I WRITE, and I PAINT!

I WRITE, and I PAINT!

I write, and I paint. Is it possible to do both? Really?

Wonder Woman 1942

Wonder Woman 1942 ( I used to own these, mom made me throw out all my comic books. Imagine?)

The Urban Sketching Handbook, Understanding Perspective by Stephanie Bower

The Urban Sketching Handbook, Understanding Perspective by Stephanie Bower

Comic book visuals that captured the hearts of America, mystified me. My pencil crossed the blank page pulling lines to create yesteryear’s super heroine, Wonder Woman. I don’t remember coloring the pictures. It would have had to be crayon, so I just used my pencil.

I sketch on location. Like my long time architect friend, Stephanie Bower. She takes groups all over Seattle, Italy, Hong Kong, Asia, and more. She teaches sketching and makes perspective easy. A great tool for drawing is her new book, Urban Sketching Handbook, Understanding Perspective: She says in her book,  How does perspective work? And where is that darn vanishing point? Understanding Perspective helps you bridge the theoretical world of Perspective concept with the real world of on site sketching. Stephanie shows you how in her book and online with her Crafty classes video.

Where is writing in this creative world of mine?

I didn’t get to choose between writing and painting until I decided to paint Bierstadt’s Domes of Yosemite. Captivated by how the painting came to life, although told as fiction, this true romance, Indigo Sky, is based on Bierstadt’s journey.

After extensive studies and writing workshops, I realized that I could never get this book written while I was still painting. My writing hijacked me, and held me prisoner until the ‘end.’ The time flew by.

Metaphors and similes, the tools serious writers need made a difference, I learned and I loved writing . . . Truly!!!

indigoSky-Soulmate-805_805x1275-2

Indigo Sky

Invitation to Gail's Art Bash and book signing-Thursday, September 8, 2016, 5:30-7:30 PM

Invitation to Gail’s Art Bash and book signing-Thursday, September 8, 2016, 5:30-7:30 PM

Suspended . . . Coney Island painting project. The beach, Washington Baths, swimming, blackball, cool sand under the boardwalk, with friends watching Tuesday night fireworks, Nathan’s hotdogs, French fries and steamed corn.

Today’s blog sees the culmination of my book and my Coney Island project. Indigo Sky is published as an Amazon eBook, and will be out in paperback and audiobook by August.

Coney Island project to be installed at Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum on July 9, 2016. An art bash and book signing exhibition is forthcoming on Thursday, September 8, 2016. An invitation is at the left.

Knowing that I can’t write and paint simultaneously, my dilemma is to choose. Like notable American novelist Peter Selgin says, “It’s like choosing between two lovers.” One is like a water sprite leaping from rock to rock in a babbling brook—delightful, delicious and delectable. The other is serious, elusive with thoughts examining and imagining experiences and occasionally describing them.

Drawing a breath, is like drawing a line. My passion for painting and drawing is like breathing. My tools . . . pencil, paintbrush, and sketchbook are indispensable, like my morning coffee.

Choose writing, and I become a thinking machine. It’s difficult to raise up a world of words that express traits in my characters. My readers ask that I keep writing. I am torn, and still sketching and painting. My writing is waiting.

SPIDERS, GHOSTS and BOTANICALS

SPIDERS, GHOSTS and BOTANICALS

Yellow Sac Spider

Yellow Sac Spider

Spiders, ghosts and botanicals. You might find any of those at our old, built in 1867, sixty-two room  Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum anytime.  I have found some, especially botanicals, and right now I want to tell you about the current art show, in the Billiards Room, in collaboration with the Contemporary Center for Printmaking, (CCP) an art center right here on campus. This exhibition explores the beauty and relevance of botanical art through the medium of printmaking, in connection with the newly refurbished Conservatory at the Mansion, historically decorated by Danna Dielsi of The Silk Touch floral shop in Norwalk, CT. The art show was curated by Trustee Gail Ingis, included are renowned printmakers and members of CCP, Margot Rocklen, Betty Ball, Jane Cooper, Deidre de Waal, Sheila Fane, Sally Frank, Cynthia MacCollum, Joan Potkay, Eve Stockton and Ruth Kalla Ungerer. The works included cover a variety of techniques including: etching, monotype, intaglio, woodblock, and solarplate, to name a few.

Monotype by Deidra de Waal

Monotype by Deidra de Waal

This image by Deidra de Waal is a Monotype. Monotyping is a type of printmaking made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. The surface, or matrix, was historically a copper etching plate, but in contemporary work it can vary from zinc or glass to acrylic glass. The image is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by pressing the two together, usually using a printing press. Monotypes can also be created by inking an entire surface and then, using brushes or rags, removing ink to create a subtractive image, e.g. creating lights from a field of opaque color. The inks used may be oil based or water based. With oil-based inks, the paper may be dry, in which case the image has more contrast, or the paper may be damp, in which case the image has a ten percent greater range of tones.

