Day #82: Charley Harper

If you need a rest from the day’s challenges, enjoy the creativity of Charley Harper (1922-2007), an artist who celebrated nature with his “minimal realism.” For me, his compositions are joyful and reverent. Here’s a video about his work and here are illustrations from The Giant Golden Book of Biology. I am grateful for Charley Harper’s commitment to expressing his connections with nature so we can enjoy them forever. [below, “Red and Fed,” by Charley Harper]

"Red and Fed" by Charley Harper

Day #73: Factum Arte

If it weren’t for insects and lizards, archaeologist was high on my list of careers. The history, the discovery, understanding the connection between then and now. Today I am an armchair archaeologist, avidly following developments in the field. One aspect I could never align with my beliefs is removing items to a museum, oftentimes in another country. I am grateful to know that Factum Arte is reproducing artifacts without moving them, without endangering them, “accurate to one-tenth of a millimeter.” Their work is jaw-dropping, so be sure to watch the video. There are days that being a Luddite is highly appealing (except that I spend 12 hours a day on a computer), but Factum Art’s use of technology is a welcome advancement in archaeology.

Factum Arte workshop. Photo: CBS News

Day #66: Seed Humor


Seed catalogs? I collect this artwork on a Pinterest board called “Seed Art.” It’s fascinating to me to mark the changes in illustration over the years. But then there are these “oddities” for which I’m grateful. I love knowing that there’s nothing new about a sense of humor. Did these vegetable people help sell seeds? Steve just ordered Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes from Seed Savers Exchange. It’s a tomato from the Great Depression. We shall see.

Day #56: N.C. Wyeth

In my early teens, I chanced upon a copy of Treasure Island, written by Robert Louis Stevenson and illustrated by N.C. Wyeth, when I was rummaging through the shelves of an antiques shop. I was immediately besotted with the illustrations. I purchased the book, went to the library to discover what I could about Mr. Wyeth, learned that he was a student of Howard Pyle’s (another artist I admire), and I was hooked. I have continued to learn everything about him and the family of artists he created.

“Nathan Hale,” by N.C. Wyeth

In The New York Times, Adam Gopnik writes, “But in fact his genius lay in making his pictures much less dramatic than pictures like this had ever been before—his gift was for slowing down and sobering up book illustration so that it took on some of the gravity that had in the past belonged only to high art.”

In the same article, Gopnik quotes, “In 1908, after even more commercial success as a cowpunching illustrator of westerns, he retreated into a house on a hill overlooking Chadds Ford and announced that ‘painting and illustration cannot be mixed—one cannot merge from one into the other.”’ Intrigued, I set about learning as much as I could about illustration. My forward path was paving itself before me.

I am grateful for the lasting fascination sparked by the illustrations and paintings of N.C. Wyeth.

Day #31: Al Hirschfeld

I am endlessly fascinated by the creative mind and art of Al Hirschfeld, who crafted images of Broadway and other entertainment throughout his life, 1903-2003. His subject matter, his hidden Ninas, his perceptions … I am grateful he shared his talent with us. If you live near NYC, there is an exhibition of his work at New York City Center through March 3, 2019. This image is Patrick Stewart in “A Christmas Carol” from 1994.

View more of Hirschfeld’s art at The Al Hirschfeld Foundation.

Day #20: Nancy Carlson

You’ll most likely agree, some days it’s tough to swing your legs out of bed and stand up to face the hours ahead.

On those days, I think of Nancy Carlson, author and illustrator, mom and wife, school visitor, grandmother, who cared for her husband during the years when he descended into Frontotemporal Dementia. Troubles mounting, finances threatening, her husband’s mind disappearing,

Nancy wrote a blog called One Foot in Front of the Other, sharing her challenges with all of us. She posted a doodle on social media every single day. And she kept speaking at schools and conferences, writing and illustrating books.

Nancy Carlson’s doodle above, “And we all looked out to God, although He is the color of the wind.” (Laura Nyro lyric) is one of many you can see at her A Doodle a Day: Ten Year Doodle Journey show on exhibit through December 28, 2018, at Artistry in Bloomington, MN. I am grateful for this brave and talented woman, who helps me believe in tomorrow. She is an extraordinary woman.

Follow Nancy on Facebook so you can see her work firsthand.

Day #14: The Gloaming

My favorite time of day, the ephemeral minutes after sunset and before the night turns dark, when the light is sometimes misty, sometimes glowing, but always causes wonder. We do our best to take note, looking up from what we’re doing to savor the changing gift each day’s gloaming brings.

Freeman Farm: Winter, Maxfield Parrish, 1935, in the collection at the Currier Museum of Art

Day #12: Visual Connections

For more than two years, it has been all too easy to get caught up in drama and despair. I am grateful to David Cooper, at Lost Lake Photography, for sharing his daily photographs of nature and cityscapes on Facebook. These connections to reality remind me that life is good and nature is worth conserving. They lift my spirits. I am grateful for David’s skills with a camera and for his compassion. 

photograph copyright David Cooper, Lost Lake Photography

Day #10: Jessie Wilcox Smith

The illustrations of Jessie Wilcox Smith have graced our home for more than 40 years. I have marveled at her ability to capture childhood since I was a grad student. When we walk through the rooms where her art is featured, my eyes are always drawn to them. I admire her choice of colors, her ability to focus on each child, but her choice of subjects is always intriguing. She studied with Thomas Eakins and Howard Pyle, she was one of the Red Rose Girls with Violet Oakley and Elizabeth Shippen Green, and she made a very good living by painting covers for Good Housekeeping, advertising art, and portrait commissions. Jessie Wilcox Smith was an extraordinary woman and I am grateful for her continued presence in our lives.

Young Tennis Player, Jessie Wilcox Smith
Jessie Wilcox Smith, Young Tennis Player, September 29, 1929 Good Housekeeping cover