Saturday, September 28, 2013

Grandma Moses - An American Original

I love folk art! And as I shared with you in a previous post, I was fortunate enough to pick up this terrific book on Grandma Moses at the local farmers market a couple of weeks ago.  If you love the work of this iconic American artist, this is a really great book to add to your library.  Most importantly for those of us who love her artwork, there are lots of large color photos highlighting her most well known and loved pieces.  But, it is also a thoughtful and well-written biography of the artist and the inspiration behind her work.

Embroidery art by Grandma Moses

I learned a lot about Grandma Moses, who was born Anna Mary Robertson, that I never knew before.  For instance, I knew that she famously did not start painting until she was a senior citizen, but what I did not know was that she began her artistic career as a textile artist!  The photos above and below are of embroidered works she did prior to her years of painting.  Apparently, the reason she turned to painting was because her arthritis had gotten too bad for her to continue creating with needlework!  

Mt. Nebo On The Hill, 1940, worsted wool embroidery by Grandma Moses
As you can see, her textile pieces are executed with great skill and a wonderful eye for design.  I can't get over the fact that America's most beloved artist was discovered due to arthritis!  I can only imagine she must have been disappointed to be forced to give up her needlework.  But God had other plans!!

The Shepherd Comes Home from the Hills, 1939, worsted wool embroidery, Grandma Moses
She was able to greatly increase her artistic output with this newfound medium, and was able to create more detailed and illustrative paintings with it.  As we stitchers know, this kind of large, detailed work would take a very long time to create.  She could whip up a painting in an afternoon!  And as a result, we have many more of her works to enjoy.  The Lord works in mysterious ways!

Catching the Turkey, 1940, by Grandma Moses
I think my favorite pieces are those depicting winter scenes like this one.  I love how she fills her paintings with activity.  She paints such a joyful scene filled with all the fun activities of wintertime in New England.

Looking at these idyllic scenes of wintertime fills me with joy.  I imagine myself cozied up in that horse-drawn sleigh with my children or sitting by a warm fire in that little cabin.  And I imagine the artist herself walking in the snow, gazing at her home and the surrounding landscape with great love and affection.  This woman knew how lucky she was.  She knew how to appreciate the beauty of her life and her home, and she painted it with honesty and warmth.

The Old Checkered House in Winter, 1950, Grandma Moses
Don't you just love that checkerboard painted house?  It was a favorite of hers too, and she painted it many times, but I think this wintertime depiction is my favorite version.  This old house was an inn and a favorite gathering place for the community in which she lived.  I'm sure it was a hub of activity all the year round with visitors coming to town and staying there.  There was probably a little pub inside.  I imagine a great fire burning in the hearth and the noise of rattling dishes and laughter.  Warm greetings and hugs and handshakes all around.  A lovely place.  I can see why she would have loved it and wanted to paint it so many times.

In Harvest Time, 1945, Grandma Moses
The author of the book, William C. Ketchum writes, "As a farm wife, Grandma Moses was much in tune with the seasons, and some of her most successful paintings evoke the subtle changes in color which mark the passing of the year."  I couldn't agree more.  Her depictions of rural farm life and how it changed with the passing of the seasons delight my eyes and my soul.  I grew up on my grandparents' farm, and Grandma Moses' paintings make me feel so nostalgic for that precious time and the stories they used to tell.  She has painted my memories.

Halloween, 1955, Grandma Moses
This delightful painting, Halloween, graces the cover of the book, and is quite possibly my favorite painting of hers.  I love all the activity - everywhere something going on, and it all looks like such fun!  I love her use of color.  Her paintings are just vibrant and joyful and fun!

Halloween, detail
"America's best known and most beloved folk artist, Grandma Moses, is admired for her charmingly naive style and her ability to bring to life the rural scenes and activities of a simpler, now vanished period of American life." - William C. Ketchum

The more I learn about Grandma Moses, and the more I study her work, the more I love her and the more inspired I become by her.  She was a true folk artist - no formal training of any kind - and yet she was able to create paintings that fill the viewer with happiness and warmth and nostalgia.  I am so thrilled to have found this book.  I only paid 50 cents for it, but I would have paid much more!  Luckily, it is still widely available.  You can easily find one, if you're interested.  Just type in a search query for the title and several options will pop up at all different price points.  Believe me, if you like folk art, and particularly if you like the work of Grandma Moses, you will love this book.

