Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Inspiration for 2010

I hope that everyone had a glorious holiday season this year! I know that we did. Ours was made extra special by the addition of our newest family member, 4-month-old great-nephew Liam, who enjoyed his first Christmas! Eyes bright at all the lights on the tree, he inspired us all with the true meaning of the season.
He also inspired me to really do something for next Christmas, that I have been talking about and talking about FOREVER!!! For 2010, I am going to create handmade Christmas gifts for as many people as I can on my Christmas list! I have thought about doing this and talked about doing this for far too long, without actually ever acting on it. And while time is still at a premium (at least for the early part of 2010), I know that I can start by planning carefully and prioritizing projects, so that I can share what I love to do with those that are most important in my life!

Which brings me to a terrific story of creativity that I came across this evening. In the UK, a 7-year-old named Kieron Williamson dreams of becoming Monet or Seago rather than a soccer star. And even at such a young age, this amazing child is well on his way to realizing that dream! His paintings are utterly amazing! He has actually sold several of them for quite a large sum, but paints for sheer enjoyment. He even offered tips on landscape painting:

  1. "Go on holiday where you really want to go and be inspired."
  2. "Start with acrylics, then watercolors, then pastels, and then oils."
  3. When you set out to do a landscape, "start with the sky first, top to bottom."
  4. "When you do distance it's lighter and when you do foreground it comes lighter."
  5. "If you're doing a figure in the winter, do a brown head, leave a small gap, do a blue jacket and brown legs. Then with the gap, get a red pastel do a flick of red so it looks like a scarf."
  6. "Keep on painting."
He's so utterly fearless in his desire to keep on growing in his painting. I so admire that, since I would love to paint, but haven't the courage to face a blank canvas yet. Way to go Kieron!!! You inspire me to try some new ideas - maybe not painting yet, but something new!
What new art or craft are you inspired to try in 2010?? Is it something that you've put off because you've not trusted your ability? I'm inspired by your stories....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Amazing Milwaukee Artist!

"Laemantus Longpipes" Mary Alice Wimmer

"Gilding the Lily" Susan Dorothea White

I love to receive my ArtMilwaukee emails (although they don't come as regularly as I'd like each Wednesday), which profile local artists from the Milwaukee area. The one that I found in my inbox today is a painting by Mary Alice Wimmer called "Laemantus Longpipes." Interesting name, isn't it?! Of course, I had to see what that could possibly be a picture of! Well, it was, I though, GORGEOUS!!! The lines, shapes and vivid colors of the gourds in the gravevine basket pop on the black background, the bright blue gourd on the white tabletop is a surprise, and then there is the charming bright green lizard, that at first isn't quite apparent, because he is so close to the base of the basket.

According to her bio, Mary Alice Wimmer finds her inspiration in Victorian curiosity cabinets and the natural world. This watercolor and its use of the rich colors on the black background is reminiscent of old Dutch portraits. I'm reminded of a very large still life that is on display in the Milwaukee Art Museum (I don't know the artist or if he was Dutch) - the background was very dark and the painting was a profusion of fruit and flowers in a bowl on a table. The colors undoubtedly had, at one time, been more vibrant but had faded with age.

Ms. Wimmer is what is known as a silverpoint artist. Of course, I had no idea what silverpoint was, so I did a bit of research and found that this is drawing technique that was used by Medieval scribes to decorate manuscripts (per Wikipedia). Historically, for artistic purposes such as drawing, lead and tin were used in addition to silver. Because these metals are soft, the were ideal as drawing tools. Silverpoint was especially favored in Florence and in Dutch workshops because it didn't blunt as easily and it allowed the creation of meticulous detail. Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Durer, and Raphael among others used this technique. In creating silverpoint today, a silver rod or wire is dragged across a surface such as a canvas that has been prepared with either primer or gesso. The second picture I've included is a painting by Susan Dorothea White (2005) called "Gilding the Lily" which was actually done using goldpoing instead of silverpoing, along with black and white chalk on sandpaper.