BCD#12

Blind Contour Drawing #12 “Self Portrait with Loose Hair” 1947 – Frida Kahlo

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon has been celebrated worldwide as a symbol of Mexican national and Indigenous traditions but her work was largely over looked until the Feminist art movement of the 1970’s.

Kahlo spent most of her childhood and adult life at her family home now known and publicly accessible as the Frida Kahlo Museum. She suffered from polio as a child and nearly died in a bus accident as a teenager. Multiple fractures, a shattered pelvis, broken foot and dislocated shoulder from the accident plagued her with health issues for the rest of her life. She began to focus heavily on painting while recovering in a body cast and gave up her earlier ambitions of a higher education. She had 30 operations in her short lifetime.

In 1927, she joined the Mexican Communist Party and met muralist Diego Rivera. They married in 1928. Kahlo spent the late 1920s and early 1930s traveling in Mexico and the United States with Rivera while he was working.

During this time she developed her own style as an artist and drew her main inspiration from Mexican folk culture. She mostly painted small self-portraits. Her physical and emotional pain is depicted on canvases, as is her turbulent relationship with her husband, who she married twice. Life experience is a common theme in Kahlo’s work.

Her paintings raised the interest of Surrealist artist André Breton, who arranged for Kahlo to have her first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1938. The exhibition was a success and was followed by a show in Paris in 1939. The Louvre purchased a painting from Kahlo called “The Frame,” making her the first Mexican artist to be featured in their collection.

Throughout the 1940s, Kahlo continued to show in exhibitions in Mexico and the United States. Her health began to seriously decline and shortly after her first solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953, she died at the age of 47.

She was mainly known as Rivera’s wife until her work was “rediscovered” by art historians and political activists in the 1970’s. Since then she has become an international icon and celebrated by Mexicans, feminists and the LGBTQ movement.

By 1984, Kahlo’s reputation as an artist had grown to such extent that Mexico declared her works national cultural heritage. “Diego and I,” was auctioned by Sotheby’s for $1.4 million in 1990, the first Latin American artist to break the 1 million dollar threshold. In 2016, “Two Lovers in a Forest” sold for $8 million.

She is one of the most recognized artists in history and hopefully “Fridamania” carries with it her progressive values, strength and beauty.

Born – July 6, 1907 Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico
Died – July 13, 1954 Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico

 

Homage series to Canadian women artists

 

I’ve been passionate about art history for many years and always find myself paying particular notice to the women sprinkled within the texts. It is refreshing to find that recent works are more inclusive.

In the past year, I’ve created blind contour drawings of art by women as a means of studying their work and learning about their lives, careers and contributions. I’ve been sharing some of these on Instagram and here on my blog.

I’m embarrassed to admit that even though my passion for art history is strong, up until a few months ago, I knew very little about women in Canadian art history.

The drive to study and learn more has resulted in a new and challenging series for me, an homage to these amazing women. I’m captivated by their skill, their dedication and ultimately their enduring and often rebellious artwork. Looking back, I can see their remarkable contribution to my identity as a Canadian, particularity a Canadian woman.

In reverence to their struggles and their gifts, I’m working on a collection of works that I aspire to share in hopes of introducing them and their work to fellow Canadians.

BCD#11

Blind Contour Drawing #11 – “Young Women Plucking the Fruits of Knowledge or Science”  Women’s Building of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago – portion of a panel, since been destroyed – Mary Cassatt

Mary Stevenson Cassatt was an American painter and printmaker.

She was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania in a wealthy family and grew up in a household that viewed travel as essential to education. She lived for five years in Europe and began studying painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts at the age of fifteen.

Her family had many concerns including exposure to feminist ideas and the bohemian lifestyles of some of the male students. She found her education to be moving too slowly and restrictive. Female students could not use live models (until somewhat later) and the principal training was primarily drawing from casts.

Cassatt decided to end her studies without a degree with the support of her mother and at the objections of her father. In 1866, she moved to Paris, with her mother and family friends acting as chaperones.  Clearly skilled, she was accepted to study with Jean-Leon Gerome, a highly regarded teacher known for his hyper-realistic technique and his depiction of exotic subjects.

At this time, the French art scene was in a process of change, as radical artists such as Courbet and Manet tried to break away from accepted Academic tradition, the Impressionists were in their formative years.

In the summer of 1870, she returned to the states. Her father continued to resist her chosen career and paid for her basic needs, but not her art supplies. Cassatt considered giving up art, as she was determined to make an independent living.

However within months of her return to Europe in the autumn of 1871, her painting “Two Women Throwing Flowers During Carnival,” was well received in the Salon of 1872 and was purchased.

She began to attract notice in Parma and was supported and encouraged by the art community there, “All Parma is talking of Miss Cassatt and her picture, and everyone is anxious to know her”.

Cassatt admired Edgar Degas, whose pastels had made a powerful impression on her when she happened upon them in a window in 1875. “I used to go and flatten my nose against that window and absorb all I could of his art,” she later recalled. “It changed my life. I saw art then as I wanted to see it.”

She was invited by Degas to show paintings for the next Impressionist show. The Impressionist exhibit of 1879 was the most successful to date.

Her style had gained a new spontaneity during the two years. Previously a studio-bound artist, she had adopted the practice of carrying a sketchbook with her to record the scenes she saw, out-of-doors and in her daily life.

She became extremely proficient in the use of pastels, eventually creating many of her most important works in this medium. Degas also introduced her to copper engraving, of which he was a recognized master, which strengthened her control of line.