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Eve Stockton, Woodcut

Woodcut, is a relief printing technique in printmaking. An artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood—typically with gouges—leaving the printing parts level with the surface while removing the non-printing parts. Areas that the artist cuts away carry no ink, while characters or images at surface level carry the ink to produce the print. The block is cut along the grain of the wood (unlike wood engraving where the block is cut in the end-grain). The surface is covered with ink by rolling over the surface with an ink-covered roller (brayer), leaving ink upon the flat surface but not in the non-printing areas.

Come visit to see this most unusual art show representing the twenty-first century interpretations of nineteenth-century art of botanicals. I did run into a spider, the yellow sac kind, but I thought it was Mr. Lockwood, much to my chagrin, when I looked up he was gone.

Come and visit this most amazing venue. The show will run through May 3, 2015, at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, 295 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT.  203-838-9799. General Admission April 9 through May 3, 12-4 p.m.: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6, 8-18.

Hurry, don’t miss it!

Have you been to this old house (mansion) where the TV show “Dark shadows” was made? Remember Joan Collins? Think you’ll find any ghosts? You might . . .

TITANIC FAMOUS FABLES

TITANIC FAMOUS FABLES

Did you have a relative that was on the Titanic? Who do you know that was booked on the Titanic? A great, great aunt, uncle, grandparent? This is the Titanic famous fables year of remembrance.

Spirit of the Blythe Titanic 24x30 Oil by Gail Ingis Claus

In its innocence, the Titanic was cruising along not realizing it was about to change the lives of twenty-two hundred people.  It is one hundred years since the maiden voyage of the Titanic. What is magical about its one hundred years? The14th of April is the date, one hundred years ago, that it sunk. It sunk taking 1523 men, women and children and crew and everyone’s worldly goods with it. No one noticed the iceberg, no one heeded warnings from other ships, no one believed the Titanic could sink.

Only ten percent of an iceberg is above water. If you see six feet, then there is sixty more feet of iceberg beneath the water.

Iceberg above and below

By the time the captain of the Titanic discovered the iceberg, the ship was along side it as it ripped a gash in its hull. The ship’s engineers claimed the Titanic was unsinkable.  If a disaster  happened, it would be its own lifeboat. It was compartmentalized to contain any water so that most of the ship would be safe from filling with the sea water.

Some, 705 passengers, did escape the watery death, most of them women and children, who watched in horror from their lifeboats, as their husbands and fathers went down with the ship or languished in the Atlantic’s frigid waters until the freezing cold pulled the life from them or they got sucked down with the ship. Distress calls reached the Carpathia. But they were  four hours away. When they finally reached the  site, it was too late.

According to history, the sinking of this ship robbed the lives of folks who were lower on the pay scale than the wealthy, like those in steerage, restaurant workers, folks who were coming to the USA to find a better life. Since sinking ships know no class, the rich went down with the poor.

It is strange and newsworthy, the wealthy paid hefty sums for their cabins, according to the History Channel’s report on April 10th, sums of $90,000 for a cabin were not unusual.

Would you come to our Titanic Collaboration show?

We would love to have you. Come to Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum on Thursday, April 26, 5-7 P.M. The Titanic Collaboration Art Show will be opening for your viewing pleasure. Free. Please RSVP 203-838-9799 extension 4.

 

THE TITANIC: TALE OF A  TENACIOUS WOMAN

THE TITANIC: TALE OF A TENACIOUS WOMAN

Helen Churchill Candee (at center) with 5 other women on horseback led the historic 1913 “Votes for Women” suffrage parade in Washington, D.C.

 

Titanic survivor, Helen Churchill Candee and her extraordinary life will be celebrated at the Titanic Centennial Commemoration at the Spring opening of the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum, 295 West Avenue,  Norwalk, Connecticut, on the evening of April 21, 2012.  In her life, she made important contributions to society and to our country.  Please see the invitation to the commemoration below.

Much to my surprise, in addition to known first decorator Elsie de Wolf,  Helen Churchill Candee fancied herself a decorator during the same era in the early 20thcentury.

Helen Churchill Candee 1905

The decorators of those years were self-taught and had important, influential connections.  Helen had impressive clients that led to her being commissioned by  President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 to advise on the purchase of a set of Louis XVI chairs for the First Lady’s dressing room.

She was admired and well-respected as a decorator and historian. Helen’s specialty was antiques and period decoration.  She was critical of manufacturers and department stores that sold cheap imitation furniture. She did not approve of upscale decorators like de Wolfe endorsing good quality reproductions of period pieces for modern interiors. Looking back into history, de Wolf was very well connected and worked for the Vanderbilt’s and others of the same ilk. Society was moving away from the cluttered overstuffed rooms of the mid to late 19th century.  De Wolf’s interiors were fresh and uncluttered.  This room by Helen is cluttered with antiques in the Victoriana style.

