Friday, September 30, 2011

The First Thanksgiving Day

Long ago there were some people in England who were very unhappy because the king would not allow them to worship God in their own way. Some of these people went to Holland, where they lived for several years, but when their little boys and girls began to talk Dutch instead of English they decided to go to America.

They went back to England, got permission from King James to settle in America, and then set sail in the Mayflower. After a rough voyage, lasting over nine weeks, they finally landed at what is now called Plymouth.

Immediately upon landing, the men and the boys began to cut down trees and clear the forests. They built a large fort in which all lived together until the houses were ready for use.

The Pilgrims, as these people were called, had a hard struggle during their first winter. It was bitterly cold, and food was so scarce that many became sick and died.

At first the Pilgrims lived in constant fear of the Indians. But in March an Indian named Squanto came to the Pilgrims and said that his people wished to be their friends. Later he brought the chief Massasoit, who made a treaty and smoked the peace pipe with them. Squanto remained with the Pilgrims and taught them the best way to fish and hunt and how to plant Indian corn.

Everything grew so well during the first summer that when autumn came the Pilgrims had plenty of food for the coming winter. They felt so grateful that they set aside a day on which to give thanks for their great harvest, and as they wished the Indians to share in their rejoicing, Squanto was sent to invite Massasoit and his braves. Everyone helped in the preparation for the feast. The men brought home deer and turkeys from the hunt, the boys brought fish and clams, and the women and girls were busy cooking.

On Thanksgiving Day the Indians came at sunrise. After breakfast the Pilgrims went to church, and when the sermon was over, all were ready for the feast. The afternoon was spent in games. The celebration, which lasted for three days, ended with a great dinner.

Since that time we have always had a Thanksgiving Day.

The First Thanksgiving Day

This Image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1923 are copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1923 (in this case 1917) are now in the public domain.

TEXT CREDIT: Title: Good English, oral and written, Book 1. Good English, Oral and Written, William Harris Elson. Authors: William Harris Elson, Lura E. Runkel, Clara E. Lynch. Publisher: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1917. Original from: Harvard University. Digitized: Apr 6, 2007
Subjects, Readers

Jack O' Lantern and the Moon

Jack O' Lantern and the Moon

Have you ever seen a cornfield with the brown cornstalks and the yellow pumpkins lying on the ground between them? This is usually late in October. What day do we celebrate at the end of October? Have you ever seen a jack-o-lantern made by scooping out the inside of a pumpkin, cutting holes for eyes, nose and mouth, and putting a candle inside? Perhaps you have made one.

The man in the moon looked down on the field

Where the golden pumpkin lay, He winked at him and he blinked at him

In the funniest kind of a way.

The pumpkin was yellow and fat and round

And as funny as he could be, But strange was his case for he had no face

So he couldn't smile back, you see.

But on All Hallowe'en, when the moon looked down From the sky, through the shadows dim,

The pumpkin fat on a gate-post sat, And saucily laughed at him.

—Anna C. Ayer. Courtesy of "The Youth's Companion".

Jack O' Lantern and the Moon

This Image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1923 are copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1923 (in this case 1920) are now in the public domain.

TEXT CREDIT: The silent readers The Silent Readers, William Dodge Lewis. Authors: William Dodge Lewis, Albert Lindsay Rowland. Publisher: J.C. Winston, 1920. Original from: Harvard University. Digitized: Apr 5, 2007. Subjects: Readers.

What Are You Doing This Sunday?

If you happen to be near Stockbridge, MA, why not take in a talk about Russell Patterson by this past week's guest author, Jaleen Grove?

Patterson05

Details at the Norman Rockwell Museum website.

Oscar Cahén, Part 5: Cahén, Illustrator and Abstract Painter

By Jaleen Grove

Cahén avoided rough work in order to preserve the spontaneity of the first attempt:

"I do many sketches before starting a painting, but in my illustrations I rarely make such preliminary drawings. In fact, much to the dismay of art directors, my "roughs" are usually so sketchy that I can't make them out myself. What I do is to start my finished drawing with a hard pencil right on the board, then I ink in the final design and erase the pencil marks which made up the initial draft. Thus, by eliminating first roughs, I feel I am able to retain in the completed illustrations the full quality of the initial enthusiasm. As for media used, I mix my techniques as subject or purpose dictates…."