In recognition of her contributions to the arts, France awarded her the Legion d’honneur in 1904.

Diagnosed with diabetes, rheumatism, neuralgia, and cataracts in 1911, she did not slow down, but after 1914 she was forced to stop painting as she became almost blind. Nonetheless, she took up the cause of women’s suffrage, and in 1915, she showed eighteen works in an exhibition supporting the movement.

Under the influence of Degas and many more, Cassatt revised her technique, composition, and use of colour and light, manifesting her admiration for the works of the French avant garde, she again made a specialty of the mother and child theme, which she treated with warmth and naturalness in paintings, pastels, and prints.

Quote:”I am independent! I can live alone and I love to work.”

Born: May 22, 1844- Pennsylvania

Died: June 14, 1926- Chateau de Beaufresne

 

 

Doodling, colouring & drawing

Creativity is the ultimate problem solver. The next time you have an issue at the office, a dilemma at home or are simply feeling like you are in a bit of a slump, try tapping into your creative side.  Science proves that giving your analytical mind a break and allowing your mind to relax is one of the best ways to shift from confusion to clarity.

However, it can be difficult to relax if you have a deadline looming or an issue that continues to resurface over and over again.

My top 3 relaxation practices include meditation, moving my body (on my yoga mat or in the forest) and doodling, colouring or drawing. The latter are the cornerstone of an artist’s practice, no matter their medium.  Just like an entrepreneur, a CEO or a parent, artists problem solve all day long.  Sketching, doodling and drawing is a fast, inexpensive way to tap into a creative flow.

If you are intimidated by the thought of picking up a pencil or have scathing memories of previous attempts at drawing, I have some ideas for you.

doodle
Doodling is highly under rated. It is one of the most effective ways to slow your busy mind down to actually listen and concentrate.  The word means to “scribble absentmindedly,” and synonyms include tinker, fiddle and trifle.  No wonder it gets such a bad rap.

Here are some alternative thoughts and evidence from Sunni Brown’s website – sunnibrown.com/doodlerevolution/

  • That doodling is as native to human beings as are walking and talking;
  • That human beings have been doodling in the sand, in the snow and on cave walls for over 30,000 years;
  • That we are neurologically wired with an overwhelmingly visual sensory ability;
  • That doodling ignites four learning modalities—auditory, linguistic, kinesthetic, and visual—and dramatically enhances the experience of learning;
  • That doodling promotes concentration and increases information retention by up to 29%;
  • That doodling supports deep, creative problem solving and innovation;
  • That doodling has been an ever-present tool, a pre-cursor and a catalyst for the emergence of intellectual breakthroughs in science, technology, medicine, architecture, literature and art;
  • That doodling is and has been deployed by some of the best and brightest minds in history;
  • And that doodling lives outside of the elitist realms of high art and design and is a form of expression free and accessible to all.

If you are still not convinced or want to learn more, watch her 2011 Ted Talk –www.ted.com/talks/sunni_brown

I always doodle during a webinar or at a boardroom table.  It helps me focus on what’s being said and keeps me from being distracted by my electronics!

 

 

Blind contour drawing
BCD – Skull by Georgia O’Keefe

Blind contouring drawing is another way to let go and learn how to go with the flow.  The idea is simple.  You focus on an object or a scene in front of you, place your pencil on the paper and slowly draw the outside lines of the shapes you see. You try not to lift your pencil off the page and the blind part means, you don’t look at your paper while you are drawing.  I love to do this exercise in my workshops with people because whatever happens on the paper is just going to be interesting and can’t possibly look like the object or scene because we are “blind” during the process.  I love the mark making of this style of drawing and the freedom it creates.  I’ve been working on a series of blind contour drawings of famous women artist’s work (see my blog posts).  It helps me slow down and really see all the bits and pieces.  I appreciate the art even more after studying it this way.  This is a great exercise to do to slow down and really see your surroundings.  The results are surprising and fun!

A great reference for drawing in general is a book called “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” by Betty Edwards.  It is a classic.  If you are interested in the science behind drawing and want to improve your drawing skills, I highly recommend it.  It is full of exercises like blind contour drawing.

 

 

 

Outside Your Lines, a colouring bookColouring for adults has hit the mainstream in a big way over the past few years and I’m glad about it.  I believe that most of us forget how to play and we forget that it is actually beneficial to create things that have no purpose, except for perhaps to just have fun.  It is sad that we collectively feel that play time for adults is a waste of time. I’m so glad to see this colouring revolution, we need creative play not only to relax but to grow just as much as kids do.

There are so many amazing colouring books out there, I was so inspired that I created one too! It is called “Outside Your Lines.”  I made a book for all of you free spirits who don’t necessarily want to colour in the lines or maybe the rebel in you is intrigued by the idea of creating something outside the box!  I also made sure that there are not too many small bits so that you don’t need reading glasses to enjoy it.  And lastly none of the designs are scenes or are symmetrical so you won’t feel restricted in colour choice. The book is also an introduction to the chakras (because yoga and creativity go hand in hand in my world), it is printed on 100% recycled paper and I’m pretty proud of the project!  Reach out if you’d like to purchase a copy or follow this link.

 

If you want to see what inspires me, I’ve been sharing my blind contour drawings and some of my watercolour and ink doodles on instagram .You can even “win” a card from me, I mail one out each week!

Lastly,  if you really think you can’t draw, Graham Shaw is out to prove you wrong. Grab some paper, a pen and give him 20 minutes of your time.  Enjoy!

 

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