Monday, March 31, 2008

Kaye Synoground - A Closer Look

(title unknown)
Astoria Houses

Kitchen Cupboard

Morning Coffee Break

Here is an artist I met when I lived in Portland. Kaye Synoground is a wonderful illustrator and watercolor artist. She has a little gallery in Multnomah Village, SW Portland. Upon my first visit to her studio/gallery, I climbed a long staircase. She had an old fashioned stove with all the cute curves, etc. - probably a Merritt-O'Keeffe. Anyway, she was just taking oatmeal raisin cookies out of the oven & offered me some. The place smelled lovely and the artwork so fun and beautiful - I was hooked! I enjoy her subject matter... little vignettes around the house, village scenes and hip ladies in vintage dresses. Her winter snow scenes of the village are so nice.

Kaye ended up closing her shop just as I was moving to Spokane. She wanted more time in her home studio to produce work. About 3-4 years later we were visiting Portland and discovered she had opened up a new gallery down one block where an antiques store once resided. Now, if only I could get to Portland more often. She teaches watercolor classes at Multnomah Art Center and did illustrations for a book called Married to My Garden. Kaye and her husband have a beach house not too far from Portland and I think she likes to paint out there. Wish I knew more about her to tell you all ... enjoy her paintings.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Zen Philosophy in Art

White Flowers, Marie -Laurence Lamy, oil on canvas, 2002.

Zen: A system of thought that emphasizes a form of called zazen. Zazen begins with concentration,often on puzzles wholly impervious to solution through reason. Concentration leads to samadhi, a "state of oneness" in which the meditator gains insight into the unity of things in the world. The meditator strives to move through further stages to the final stage of Zen, satori, or 'no mind', a brilliantly clear state of mind in which the details of every phenomenon are perceived, yet without evaluation or attachment. (from Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008


The Harrowing of Hell, 1310-1320. Fresco in the Mosque of the Kariye, Istanbul, Turkey.

'The Byzantine representation of the resurrection or the Harrowing of Hell.' (Gardner) These paintings have such beauty and drama, and in an age when most people didn't read, they really taught religion to the masses. I wonder if El Greco ever drew inspiration from this fresco?
***sorry for the poor quality photograph... you can click on it to get a closer look***

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pearl Script

Pearl Script: "Late 13th century French Gothic calligraphy - characterized by low body height and tiny interletter spacing.' (Rose Folsum)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Inner Child

Self-portrait by Joni Mitchell from the cover of Dreamland CD.

"You've got to keep the child alive; you can't create without it." - Joni Mitchell

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Trina Schart Hyman

Trina Schart Hyman in 1972
From Snow White, Translated from the Brothers Grimm by Paul Heins

The Studio, 1970 from Self-Portrait: Trina Schart Hyman

From Celebrate Cricket, 30 years of Stories and Art

Another Image from Snow White

From Tight Times, 1979. By Barbara Shook Hazen. (dig her dress and purse - vivid childhood memories!!)
From A Child's Calendar by John Updike, 1965, 1999

If there was a visual page from my childhood it would look something like this post. Trina Schart Hyman is one of my all time favorite illustrators and made me want to be an artist from a very early age. Her work is very recognizable, I'm sure If you grew up in the 1970's - 1980's it's familiar.
"She was born in 1939 in Philadelphia, PA and attended the Philadelphia College of Art, the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, and the School for Applied Art in Stockholm, Sweden. She has illustrated more than one hundred books for children. Her work has received the Caldecott Medal, Caldecott Honor awards, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award." (Taken from book flap in A Child's Calendar) She resided in Lyme, New Hampshire for many years in a wonderful, old farm house but sadly, died of Breast Cancer in November of 2004 at the age of 65.
Go to to read more about Mrs. Hyman - there's also a wonderful interview there.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Francesco Clemente

Jean-Michel Basquiat by Francesco Clemente
Fran Leibowitz by Francesco Clemente
Francesco Clemente was born in March of 1952. He is considered to be a surrealist and an expressionist in style. He is self taught but did study architecture at the University of Rome in the 1970s. He has collaborated with artists like Warhol and Basquiat as well as some in India where he lived for a time in the 1980's. He is currently living with his family in New York City and is actively painting.
Oh how I love Clemente... the big eyes, exaggerated necks and bizarre postures not to mention the colors he uses...sigh. I hate to admit I discovered him in a very mainstream way... he was the behind the scenes artist for the film Great Expectations starring Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Berthe Morisot

In the Wheatfields at Gennevilliers, 1875. Oil on canvas, 18 x 27 in. Musee D'Orsay, Paris.
Young Woman in an Evening Dress. 1879. Oil on canvas, 28 x 33 in. Musee D'Orsay, Paris.

"Real painters understand with a brush in their hand." - Berthe Morisot

"Berthe Morisot - 1841-1895. French Impressionist painter who specialized in sensitive pictures of women and children. She was taught by Corot and was much influenced by Manet and, in thee 1880's, Renoir. She exhibited in most of the Impressionist shows. She was the granddaughter of the artist Fragonard." (Brockhampton)

Morisot was born into an aristocratic family and took painting lessons as a young lady with her sister, Edma. She excelled at it, but had to hide it as it was not acceptable in Parisian society to be a serious painter, especially a married woman with a child. She was married to Eugene Manet, brother to the famous painter Edouard Manet. They had one daughter, Julie. She did later break out of convention and showed with the Impressionist group and knew success while she was still alive. She died of pneumonia in her 50's before Julie was married.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Color-Field Painters

Mark Rothko, Four Darks in Red, 1958 . Oil and canvas, 8'6" x 9' 8". Whitney Museum of American Art.

