Friday, January 30, 2009

Maurice Prendergast

Hankerchief Point, 1896. Watercolor, 20 x 13 ". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

Umbrellas in the Rain, Venice, 1899. Watercolor over graphite on paper, 13 x 20". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

(1859-1924). Canadian-born American painter and printmaker. He was a member The Eight, but stood somewhat apart from the rest of the group. Boston was his home for most of his life and he spent much of his career travelling and painting abroad; it was only in 1914 that he moved to New York, the centre of The Eight's activities. The main thing he had in common with other members was a desire to revive American art from academic stagnation, and his work is remarkable for its brilliant decorative color. His paintings were often of people enjoying themselves in innocent pleasures. He was one of the first American artists to be influences by Post-Impressionism, notably in the way in which he emphasized flat pattern. In 1913 he showed 7 works in the Armory Show and at this time he stood out as one of the most stylistically advanced American artists. Most of his paintings were in watercolor, but in his later years he turned increasingly to oils. H also made about 200 monotypes an unusually large oeuvre for this medium. (Ian Chilvers)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

E. Ambrose Webster

St. Paul II, France, 1925, 32 x 45"
Sunny Portrait, Taormina, 1922, 30 x 40", The Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KentuckySketching, Provincetown, MA, 1915, 14 x 19".
E. Ambrose Webster was born in 1869 in Boston, MA to a working class family. He was one of 3 sons. He studied at the Boston Museum School in his 20s while working in many different printing shops as an engraver. He was greatly influenced by Monet, van Gogh and Matisse. Some have called him the 'American Fauve'. He is very well known for being a pioneer of modernism in painting. He preferred to travel and paint more exotic locations rather than his native Boston.
"Webster was a self-assured artist who dedicated his life to painting and teaching and did it with exuberant determination and authority. Hes convictions ran deep enough that throughout his career he remained undeterred in his sometimes lonely stance as a modernist in the mostly conservative Provincetown art community." (Gail R. Scott) He died in 1935.
**Photographs and information gleaned from American Art Review magazine, December 2008.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


The letter S is derived from a rough version of S and similar letters in early Greek and Latin inscriptions. The Phoenician W, and Hebrew '3' are relatives of "s" with the phonetic value of 'sh.' The long S can be seen in early Roman graffiti and hastily written documents on wax and papyrus. It made its way into formal writing around 6th century and was used, often along with the 'S' in many scripts and printing types, until the 19th century. It was phased out after 1795 when John Bell, a British printer and type designer, discarded it in his own work, and the change became universally accepted. (Rose Folsum)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Madonna of Mercy

Madonna of Mercy, center panel Misericordia altarpiece. Piero della Francesca.
Piero della Francesca and others. Misericordia altarpiece. Commissioned 1445; still incomplete 1454. Panel, 8'8" x 10'6". Museo Civico, Sansepolcro.
Madonna of Mercy - A representation of the standing Virgin Mary protecting worshipers, usually kneeling, under her mantle. (In Italian, Madonna della Misericordia.) Hartt

Piero della Francesca is one of my favorite Renaissance painters and this particular Madonna is probably my favorite portrait of all. The model who posed for this painting also appears in many other Piero paintings, she has a captivating face in my opinion!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


King Zoser's Stepped Pyramid and mortuary precinct. Saqqara, Egypt. Dynasty III, circa 2675-2625 B.C. Architect: Imhotep.
Interior map of stepped pyramid.
A small concealed chamber in an Egyptian tomb or mastaba for the statue of the deceased. (Gardner)
This particular pyramid (King Zoser's) is one of the oldest pyramids in Egypt and the first royal tomb. It was the model for the 3 famous pyramids of Gizeh. It is believed to have originally been covered in marble - which was stolen in antiquity.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The Jamb is directly around the wood door... apologies for the poor quality photograph!
Workshop of Pietro of Alberico, fragment of jamb with Telamon. Bologna, Cathedral of San Pietro. 12th century.

Workshop of Pitro of Alberico, fragment of jamb with vine motif filled with fantastic animals. Bologna, Cathedral of San Pietro. 12th century.

The side of an archway, door-opening, or window that, properly speaking, is load-bearing; generally used to describe the vertical linings of such architectural openings. (Michael Clarke)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Roman Cursive Script

Roman handwriting. Quickly written, unserifed everyday version of Roman Majuscule, executed with a stylus in wax or with a reed brush and ink on papyrus. In the first centuries BC the letters were rarely joined, but during the later centuries of the Roman Empire they were often connected, and began to show characteristics of minuscule. (Rose Folsum)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Carl Larsson: Influences

