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Posts Tagged ‘watercolor’

artwork by carol moses

artwork by carol moses

I still have the postcard. Artist Carol Moses gave it to me years ago at a show. A postcard of one of her watercolor prints. White background, dark lines, red circles. An untitled piece, I think, but it didn’t really need a title. For me, it was like a scene that one could fall into and create one’s own story.  I am not a formal student of fine art but her paintings and drawings reminded me of what I’d seen of Joan Miro, and later of Wassily Kandinsky. At a recent exhibit, I heard Carol mention that when she’d learned of Kandinsky and seen his body of work, years after she’d already been producing art, it was like a validation of her work.

artwork by carol moses

artwork by carol moses

It has been my pleasure to interact with Carol at various shows over the years. She is a dynamo. She seems never at rest … until she is making art. No boundaries does she set for herself. She works in watercolor, drawing, printmaking and photography.

artwork by carol moses

artwork by carol moses

linoprint by carol moses

linoprint by carol moses

artwork by carol moses

artwork by carol moses

As a child she was into science and mathematics. Art and its freedom of expression would come later in her life as an adult.  As she produces these striking works, there is no particular intention, no concept in mind.  With a blank piece of paper before her and with brush or pen in hand, “The spigot just opens,” she said. “It is an unconscious thing.”

artwork by carol moses

artwork by carol moses

A private person, Carol is also one of the most giving people I know. She mentors artists of all media at all stages in their path even as she continues to explore and expand upon her artistic career.  If you have the opportunity to view her work firsthand at an exhibit or in a gallery, you’ll notice that most of her works are small. “When I began working, I didn’t have a formal studio. I had a kitchen table. I work small because I am used to being close to my work.”

artwork by carol moses

artwork by carol moses, “appreciatively, after visiting kandinsky”

View more of this artist’s beautiful work at http://carolmoses.com/

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at least for now …

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When do we see ourselves? How do we see ourselves? How is our sense of self shaped by the images of others?  This past year, I spent a lot of time researching U.S. history, mostly pre-Civil War into the early twentieth century.  One of the things that I re-discovered for myself was an evolution in the illustration and other visual representation of African Americans that reflected the sentiments of a rapidly evolving nation.  A nation that had loosely reknit after a Civil War, thirty-years later still in rancorous debate about the “Negro Problem”, and now having to deal with waves of mostly non-English speaking European immigrants making their way to a promised land. Culture clashes took place at every level of society. And those tensions were reflected in the arts and how “others” were represented.

I chanced upon an 1898 issue of the magazine, The Art Amateur: Devoted to Art in the Household, a popular type of magazine at the time.  The article that caught my attention, by E. Day McPherson, focused on Drawings of the Negro Character, an actual tutorial for how to capture the character of your artistic subject.  When reading the text I tried to keep in mind the context of the time. For example … “Character might be defined as the result of emotional habit, and certainly the lines expressive of character are those which show what emotions the person is most frequently subject to and in what degree he is accustomed to repress or hide them.  The negro is much more accustomed to give his emotions free play than white people, and they more than the yellow and the red races. To the Japanese we seem as “funny” as the negro seems to us …”

But my focus was not the words but the artist’s work.  Most publications from that time, outside of publications produced by African Americans, were already presenting stereotypical images of African Americans, if any images were being shown at all.  I was struck by Dee Beebe’s portraits of young African Americans, possibly in Galveston, Texas, in the casual clothing of their day.  I don’t know if she captured their character but she captured their beauty for me.

I couldn’t find out much about the artist. She was born in 1870 into a prominent family in Galveston, Texas. Her artistic skills were clear at an early age.  As one writer noted in 1896:

At the Art Academy of Cincinnati, she studied with Frank Duveneck.  In New York, she studied with William Merrit Chase and Kenyon Cox, and later with Theodore Wendel in Gloucester, MA.  Throughout her life she was a teacher while continuing to produce oil and watercolor paintings as well as etchings. The last reference to an exhibit that I could find was 1922.  She exhibited at the Ainslie Galleries in New York, seventy-five watercolors, “including bits of Holland and Switzerland, views of New England, the Arizona desert and around San Francisco and studies of flowers in localities as diversified as Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Switzerland and Holland.” She died in 1946.

It would be intriguing to see more of the work of this artist. I found a few landscapes online.  The 1898 article says that at one period while back home in Texas she “devoted much time to the portrayal of negro types.” Perhaps those other images, if they still exist I might not like so much, but I am glad she created these images and that they were shared with the public in that popular magazine.

Sources

The Art Amateur: Devoted to Art in Household, Volume 39-40, 1898

Prominent Women of Texas (1896), p. 82

Magazine of Art, 1922

 

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Recently, a friend invited me to join her for an “art-in,” and there she provided me with paper, pens and watercolors and encouraged me to paint whatever came to mind.  I decided to paint what I call a little somerset sky.

a somerset sky

a somerset sky

Its origin is this:  Of late, W. Somerset Maugham’s  Of Human Bondage has found its way into my hands, and there is a particular color-filled passage that I return to.  It is near the end of the book.  After an eventful night, Philip Carey, the main character …

“He leaned against the parapet and looked toward the morning.  At that hour the great city was like a city of the dead. The sky was cloudless, but the stars were dim at the approach of day; there was a light mist on the river, and the great buildings on the north side were like palaces in an enchanted island.  … It was all of an unearthly violet, troubling somehow and awe-inspiring; but quickly everything grew pale, and cold, and grey.  Then the sun rose, a ray of yellow gold stole across the sky, and the sky was iridescent .”

Thanks, Carol, for the opportunity to put brush to paper.  More about Carol’s beautiful artwork later this summer.

Have a good day, folks. 😉

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Stormy Weather by Cynthia Staples

Stormy Weather by Cynthia Staples

I’ve always enjoyed putting brush to paper, but I’ve never been especially disciplined about learning the right ways to do so.  But the older I grow the more I realize it is more important to just put the brush to the paper and stop worrying about the right way.  Van Gogh I will never be, but I don’t need to be Van Gogh to have fun with paint or to produce an image that might make someone’s day a bit brighter.  Random thoughts on a quiet Sunday. 😉

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I was hoping a walk in the woods would help me regain focus for steady, solid writing.  I think it is okay that I was inspired to paint instead.

 

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an orange balloon floating down the center of the street

the canoe behind the house, perched against an old tree everyone feared would fall. the tree remained standing but its few remaining leaves fell in the wind.

 

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