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Picturing a World


Blog post alerts: Two recent posts set me thinking about the exercises and games creative people use to hone their skills or explore their art. The first is The Wiggle Game, which illustrates a parlor game played by painters in Old Lyme, Connecticut: One would draw a set of random squiggles for the others to expand into pictures. The second is Tropes to Taste, which explores an exercise for altering worn-out devices and descriptions in fiction. Personally, I have never carried out such mechanical exercises in any sustained way, but I love reading about them. And I love Stillwater and Koo on the endpapers of Jon J. Muth's Zen Ties!

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My recent interest in book jackets led me to an excellent group biography, Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship. Eric Ravilious lived and worked among artists and designers many of whom had studied or taught at the Royal College of Art in the 1920's. Contemporaries of the Bloomsbury set, they were just as bohemian and just as dedicated to their work; but they were not so, well, self-important. One artist who didn't make it into the biography, or at least under the name Claudia Guercio, designed the cover and this illustration for Ariel Poem #20, A Snowdrop by Walter de la Mare.

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Harold Harvey, who studied at the Académie Julian, was a second-generation painter at England’s Newlyn art colony in Cornwall. Although this painting is from a later period than the heyday of the  Read More 

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Ladies painting a bull

Blog post alert: James Gurney’s post on Von Hayek’s Animal-Painting Academy is the source of this photo of women artists en plein air. Besides the art-historical angle (and the clothes), I love the farmers in the distance watching. What story do you suppose they might tell?! Read More 
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Marianne Stokes’ Madonna

A post of Marianne Stokes’ Madonna and Child at It’s About Time caught my eye partly for the serene loveliness of the composition, partly for the Crivelli-like use of gold ornamentation, and partly for the date (which is only one year off  Read More 
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Norman Garstin

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For the most part, I try to focus on lesser known women artists in this blog; but today my attention was caught by a man new to me, Norman Garstin. He studied with Carolus-Duran in Paris, painted in Brittany at about the same time  Read More 
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Monterey Peninsula Art Colony

Monterey was not one of the summer artists’ colonies that I had studied when news of a 2006 exhibition, Artists at Continent’s End: The Monterey Peninsula Art Colony, 1875-1907, set me wondering whether Jeanette might go there at some point in her life.  Read More 
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When I was researching summer artists’ colonies and first saw those striped socks on Robert A. M. Stevenson in Will Hicok Low’s A Chronicle of Friendships p. 209, I badly wanted to base a character on him for one of the artists at Pont Aven.  Read More 
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Hotel Baudy

Doesn’t the animation in the faces of both tennis players and the spectator bring the past to life? It says to me, Invent a story!

The photo is one of many at a French-language website on the Hotel Baudy. In the story of every summer art colony,  Read More 
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Mary Fairchild MacMonnies at Giverny

In 1895, two married, successful artists, Frederick and Mary Fairchild MacMonnies, bought an old priory in the town of Giverny, where Claude Monet was the reigning artistic deity. High walls enclosed their house, studios, and a terraced garden, which became a center of activity for the American art colony drawn to Giverny.

A frequent visitor was Will Hicok Low. During my research, I read his amusing and generous-hearted book A Chronicle of Friendships (1908) with pleasure. To see one of his paintings of the MacMonnies’ garden, click here. For one of her garden paintings, click here.

A nursery for the MacMonnies children with Mary’s copies of murals by Puvis de Chavannes on the back wall exemplifies the MacMonnies’ way of making their home as ideal a world as possible. Unfortunately, Frederick had affairs with  Read More 
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