Author Archives: lucindahowe

Lucinda Howe is a Contemporary Fauvist landscape painter in Columbia, SC.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern in New Mexico

Last week I wrote about seeing “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern” at Reynolda House Museum. This is part 2 of the series.

There have been many exhibits of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings and books about her life. Her biographical details are well documented, so I won’t repeat much of that here. My interest is mainly in her wardrobe and how her clothing style remained fairly consistent throughout her life.

During her marriage to Alfred Stieglitz (1924-1946), O’Keeffe lived in New York City. In 1929 she started spending part of each year in New Mexico. After Stieglitz’s death in 1946, she moved in New Mexico permanently.

In New Mexico she expanded her wardrobe to include denim and colorful cotton dresses that were more practical in the dessert environment.

A favorite style was a simple wrap dress called an “artist’s smock” introduced by Neiman Marcus in 1950. She had more than 20 of these dresses in her wardrobe. She also bought multiples of simple flat shoes.

 

One of the most striking dresses in this exhibit is a 1954 “chute” (parachute) dress by Emilio Pucci that O’Keeffe purchased around the same time she was experimenting with abstracting natural and architectural forms in a V-shape. The dress was displayed near O’Keeffe’s Polaroid photos of v-shaped canyons and her painting “In the Patio, IX”.

O’Keeffe was introduced to Asian art as a student and continued a life-long study of it. The label says, “Unlike most of her peers, who came to modern, abstract art through encounters with Expressionism and Cubism in Paris, O’Keeffe developed a modern aesthetic from a lasting immersion in Eastern arts. Evident in these galleries is the powerful role of emptiness in Asian paintings, and the beauty of spaces defined or activated by lines that are not filled in. The voids in her art, as in Zen practices, are often spaces that quiet the mind and invite inwardness.”

She collected kimonos on her travels and may have made some of them herself.

She also had dresses with frog button closures and mandarin collars.

O’Keeffe also collected a few pieces of jewelry, Native American silver pieces and an Alexander Calder pin shaped like OK, the first two letters of her last name.

Later in life she continued to wear black suits and to sit for photos in black garments and her signature jewelry. In 1983, at the age of ninety-six, she ordered a black suit consisting of pants, skirt, vest, and jacket from a men’s tailor in New York. The inclusion of pants was step toward the feminism of the era and in keeping with the androgynous look of the wise elder that Georgia O’Keeffe cultivated in her later life. 

This exhibition shows how one artist integrated a personal aesthetic into her life and work. Georgia O’Keeffe developed her style early in life and stayed consistent throughout her life. She followed fashion, but brought it into her wardrobe only when it fit with her style. She combined influences from fashion, architecture, and oriental art into her clothing, lifestyle, and art.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s popularity and influence continues today, more than 30 years after her death at age 98. While she has always been well known in the art world, this exhibit has expanded her influence to the fashion world. In a fashion show in May of this year, Maria Grazia Chiuri, artistic director for Christian Dior, cited the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition (when it was at the Brooklyn Museum) as one of the influences for the Christian Dior 2018 Resort collection.

Some of the looks appear to be very similar to specific items from Georgia O’Keeffe’s wardrobe, including her favored gaucho hats. (Click here to see a slideshow of the collection.) I’m not sure that she would have added tassels to her vest and forgotten to wear a skirt, but I think she would appreciated knowing that her style is still Living Modern.

If you want to see “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern” before it closes on November 19, 2017, click here for more information.

[P.S. On a personal note: When I was a student at Wake Forest University in the 1970’s, Reynolda House was used for some functions of the school. I remember attending a poetry class in an upstairs bedroom that currently functions as a gallery for part of the Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern exhibition. The Reynolda House Museum is quite fabulous and has an impressive collection of American art.  My favorite part is the party basement… bar, lounge, squash court, bowling alley, and indoor swimming pool. It’s worth a visit any time you’re in Winston-Salem.]

