A Little History of Art

Today’s little history is about a female American artist named Cecilia Beaux, who lived from 1855-1942. Cecilia Beaux painted beautiful realistic portraits of prominent people in New York and Philadelphia society. She never married, choosing rather to dedicate her time to art and painting portraits.

Cecilia Beaux Self Portrait 1894 Oil on Canvas

Cecilia never knew her mother who died 12 days after giving birth to her. Cecilia’s father was so distraught over his wife’s death that he returned to France without his two daughters Cecilia and her older sister Aimee. They were left to be raised by relatives who were supportive of the two girl’s pursuits. Cecilia stated that her Uncle Willie was the biggest influence in her life and in developing her artistic talents. Her Aunt was an example of female independence and gave piano lessons for pay to help support the household.

Cecilia began her art studies at the age of 16 years old in New York City and Philadelphia. She opened an art studio in 1883 in Philadelphia, traveled to Europe and Paris in 1888-89 and studied art while there. When she returned to Philadelphia she earned a reputation as one of Philadelphia’s best portrait painters. In 1895 she became the first woman instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1900 she moved to New York and obtained commissions for a series of portraits including Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt and her daughter. The list of commissions includes other prominent people of that time.

Cecilia started her art career by painting faces of children on unfired porcelain plates. To make money she did detailed drawings of fossils and shells for paleontologist E.D. Cope. This was a paying job only. She disliked portraying anything except people and an occasional cat.

Sita and Sarita Portrait of Sarah Allibone-Leavitt, 1896

Quote: “A perfect technique in anything only means that there has been no break in continuity between conception, or thought, and the act of performance.”

Quote: “Line is line, space is space- wherever found. The consideration of them is necessary to every work of art, and no such work can exist without them.”

New England Woman, 1895

New England Woman is probably my favorite of Cecilia Beaux’s paintings. I like the informality of the room and sitter. It feels as if you are part of the painting, waiting for the news that has just come, in the form of a letter. Who is the letter from? What did they have to say that causes the woman to look off dreamily. I love the use of subtle colors playing in the whites in the woman’s gown and the surroundings.

Cecilia Beaux lived in a time when there weren’t many successful female artists. She was able to succeed despite this. She was able to prove her worth in doing portraiture, what she loved doing most. She was a leader in showing women that doing what you love as your life’s work can be done. She worked hard for what she wanted. She is an example and inspiration for women even now.

You can view a display of Cecilia Beaux’s artwork at http://www.pafa.org/museum/collection, PAFA Museum (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts).

I hope you enjoyed this article. Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.


Sunday Nov. 1

Officially California is in the fall season (even though where I live it has still been in the upper 70’s during the day), with the leaves on the trees turning beautiful colors. It is amazing to think that the fall colors are actually the death of the tree’s leaves. But wonderful to think that a renewing will come again in the Spring.

Fall is my favorite time of the year because of the lovely colors and the cooling down of the weather. Everywhere I go in the Fall, I am oohing and awing and saying to whomever I am with, “Look at that beautiful tree”, or “Oh look at those colors” Usually no one else appreciates the colors like I do. My husband is outside sucking up the leaves from our lawn right now as I type.

Anyway, I hope you are having a lovely Sunday and 1st day of Nov. 2020.

A Little History of Art

An American Realist Painter

You may not have heard of Edward Hopper but probably have seen his paintings.

Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967), Nighthawks, 1942, oil on canvas, 84.1 x 152.4 cm (33 1/8 x 60 in.), Art Institute of Chicago (Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

Edward Hopper was an American Realist painter, who lived from 1882-1967 in Nyack N.Y. He died in his studio in Washington Square New York. Hopper was a quiet and introverted man with a gentle sense of humor. He married his wife Josephine (Jo) Nivison in 1924 and they were married till his death.

Automat by Edward Hopper (Photo by Francis G. Mayer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

This painting was done in a cafe with his wife as the model.

His birthplace and boyhood home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. It is now operated as the Edward Hopper House Art Center. Hopper was an illustrator for years to support himself but detested it. He felt bound to it and desired to do oil paintings.

In 1915 Hopper began to do etchings. He produced 70 works in this medium, many of them of urban scenes of Paris and New York. He did well during the Depression, being paid thousands of dollars for his works. He sold 30 paintings in 1931, including 13 watercolors.

Hopper paid particular attention to geometrical design and the careful placement of human figures in proper balance with their environment. He carefully calculated what he was going to paint and made copious sketches before putting brush to canvas and used light and shadow, saturated color to heighten contrast and to create mood.

His use of light and shadow effects have been compared to the cinematography of film noir. For old movie buffs like me who love this genre, you will see this right away when viewing his paintings. He was a great influence for filmmakers. Soft realism , simplified shapes and details are the marks of his works.

Hopper painted common American life in gas stations, motels, restaurants, theaters, railroads and street scenes. His seascapes are wonderful, full of light and movement. (See “Ground Swell” done in 1939, which now hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.)

Numerous poems have been inspired by Hopper’s paintings, this genre is known as akphrasis which comes from the Greek for the description of a work of art produced as a rhetorical exercise. It is a vivid, often dramatic , verbal description of a visual work of art. French poet Claude Esteban wrote a collection of prose poems, “Soleil Dans Une Piece Vide” (Sun In An Empty Room, 1991) based on 47 Hopper paintings. Eight of the poems were subsequently set to music by composer Graciane Finzi. Others have followed in suit. Many sites where Hopper’s paintings were located have been photographed by Gail Levin, an American Historian.

Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967), Summertime, 1943, oil on canvas, 29.1 x 44 in., Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

Hopper’s paintings tell a story with simplicity, small signs of movement like a breeze blowing the curtain in an open window and the feel of a hot summer day. He showed that it doesn’t take a lot of detail to make a point. He understood that we humans are very curious and like to make up our own story when details aren’t included.

As I look at the above pictures, my mind wanders into the unknown areas that are hinted at, like what is around the corner of the bar and what time is it? What is outside the dark window of the cafe and why is the girl sitting alone? Who lives behind the blowing curtain, is it the girl on the steps? My mind makes up scenarios to fill in the simplicity. This is what is so attractive to me about Hopper’s paintings.

I hope you liked what you have read. Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined. Have a great day and a joyful New Year!

Reflections- Sparking Creativity

Recently the passing of time is on my mind with the end of the year so close. Autumn is coming to a close and winter in California is just a whisper. Rain is on the agenda and cooler temperatures. The only way that I know Christmas is almost here is that people are putting up their decorations.

Rummaging through my art “stuff” the other day, I ran across some artwork/class assignments from a younger chapter in my life. A rush of memories of College (pre-Nursing School) hit my mind. My artwork has changed over the years. I used to be afraid to use color and only drew in graphite. But now I am in love with color and use it in almost all my artwork.

Artwork from a college class I took at a much younger age.

New Ideas have been sparked after my “discovery”. I am currently working on a mixed media piece with a sepia watercolor of my parents when they were young, which brought on another idea and so on. My mind whirls with so many ideas that so often turn out to be something entirely different once I begin to paint. It is almost as if the canvas and paint have a mind of their own and want to be something different than what I started out to do.

Tell me what projects you are working on right now. Are you feeling nostalgic this time of year? Have you ever found old art projects in your stash that spurred you to do something different in your artwork? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful Holiday season.

A Little History of Art

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1 by artist Gustav Klimt 1907

Gustav Klimt was an Austrian born symbolist painter. He was born in 1862 and died in 1918. His earlier years of his career were spent in architectural decoration. He didn’t begin his “Gold Phase” till later in life. His father was a gold engraver and possibly this was an influence in Klimt’s artwork. In 1888 Klimt received the Golden Order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef 1 of Austria, he contributed to the painting of murals in Burgtheater in Vienna.

Klimt painted the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1 in approximately 1907. It was a commissioned piece by Adele’s husband. The painting was done in oil, silver and gold on a 54″ x 54″ canvas. It is now hung in the Neue Galerie, New York. It is the first of two depictions of Adele, the second was completed in 1912.

In 1941 this painting and other artwork was stolen by the Nazis and given to the Galerie Belvedere and was there till in 1998 an Austrian investigative journalist established that the Galerie Belvedere had several works stolen from Jewish owners during the war. After a 7 year long claim by the niece of Adele’s husband, Maria Altmann, the painting was returned to her. The niece sold the painting for $135 million to a businessman and art collector. He placed the work in the Neue Galerie in N.Y. which he founded.

I hope you enjoyed this short history of the Austrian born artist Gustav Klimt. I am thankful for his contribution to the art world with his unique style of using gold leaf in his portraits. Look for more short art history stories to come. Thank you for reading.

Progress Report

Hi everyone. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, even though we are in this strange year of COVID-19. I hope you all are well. My husband and I delivered meals to the homeless shelter in our area and a local mobile home park. We do this every year for the Salvation Army. The process was much different this year, no gathering for a Turkey dinner in the big hall with the community, and only a small amount of volunteers were aloud to help out this year. Then we took meals to my Mom and Brother and spent a nice time with them.

I have been working on some new art pieces. Acrylic and mixed media paintings and watercolor. Some are practice pieces in my different art journals a couple new canvas paintings.

Watercolor painting in my mixed media sketch book.
Mixed Media acrylic painting in my home made art journal.
Watercolor in the mixed media art journal.

These are my newest canvases that are up for sale.

“Le Chanson Bleu” 18″ x 24″ Stretched canvas, mixed media acrylic painting.
“In The Pink” 18″ x 24″ Stretched canvas Mixed Media acrylic painting. (The photo makes this look darker than it is.)

Take care and enjoy the last few weeks of 2020! God Bless!

“Artwork for sale”

If you like these pieces, let me know in the comments. Please subscribe if you want to follow what I am doing with future artwork. Thanks for taking the time to look!

“Les Fleurs” 10″ x 10″ stretched canvas acrylic painting. Available. $15 (Buyer pays shipping costs.)
“Roses” 20″ high x 24″ wide stretched canvas acrylic mixed media painting. Available. $30 (Buyer pays shipping costs)

“Sunflower” 10″ x 10″ stretched canvas acrylic painting. Available. $15 (Buyer pays shipping costs)
“Time Travel” 10″x 10″ stretched canvas acrylic mixed media painting. Available. $15 (Buyer pays shipping costs)
“Road Trip” Second in the Time Travel series 10″ x 10″ stretched canvas acrylic mixed media painting. Available. $15 (Buyer pays shipping costs)
“Bloom” 10″ x 10″ stretched canvas acrylic mixed media painting. Available. $15 (Buyer pays shipping costs)
“The Blues” 10″ x 10″ stretched canvas acrylic painting. Available. $15 (Buyer pays shipping costs)
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