Serendipitous Artistry

I love reading a good book and then noticing how things in my life crop up that I would have otherwise not appreciated.

I just finished reading Clara and Mr. Tiffany. I fully recommend it to anyone who considers themselves an artist in any sense of the word. It is a fiction novel based on historical facts.

The book , by Susan Vreeland, is about the life of Clara Driscoll, an employee of Louis Comfort Tiffany and the artist who is (now) credited with designing the famous Tiffany lampshades of the early 20th century. The story is filled with meticulous description of the glassblowing, glass-choosing, glass-cutting and glass application processes. As someone who has always wanted to try glassblowing, I found the details quite enchanting.

The book also wades through weighty issues such as the conflicts of artist collaboration, sexism in the professional arts, vocation versus marriage and sacrificing art for the sake of commercial means. Any artist will be able to identity with the creative process and ethical decisions Clara is forced to withstand.

While this book has still been lingering in my mind, I came across this cake design.

It is undoubtedly inspired by the Tiffany lamps.

Clara Driscoll

I love that the ideas of one woman has inspired other artists for over a century. And not only artists in glasswork, like herself, but bakers and writers. Even more so, that she did it all for the sake of art, not the glory.

(Actually, Clara and her 30 “Tiffany Girls” brought the lamps to fruition. And they couldn’t have done it without the male glassblowing and lead welding departments either. The true meaning of artistic collaboration.)

You see, it was only discovered that Clara was the actual designer of the lamps, not Louis Comfort Tiffany, in 2007.

Martin Eidelberg, an Art History Professor at Rutgers University recently came across a large amount of letters from Clara to her family and has been credited with making the discovery.

And while today Tiffany lampshades are not a completely unusual, albeit lovely, sight they were an unheard of in their infancy.

images via

I have always striven to fix beauty
in wood, stone, glass or pottery,
in oil or watercolor
by using whatever seemed
fittest for the expression
of beauty,
that has been my creed.

– Louis Comfort Tiffany

Cutting it Close

Strength. Amazement. Passion. Insightful. Genius.

All of those things come to mind when I come across the topic of my favorite living artist, Chuck Close.

Close attended U Washington and then Yale. He is an amazing painter. Amazing doesn’t even cover it. I’ve never seen another painter like him. Close is categorized as “hyper-realistic” and bases his works off photographs. I’ve read that he has never taken a commission for any of his paintings. He just paints people he knows.

Basically, just like Picasso, he was so good at painting that he got bored. Thus changes the art world from our generation.

“I threw away my tools”, Close said. “I chose to do things I had no facility with. The choice not to do something is in a funny way more positive than the choice to do something. If you impose a limit to not do something you’ve done before, it will push you to where you’ve never gone before.”

Not only does he paint. He creates his large scale pieces using fingerprints, handmade paper, pencils. I was able to see one of Close’s works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Also, I was highly fortunate enough to be able to attend a traveling gallery full of pieces by Close.

The trip was was awesome. Absolutely unforgettable.

Close’s huge pieces took up all the wallspace. You would turn every corner and there was another piece astounding you, grabbing you from 25 feet away. The greatest part about his artistry is being able to study the works up close. Similar to Monet, studying Close from 6 inches away and 15 feet away are equally fascinating.

Close works in a grid method, often painting in cell-like shapes that make up an overall image. The reason for this is that he suffers from Prosopagnosia, meaning he is unable to recognize faces. He started painting so he would remember faces. Ironic, right?

I have trouble remember historical facts and recipe ingredients. Somehow I don’t think if I started painting them I would have ended up with the same outcome.

But there’s another reason he works in grid-form. One day he had a seizure and become paralyzed from the neck down. To this day he works from his wheelchair and has a paintbrush strapped to his wrist.

“Although the paralysis restricted his ability to paint as meticulously as before, Close had, in a sense, placed artificial restrictions upon his hyperrealist approach well before the injury. That is, he adopted materials and techniques that did not lend themselves well to achieving a photorealistic effect. Small bits of irregular paper or inked fingerprints were used as media to achieve astoundingly realistic and interesting results.”  (Wikipedia)

If that didn’t make him ridiculous enough (Sorry, am I gushing? Probably.) Close works with an intricate layering method. Whether it’s woodcut prints being layered and layered and layered and layered (x50) or pressing thumbprint after thumbprint, the end results are anomalous and unforgettable.

Close sometimes also works in a color separation layering method. Basically that means he squints at a picture and then draws all the yellow, draws all the reds, draws all the blues and then draws all the black.

Click here to see a full color separation process. Do it!

Seriously? Seriously. It’s mindblowing.

Okay. Enough with the drooling and jaw dropping. In my opinion he is the most influential artist in our lifetime.  Alright, now I’m starting to get over-the-top. Check him out.

On a lighter, and more random note, as I’m rapidly approaching 10,000 hits (whoa!) I just want to thank everyone for stopping in and reading my ramblings and leaving your fun comments.

I’m saying this because I met an adoring fan and avid reader of Withywindle (ha-ha, okay I’m kidding. Sort of.) while the husband and I were out last night.