 

Posted in Travel Tagged , |

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing an exhibition called “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern” at Reynolda House Museum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The exhibition explores how O’Keeffe’s modernist aesthetic is reflected in her paintings, her clothing and her homes. There was a lot to see, so I’m reporting this in two parts.

As a young woman in the early 1900’s, Georgia O’Keeffe sewed many of her clothes, often dressing in black and white. Early dresses in cream-colored silk are fashionable for the time and constructed with tiny hand stitching. Three white blouses are shaped with tiny pin tucks and unusual collars. Throughout the exhibition, the clothing is displayed near paintings that echo the same shapes and simple elegance.

 

After O’Keeffe met and married Alfred Stieglitz, he taught her to pose for photographs, and together they carefully crafted her public persona through his black and white photos and her simple clothing. Through the years, she wore beautifully tailored, simple wrap dresses and black suits. She sewed or commissioned many of the pieces, often making slight changes to a favorite silhouette. She kept up with fashion trends and bought pieces from designers in New York when they fit with her style. The exhibit included designs from Finnish company Marimekko, Zoë de Salle, and Claire McCardell.

Three black suits and a cape from the 30’s and 40’s have details of pleats and white collars and cuffs. She would have worn these outfits for meetings and openings in the city. The design lines relate to the paintings of New York that she was doing around the same time.

 

Next week, part 2… New Mexico

If you want to see this fabulous show before it closes on November 19, 2017, click this link for more information.

Posted in Travel Tagged , |

Fort McAllister

Fort McAllister Journal ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister Journal
©2017 Lucinda Howe

On a recent trip to Fort McAllister State Park in Georgia with a group of artists, I had been under the weather for a few days and didn’t feel like lugging a heavy easel and canvases.  I packed  my travel kit and a small accordion-fold journal.  Combining lettering, drawing, and watercolor painting, I captured the feel of the marsh and some botanical details.  This turned out to be a very satisfactory way to remember the trip and add to my visual vocabulary for future paintings. 

Fort McAllister #1 ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #1
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #2 ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #2
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #3 ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #3
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #4 ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Fort McAllister #4
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Posted in Plein Air Tagged , , , |

Mansfield Plantation (part 3)

The day after the plein air event in Georgetown, I painted the third painting in the Mansfield Plantation series in the morning before leaving to come home.  I was inspired by the path and the strong shadows of the trees.  I started with a value drawing using black gesso.  Once that layer dried, I glazed with red and orange. 

I added mid-value opaque colors to complete the painting.  As often happens, this process was more enjoyable, and I was happier with the painting, than when I was painting for a contest the previous day.  

Mansfield Plantation #3 12x12 inches Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas ©2017 Lucinda Howe $395

Mansfield Plantation #3
12×12 inches
Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas
©2017 Lucinda Howe
$395

Posted in Acrylics, Plein Air Tagged , |

Mansfield Plantation (part 2)

Mansfield Plantation #2 24x24 inches Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas ©2017 Lucinda Howe $1,100

Mansfield Plantation #2
24×24 inches
Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas
©2017 Lucinda Howe
$1,100

After working on two paintings at the same time at Mansfield Plantation, I wasn’t completely satisfied with either.  For this larger one, I used a limited palette of colors and large brushes.  I liked the movement of the brush strokes and the glow of the transparent underpainting, so I entered this piece in the Seaside Palette show.  

Back in the studio the following week, I made some minor adjustments and finished the piece that you see at the top of the post. 

Posted in Acrylics, Plein Air Tagged , |

Mansfield Plantation (part 1)

Mansfield Plantation #1 12x12 inches Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas ©2017 Lucinda Howe $395

Mansfield Plantation #1
12×12 inches
Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas
©2017 Lucinda Howe
$395

The Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art in Georgetown, SC, kicked off with a plein air paintout on September 30, 2017.  Barbara Yongue and I stayed at Mansfield Plantation, a beautiful antebellum rice plantation, now operated as a bed and breakfast.  