It is interesting that of the very few sketches that are preserved, each shows a different style and medium.

OC_28

For “A Cage for the Birdman" Cahén coated his board with thick white paint, then drew over that with black ink. There is no white paint over the black...

OC_29Maclean’s, 1954

... to make white highlights Oscar literally carved away black ink in cross-contours to reveal the white beneath, shaping the forms as a sculptor would.

OC_29.1


"A Cage for the Birdman" also affords us an opportunity to examine Oscar Cahén’s formidable mastery of the art of spot colour printing. There are only four inks—cyan, magenta, yellow, and black—used to create secondary colours green, brown, purple, and orange. The fact that all four process colours were used indicates that Cahén could have submitted full colour art. Instead, he used flat spot colours to intentionally achieve a desired effect. The final illustration is not simply black and white art with some hues thrown in for fun—it is colour artwork, designed that way from the start and rendered using the ink and press as the “paint” and “brush.”

OC_29.2

Oscar Cahén developed his aesthetic repertoire through illustration in technical and iconographic ways, reflecting on the relationship between the verbal, the non-verbal, and the visual. He then switched hats and allowed that internalized knowledge to come out in a different way in abstract painting, as a member of the Toronto collective of abstract artists called Painters 11. Unlike for his illustrations, Cahén made rough drawings for his abstract paintings and reworked them over and over.

OC_30Subjective Image

OC_31Railroad Yard


Expressing non-verbal feeling in the visual was always uppermost in Cahén’s intentions as an illustrator; abstraction simply stripped away the nameable, verbal layer to leave behind that lurking pure sense. Art theorist Meyer Schapiro has said that the New York abstract expressionists didn’t care about communicating with an audience. As an expert in visual communication, Cahén differed from them in that he knew quite well that even unfamiliar symbols were not devoid of meaning, and he asserted that his paintings were “a search for faith, and an escape from loneliness through communication.”

OC_32.1New Liberty, 1949

OC_32.2We don’t know where this image appeared. If you do, contact The Cahén Archives.

From oral histories and a few speeches that were luckily recorded, we know that Cahén had more influence on his peers in the graphic arts than almost any other Canadian illustrator up to at least 1960. In art director Stan Furnival’s estimation:

"There isn’t any doubt that he was the greatest single force in Canadian illustration since Jefferys. He revitalized the whole business of illustration in Canada and encouraged a lot of good people to stay here and work here. He brought an academic art training to his illustrations—which, combined with a sense of freedom and vitality, radically changed a tight slick Americanized attitude almost overnight."

OC_33We don’t know where this image appeared. If you do, contact The Cahén Archives.

OC_34_Original art for a Maclean’s cover

Tom Hodgson, a Painters 11 member and friend of Oscar’s, wrote:

"Oscar Cahén was the major impact in two areas, advertising and painting... Nothing even close to his impact has happened since... for many people, Oscar was their beginning."

OC_35

* The first exhibition of Oscar Cahén’s illustration since his lifetime will be shown in New York at Illustration House in October 2011 (opening night Oct. 1). With Roger Reed, I have written a full colour catalogue with an essay and over 60 images. In this series of posts about Cahén, I will introduce him and feature some artwork that will not appear in the show, catalogue, or websites. The tearsheets and originals here are from Oscar Cahén’s estate, courtesy of his son Michael Cahén at The Cahén Archives ~ Jaleen Grove

Take Flight

Take flight!
Bird Box
Away you go
My latest hand carved bird stamp. I used a Speedball Speedy-Carve rubber block instead of the Steadtler Mastercarve ones that I normally use
because they've been out of stock for months. Can't find them anywhere.
I'm really happy with the pink stuff. It works very well for detailed stamps.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Imaginary Sketchbook

Digital Bird Collage
Digital collage of my hand drawn birdies.
No glue residue in my hands with this one ;-)
There are lots of free digital collage images available on the web to play with.
A few wonderful resources I've found here, here & here. Have fun!

