Thursday, January 29, 2015

Historical Clown nesting doll set

This is a set of nesting dolls I made in 1993 by painting on a blank set.  The first Sunday in February, coming up in a few days, is the traditional time for a church service with clowns in some locations. While there is some "clowning", it is also a memorial service for clowns who have died the previous year. One service is held in Hackney, London.
The largest doll in this set represents Joseph Grimaldi,  Dec.18,1778- May 31, 1837, considered the godfather of clowns.  Offering comic relief during the Napoleonic Wars,  he expanded the role of "Clown" in English pantomimes and created a lot of the physical humour we associate with clowning. He satirized contemporary British life and made comic mockery of fashion absurdities - which sounds a lot like today's stand-up comics. It seems he may have invented the modern-day male haircut as well as a penchant for unusual hair colouring.
The next clown represents Jean-Gaspard Debureau ( 1796-1846) who took the traditional white-faced clown, Pierrot, from Comedie-Italienne to greater fame. A white-faced clown is a sad clown and Pierrot loses Columbine to Harlequin. Jean-Gaspard changed the usual tall white hat to a black skull-cap. He helped create a lot of interest in clowns in general and with Pierrot in particular with artists of the time - including Cezanne.
Coco is an English clown made famous by Nicolai Poliakoff (1900-1974). Coco was an "auguste" which is a type of clown who is supposed to be a bit stupid and always gets teased and has buckets of water thrown over him and custard pies slapped on his face. Coco had a serious side to his fooling around, however, and toured schools promoting road safety. That walking stick he carries is a Bolesha Beacon used at school crossings. He was awarded an OBE by the Queen for his work.
The next clown is Tom Eller as Harlequin. I believe he was an American clown and there is a poster of him that often appears on E-bay.  However, I have lost my notes as to why I selected him (hey it was 1993, I've forgotten!) - but he must have been in a book of clowns at the time. The colours are what his costume was - although we often think of Harlequin in brighter shades.
The smallest one is Lou Jacobs (jan1, 1903- Sept 13, 1992) the Famous American clown from Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey. He appeared with such well-known clowns as Emmett Kelly but later as an instructor at Clown College helped make the transition to modern clowning. An Auguste clown, he popularized the clown car and was originator of the rubber ball nose. He was also the first living person to have his portrait on an American stamp.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Playing around-

This is a painting that I did of the tall (seven feet!) red lilies growing in my back garden. I was thinking of Rousseau and his paintings from the conservatory - some with jungle animals. To enhance the idea, there is a little  black cat face peeking out in the bottom - you can just make out the eyes and the tail is to the left - but it doesn't show as well in a photograph. At any rate - it is sort of a "Richmond jungle" painting. Sometimes it is fun to play and sneak something unexpected or not too immediately obvious into a painting. I did a Granville Island one quite awhile ago that has since gone on to another home. There is a dog just disappearing around the back of one building - but no-one has ever commented on that! Right now I'm taking a break from the serious fish-boat painting that was quite a challenge. I'll post it in a bit. I'm working on a 10x10 for next November for GuessWho? I had fun when I did "22 Owls" for GuessWho? a couple of years ago, so now I'm doing a lot of black cats in a "Black Cat Neighbourhood " and it is fun. I need to use some small brushes to paint the little faces looking out of windows. Picasso said it took a lot to get back to seeing like a child again. I don't know if I've got there, but I'm having fun playing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More thoughts on the "unheralded"

     I like to read the essays in the weekday Globe and Mail. Today's was called "A brush with Mr.Williams" and was about a painting that caught the author's eye in a second-hand store. Although it was signed, no information could be found about the artist until some fifteen years later, presumably with the expansion of content on the internet, a detailed obituary was located. The artist, Norman Davies Williams had trained in England and emigrated to Brandon in 1948. the obituary writer noted . "He worked for the joy of working while his wife, Doone, brought home the pay cheque- an arrangement precisely as they both wanted it." Apparently he never entered competitions or exhibited. The art director of the local gallery wrote to the essayist, "Unfortunately, it is the sad life of an artist that talent doesn't always mean a living wage or long lasting fame.   I always remind people that an artwork is valuable if it speaks to you in some way, regardless of its fame or value."
     There are a lot of good artists around today that are not widely recognized but whose works would bring pleasure if they hung in a home.  Maybe some will become the subjects of future "Unheralded Artists" books - or have someone scrambling to find more about the artist of a work they have just found. But we would love to see more action for living artists. We were talking the other day about the need to have people realize that paintings make great gifts and that many can be found with just a little looking. People don't even have to wait for exhibits or  open studios- checking on a site like Richmond Artists Guild produces a lot of names to follow up. Most artists are only too happy to give a private viewing and the collector can find the painting that truly does speak to him or her.
     The painting  above, "The Old Conservatory" is a painting I did awhile back. Some people totally loved it, others, not. I liked the mood and the fact that you don't notice the old lady quietly reading the paper and enjoying the peace of the freshly watered conservatory. Richmond Hospital is doing some redecorating and was interested in some paintings . On a hunch, I included this one in an assortment. The Director of the Foundation really liked this one and said, "This  painting is so serene and beautiful. We would love to find a home for it in the hospital and create a calming environment for patients and their loved ones." I delivered it today so it is one more painting out into the world.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Show at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery

Today was freezing cold in the Gulf of Georgia Cannery but we got the new show of works by Richmond Artist Guild members up and it looks good. I took "Summer Day, Steveston" as one of my pieces. I think the blue is a little more subtle than it appears here. I loved doing the  reflections on this painting. The reason the Cannery is never warm is because it really *was* a cannery and it had to be cool for the fish. It is built right out over the water - which you can see through gaps in the floor. The exhibits are really interesting and the painting exhibit adds to this by filling an otherwise empty area. We are featuring maritime and local scenery. This time there are a couple of swans in paintings - as swans now live in the Steveston area. It would be great if we sold some works but it is nice just to have a chance to get the work out to be seen by the public.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Are we going backwards?

     I'm currently reading a book from "The Unheralded Artists of B.C." series on "The Life and Art of  Ina D.D. Uhthoff" - which is one of the reasons I was thinking about Emily Carr again as Ina was a contemporary of Emily Carr. In fact, it is fairly certain that Ina was the artist supporting two young children and an invalid husband mentioned in Emily's Journal. We also know that Ina took some painting classes from Mark Tobey at Emily's studio.
    Ina ran an art school and was also a main force in the establishment of the Art Gallery of Victoria.
In 1953, Ina agreed to write exhibition reviews for the Victoria Daily Times in order to promote the Gallery and its programs. There was a wide  variety of exhibits - 20th Century American paintings including Winslow Homer, Japanese Wood Block Prints, Northwest Coast Indian carvings, eastern Canadian painters (David Milne and Tom Thomson), and Latin American Paintings including Diego Rivera - were some. Interestingly however, there was strong support for B.C. artists- including Emily Carr, Bruno and Molly Lamb Bobak, Herbert Siebner and Myfanwy Pavelic.  "By featuring local artists, the Gallery built rapport with the community. One exhibition that limited the subject matter to Victoria's Inner Harbour drew 80 paintings from a variety of artists."..."Ina always gave attention to student art from the Gallery and the school; with the newly formed Studio Artists of B.C., she was truthful yet encouraging when she wrote, 'Some of the work is not up to exhibition standard, but it is a movement in the right direction, and we wish them success in their venture.' "  I wish that local art galleries still had this interest in supporting local artists and concern about rapport with the community. I wonder how many artists would have managed to establish careers - and that includes Emily Carr- if opportunities to enter shows and exhibits had not existed?  Even the fact that these shows were all reviewed would have added to the name-recognition of the artists. We seem to be going backwards with public galleries increasingly limited to a narrow group of artists who are working in what is currently "in". There is no recognition of a range of styles and approaches. One prime example is that Robert Bateman has never made it into a public gallery as his work has been deemed "commercial". If exhibits in the 1950's could show everything from realism through impressionism to abstraction, why are exhibits limited now? As in the past. some of the currently highly praised artists may fall into disregard in the future. A lot of the artists  currently snubbed by public galleries may well become popular.  Reading "The Unheralded Artists of B.C." is certainly food for thought.
    The painting is an early evening view of Steveston Landing with reflections in the Fraser.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

     Here is Digby in formal attire to lend a touch of class to the greetings. He actually was very good about wearing this collar but is now back in his regular "BirdsBeSafe" collar. This would hardly do for squeezing through a fence anyway!
     I'll be drawing at Adrienne's  tomorrow and doing studio painting with the Men in Hats on Tuesday, Life Drawing Wednesday night - so back in the full swing of things. I'm waiting to do my newsletter until I know for sure that we, Richmond Artists Guild, have our display up in the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. It should be going up on the 8th and then will be there through the Farmer's Market on the 18th when there is free admission to the Cannery. Then it is planned to change the display for February. This may then become an ongoing - albeit changing- display. It is another opportunity to let people see some of the good work that is being  done by local artists.
     Tuesday I want some opinions on the almost finished painting of a fish-boat loading on the seine net. I've finished and just varnished one of the Britannia Shipyards waterfront so I will photograph it. Then I'm starting one of Bob as a fisherman as a painting. I used him on last month's newsletter in the  pastel on paper version that I did in Life Drawing. The start is now on canvas and I'll work on it Tuesday. Maybe I will finally finish the set of matreshkas I started *months* ago!