Scouting around a local antique store I found this charming watercolor. I left the store without buying it, and could not get it out of my mind. I went back and bought it the next day. I guess that is what the mystery of art is all about. Having something that resonates with you on some level and responding to it...It isn't technically the best watercolor I have ever seen, even appears a bit unfinishedbut there was just something about it...
The USPS has partnered with The Ringling Museum and issued a new series of limited edition stamps "Vintage Circus Posters". They caught my eye at the post office because of some research I am doing for a project.
According to the USPS, "The new Vintage Circus Posters Forever stamps are modeled after original circus posters — including those promoting the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus — and are now part of the Tibbals Digital Collection at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art." These were large posters (42 x 28) and sometimes covered whole sides of buildings in hundreds of sheets..
I turned over the sheet to find out more about the artists who produced them and was disappointed to see that no information was included about the artists. Maybe there were just too many different artists to list and some were anonymous as I found out later. One though was Charles Livingston Bull, from nearby Rochester and who was "never without a pencil" sketching at Zoos regularly. The man was prolific producing thousands of natural science illustrations before he died at age 57. PT Barnum hired him to do the poster illustration below.
Here is an interesting slide show on his life.
Never really a circus lover these posters though make me happy. But I have given lots of thought as to how unhappy the animals may be...I guess PT Barnum wasn't thinking of the animals when he said... " The noblest art is that of making others happy."
This from the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo,
Charles Livingston Bull was an American illustrator widely known for his depictions of wildlife. Born in West Walworth, N.Y. in 1874, he moved with his family to nearby Rochester, N.Y. as a youth. After his father discouraged him from pursuing a career in art, he turned instead to taxidermy, a craft which ironically proved to be a great influence on his later artistic production. While still a teenager he began working for Ward’s Museum of Natural History in Rochester, then accepted a position at the National Museum in Washington, D.C., in the early 1890s, during which time he also studied art at the Corcoran Gallery. A commission brought him to Buffalo for the 1901 Pan-American Exhibition; when he was done there, he and his wife Fannie Seymour returned to Rochester and then relocated to New York City.
Bull soon became an in-demand illustrator whose work appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, and Boy’s Life, among many other magazines, and in over 125 books, including those by such authors as Jack London, Frank Baum, and Rudyard Kipling. One of his best-known images, that of a leaping tiger, was commissioned in 1920 by Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey for a circus poster. In an era marked by improved color reproduction in publications, Bull was one of the best-known and most prolific wildlife artists of his day. Among the many younger artists influenced by his work was Charles Burchfield, who copied some of Bull’s illustrations while learning his craft.
Nature has always been and continues to be an ongoing source of design inspiration for the manufacture of goods. I thought about this more lately because we have been studying botany and dissecting flowers in class with the students. Christopher Dresser, a Scottish -born designer and professor of Botany Art, and subsequent designer of botanical-inspired fabrics during Edwardian times in England, is fascinating.
Botany Diagram 1855
Nectaries, diagram by Christopher Dresser
Christopher Dresser, 'Original drawing for The Grammar of Ornament (Leaves & Flowers No. 8)', published 1856.
'Botanical lecture diagram', about 1855.
Fabric design, Sweet Peas, by Christopher Dresser
Victorian teapots designed by Dresser (hardly your average Victorian teapot!)
Dresser was born in Glasgow, Scotland of a Yorkshire family. At age 13, he began attending the Government School of Design, Somerset House, London. He received training in design and took botany as his specialization. He lectured on the new subject of Art Botany to complete his studies before his appointment in 1855 as Professor of Artistic Botany in the Department of Science and Art, South Kensington. He wrote a series of articles that appeared in the Art Journal in 1857, "Botany as Adapted to the Arts and Art Manufactures." In 1858 he sold his first designs. In 1873 he was requested by the American Government to write a report on the design of household goods.
En route for Japan in 1876 he delivered a series of three lectures in the Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Art and supervised the manufacture of wallpapers to his design for Wilson Fennimore. He was commissioned by Messrs Tiffany of New York to form a collection, whilst in Japan, of art objects both old and new that should illustrate the manufactures of that country.
In four months in 1876/1877 Dresser travelled about 2000 miles in Japan, recording his impressions in Japan, its Architecture, Art and Art-Manufactures. He represented the South Kensington Museum whilst in Japan, and was received at court by the Emperor, who ordered Dresser to be treated as a guest of the nation – all doors were open to him. He was requested by the Japanese Government to write a report on 'Trade with Europe'. His pioneering study of Japanese art is evident in much of his work which is considered typical of the Anglo-Japanese style.
Toast rack, designed by Dresser for Alessi in 1878
Some of Dresser’s metalwork designs are still in production, such as his oil and vinegar sets and toast rack designs, now manufactured by Alessi and Alberto Alessi goes so far as to say Dresser 'knew the techniques of metal production better than any designer who has come to Alessi'. (Wiki)
I'm part of a group exhibit at Jamestown Community College for the month of March at The Center Gallery.
I received good news that a monotype, (Napa Valley Hills) has been selected as winner in the Applied Arts Magazine's 2014 Photography and Illustration Awards in the Limited Edition/Gallery category. Oh Canada! Thank you!
Milly Acharya, Squash Curcubito pepo, watercolor, 2011
Over the weekend I attended a watercolor workshop with 9 other members of the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. We had gathered to have Milly Acharya school us in her personal techniques for botanical illustration. Something we had not anticipated was that she never uses a pencil to start her paintings. Seriously? ! She paints in the shapes with clear water on a loaded #6 Winsor Newton Series 7 ( I think) on 140 lb. Arches bright white hot press watercolor paper. Then slowly builds up the colors and details. She urged us to do the same. What? no pencil? Talk about letting old habits slide...
Since we were working on green specimens, she had her green palette there with yellow at one end and blue at the other and every shade in between. She also likes using Winsor Newton Green Gold as her foundation color for plants and flower stems. The detail she achieves is incredible. Curious, I askedher how long it took to complete one painting. Her reply, "600 to 700 hours," yet she describes herself as "impatient."
Milly uses a magnifying lamp for her paper and another magnifyer for the specimen and works painstakingly slow.
Cut Paper Heart
United States Postal Service: Love Stamp 2014
Q. Cassetti, Trumansburg, NY
A brand new Love stamp has been issued by the USPS and I am excited to report that a friend and fellow student at the University of Hartford MFA Illustration program, Q Cassetti, has designed it.
I can't say enough nice things about Q's work. She has inspired me for so long and was the reason I went on to get my MFA. Read the USPS story of the remarkable Miss Q here.
To celebrate the new year, I am sharing a video trailer by Donato Giancola of his painting process for Joan of Arc which includes the quote,
One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.
-Joan of Arc (1412-1413)
May all your new year endeavors celebrate life and the pursuit of your best and truest self in this world.
I am excited to be teaching a new course at SUNY Broome this semester called The Art of Science, aka scientific illustration. The American Museum of Natural History is currently exhibiting "Natural Histories" with illustrations from their rare book collection. Here is a sneak peek.