Like my gangsta W and W for Withywindle? Eh? Eh?

And for the record, my husband is the one who took this picture. And this guy wasn’t a total stranger. Well, I’d never met him before, but he works with Moose and, apparently and self-admittedly, is quite the fan so I promised I would post this photo he sent me.

So here’s a shout out to Jimmy, Withywindle’s #1 fan.

Images from here and here

Andrew Myers: Some People Get All the Talent

I stumbled across a particular post today on Core77 and I think I’m still waiting for my jaw to pick itself up off the ground. I had never heard of Andrew Myers before, but I will definitely be keeping tabs on his art in the future.

At first glance (back when I thought it was just a really beautiful painting – HAH!) I thought this was a pretty cool piece. Hmm, not a painting? Cut paper? Relief sculpture?

The piece reminds me of Chuck Close (who someday, probably soon, will get a post of his own). Chuck Close is my favorite living artist, and one of my favorite artists of all time. Here is his print “Leslie” made out of his fingerprint.

Yes. Fingerprints, people.

Leslie image from here.

But Myer took this piece beyond my wildest imagination. This piece, whose title I could not find the name of, is made of screws. Yes. Screws.

Myers uses pegboard (you know, that stuff that you hold gardening shovels on in your garage), drills screws into it at varying depths and paints the screws.

I think my jaw is still on the floor.

Finding artists like this make my heart pitter-patter. I love the creative mind!! I think I’m, all-in-all, a creative person. But I would have NEVER thought to do something like this. Amazing.

On another note, today I read that it’s been scientifically proven that people who are happier are more creative.

In my case, I see their point. However, there are too many tortured artists out there (Van Gough, Dali, Kahlo) for me to believe this holds much weight. Something tells me these scientists never took Art History.

Who is your favorite artist?

Just in case you missed my new, swanky embedded links:

Original post:

Vendor Rave:

I am a firm believer that you should surround yourselves at home with things that you love and make you smile. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it!!

Whenever I go shopping, I usually roam around with a cart full of items. Then slowly one by one I decide I don’t L-O-V-E it quite enough to bring it home. Usually I’ll walk out buying maybe one of those things, especially if it’s on clearance. If I really want to test my love, I’ll leave the store and see if I remember to go back and buy it before I leave. You’d be surprised how quickly you forget about that [fill in the blank] you wanted sooo badly.

This bring me to art. Specifically, artwork displayed in the home. I’m still a young professional, and can in no way afford to purchase fancy works of art. Sadly, the affordable art realm is lacking. This is where Zazzle comes in.

Zazzle is like, except cooler. They have all kinds of kitsch ranging from t-shirts to phone cases to mugs. But what drew me to Zazzle was their collection of WPA reproduction prints.

The WPA, or Works Progress Administration, was a government program from 1939-1943 that was a part of the “New Deal”. They focused on public works, like construction, healthcare, roads, the arts and literacy.

And, they made the most amazing posters. (At least in my humble opinion.)

We have this one hanging in our hallway. My Grandpa-in-law was a Merchant Marine with several of his brothers back in the day, so this print has a special place in our heart.

I love this little black Scottie dog one. I could wallpaper an entire room with these. There are hundreds on posters by the WPA. It’s amazing they were only in existence for 4 years.

Make sure to check out the disease awareness and prevention ones as well. Some of them are crazy out there! It’s amazing how far we’ve come in disease awareness. Today we have Project (RED), which is a pretty swanky ad campaign. Back then they had men in gas masks warning about STDs.

Be sure to check out all of their WPA posters! If you sign up for Zazzle’s email list they send out coupons at least bi-weekly.

So there you have it. Affordable, personable art. (I usually end up buying my frames at AC Moore or Micheal’s with the 20% coupon.)

What works of art do you have in your home that are personal to you?

Distressed Photo Canvas: The Perfect Gift!

One of my best friends gave me this belated Christmas gift about a month ago, and I’m only just getting to posting about it now. It’s a distressed photo canvas! This is a photo from my wedding which she took and created this amazing work of art!

She is a fellow blog-reader and spotted this amazing project on another blog, Delia Creates. The how-to project is detailed here:

I can’t wait to try this out for myself! It’s a great gift idea or fun to do just for yourself. I love the textural results!

My brain is exploding with ideas! Distressed signs are very trendy right now – I could make my own! I love that bits of the image rub right off leaving exposed canvas throughout bits of the piece. The colors get a watery gradient going through them as well, so it almost feels like a watercolor painting.

For now, we have a great keepsake of a wonderful day. I love this photo. It was taken right after our wedding ceremony and looking at this picture takes me right back!

Delia Creates shows several examples of projects she has done so you guys can see a few more examples. I love that you can use this project for photos or artwork.

Have you made photo canvases before?

Remembering the Words

We should be surrounded in our homes with things that make us think, challenge us or bring a smile.

As my husband and I embark on the beginning of our marriage we wanted to remember exactly what we said on our wedding day to each other. We want to be challenging ourselves to live up to those [lofty and sometimes hard to keep!] promises that we once made.

What do you surround yourself with in your home?