Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Matthew the Evangelist

Matthew from the Book of Durrow. Late 7th century. Dublin, Trinity College.
In the Book of Durrow, the most important insular manuscript of its time, the ornamental repertory includes the interlaced frames that were typical of the northern islands. The chromatic palette is limited but well distributed in the magnificently executed designs. (Riccardo Belcari, Giulia Marrucchi)
This figure's clothing reminds me of Klimt's paintings and love of pattern and design. Maybe he was inspired by ancient manuscripts?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Lion capital of column erected by Emperor Asoka (272-232 B.C.) from Patna, (ancient Pataliputra), India. Polished sandstone, 7' high. Archaeological Museum, Sarnath.

Set back-to-back, especially as in heraldic design. (Gardner)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pounce Wheel

A small wheel with a handle and spikes, for pricking holes along the outline of a design. The pricked-through paper is then set on top of the surface to be lettered, and is dusted with fine powder (chalk, charcoal, etc.) which settles through the holes to outline the design on the final surface. A pricker, also called a runner, was a similar device run up the margins of a page against a straightedge by 19th century scriveners to prick markings for guidelines into the parchment writing surface. (Rose Folsom)

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Aside from the ochers, which are mined, today's pigments, lakes and dyes are produced by specialized chemical industries. The first synthetic dyes appeared on the market in the middle of the 19th century. Among them was alizarin, isolated as one of the main coloring agents found in madder. (Francois Delamare and Bernard Guineau)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Natalie Goldberg

Santa Fe Chair, 1989.
A lovely book - where the images came from.

Her latest book... it's a great read and provides inspiration for me as an artist. I exchange the word 'write' for 'paint' and it really has given me motivation!!

Janet's Living Room, 1984

Dog, 1984

My Fair Lady, 1984.
She's a great writer and most famous for her books about the craft of writing ie- 'Writing Down the Bones'. She's also an artist... her watercolors and super-colorful, loaded with pattern and have a funky viewpoint. They seem a bit off kilter which is why they appeal to me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Little Color History - Alum

Alum miners at work in miniature. Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris.

Alum is a vitriolic clay composed of sulfuric acid, aluminum,and potassium. It comes in many variants, including rock alum, Yemenite alum, Roman alum, and shale alum. It was used as a mordant for dyeing throughout the ancient world, including India. Until the 15th century, it was processed mainly in Constantinople, Aleppo, and a site near Smyrna (modern Izmir) called Rocca. In the mid-15th century, a Genoese merchant who had travled to the East and spent some time in Rocca founded the first alum factory in Europe on the island of Ischia. (Francois Delamare and Bernard Guineau)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pierre Bonnard

Woman Indoors Reading a Journal, 1925. Oil on canvas, 57 x 35". Private Collection, New York.
Ambroise Vollard, 1906. Oil on canvas, 29 x 36. Art Museum, Zurich, Switzerland.

Tea in the Garden at Cannet, 1925. Pencil on paper. Private Collection, Paris.
I think this quote sums up Bonnard (1867-1947) so well. He's one of my favorite painters; I'm fascinated with his color combinations, figures, water landscapes and most of all his interior scenes. He was great friends of Vuillard and I can see many similarities in their work.

"The glowing calm and lethargy that impregnate all the work of Bonnard answers to a profound human response, to an interior richness that has no need of mechanical subterfuges, or brilliant or demanding, in order to efface the nothingness of empty time, or in order to be moved by the presence of man." (Raymond Cogniat)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko, Baptismal Scene, 1945. Watercolor on paper, 19 x 14". Whitney Museum, New York.

1903-1970. Russian-born US painter, an Abstract Expressionist and a pioneer towards the ends of his life, of Color Field painting (an abstract style dominated by areas of unmodulated, strong color) . Rothko produced several series of large-scale paintings in the 1950s and 1960s, examples of which are owned by Harvard University, The Tate Gallery, London, and a chapel in Houston, Texas. (Brockhampton)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lithograph- 'Transfer Drawing'

Yeux Clos - Odilon Redon lithograph.

Here is a lithograph that has a lovely textural quality... it is believed Redon used the 'transfer drawing method' to achieve it and then re-worked it with crayon.
'There are many other possibilities for transfer in addition to the traditional method of making a design with crayon and/or tusche on paper, then damping the sheet, laying it face down on a freshly grained stone, and pulling it through the press several times to get it to offset onto the stone. By direct or indirect methods we can transfer the imprint of net, chiffon, or other loosely woven fabrics. We can offset fresh proofs from any other graphic arts medium. (Jules Heller)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

John LaFarge

Wild Roses and Irises, 1887. Gouache and watercolor on white wove paper, 14.5 x 10". The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.
Seascape, 1883. Watercolor on paper, 6 x 4".
Mountain Gorge Near Dambulla, Ceylon. Watercolor on paper, 16 x 13". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.
Wild Roses in an Antique Chinese Bowl, 1880. Watercolor on paper 10 x 9" Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.
John La Farge (1835-1910). US painter and ecclesiastical designer. He is credited with the revival of stained glass in America and also created woodcuts, watercolors, and murals. Lafarge visited Europe 1856 and Far East in 1886. In the 1870s he turned from landscape painting (inspired by the French painters, Corot) to religious and still-life painting. Decorating the newly built Trinity church in Boston, MA, he worked alongside the sculptor Saint-Gaudens. (Brockhampton).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Peter Behrens

Peter Behrens
Design for a poster advertising an AEG metal filament light, 1907. color lithograph, 67 x 52 cm. AEG company archives, Frankfurt/Main.

1868, Hamburg - 1940, Berlin.
Behrens was a German architect, painter, graphic artist, industrial designer, applied artist, typeface designer, and book artist. He studied painting in Karlsruhe, Dusseldorf, Munich and with the luministes in Netherlands from 1885-19=892. from 1899-1903 he was a member of the Darmstadt artists' colony, where he designed furniture and furnishings (wallpapers, textiles, decorative glass) as well as theatre sets , and where he first turned is attention to architecture. From 1903-07 he was head of the School of Arts and Crafts in Dusseldorf. His buildings from this period are characterized by simple cubic forms with a linear ornament.

From 1907-14 he was a member of the AEG artistic advisory committee in Berlin, in which capacity he designed - alongside all AEG's factories and office buildings- typefaces, advertising material, and electrical goods (including domestic appliances and lighting).

In his graphic works, which reveal the strong influence of van de Velde, he fused classical motifs with abstract Jugendstil ornament. He also created 2 new typefaces: Behrens Italic and Behrens Roman. He is one of the founders of the Munich Secession. (1892) (Gabriele Fahr-Becker)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


M from the Semitic mem (water). It has been written as various types of wavy and zig-zag lines for thousands of years. As a roman numeral it stands for 1,000. (Rose Folsum)

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Abbey of Sant'Antimo, nave. Montalcino, Italy.
The stone used here is local blocks of traveretine stone which has a similar appearance to alabaster.

A limestone formed by the precipitation of the calcium carbonate in spring water upon exposure to air. It has been found in large quantities in the Tiber valley near Rome and elsewhere in Italy. It varies in color from pale buff to orange pink and has been frequently used for the buildings of Rome, notably the Colosseum and the colonnade of St Peter's. Recently it has been exported in great quantities from Italy on account of its popularity as an external cladding material in some forms of modern architecture. (Michael Clarke)