June’s Creative Exercise is all about the life and talent of Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938). She was a female impressionist painter of talents sometimes unrecognized. Her son, Maurice Utrillo (seen below in a portrait painted by Suzanne) ultimately became more famous that his mother. Suzanne can best be known by studying and reading the book "Renoir's Dancers: The Secrets of Suzanne Valadon" by Catherine Hewitt. It is a fascinating story of her life, work, modeling for many men artists and her own talents (including the well-known Renoir).
Suzanne was a model for Renoir and other artists of the period including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He was her lover for two years until she attempted suicide in 1888. She was the first woman painter admitted to the Societe Nationale des Beau-Arts. In the 1890s she befriended Edgar Degas who purchased her work and encouraged her to create more artwork. Suzanne remained one of his closest friends until his death.
Please take some time to look her up on the to see her works of art. Challenge yourself to understanding her life during the period of so much excitement in Paris. She was an outcast, as were many artistic people of the time.
Challenge ideas include a self portrait in a similar style to Suzanne, a portrait of a family member you love, a realistic painting of outside your window, a poem that has been inspired by her life, an artistic photograph of your children, and your imagination.
PLEASE note, you may attach your name, medium, artist statement, supplies used, etc. if you’d like. Otherwise, submissions will remain anonymous.
“I paint with the stubbornness I need for living, and I've found that all painters who love their art do the same.”
— Suzanne Valadon
It’s Tulip Time in Holland... and time to recognize the women Dutch painters of the 1600s!
Why did history forget its women?
In the 1600s in the Netherlands women were not allowed to be artists. There were approximately twenty women who painted in the 1600s. Women had to sign their work with a man’s name.
To learn more about these amazing women, you might find it beneficial to read “The Last Painting of Sara de Vos” by Dominic Smith. It is the story of a Dutch female artist who lost her young daughter. In grief she secretly began painting a dark landscape of a girl watching ice skaters from the edge of the woods. In 1631, Sara became the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the Guild of St. Luke in Holland.
The novels “Girl in Hyacinth Blue” by Susan Vreeland and “Girl with the Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier feature Johannes Vermeer.
Self-portrait by Judith Leyster is a Dutch Golden Age painting in oils in the collection of the National Gallery of Art National that was offered in 1633 as a masterpiece to the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke. It was attributed for centuries to Frans Hals and was only properly attributed to Judith Leyster upon acquisition by the museum in 1949.
Reading the April 4, 2016 issue of the Paris Review by Dominic Smith, entitled “Daughters of the Guild" will explain the lives of Dutch women painters. It answers the question of why history forgot Judith Leyster (1609-1660). Her talents were recognized in her adolescence. For more than 200 years her work was either unattributed or assigned to Frans Hals or her husband & artist Jan Miense Molenaer.
Some other extremely influential and talented female Dutch artists are:
Racael Ruysch, Maria Van Osterwijck, Maria Sibylla Merian,M. vandePasse, C. Peeters, M. Schalcken, A. van Schurman, A. Withoos.
The Highwaymen of Florida were (and still are) a group of African American artists who traveled the roads of Florida and went door to door selling their paintings. There were 26 men, with the exception of Mary Ann Carroll, who was named “The First Lady of Highwaymen.” Located in the Fort Pierce area, their popular days were in the 1950s and 60s. They have painted over 100,000 works and some continue to produce. With the help of two popular books published and exhibits there has been a surge of interest surrounding these artists. Mary says her first painting sold for $12.00, while most of the men were charging $15.00 and a few at $25.00. A man by the name of Fitch first coined the title of “The Highwaymen” in 1993. In 2004, all Highwaymen members were inducted into the Florida Hall of Fame.
Here is a personal story from board member, Judy Anthrop about her introduction to the Highwaymen.
“While in Florida in Apalachicola I went to a gym and the trainer there was a retired prison warden from Gainesville. We talked about art and the Highwaymen. He asked me if I would like to see the originals that he had rolled up and kept at home. When he was a prison warden some of the men associated (with Highwaymen) were in prison. He let them paint on the cement block walls and encouraged them by getting paint supplies to them. They gave him paintings in return.
Because it was Jim Crow days they were not allowed to show in galleries. A well established white artist, with an open gallery, by the name of AB Backus taught Alfred Hair and Harold Newton how to paint rural scenes. He sold their work in his gallery and he supported the work of the Highwaymen. Alfred was considered the founder and was sadly shot to death in a bar and Harold Newton continued teaching others.”
Fall colors and the emotions with rich warm tones.
Joy and happy orange - Red - Yellow - Light Brown - Dark Brown - Gold - Burgundy - Purple - Violet - Olive Green - Dusty Pink - Gray - Black
Perfect Temperatures - Foliage changes - Crispness in the air making us feel energized
Candy corn, costumes, hot apple cider, football.
Pumpkins and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Gourds, corn shucks.
"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."
Suggestions are endless for a project related to these colors!
Take a walk through town or the lakeshore. Be sure to crunch the leaves beneath your feet and take a camera, sketchbook, or whatever your heart desires.
“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” - Chris Maser
“You know me, I think there ought to be a big ole tree right there." - Bob Ross
A DAY AT THE BEACH RESTORES THE SOUL
It’s Summer and we enjoy time for the beach, a boat ride, a swim in a pool, a small lake or our BIG LAKE.
Create something that pleases your soul, particularly at the beach.
