'Sisley's thick brushstrokes convey the weight and silence of snow in the countryside, its fleeting and changeable shades of white. Sisley's was a reserved, even solitary nature, and these qualities appear in his subdued compositions, peopled by isolated figures.' (Alexandra Bonfante-Warren)

Sisley (1839-1899) was a French Impressionist painter and was known for a light hand in his shades and brush strokes. He studied in Paris and was friends with Renoir and Monet.

"The animation of the canvas is one of the hardest problems in painting... thee artist's impression is the life-giving factor, and only this impression can free that of the spectator." - Alfred Sisley letter

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Julia Margaret Cameron

Profile (Maud), 1867, Photograph.
This photograph was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite Painters and was used as an illustration in Alfred Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King. I really think this looks like a painting. Love the Passionflower in the background.

'Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) was a British photographer who made lively and dramatic portraits of the Victorian intelligentsia, often posed as historical or literary figures. Her sitters included her friends Sir John Herschel and the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, whose Idylls of the King she illustrated in 1872, and Charles Darwin. She used a large camera, 5 minute exposures, and wet plates.' (Brockhampton)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Promise of Spring

A Bunch of Asparagus 1880, Edouard Manet

This luscious bunch of veg looks so appealing and fresh! I love all the different shades of green and the violet tips, it makes me long for an outdoor market. (Beaverton Farmer's Market in Portland, OR... what a feast for the eyes)

Manet (1832 - 1883) is probably most famous for his painting, Olympia (1865) and Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe (1863). Both of these paintings shocked the Paris Salon with such blatant nudity of a woman as she unabashedly gazes at the viewer, instead of purely being gazed at. What was also new about these paintings was she was depicted in scenes that are every day life settings while nude (as opposed to posing in a studio or playing a role/allegory etc.) His brother, Eugene, was married to the formidable Impressionist painter, Berthe Morisot.

'He was a French painter, active in Paris, one of the foremost French artists of the 19Th century. He was born in Paris, trained under a history painter and was inspired by Goya and Velazquez and Courbet. He never exhibited with the Impressionists, although he was associated with them from the 1870's.' (Brockhampton)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mary Azarian

Here are a few examples of Mary Azarian's woodblock prints. She is a wonderful and very talented (as well as successful) print maker and I really admire her! Her work has appeared mostly in children's books. She won the Caldecott Medal for her book, Snowflake Bently, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. The back flap of this book, which I love, reads: "Mary Azarian is a consummate gardener, an avid reader, and a champion bridge player - and, of course, a skilled and original woodblock artist. She has lived in Vermont for more than 35 years."

She prints her woodblocks on an old Vandercook Press and has devised her own (and as far as I know, secret) way of hand coloring her prints. I believe she uses acrylic paints and watercolors. Mary has a nice website at

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Art Brut

Vie Inquiete, 1953, Jean Dubuffet Tate Gallery, London

A term coined by Jean Dubuffet to characterized art that is genuine, untaught, coarse, even brutish. (Gardner)

Dubuffet gathered and had shows of art work by mental patients, children, jailed people and outsiders. He felt that these people were able to make art without being influenced or spoiled by the rigors of the art world and convention.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lion Gate of Boghazkoy

The mother of all 'entry way' lion sculpture! These lions date to 1400 B.C. and are located in what is now Turkey in the town of Boghazkoy. It was home to the Hittites and the lions were located at the gates of their fortified city. They were designed to be fierce protectors and scare away threatening peoples. They are made of huge limestone blocks and stand 7 feet high. These lions have been imitated ever since by many empires in antiquity, including Assyria. Any lion sculptures in the doorways of your neighborhood?

"The Babylonian Empire was brought down by the Hittites, an Anatolian people who conquered and sacked Babylon around 1595 B.C. and then retired to their homeland, leaving Babylon in the hands of the Kassites." (Gardner)

Friday, January 25, 2008


Cloisters of Santa Maria della Pace, 1504, Rome. Donato Bramante

In a convent or monastery, a covered walkway, usually surrounding and opening on to a courtyard. The church would be linked to other areas of the convent or monastery via the cloisters. (Brockhampton)

Thursday, January 24, 2008


St. Mark, 1411-15 Donatello - marble figure set in a niche on Orsanmichele, Florence. (Sculpture has since been removed and is in storage.)