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek at it with me today, and if you know of any more books on this style of folk art that you could recommend, please let me know!

Until next time, take care and have a great weekend!!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Week in September - Friday

The perfect end to a lovely week.  I enjoyed my little photo-a-day experiment this week.  It was a little artistic challenge for me, and September very kindly cooperated and gave me all sorts of beautiful things to share with you.  I was a little worried at first that I wouldn't be able to show you something really splendid each day, but I actually had a hard time choosing just one image per day!

Ever since I started blogging - roughly a year and a half ago, I have had the secret fear that I will eventually run out of interesting things to photograph and share.  But, happily, one of the things I have learned through this process of looking and documenting my experiences is that for as long as I live, I don't think I will ever stop finding beauty and magic in the world around me.  Every day my love and appreciation for the miracle of nature deepens.  I thank God for this incredible, beautiful world He has created to share with us, and I thank you for allowing me to share it with you.

Hope you enjoyed this week.  I sure did!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Week in September - Thursday

Meadow grasses and morning light, Starr White
It is hard to convey the scale of things in a photograph, so I wanted to tell you that these gorgeous towering grasses are around 7 feet tall!!!  My husband has cut me a trail right through the middle of them, and I feel rather like an insect walking along with grass towering above my head.  I wish you could be here to see them dancing gracefully in the morning breeze, glistening with dew.  Birds darting in and out. Crickets chirping softly in the deep.  The buzz of grasshoppers wings. And oh, the golden sunlight..... It really is quite magical!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Week In September - Wednesday

Blue Mistflower by Starr White
Blue Mistflower and Goldenrod, by Starr White

Because I could not choose, today you get a two-fer!  I was hoping you'd be able to see that magnificent insect in the top photo.  Have no idea what on earth he is yet, but he's gorgeous! and, I apologize for the color being off.  These really are blue in "real life".  Try as I might, I could not get them to show up blue in a photo.  Still pretty anyway :)

Happy Wednesday, my lovelies!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Week In September - A Photo Journal

Sweet Gum, by Starr White

This week, a photo-a-day to document the incredible colors of September.  I hope you enjoy honoring the season along with me this week :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Flea Market Treasure - Poems to Read to the Very Young

Last week I shared with you my fun trip to the local farmers market and the wonderful things I found there.  This lovely vintage children's book was one of my treasured finds, and I wanted to share it with you because it makes me so happy and I think you will be delighted too.  It is copyrighted 1961 and was illustrated by Dagmar Wilson.  I love the charming illustrations, and will be on the lookout for books illustrated by her.

I have a special fondness for children's poetry and children's book illustrations - particularly from the 1960's and 1970's.  This book combines them both!  As you can see, this copy is very worn, and I hope that means that it has been well loved.  One thing I noticed about this book in particular is that there are lots of illustrations of little boys, and being the mother of two little boys - well, you know.

I love this one with the owl and the little naughty elf tapping at the door and then hiding amongst the flowers.  Walter de la Mare is one of my favorites.

LOVE this one!!  I remember that feeling so vividly as a child.  I was that little girl once upon a time.....

And this is perhaps my favorite of all.  So much going on in this one, and I really like how the illustration wraps around and provides the frame for the poem.  And of course, it reminds me of my meadow and all the lovely creatures who live in and around it.

And these are just a few of the many charming illustrations and poems in this wonderful book.  I am so happy to have found it, and I hope you enjoyed sharing it with me.

Next time I will share with you Grandma Moses - An American Original, another treasure I found at the farmers market.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Small Town Farmers Market

I love living in the country, and I love the fact that the nearest towns are small country towns where folks are nice and friendly and life is still pretty simple - for the most part.  This week I had the pleasure of visiting a nearby town and its weekly farmers market.  It's a small affair - probably 100 vendors max, and they sell everything imaginable under the sun.  Everything from fruits and vegetables to antiques to farm equipment and livestock.  It was so much fun!