The Temple of Muses

Mythological Figures and Fables



engraving of astrological zodiac figures emerging from conflagration at the beginning of the universe
The Chaos or the Origin of the World



human trees in back of reclining chimeric beast-humans : 17th c. engraving
Transformation of Cyguns into a Swan and Phaeton's Sisters into poplar trees



engraved battle between swordsman on flying horse and chimeric lion - book illustration
Bellerophon fights the Chimaera



engraved mythological person holds bull's head to the ground
Achelous in the shape of a Bull is vanquished by Hercules



Bernard Picart engraving of seated person playing violin (+ ornate baroque border)
Amphion builds the walls of Thebes by the Music of his Lyre



lyre-playing person rides on stylised fish in the ocean (engraving)
Arion preserved by a Dolphin



book illustration engraving by Bernard Picart of the mythological figure Atlas supporting the starry heavens on his shoulders
Atlas supports the Heavens on his shoulders



b&w figure of winged icarus from mythology plummets out of control to earth
The Fall of Icarus



18th c engraving of bearded merman in the ocean
Glaucus changed into a Sea-God



book illustration of human seated in moonlit clouds above a sleeping human on land
The Moon and Endymion



illustration of stylised ancient sailboat in trouble in big seas
The Dioscuri or Castor and Pollux the Guardians of Mariners



engraving of mythical Ulysses in a ship passes the sirens calling from the shallows
Ulysses and his companions avoid the charms of the Sirens



mythical Hercules wields club against 7-headed hydra beast
Hercules' Combat with the Hydra



man pushes rock up hill while winged monsters impedes the progress (mythological engraving)
Sisyphus's stone



In mythical hell scene, human is bound and rotated on a punishment wheel
Ixion's wheel



Bernard Picart's engraved mythological scene of hell with human misery all around
Hell



Bernard Picart (or Picard) (1673-1733) was a French book illustrator and one of the outstanding engravers from the first decades of the 18th century. His most famous work - see: Designer Religion - was an enormous compendium of the world's religions.

In 'Neueröffneter Musen-Tempel', a collection of mythological fables and stories (most notably from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses') is presented, accompanied by sixty copperplate engravings by Picart. The illustrations are superior in quality, even as they appeared in 1733 in the fading light of the Baroque tradition. The fabulous ornate border patterns lend the compositions something of a formal quality like framed paintings; indeed, Picart drew inspiration for a number of his engravings from mid-17th century works by the Rubens student, Abraham van Diepenbeeck. But the majority of the designs are by Picart himself.

Motives listed for Picart's illustration include: Alcyone, Alpheus, Andromeda, Apollo, Arethusa, Argonauts, Argus, Aristaeus, Artemis, Calais, Cassandra, Castor, Ceyx, Cycnus, Deucalion, Dioscuri, Echo, Enceladus, Endymion, Eos, Eurynome, Giants, Glaucus, Harpies, Heliades, Hera, Hermaphroditus, Hermes, House of Hypnos, Io, Iphis, Leander, Leucothoe, Lycaon, Memnon, Niobe, Niobids, Oeneus, Palladium, Pan, Perseus, Phaethon, Phineus, Polydeuces, Proteus, Pygmalion, Pyrrha, River Gods, Salmacis, Selene, Semele, Syrinx, Tantalus, The Flood, Tithonus, Trojan War, Troy, Underworld, Zetes, Zeus [source]

'The Temple of Muses' was published in France and Germany simultaneously in 1733 and includes captions in English, French, German and Dutch below each illustration. The images above are from a 1754 edition published in Amsterdam.

