Beauty of Ikat

Are you familiar with ikat textiles made from threads that are dyed section by section?  No doubt you have seen the fabric used in decorative items and clothing, but have you ever thought about how the designs are created?

When done by hand, the threads are stretched on a frame and the pattern is marked off. Each section of the design is then bound off and dyed separately until all areas of the thread are covered.

Ikat textiles are popular these days, but they are not new.

Historically, they have been symbols of status and wealth much like tapestries were in earlier times.

They were offered to rulers, loyal friends and people of importance as part of a centuries old tradition of gift giving.

Some of the gifts were used to establish and cement political alliances.

Today, in some countries, ikat garments are part of the culture.

As a weaver, I am fascinated by the artistry of the fabric,

often woven with silk threads as fine as a strand of hair.  Knowing that I will never be able to duplicate such beautiful creations only enhances my appreciation.

Strand of Silk - Journey Map - Ikat - Producer Communities - padmashali

How grateful I am that the tradition of making ikat textiles by hand is being maintained in places like India, Southeast Asia, Japan and Latin America.  I was very happy to be able to photo these wonderful examples of ikat creations at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. 

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Art As Inspiration

After introducing you to Florescence, I cannot resist showing you more of the incredible floral arrangements interpreting the show’s challenges.  Before going on I should tell you that Florescence is one of the largest competitive national flower shows sanctioned by the Garden Club of America in the U.S.  

It is impossible not to be awed by these creations

and seeing them displayed with the art that inspired them makes them even more dramatic.

I was blown away by creations inspired by  couture dresses from the Museum of Fine Art’s collection.

As I look again at this photo, I notice that the arrangement mimics the flow of the dress…..absolutely stunning!

Here a styrofoam head wears an elaborate headdress made primarily of natural plant material.  What sea goddess wouldn’t love to be so adorned?

Many times I see wooden boxes used on tables as centerpieces. Unique here is the mix of succulents, roses, lilies and tropicals that demonstrate how anything can work together provided the choices are selected with a critical eye.

Particularly interesting were arrangements incorporating abstract qualities inspired by pieces in the Museum’s contemporary art collection.

The varied materials used with flowers and plant materials was wonderful,

and I will be keeping my eyes open for elements that add interest.

 Though I marveled over over the elaborate creations, I could not see such in my future.  I was attracted to the ikebana technique because it seems a little more doable,

 and I like the simplicity both of the containers and the flower design.

If I were to step a little out of my comfort zone, however, it would be to do something like this, so full of color and whimsey.

Oh, there is so much more I could show you, but hopefully, there is enough here to encourage your own creativity.  It would be wonderful to see the results.

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Art: The Magic

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.

Twyla Thorpe

For me, looking at art is running away, enjoying the magic of another’s creative reality. A few days ago I went to Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts for an exhibit of sculpture by Ron Mueck.  To say the least, I was blown away.

He is called a hyperrealist sculptor, and it is easy to see why.  No detail is left to the imagination.

Using resin, silicone, fiberglass and other materials he creates human forms that portray life through its various stages: birth,

middle age,

elderly.

Not always are the figures true to scale.  They may be larger 

or smaller giving one the idea that size reflects the enormity of the event represented.

It is said that some of Mueck’s images reflect Christian imagery 

while others draw on the perfection of Renaissance painting.

Whatever the influences, Mueck’s sculptures demand attention. Like them or not, one cannot help but appreciate the artist’s attention to detail and the time such must require.

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A Piece of the World

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I’ve just ordered this long awaited book and can’t wait to read it not just because it’s by an author whose works I enjoy but because it’s about people and place quite familiar to me.

Olson HouseThe piece of the world the title refers to is the Olson House in Cushing, Maine.  It is a place I’ve visited many times and am intrigued by its stories.

christinas_world-e1380208783741The main character of Kline’s novel is Christina Olson who shared the house with her brother Alvaro.  She was a simple woman crippled by a then undiagnosed disease.  She was made famous by her friend Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting Christina’s World which hangs in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  It was her many viewings of this painting and her visits to the Olson House that inspired Kline to write A Piece of the World.

wyeth-web-2

Christina Olson painted by Andrew Wyeth

Last summer I had the privilege of hearing the author talk about the inspiration for her novel which is not just about place but about a woman’s perseverance, independence and strength.  At the same time Christina Olson possessed these qualities, there was a vulnerability about her.  Inspired by the painting, Kline spent several years researching the Olsons and their 30 year relationship with Wyeth.  As history unfolded, she began to appreciate that it was likely Wyeth found something of himself in Christina.  

As I listened to Kline discuss the underlying mystery  and the influence of the rural landscape found in Wyeth’s painting, I began thinking about the power of visual art and how many ways it gives birth to another art form.  Certainly, this is true for the author whose name she shares with her subject.  I suspect that if one knew Christina Baker Kline, one would find, like with Wyeth, something shared with Christina.