We decided to paint on the grounds of the plantation in the shade of the old live oaks.  The water is old rice fields that have been permanently flooded, so the setting is very peaceful.  

I started this small piece first with a black gesso drawing, then started another larger piece while it dried.  Then I applied a transparent layer of red and orange glaze over the black and white value drawing.  Working back and forth between the two pieces, I almost finished both before time to pack up and go to Georgetown for the reception in mid-afternoon. 

Posted in Acrylics, Plein Air Tagged , |

Georgetown Boats

Georgetown Boats 8x6 inches Acrylic on panel ©2017 Lucinda Howe $95

Georgetown Boats
8×6 inches
Acrylic on panel
©2017 Lucinda Howe
$95

Over the weekend, Barbara Yongue and I travelled to Georgetown, South Carolina to participate in a plein air event. Although I planned to paint my contest entry in another location, I started the morning with a quick drawing of boats on the river using a Sharpie on a gessoed board. I was inspired by how the white of the boat hulls and reflections glowed against dark industrial buildings in the background.  Later I applied a transparent warm red-orange glaze over the drawing. Today I finished the painting in the studio.  Barbara and I talked about whether to eliminate the buildings and invent a more traditional water and sky background, but I decided to just simplify the buildings and let the dark warm colors contrast with the light boats and sky.  Since Georgetown is known for its paper mill and steel mill, I felt that the industrial look reflected the feel of the location. 

Posted in Acrylics, Plein Air Tagged |

Marsh Dreams

Morning on Pitt Street 14x11" Acrylic on masonite ©2015 Lucinda Howe $425

Morning on Pitt Street
14×11″
Acrylic on masonite
©2015 Lucinda Howe
$425

This week has been busy with activities related to Master Gardeners, church, and family. Although I haven’t done much painting this week, I’m planning some painting trips to the low country this fall, so I pulled out this marsh painting for inspiration. As the weather grows cooler, the warm colors of the marsh intensify and provide exciting contrast with the cool blues in the trees and sky.  I’m looking forward to new opportunities to continue my series of marsh paintings. 

Posted in Acrylics, Plein Air Tagged |

Street Trees

Street Trees 24x24 inches Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas ©2017 Lucinda Howe $1,300

Street Trees
24×24 inches
Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas
©2017 Lucinda Howe
$1,300

Last Saturday, September 18th, I painted in Winnsboro, South Carolina at Barbara Yongue’s Plein Air Paintout, an event in conjunction with Oil Painters of America.  28 artists participated in the event and set up an exhibit for a reception in the afternoon.  I painted on Congress Street, the main thoroughfare of the town.  As usual, I was more interested in the trees along the side streets than the buildings.  I started with a transparent underpainting of orange and red to contrast with the variety of greens in the foliage, leaving just a suggestion of the red brick buildings in the background. 

Posted in Acrylics, Plein Air Tagged |

Storm Grove

Value pattern painted on location

Value pattern painted on location

Last Monday I painted outdoors in pleasant late summer weather. I completed most of a small painting and started a larger canvas. Since the larger canvas was already toned with a mid-value red-orange, I established the light and dark pattern with white and black paint.

Storm Grove in progress

Storm Grove in progress

Today Hurricane Irma passed to the west of Columbia, bringing wind and rain and making us concerned for the welfare of friends and relatives in Florida and other parts of the southeast. Not being able to go outside, I worked in my studio most of the day. I decided to work on the large canvas I started last week, using the small painting as a reference. I decided on a yellow-green and purple complementary color scheme and painted quickly, limiting blending and preserving brush strokes.

My studio is surrounded by trees that swayed in the gray light of the storm as I worked.After blocking in the trees, I decided on a light purple sky and light green background foliage to show light coming through the trees. When I finished the painting, I felt that it reflected the weird light and uneasiness that comes with a storm.

Storm Grove 24x24 inches Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Storm Grove
24×24 inches
Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas
©2017 Lucinda Howe

Posted in Acrylics, Plein Air Tagged |