Oscar Cahén, Part 4: Cahén Illustrates Canada

By Jaleen Grove

With his European training and creativity, Oscar Cahén was soon able to pick his work. For 70 years Canadians had been running to New York in search of better jobs. But when he was offered a high salary of $25,000 to join an ad agency (some sources say Esquire) in New York before 1951, Cahén opted to remain in Canada with an income of $15,000, perhaps in part because he was allowed much autonomy and a closer relationship with art directors than would have been possible in New York.

OC_21Maclean's, 1948.


In the 1950s MacLean’s and other Canadian magazines ran many stories with diverse multicultural characters, more than comparable American periodicals of the day. Oscar Cahén’s European background led to his receiving commissions for these “ethnic” stories.

OC_22Chatelaine, 1954.

Genre scenes of everyday Canadian life were folksy, with characters made a little more cartoonish, cute, or hayseed than they might be in real life, perhaps based on locals Cahén befriended in rural Ontario, where he lived.

OC_23”The House the Horse Built,” 1951. We don’t know where this image appeared. If you do, contact The Cahén Archives.

Depending on the tone of the story, Cahén’s native and peasant characters could be somber and dignified or jocular and quaint, but never were they insensitive (Bolsheviks aside).

OC_24Mayfair Magazine, 1953.

Cahén enlivened genre scenes by inserting descriptive detail, sometimes quite personal.

OC_25MacLean’s, 1955.

In this café scene, graffiti on the wall reads “Oscar loves Mimi” (his wife).

OC_25.1

A Standard cover depicting a mother in a country kitchen braiding her daughter’s hair before sending her off to a Girl Guides excursion is filled with telling clutter—and some of Cahén’s favorite recurring motifs: dancing butterflies, a hanging doll, and a wood burning stove.

OC_26 The Standard, 1950.

In this 1947 cover for Maclean's magazine, the town in the background is reminiscent of King, Ontario, where Oscar Cahén had a house and studio built. His signature butterflies appear, blessing the tranquility of the scene. His commentary here, however, is ironic:

Cahén54

... notice the "How to Paint" manual, and the overly Disney-esque critters. The "cute babe" is not looking at the landscape, and she is not painting it -- she's painting her face.

Cahén54.detail01

Cahén's well-known contempt for formulaic painting and the Canadian plein-air landscape tradition comes through loud and clear.

* Continued tomorrow...


* The first exhibition of Oscar Cahén’s illustration since his lifetime will be shown in New York at Illustration House in October 2011 (opening night Oct. 1). With Roger Reed, I have written a full colour catalogue with an essay and over 60 images. In this series of posts about Cahén, I will introduce him and feature some artwork that will not appear in the show, catalogue, or websites. The tearsheets and originals here are from Oscar Cahén’s estate, courtesy of his son Michael Cahén at The Cahén Archives ~ Jaleen Grove

*Also... Jaleen is giving a talk today on Robert Weaver








Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shofar. Sabbath horn. Yemenite Jew

Title: Shofar. Sabbath horn. Yemenite Jew Creator(s): American Colony (Jerusalem). Photo Dept., photographer Date Created / Published: [between 1934 and 1939] Medium: 1 negative : nitrate ; 4 x 5 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-matpc-16612 (digital file from original photo)

Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. Photographs in the G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection are in the public domain.

Publication and other forms of distribution: Permitted, but with donor restrictions on the use of lantern slides. The Kensington Episcopal Home conveyed the collection to the Library in 1978. In 2003, the Home dedicated the intellectual property and related rights to the collection to the American public,

Call Number: LC-M33- 7136 [P&P] Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Notes: Title and date from: photographer's logbook: Matson Registers, v. 1, [1934-1939]. Gift; Episcopal Home; 1978. Format: Nitrate negatives.

Collections: Matson (G. Eric and Edith) Photograph Collection. Part of: G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collectio.

Outside

Studio from the outside
Turbo on the terrace
Fall weather is just perfect for being outside :)

Oscar Cahén, Part 3: Cahén’s Versatility

By Jaleen Grove

In his 16 years of Canadian illustrating, there are at least 12 stylistic approaches so different that the casual observer would likely not detect only one artist behind them all, although a few of these Oscar Cahén did frequently enough to ensure some “name” recognition.