Think about your favorite beach towel, honor it, design one that’s more mindful.
Think about your favorite sunglasses, umbrella, cooler.
Think lemonade, think picnic tables
Write a beach story, writing is art.
Look up beach towels, beaches, sunglasses on Google for inspiration.
Go to the beach and sketch or paint a watercolor.
Take a swim.
Choose a chair to inspire you. Think about how the design of it is influenced by comfort, design, how we sit, lounge and wait.
Ideas for the challenge:
- DRAW YOUR FAVORITE CHAIR
- USE FABRIC TO CREATE A COLLAGE OF CHAIRS OR CHAIR
- BUILD A CHAIR OUT OF WOOD, TOOTH PICKS, ETC.
- PAINT AN UPHOLSTERED CHAIR.
- MAKE A DIORAMA
- WEAVE SOMETHING
- PAINT ON AN OLD CHAIR
- WRITE A STORY ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE RESTING PLACE
Henry David Thoreau had three chairs in his cabin.
“Everything I have ever written has been
There is a subtle peace
that comes upon observing nature
grandeur to observe
around every corner
There is the peace that comes
from enveloping oneself in nature
the peace that comes from being
in the arms of Mother Nature
is serene and calming
There is a call for all of us
to see the beauty in the everyday.”
all natural things both live and move
in natural peace that is their own."
There is meditation when you think about nature
and the environment
time reflect on your place in the world
how to connect with it.
Understanding nature and the environment
will continue to be an inspiration for artist
never forget to use it
for inspiration and guidance
to express yourself
Go take a walk
Observe and explore your surroundings, looking for interesting textures, colors and other patterns in the natural environment.
Document your walk by photographing anything that catches your eye. Zoom-in and focus on small details to take close-up shots of your findings.
Upon returning home, review the photographs from your walk and select 1(or more) of your favorite images
Using your choice of materials, photoshop, paint, printmaking, clay, glass pencils, collage recreate the photograph in a new vision. Let nature take you someplace you have never been before.
in our quarantined time we may have sorted through our old photos
there is something about opening that box
they can bring in a rush of emotions
not all of which we’re prepared for when we have a look
they can make us think of how good the past was.
how today can never compare to those happy days
the kind of hairstyles and clothes worn the places we were
we see the past with rose-tinted glasses
ignoring all that was not great about it
we remember the people in them
some might have gone from our lives forever
old photographs remind us of the bond that we had
how happy they made us
sometimes the people in the photos weren’t good for us,
even though we did not know that at the time
how fresh the wounds seem
old photos make us realize how far we’ve come
they are a visual record of our growth
select an old photo that speaks to you
from an emotional or artful voice
what made you pick this pic?
how do you feel when you look at it?
how does the composition, gestures, mood bring inspiration?
using this photo
create a drawing, textile, print or sculpture or another photo
the photo should transform into a piece of art.
distort the images
photo copy several times
play with multiple images.
collage, paint, cut, sculpt, print
take some chances and transform a memory into a piece of art
captured memories seen from a different view
Windows of Art
so, what is a window, really?
an opening cut out of a building,
yet the placement of a window, like an artist’s brushstrokes on a canvas,
has special meaning.
what is a window metaphorically?
a spiritual entrance through which your soul can travel.
if you choose to let it go,
your soul can break the glass boundaries and travel into the world,
soaking in imaginary sounds, smells, sights.
it is a portal for your thoughts to roam freely.
a window, however, creates boundaries,
as your soul can only travel as far as your eyes can see.
you watch life go by, failing to contribute any involvement.
windows aren’t for proactive people;
they are for those who watch rather than do.
during this time of isolation, windows are especially significant.
we are often found staring out from our homes into a world where we can’t engage.
forced to stay home, our view of the world is limited to what we see through the glass.
communities are finding small ways to reach out and connect through windows.
many neighborhoods, hospitals, nursing homes are posting signs and pictures
to show that while we may be isolated, we can still show support and love.
people all over the world are interacting with their loved ones through windows,
all to keep themselves and others safe during this trying time.
you are invited to capture your room with a view.
select a window where the scene that you observe is inspiring.
using any materials that you find suitable,
create a piece that speaks to your observations and your emotional responses
to being quarantined.
color, composition and mark-making can play a major role in your artwork.
you might choose to create a photo to send your message.
take some chances
enjoy the process!
We are all in our houses.
The place we call home, our abode, our shelter and our dwelling.
During this time that may go on for a while, we look at our surroundings and ourselves in a very
different manner than we did a few weeks ago.
We have time, lots of time to do things we might not have done if this pandemic did not occur.
We may catch ourselves looking in the mirror more often than before.
Maybe even stop and stare for a while.
Recognizing things or changes that we might not have noticed.
We are taking a closer outer look at ourselves and hopefully also an inner look at ourselves.
You are invited to take some time to look in the mirror and create a self-portrait.
Use the examples below to inspire you.
Try to use a material you have never used.
Try to imitate an artist you admire.
Try a new method of making art.
None of these self portraits should be photographic. You can take a selfie instead.
What they should be is an interpretation of how you see yourself during this time.
Many might say…I can’t draw a face, I can’t draw myself.
Yes, you can.
Whatever you draw will be good.
Judging yourself right now is useless.
Looking at yourself and creating a drawing or painting or sculpture of how you feel right now is
Take the challenge. You will be glad you did.