A term used to describe the work Mark Rothko and other painters of the Abstract Expressionist or New York School who explored the optical and mystical effects of fields of color. Also known as Post-Painterly Abstractionists. (Gardner)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

John Singer Sargent

Rehearsal of th Pasdeloup Orchestra at the Cirque d'Hiver (1876). Oil on canvas 21 x 18 in. - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

"Sargent was a talented amateur musician and often played the piano for his friends. When he was given the opportunity to attend rehearsals of the celebrated orchestra of Jules-Etienne Pasdeloup he took his sketchbook with him, making the finished painting in his studio. " (Edmund Swinglehurst)
John Singer Sargent was most known for his portraiture, and I have referenced him many a time to see how he would handle something I'm having a problem with in my own paintings. I'll have to post some paintings that he is more known for later in the week. For now, here is a short bio...
"Sargent, 1856-1925. US portrait painter. Born in Florence of American parents he studied there and in Paris, then settled in London around 1885. He was a fashionable and prolific painter. Sargent left Paris after a scandal concerning his mildly erotic portrait Madame Gautreau 1884 (Met, NYC). Later, subjects included the actress Ellen Terry, President Theodore Roosevelt, and the writer Robert Louis Stevenson. He also painted watercolor landscapes and murals." (Brockhampton)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Lawrence Tree

By Georgia O'Keeffe, 1929. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in.

I love this painting, it shows a calm light one might feel sitting on a porch in the evening, enjoying the moment, taking in the night sky. I wonder how often one might get a chance to experience such a moment in this busy computer age we live in today?

"I spent several weeks up at the Lawrence ranch that summer. There was a long weathered carpenter's bench under the tall tree in front of the little old house that Lawrence had lived in there. I often lay on that bench looking up into the tree - past the trunk and up into the branches. It was particularly fine at night with the stars above the tree." (Georgia O'Keeffe)

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Milky Way - tapestry, 1898

The Milky Way, tapestry, 1898 by Frida Hansen. Wool, cotton, silk, transparent weaving technique. 260 x 330 cm. Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany.
Frida Hansen (aka frederikke Bolette) was a Norwegian textile designer - 1855-1931. In the 1870's she studied painting, winning a prize at the World's Columbian Expo in Chicago in 1893 which enabled her to study textile design in Cologne in 1894 and in 1895 to study under Pierre Cecile Puvis de Chavannes in Paris. In 1900 she became a member of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts and was represented at the Paris World Expo by her famous tapestry The Milky Way. Hansen perfected the technique of transparent weaving, which lends her figures an almost ghost-like quality. She was influenced both by Japonisme and the Pre-Raphaelites, and stood squarely within the Art Nouveau tradition in her thematic material. (Gabriele Fahr-Becker)

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Above photo: Carcassonne, France - a fortified city, the walls actually date from the 6th century. This is just a rough 'ballpark' example of some of the architecture and land that may have constituted several Baron's fiefs.
Fief- the land owned by a medieval Baron (or feudal lord) during 11th & 12th centuries. (Gardner)

Friday, March 7, 2008


Bird Brain, by Jan Edwards. Terra cotta clay, relief drawing and painted with engobe 6 1/2 x 4 in.

"A slip of finely sifted clay that originally is of the same color as the clay of the pot." (Gardner)
Engobe is like a 'clay paint' , you can make the slip any color by mixing in pigments slip and using a paintbrush to apply it to a bisque fired ceramic surface. This 'clay painting' made by Portland ,Oregon artist Jan Edwards has 1/2 inch sides and can be hung on the wall. When I lived in Portland, I was lucky enough to go to her studio sales about twice a year, she has a beautiful space in Multnomah Village, where we used to live. My husband gave this piece to me for our anniversary. If only I could go get more of her work... I love them so much! She also makes functional pottery, gorgeous bowls - platters etc.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Fibula with Orientalizing lions, from the Regolini-Galassi Tomb, Cervteri, circa 650-640 B.C. Gold. Vatican Museums, Rome.

A decorative pin, usually used to fasten garments. This unique shaped ornament was used to fasten a woman's gown at the shoulder. The giant clasp or safety pin is in the Italic tradition, but the lions, both in relief and in the round are borrowed from the Orient. There is hammered relief or repousse' and granulation. (Gardner)

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Bit of Comopsition

Women Reading 1909, Rolf Deyhle Collection, Stuttgart by Robrt Breyer

Composition is so important in a painting or any image one is creating - it's really almost a science! I think Vermeer was such a master at it, all the triangles, diagonals etc. that he created... as was Rembrandt. Here's a little explanation of what Robery Breyer did in his beautiful painting here. Love this era of hair and dress.

"This painting focuses on two fashionably dressed and coiffured women. Although they are not directly communicating with each other, they are both engaged in the same activity. Their togetherness is also established by the fact that their two figures, next to one another, form a wavelike curved diagonal from the upper left to the lower right edge of the image." (Stefan Bollmann)