Cahén53New Liberty, 1948.

Occasionally, Oscar Cahén’s illustrations reveal innovative surprises: collaged newspaper on one story...

Cahén45

... in the mailbox of a MacLean’s cover...

Cahén46

... a fragment of an actual postage stamp on the mail.

Cahén47

One of Cahén’s biggest breakthroughs was when he illustrated an entire book in a week, Morley Callaghan’s "Man With A Coat" for MacLean’s, April 16, 1955. It was a rush job; the magazine put him in a hotel room with art supplies and he set to it. While many of the illustrations are in his usual loose inked line and watercolour, two stand out. In the title page, flat planes of colour and pattern on separate papers are glued together (the pink segment corrects a weaker rendition beneath) to suggest architecture and relationships of light and shadow using the barest essentials only.

Cahén48MacLean’s, 1955.

The latter exploits transparent wet into wet over flat hot colour, the figure almost lost in shadow. In these two illustrations we can see Cahén’s interest in abstract art coming out in the formalist play of figure and ground and flatness.

Cahén49Maclean’s, 1955.

The variety of work Cahén took on was partly due to the small scale of the illustration market in Canada. In order to thrive, Canadians had to take all manner of work, from cartooning to fiction illustration to advertising. But the danger was that if a few illustrators kept appearing again and again in a limited number of publications, reader stagnation might set in. Cahén’s relentless switching of styles had the happy side effect that he could qualify for any job and never get boring.

Cahén50New Liberty Magazine, 1948.

In the later 1940s cultural leaders were patriotically itching to differentiate Canadian visual culture from that of Americans, so Cahén was able to submit a lot of off-beat work. Canadian art directors were open to unconventional approaches to drawing people, unlike the more conservative mainstream American periodicals—and the public. A reader of New Liberty wrote:

"Sir: Do you keep your illustrator Oscar in a padded cell? No one in their right mind could think up such repulsive and hideous things to represent human beings."

Cahén51New Liberty, issue unknown.

Art Director Stan Furnival said about the first boy-girl art Cahén submitted, ”I’ll always remember that art as it came in, wrong proportions, but alive and delightful … its inclusion certainly helped give the whole magazine a more interesting quality.” MacLean’s art director Gene Aliman remarked, “The ideally beautiful heroine and the ever handsome hero seldom exist in reality. The illustrator betrays the writer's artistry and the reader's intelligence by using stock, anonymous looking characters.” Oscar himself said:

"I do not believe that the average magazine reader is as inaccessible to fundamental emotions as expressed in good art as art directors would like me to believe. Mind you, I get a bang out of drawing cute babes! It's a lark!"

Cahén52New Liberty, 1948.

Oscar Cahén enjoyed trying out every kind of style and medium partly because he valued, above all, avoiding formulaic approaches and ruts. He disapproved of the Famous Artists School—he felt it encouraged mindless simplification and repetition of techniques pioneered by innovators such as Norman Rockwell, Al Parker, Ben Shahn and other notables, hampering creative evolution in the field. He also denigrated what he called “American junk” and “commercial junk." But he told an interviewer from Canadian Art magazine:

"Much of the material we are asked to illustrate is of inferior quality. Yet, good art work can be used with it and by itself will do much to raise the standard of the publication in question and stimulate the minds of its more alert readers. Commercial artists need to take more time to reflect upon this power which is at their command."

* Continued tomorrow...


* The first exhibition of Oscar Cahén’s illustration since his lifetime will be shown in New York at Illustration House in October 2011 (opening night Oct. 1). With Roger Reed, I have written a full colour catalogue with an essay and over 60 images. In this series of posts about Cahén, I will introduce him and feature some artwork that will not appear in the show, catalogue, or websites. The tearsheets and originals here are from Oscar Cahén’s estate, courtesy of his son Michael Cahén at The Cahén Archives ~ Jaleen Grove