Karin is Reading, 1904. Watercolor.
In 1904, they had nearly finished re-decorating their dining room. There is a paper cactus-flower shad that now had electric light and a 'sin-cupboard' was installed under the window. It would be used to hold liquor and cigars. Karin's profile is echoed in the portrait in the window... alongside her is Carl himself.
Marriage Feast at Cana. Painted wall hanging from southern Sweden, 1781
Famed Swedish artist, Carl Larsson and his wife were a bit like William Morris of the British Arts and Crafts movement. They took great care decorating their house and I guess you could say they were the founders of modern Swedish design! Carl immortalized his home and grounds by painting most of his watercolors there. Here is a piece he saw in a museum that is believed to have greatly inspired his work. The Marriage Feast at Cana (detail). 'The fresh directness of such Southern Swedish paintings, abounding with figures, had a strong appeal for Carl Larsson. This example was collected for the Nordic Museum, Stockholm.' (Snodin and Stavenow-Hidemark).
**From the book, Carl and Karin Larsson - Creators of the Swedish Style. Edited by Michael Snodin and Elisabet Stavenow-Hidemark. Published by Bullfinch, 1997)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Diane Kempler

Root Maidens (earthenware) glazed and unglazed

detail of Celebrations
Celebrations of the House

Ceramicist, Diane Kempler, likes to work mostly with human form and enjoys its connection to nature. Thorn, root and leaf forms are often combined with the figure. She first encountered ceramics while working at a crafts center in MA, (a native of New York) after college, and found it was what she wanted to do with her life. She stopped working as a studio artist for a while and took a job as director of a puppetry arts center museum while she continued to teach. But after 8 years she returned to ceramics with a new vision and energy. Her work is all sculptural and focuses mostly on the abstracted human torso. She often uses elements of nature such as tree forms, root shapes, or other green growth. (Tommy Simpson and William Bennett Seitz)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Joni Mitchell Quote

"One line came like a gift. It flowed out. I drew back and said 'thank you' to the room." -Joni Mitchell.
The Canadian singer/songwriter, Joni Mitchell was really a painter 'first' before she was a musician. She went to art school and I believe started singing at that time. I think this quote could be meant for painting or songwriting... or both! I love the way art can sometimes 'flow' out of us... those are the good creating days. Funny how other times it just doesn't come easy. This CD has one of her paintings on it - a self portrait holding an iris bouquet. She has a way of painting in the van Gogh style... visit her website to see many more paintings here. I love the idea of her art and music melded together in this one useful object - a CD.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Kento is Japanese for Registration Marks in Japanese Printmaking or Moku Hanga.

'The genius of the kento system of registration lies in its very simplicity. The position of the kento is fixed in relation to the image on the original drawing/keyblock and faithfully transferred to each block. The principle maintains exactly the size of the margin around the printed area on each block thus guaranteeing accurate registration. ' (Rebecca Salter)

**Taken from the book, Japanese Woodblock Printing by Rebecca Salter, 2001. I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a good reference for woodblock printmaking! You can buy it at McClain's.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Georgia O'Keefe's Hands

Ghost Ranch, 1966
Holding Eliot Porter's Rock, Abiquiu, 1966

Ghost Ranch, 1966
Holding a book by Leonard Baskin, bedroom, Abiquiu, 1966

Most of us have seen the beautiful photographs that Alfred Stieglitz took of Georgia in the early part of the 20th century. I thought it would be fun to show those same lovely hands at an older age. These photos were taken in 1966 as part of a Life Magazine story by John Loengard.

I especially like the ones with the bones... she collected a lot of bones from the desert to take back to New York and paint. She said she wanted to to somehow take a little bit of New Mexico with her (she spent her summers painting there during the 1930s and 40's). Georgia O'Keeffe said they never represented death to her - on the contrary, they were very lively. She loved the shapes of the bones, especially in relation to the sky.
**photos taken from the book, Image and Imagination: Georgia O'Keeffe by John Loengard - 1994.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Gianlorenzo Bernini, baldacchino, St. Peter's, Rome, 1624-1633. Gilded bronze, approx 100' high.

Baldacchino- A canopy on columns, frequently built over an altar. (a similar term is...)

Ciborium - A canopy, often freestanding and supported by four columns, erected over an altar; also, a covered cup used in the sacraments of the Christian Church. (Gardner)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hans Hofmann

Fairy Tale. 1944. Oil on wood. 59 x 36". Private Collection.

(1880-1966). German-born painter and teacher who became an American citizen in 1941. From 1904 to 1914 he lived in Paris, where he knew many of the leading figures of Fauvism, Cubism, and Orphism. In 1915 he founded his own art school in Munich and taught there successfully until 1932, when he emigrated to the USA. He founded the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in New York in 1934 (followed the next year by a summer school at Provincetown MA) and became a teacher of great influence on the minority group of American artists who practiced abstract painting during the 1930s. Hofmann continued teaching until 1958, when he closed his schools so he could concentrate on his own painting. He experimented with many styles, and was a pioneer of the technique of dribbling and pouring paint that was later particularly associated with Jackson Pollock. He was an important influence of Abstract Expressionism. The essence of his approach was that the picture surface had an intense life of its own. (Ian Chilvers)

Friday, January 2, 2009


Boar avatar of Vishnu, Cave V at Udayagiri, India, around 400. Vishnu is 12'8" high.
(just for fun) Seated Buddha preaching the first sermon, from Sarnath, India, 5th century. Stele, sandstone, 63" high. Archaeological Museum, Sarnath.
An avatar is a manifestation of a deity incarnated in some visible form in which the deity performs a sacred function on earth; the number of avatars a deity has varies, with Vishnu usually having ten, or sometimes twenty-nine. (Gardner)