Italian word for set against. A term describing the position assumed by the human body when the weight is borne on one leg while the other is relaxed. Contrapposto can suggest that a figure has the potential for movement. (Hart)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Vilhelm Hammershoi

Photograph of the painter and his wife Ida 1898. (Finsen & Raaschou-Nielsen)

Portrait of Ida Ilsted, whom he later married. 1890 (Finsen & Raaschou-Nielsen)

Interior with a Woman Seated on a White Chair. 1900 (Finsen & Raaschou-Nielsen)

Danish painter, known for his evocative domestic interiors rendered with monumental simplicity in a muted palette of greys, greens, and soft blacks. His quiet, Neo-Classical rooms often feature a young woman alone and with her back turned as in Interior with a Seated Woman 1908. His work, exemplifying the inner strength and mysticism of the Nordic spirit, occupies a central place in Scandinavian art. (Brockhampton)

I just love the quiet stillness Hammershoi evokes and how often he has the model's
back to the viewer, which Giotto made famous... in theory, it allows the viewer to become the person in the painting and "experience" what the figure is doing, thinking etc.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


My own Bathtub version of a Calligram... Art and Calligraphy by Brenda

Calligram from The Calligraphers' Dictionary by Rose Folsom

Calligraphic of typographic composition in which the words themselves form the design. Existed at least as far back as early medieval times. A popular form of decoration in some Jewish MSS, where it is called micrography. (Rose Folsom)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Man Ray


Man Ray (1870-1976) an American Surrealist, was a contemporary of Marcel DuChamp, Kurt Schwitters as well as a part of the Dada movement. He was a painter, sculptor and probably most famously a photographer. "Man Ray used chance and dislocation of ordinary things from their everyday settings to surprise his viewers into a new awareness." (Gardner)

"Man Ray - nee Emmanuel Rudnitsky- was born in Philadelphia, but lived mostly in Paris from 1921. He began as a painter and took up photography in 1915, the year he met the Dada artist Duchamp in New York. In 1922 he invented the rayograph, a black and white image obtained without a camera by placing objects on sensitized photographic paper and exposing them to light." (Brockhampton)

Friday, January 18, 2008


Pope Leo X with Cardinals by Raphael

The square cap worn by ecclesiastics, that of priests being black, of bishops purple, and of cardinals red. (Hart)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Serpentine Dance - Loie Fuller 1894 , William H. Bradley

Loie Fuller (pronounce Low-ee) was quite a prominent muse for the Art Nouveau movement. Toulouse-Lautrec and Francois-Raoul Larche (sculptor) both did paintings and sculpture of her. She was an American dancer (1862-1928) and was most famous for her Dance of the Veils.

"Loie Fuller did everything to fan the flames. She shrouded herself in exquisitely thin veils, and developed a sophisticated choreography involving colored light, thereby turning herself into "total art"... She inspired Stephane Mallarme' who dedicated numerous poems to her and Claude Debussy, who decided that his music was never more perfectly interpreted than through her. She was also a friend of husband-and-wife physicist team Pierre and Marie Curie." (Gabriele Fahr-Becker)

An old art professor of mine told me that Loie Fuller was portrayed in the movie Chocolat (starring Juliette Binoche). In the very last scene, there is a dancer wearing in a white, billowing dress, doing the serpentine dance. It is a bit inaccurate since she died in 1928 and I believe the film was set in the 1940's or 1950's but it is a beautiful scene... check it out!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Musicians, 1953 Nicolas de Stael oil on canvas

An Abstract Expressionist painter and influenced by Cubism, de Stael was French and Russian (1914-1955). He lived in Paris in the 1930's and has often been compared to Matisse. "de Stael's Musicians focuses attention instead on the precess of painting, and the viewer is most aware of the way that light, color, and space fill the canvas in a serenely orchestrated manner." (Gardner)

de Stael worked on huge canvases, this one measures 5 feet 6 7/8 inches x 3 feet 9 inches. While visiting Antibes in the South of France, I saw my first de Stael at the Musee de Grimaldi, perched on a cliff above the sea. It was a grand piano and most of the painting was red - it was huge and the size alone made a great impression on me. I wish I had bought a post card of it so I could share it with you! (sorry this photograph is a bit blurry)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Cumean Sibyl from Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling fresco, 1510 (commissioned by Pope Julius II, Vatican, Rome.)

Greek and Roman prophetesses who were thought to have foretold the coming of Christ. (Hart)

another definition:
In Roman mythology, one of the many prophetic priestesses, notably from Cumae near Naples. She offered to sell the legendary king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, nine collections of prophecies, the Sibylline Books, but the price was too high. When she had destroyed all but three, he bought those for the identical price, and they were kept for consultation in emergency at Rome. (Brockhampton)

These Sibyls are defined as female, I am assuming from the word, "prophetesses", but this Sibyl looks very masculine to me...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

What a wonderful story teller Bruegel was. He often painted slices of peasant life, as in this picture, where the tired hunters return home with their dogs while the women (to the far left) are keeping the home fires burning. "...the town and its church huddle in their mantle of snow, and beyond this typically Flemish winter scene lies a bit of alpine landscape." (Gardner)

Friday, January 11, 2008


A popular item of Art Nouveau furniture consisting usually of three tiered shelves of different sizes and used for displaying small objects. The shelves are carried by slender supports. Also known as a 'whatnot'. (Gabriele Fahr-Becker)

I promise to add a photographic example of an Etagere next week. Who could be without a piece of furniture dubbed a 'whatnot'?!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


In photography, a single-image process using mercury vapour and an iodine-sensitized silvered plate; it was invented by Louis Daguerre in 1838.

Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre 1789-1851: French pioneer of photography. Together with Joseph Niepce, he is credited with the invention on photography (though others were reaching the same point simultaneously.) In 1838 he invented the daguerreotype, a single-image process superseded 10 years later by Fox Talbot's negative/positive process. (Brockhampton)

I wonder what Daguerre would make of digital cameras and the intangible way we look at images today on computers? Still waiting for my computer to return so I can include images in my posts!!! An art blog is quite drab without visuals...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Italian word for fresh. A painting made on wet plaster with pigments suspended in water so that the plaster absorbs the colors and the painting becomes part of the wall.

Fresco A Secco, of painting on dry plaster (secco is Italian for dry), was also used, but it is a much less durable technique, and the paint tends to flake off with time. (Frederick Hart)

Today's word is a 'part 2' to yesterday's post. Since my son broke our newer computer that I work and upload photos on I will not be able to post photos until it comes back from the Geek Squad. (Which also means I can not post my painting-a-day blog!!! Amazing how kids can can mortally wound electronics with one blow!)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Porta Clausa

Madonna del Parto Monterchi, (in central Italy) chapel the the cemetery. Fresco, around 1460. This Madonna was known to be the protector of pregnant women.

Piero Della Francesca. Annunciation for the Legend of the True Cross, 1454-58. These are frescoes in S. francesco, Arezzo Italy.

Porta Clausa: Latin phrase for closed door; refers to Ezekiel's vision of the door of the sanctuary in the Temple that was closed because only the Lord could enter it (Ezekiel 44:1-4). Interpreted as a prophecy and used as a symbol of Mary's virginity, often in scenes of the Annunciation. (Frederick Hart)

The closed door is behind the angel Gabriel. Mary's womb is highlighted with light coming in from a window and we are led to believe that the immaculate conception is taking place as we gaze upon her.

Piero is one of my favorite Italian painters and accordingly, here is one of my favorite paintings by him which appears first in the blog, the Madonna del Parto.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Blog for Painting-a-Day

I have moved my painting-a-day to a separate blog. There is a link below on the link list... I hope you will visit often as I evolve!!!

die Brucke

Akrobaten III (Acrobats III). 1912 by Max Pechstein Woodcut with pink and green
watercolor. L.A. County Museum of Art

(German, 'the bridge') German Expressionist art movement 1905-13, formed in Dresden by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Schmidt Rottluff, and others; Emile Nolde was a member 1906-07. Influenced by African art, Van Gogh and Fauvism, they strove for an art which expressed spiritual values, using raw colours and strong, angular lines derived from their highly original work in woodcut. In 1911 the Blaue Reiter overtook them as the leading group in German art. (Brockhampton)

Max Pechstein was not a member of die Brucke but this is a fine example of a woodcut in the style of the group. Love this one!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Anglo-Saxon Minuscule

Like the majuscule, this script is Irish in origin; but it stayed in use long enough to develop its own Anglo-Saxon flavor. It greatly influenced Medieval writing as missionaries carried it throughout Europe in the 8th and 9th c. After the 11th-c. Norman conquest, its use declined. (Rose Folsom)

Painting-a-Day 1.2.08

Today's painting is of 3 Tunnock's Milk Chocolate Mallow Tea Cakes
Acrylic on clayboard, 8 x 8 in. The teacakes sit on one of my favorite china plates on bought on a trip to Oak Bay, B.C. (suburb of Victoria)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Alla Prima

Cello Kids by Brenda acrylic on clayboard
Example of an Alla Prima painting
(Italian, 'at first'), Method of painting directly onto a surface without the use of under painting. (Rolf Toman)

In art school we also used this term for a quick, 'one sitting' or a one-day-painting. This immediate style of painting may be more loose, and candid than a meticulously planned larger painting (we did use rough charcoal sketches if desired!) It is really all in what the artist's intentions are, and each painter is so different. Picasso said, "If you already know what you're going to do (in a painting) then, what's the point of doing it?"

Painting-a-Day Announcement:

My painting-a-day will likely be posted later in the day than the "word" posts.