What I would really like to know is how Christina felt when she saw herself as portrayed by Wyeth and how she would respond to being subject of Kline’s book.  That is the part of her story we may never know.

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Have (he)ART

IMG_5636Meet Greta Van Campen, a young Maine artist who just happens to have a show in Houston this month.  Greta travels the U.S. recording what she sees and interpreting it in her unique style.  

IMG_5635Wherever she shows, her work is reflective of the region and has resulted in quite a following throughout the country.

Afternoon12:31:15I like her meticulously done creations, but what I like even better is Greta’s desire to make a difference.  She feels very blessed to have enjoyed success at her young age, and while she doesn’t feel she yet has the resources for significant philanthropic giving she has found an alternative.

1452521794976This year Greta plans to auction a small painting each week that interprets the ever changing view outside her window in Tenants Harbor, Maine.  The successful bidder donates the bid amount to a charity of his/her choice, sends the receipt to Greta and receives a jewel of a painting in return.  Can you think of a better win/win?

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Mine!

I plan on bidding frequently in hope of acquiring several of Greta’s little gems, at the same time donating to a few of my favorite charities.  I am touched by her desire to give back and excited at the prospect of having my own collection of her small pieces.

I hope you will join me in supporting Greta’s generous heart.  For more information, take a look here.  Then follow along until you find your favorite painting and bid, bid, bid.  I’ll try real hard not to outbid you!

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High On Art

Japan InspirationOver the years I’ve looked at lots of art.  I always enjoy what I see, but from time to time an exhibit sets my heart to racing.  So it was with Japan Inspiration at Kunsthaus in Zurich because it opened my eyes to a new way of seeing.

Japonisme was an unfamiliar term to me.  What it refers to is the period from 1860 to 1910  when Japan, after 200 years of isolation, opened to the world. The aesthetic and formal language of Japan and Japanese influences inspired the creativity of many European artists, and this exhibit shows how they impacted Gauguin, Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh and other Impressionists.  I was astonished to see the links between these artists and their Japanese counterparts.  Thankfully, I was able to take photos so you, too, can see the connection.

Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt is one of my favorites, and her work depicting mother and child always steals my heart.

Japan Inspiration

How surprising it was to see a similar Japanese piece, the likes of which are said to have inspired Cassatt’s future work.Japan InspirationJapanese art often depicted women doing everyday things,

Degas

Degas

thus women doing the ordinary became subject for many favorite paintings by Degas.

Japan InspirationJapanese art was not modest when it came to showing intimate relations,

Picasso

Picasso

and a series of Picasso prints are equally as graphic.

Cezanne

Cezanne

Repeating landscapes was a habit of many Japanese artists and likely provide explanation for Cezanne’s recurring renderings of Mount Sainte Victoire.

Monet

Monet

Studying Japanese masters inspired Monet’s in-depth contemplation of nature. His water lily paintings are among his most familiar, but did you know the last years of his life were spent focusing totally on them and the reflective surface of his pond?

Toulouse Lautrec

Toulouse Lautrec

Japanese objects, such as the instrument in this Toulouse Lautrec painting, began appearing in Impressionist work.  I don’t know about you, but I never gave thought to the source of such images.

Gauguin

Gauguin

While I would not object to owning a piece by any one of the Impressionist masters, my preference would be one of Gauguin’s whose work did not escape the Japanese influence.

There is much more than shown, but this is enough to help you see the correlation between Japanese art and the work of many of the Impressionist artists whose paintings we so admire.  I hope it will help you identify Japanese influences when you next take a look at an Impressionist exhibit.

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Winslow Homer in Maine

Winslow HomerSince the 1800’s, the magnetism of Maine’s natural beauty has drawn many an American artist.

Winslow HomerAmong the best known and most popular is Winslow Homer whose home and studio on Prouts Neck in Scarborough, Maine is now open to the public as part of the offerings of the Portland Museum of Art.  From 1883 until his death in 1910, Homer spent much of his time here painting many of his best known works.   Until 2006, the property remained in the hands of his heirs who, becoming concerned that it would be lost to future generations, sold it to the museum.

Winslow HomerThe studio is meticulously renovated, however, little of the original furnishings is there. 

Winslow HomerSome of what is left struck me as reflecting both Homer’s sense of whimsy and his personal taste.

Winslow HomerThe second floor porch looks out upon a broad expanse of sea.  I could imagine Homer standing there smelling the salty air,

Winslow Homer watching waves crashing against craggy rocks

Winslow Homerand observing places where worn gray was broken by clusters of color.

Winslow HomerHow could these images not be among the very ones interpreted on canvas?

Winslow HomerIn the distance, a small craft cavorted among the waves

Winslow Homerreminding me of Homer’s paintings reflecting the struggle of man against nature. How different today’s scene is from one that inspired this painting.

Yes, Maine has influenced the work of painters from Homer to Hopper to Bellows to Indiana to Katz to Estes and I wonder how different their work would have been without their having experienced the magic of place.

Note: The images of the two paintings are borrowed from Wikipedia

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