Decorated interior by Helen with antiques

Despite her impressive clientele, Helen Candee’s work as a decorator was intermittent. It was through her writing in books and articles on the history of furniture, textiles and art, that she made an impact on early 20th century interiors.

Candee was a strong feminist, as evidenced by her best-selling first book, How Women May Earn a Living (1900).  Candee’s first book on home decor was the profusely illustrated Decorative Styles and Periods , published by Frederick A. Stokes, Co. in November 1906. It was well received and quickly became a standard reference on period furnishings and their modern use.

Readers of Decorative Styles and Periods , a deep green cloth-bound volume with an inset portrait of an Empire room on the cover, were treated to the warmly delicate prose that already distinguished Helen Candee as a novelist and journalist. The book was long and thorough, addressing all major trends and designs, but was also full of human interest and historical sidelights that made it as entertaining as it was instructional.

More than any other book she wrote, Helen’s philosophy of design (and living) can be gleaned from Decorative Styles and Periods .

Authenticity was the prime principle of her credo. Candee was a purist in the extreme, insisting on genuine antiques and unswervingly faithful period atmosphere in the arrangement of rooms. The “perfection of the old,” she said, was all-important, adding that the “best is of the past.”

She along with Edith Wharton wrote books on decoration.  Helen wrote about period furnishings and tapestries for various magazines.

Based on my recent research, Helen, in her time, was a strong image as a decorator, antiques consultant and writer.  I am delighted to make her acquaintance, thanks to Wikipedia.  In the twenty years and more that I taught interior design and architectural history and criticism, I had not heard about this woman, Helen Churchill Candee until now, while working on the Titanic’s epic journey.

Helen, who broke her ankle when jumping into the lifeboat, was together with the unsinkable Molly Brown. They rowed and rowed and rowed.  Where were they going?

More to come…

Here’s the invitation for April 21, black tie.  Buy a table, buy a ticket,  bring guests.

 

A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS

A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS

Gail's Christmas angel on her angel tree

Twinkling lights hung on fragrant boughs, laced with golden antiquities; garlands strung from the mantle, framing a glowing fire of crackling pinecones, the family Bible prominently displayed on a table, opened to the greatest story ever told. Walking from room to room, the heavenly scents of fir, pine, hemlock, sweet spices of cinnamon, cranberry, and apple fill the air. Windows are frosted and the walls faintly shudder with the howl of the snow-laden winds outside. Guests filter in and leave their calling cards at the foyer desk, each one a brightly decorated token of the season.

Fireplace in the dining room at the Biltmore

Names are crisply spelled out in fine script, surrounded by pictures and designs in bright, cheery colors. The mail basket is overflowing with cards lavishly printed with the lithographs of Currier & Ives and Louis Prang.  A scrapbook in the parlor, another in the children’s playroom, announce with appropriately selected pages, that Christmas is here in all its spectrum and splendor.

Currier & Ives winter scene

When we celebrate Christmas with family and friends, we have the Victorians to thank for many of its joyful festivities and delightful customs. They revived old traditions, such as caroling, and invented new ones such as sending Christmas cards.

The Victorians also promoted church-going, gift-giving, and charity to the poor as essential parts of the holiday. They transformed the folk figures of Father Christmas and Santa Claus into symbols of holiday generosity, and they greatly popularized Germany’s traditional Christmas tree or Christbaum.

A Christmas Carol

Most of all, the Victorians made Christmas a family celebration, with its primary focus on the Christ Child and children. A Victorian Christmas entailed the exchange of gifts between parents and children; attendance together at Church services; a multi-course family dinner; and visits with friends, relatives, and other families.

Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum Victorian Christmas

 

Christmas was certainly celebrated in this Victorian Mansion. Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum welcomes guests to enjoy the decor of a true Victorian Christmas. For hours and information please go to: www.lockwoodmathewsmansion.com. Those of us involved with the mansion are working towards complete restoration. Will you get involved?

Pine tree aromas pine cones all around

From our house to yours-Greetings of the Season

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas evening on the grounds at The Biltmore - I could not pass this image up, it is too beautiful.

 

www.biblicalquality.com/Christmas1.html

The Christmas Tree

The Last of Victoriana

The Last of Victoriana

Victoriana was stylized as modern in the 19th century. The latest and newest interiors were influenced by the manufacture of ample materials used in profusion without any aesthetic considerations. Ornament was almost entirely produced by the turning-lathe. Balusters, spindles, wooden grilles, and dwarf columns were used in profusion without any consideration given to order. Layered mixed designs were used on all vertical and horizontal surfaces. Wall composition and orderly furniture arrangement were disregarded.