This sweet, smiling lady is called Daisy, and she is selling homegrown muscadines.  She was warm and friendly with a huge toothy grin, which you can't see because unbeknownst to me at the time, she popped a giant muscadine in her mouth just as I was snapping the photo!  Hi Daisy! Thanks for the photo :)

Don't they look delicious?  And the fragrance was heavenly and indescribably sweet and rich and fruity.  My friend Shelia bought a basket to make jelly.  I hope I get some! hint hint, Shelia :)

This family has been coming to the market every Wednesday for 16 years.  These are my kind of peeps.  Just good old-fashioned country folks.  Warm and welcoming and oh-so-friendly.

Everything looked so fresh and delicious.  I wanted everything!  I did get some eggplants and tomatoes.

Loved these guys selling chickens.

Off the back of a pick-up!!

I wish I had taken more photos of all the vendors, but I was too busy shopping.  Here is a wonderful basket I got for $4.

I love how the handles interlace to close it up.  It's in excellent condition, and I'm thinking of sewing a cloth lining for it and maybe using it as a sewing or embroidery basket.  (that's Smokey's paw, btw)

These vintage owl prints were $2 each!  I LOVE them.  Aren't they cute? I love the autumn colors and their sweet little eyes.  I just couldn't leave them.  They had to come home with me.  I mean, could you have walked away from those eyes??

But my very favorite finds of the day were these books I nabbed for 50 cents each!!  I am obsessed with books - particularly vintage children's books so the book of poems made me squeal (literally - sorry, Shelia!) with delight.  I also love folk art, and well, isn't Grandma Moses the queen of American folk art?  This is a really good book detailing not only the work, but the life and times of the artist.

I will be writing a separate blog post about each of these books this week.  They are each so wonderful, and there is so much to share about each one - too much to include here.

Oh, and remember I told you I bought some eggplants?  Well, here they are.  Aren't they gorgeous?  Almost too pretty to eat!  but not quite....tee hee.....

They got roasted up in a hot oven and turned into some baba ganoush.  I used this recipe.  I like to eat mine with toasted pita wedges, kalamata olives, and Greek peppers.  Oh, it was sooooo good, ya'll.  Wish you were here. Nom nom nom......

I would love to see photos of craft fairs and flea markets where you live.  Every area is so unique.  It's fascinating to see what people bring to market.  So, why not visit some in your area and share your finds with us?  Next time, I will try to photograph more and shop less, but I'm not making any promises!!!

Thank you so much to everyone who left a comment on my last post.  My heart was particularly full that day, and your warm and wonderful comments made me so very happy.  Thank you for that.  Thank you so much.  Big hugs all around!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Indian Summer

The leaves are beginning to change, but it is still very hot.  A true Indian summer.

A tiny hoof print.  A spotted fawn darted across the trail in front of me one evening, and I wonder if this little footprint belongs to it.  It was so tiny.  All legs, but as graceful as a gazelle.  Breathtaking.

Beautiful weeds :)  Anyone know what these are called?  The dried seed pods are like soft brown velvet, and as you can see the stems and leaves are scarlet and purple.  I thought they were stunning, so I made a bouquet of them.  Am I the only one who makes bouquets out of pretty weeds?

Milkweed Tiger Moth.  Isn't he fantastic?

Sweet gums - one of my favorite autumn and winter trees.

My sweet, patient boy.  He will sit still like this for an hour or more holding a tiny piece of bread so the little minnows will come and nibble at his fingers.  He loves them as I do and feels very protective of the babies who have spawned in our creek this year.  Precious boy.

Nature art.  An arrangement of colorful stones.  The colors don't show so well in the photo, but there are yellows, grays and varying shades of pink and orange.  Some are laced with bits of mica that sparkles like glitter in the sun.

We are all waiting patiently and hopefully for cooler, more seasonal temperatures to arrive.  In the meantime, we will enjoy these last few days of summer and the beauty it brings.

p.s.  I am thrilled to be a member of the Nature Blog Network.  If you are interested in blogs that explore all aspects of living with nature from studying flora and fauna to enjoying the works of artists who are inspired by nature, hop on over there and check it out.  Lots of great and informative blogs to discover there.

Thanks for visiting:)