Excessive use of unrelated patterned surfaces on walls, floors, and upholstery were common. Walls were covered with wallpaper of poor design, painted stencil patterns, or real or paper-mâché imitation Spanish leather. Windows were dressed with heavy draperies, swags, valances, and jabots, enriched with heavy fringes. The machine, manufacturing furniture, accessories, wallpaper and accessories, all highly profitable products dominated the industry.

profusion of designs

Drawing room in Robert Edis London house circa 1870

According to Peter Thornton’s book 1984 “Authentic Decor” this image depicts the profusion common in Victoriana. The ceiling had stenciled decoration. The deep frieze at the top of the wall was painted by an artist. Gas-piping beneath the frieze was used as a picture-rail. Walls were papered with William Morris’ designs in a pomegranate pattern. The cabinet was ebonized (stained in a black finish) and had painted heads representing the season. Curtains covering the shelves were common.  Floors were covered with patterned rugs. Victoria and Albert Museum, London

These images show layers and layers and layers in design profusion of confusion. Even the most elegant interiors were smothered in mixtures of patterns, designs and color. Every corner, every window, every door had some kind of finish, not necessarily designed to work together.

The Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum in  Norwalk, Connecticut built circa 1870’s had the same fate as the Robert Edis house. In its elegance the Drawing room walls, ceiling, floor, all surfaces and windows were covered with fabrics, furniture, accessories and mirrors to double your view. Take a real tour. See Victoriana for yourself.

Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum Drawing room circa 1870

Victoriana ended when it was realized quality of design had gone lost. New ideas of simplicity became easier to live with. And handmade furnishings became important again as they are today. If not for the history of Victoriana we would not understand the importance of uncluttered, organized, well-designed spaces.

Steampunk is designed to be tongue-in-cheek Victoriana.

Victoriana house remodeled to stylize Steampunk

You can have some fun, see Steampunk and roam through this house at www.modvic.com.

Enjoy. If you want to get some Steampunk, call the vendor. The contact information is below.

Don’t forget to leave your comments, questions and challenges. My question to you, what have you always wanted to know in interior design and didn’t have anyone to ask?

Bruce Rosenbaum
President
ModVic, LLC
SteamPuffin
36 Pleasant Street
Sharon, MA 02067
781-784-0250
bruce@modvic.com
www.modvic.com

 

 

Are You A Steampunker?

Are You A Steampunker?

Mighty news is in the works – Victoriana is back. I never thought I would see the day. From all I remember as a youngster, to my concentrated academia and career in the arts and disciplines teaching about beauty, I believed Victoriana had produced some of the ugliest products ever made in history. Like living in “Dark Shadows.” My years of work and study in art, design, and architecture have produced in me a clear idea of how space, color, and unity can be utilized to produce a well-designed and functional environment. Environments like schools, sports stadiums, spas, places of worship, galleries, museums, our homes and more. The list is long.

According to Wikipedia: Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power was widely used—usually the Victorian era Britain—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of Steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.

Image below on the left is a handsome 21st Century clock by Roger Wood made in the aesthetics of Steampunk style. Metal and layers. See more on his website. http://www.klockwerks.com

Steampunk garnered its name from the idea of steam power and the inventions of the industrial revolution. It is based on history. Robert Fulton and his steam engine were instrumental in changing manufacturing. Eli Whitney and his cotton gin made extracting cotton from the plant easier. The spinning jenny run by steam made weaving easier. The Industrial Revolution marked a major turning point in human history.

Image on right is the only surviving example of a Spinning mule built by the inventor Samuel Crompton.

Almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. Machine-based manufacturing became protocol. Victoriana produced thinkers of future possibilities and science fiction, hence Steampunk; layering, metal, designing with objects of technology.

Image on right, Victoriana style, is a Herter sofa made for the Lockwood’s, circa 1867. Two of the sofas can be seen in Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk CT. The mansion is still looking for the other pair. Lockwood is open to the public. www.lockwoodmathewsmansion.com 

Remember a couple of years ago in fashion when layering became popular? Now it’s more popular than ever. We discovered layering works, both indoors and outdoors, and it is fashionable. For fashion, so many designs are being shown in layered form.

Free People fashions for Bloomingdale's

2011 Free People on the left in particular.

 

Image above on right: 1905 Duster keeps the road dust from the new automobiles off her layers of underclothing.

Mrs. Lockwood layered in corset, petticoats, slips, blouse and can you see more?

Image on left: Let’s look at Mrs. Lockwood in the 19th Century in the Rotunda of her home,  Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum. Layers once again.  Can you figure out how many layers she is wearing?

Come back next week for another look at Steampunk and Victoriana. How are those layers being translated? Are we heading for another Victoriana or will we stop before it goes overboard? It may be too late!

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