Category Archives: Travel

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.]

 

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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.

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Quebec City

Quebec City Tulips ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Quebec City
Tulips
©2017 Lucinda Howe

The second part of Jane LaFazio’s watercolor sketching class was in Quebec City, Canada. After a cool, wet spring, the weather warmed up the week we arrived.  The tulips were in full bloom around the Chateau Frontenac and City Hall, but as the temperature rose to 85 degrees, the petals were dropping even as Jane conducted a lesson in flower painting.

 

Quebec City Window boxes ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Quebec City
Window boxes
©2017 Lucinda Howe

The city had beautiful old buildings with flower boxes on many of the windows.  I did these sketches quickly in pencil and added watercolor later when I had a few spare minutes. 

 

Quebec City Boat Tour on St. Lawrence River ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Quebec City
Boat Tour on St. Lawrence River
©2017 Lucinda Howe

One afternoon, we enjoyed a boat tour on the St Lawrence River on the Louis Jolliet, named for the French explorer and cartographer. 

 

 Île d'Orléans ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Île d’Orléans
©2017 Lucinda Howe

On our last day together, we had a tour of  Île d’Orleans, and island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, a short drive from Quebec City, known as the “garden of Quebec”.  The island has a warm microclimate and is know for its produce including strawberries, apples, wines, and maple syrup. 

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Where the Sun Sets in the North

Montreal Map in Sketchbook ©2017 Lucinda Howe

Montréal Map
in Sketchbook
©2017 Lucinda Howe

 

When I arrived in Canada, I took a taxi from the airport. The cab driver said nothing for most of the trip and drove quickly and carefully on the freeways. Arriving in old Montréal, he circled the block where my hotel was located, working his way through a maze of one-way streets, construction barricades, and double-parked delivery trucks to get close enough to the hotel to let me out. He sighed in frustration and said, “Everywhere you go in Montréal, the street is blocked.”

After checking in and dropping off my luggage, I wanted to take a walk to orient myself. My iPhone compass said the front door of the hotel faced west. Behind me was the river on the east side. Armed with my AAA map, I stepped out of the door, turned right to walk north on Rue St. Paul Ouest parallel to the river. Crossing Boulevard St. Laurent, I was on Rue St. Paul Est. (what?) After meeting my travel group, I realized they had picked up maps at the hotel that had the river on the bottom (south?) side. The next day our walking tour guide, Martine, said Boulevard St. Laurent was the main thoroughfare dividing the east and west sides of town. I was thoroughly confused until I read this explanation in my AAA guide book.

“The streets in Montréal are laid out in the traditional east-west grid, in this case parallel to the St. Lawrence River. The river, though, takes an unfortunate northwest swing at Montréal, resulting in the east-west streets actually running north-south.”

This is why Montréal is also called “the only city where the sun sets in the north”.

By the time I figured out the directions, we were boarding the train for Quebec City. Jane LaFazio’s lesson for the day was how to cut a map into a square, fold it, and insert it into our sketchbooks. I chose to insert my map with a traditional north-up orientation, even though it was missing a corner.

 

If you want to see how the map folding works, here is a video on Turkish map folding that shows how to do it. Once the map is folded, check the orientation and glue it to the sketchbook with the point in the gutter. Apply glue to the other side and close the book until the glue sets.

Next week, Quebec City.

 

 

Montréal

Montreal & Quebec Journal Pages 1 & 2 ©2017 Lucinda Howe NFS

Montreal & Quebec Journal
Pages 1 & 2
©2017 Lucinda Howe
NFS

In last week’s email, I talked about packing an art kit for traveling. I was thinking about that because I was packing for a trip to Montréal and Quebec City, Canada. I went with a small group of artists studying watercolor sketching with Jane LaFazio.

The first day we received an accordion-fold book, and after a walking tour around Montréal, we had a lesson in the Notre-Dame Basilica. Although I thought I had an idea of what to do on a trip like that, I learned a few new things.

I can travel lighter and carry a smaller kit than I planned. We used very small (6×4 inch) sketchbook. A watercolor palette, brush with water in the handle, a pencil, a kneaded eraser, a water-soluble pen, a permanent pen, and a paper towel or sponge made up the basic kit. This was my first experience with the water brush, and it was certainly easier than carrying a water bottle and cup.

Small Watercolor Kit @2017 Lucinda Howe

Small Watercolor Kit
@2017 Lucinda Howe

The walking tour of Montréal was informative, but moved too fast for me to do much drawing as we walked. I made mental notes of several things to explore on my next trip. Montréal had a young multi-cultural vibe with many art galleries, museums, and festivals. I quickly realized that two days was not nearly enough time in this diverse city.

Jane took us into the Notre-Dame Basilica for a drawing lesson. She said to focus on what attracts you first, isolate a small section, and draw the detail. That was a good lesson in how to deal with overwhelming architecture.

Montreal & Quebec Journal Pages 3 & 4 ©2017 Lucinda Howe NFS

Montreal & Quebec Journal
Pages 3 & 4
©2017 Lucinda Howe
NFS

Also, in my journal, I drew street signs, practiced lettering key words, and glued in a map.

All too soon, we left boarded a train and headed for Quebec City. In next week’s email, I’ll show drawings from the second phase of the trip.

 

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Back on the Bus!

Journal page Cabrieres d'Avignon, France ©2011 Lucinda Howe

Journal page
Cabrieres d’Avignon, France
©2011 Lucinda Howe

Now that I have my travel kit packed, how do I use it?

My goal is to record impressions for myself, not to produce finished art. What I remember most about my trips are the times when I stood still long enough to focus on something, absorb the sensory input, and process it through my fingers onto the page. I also take photographs, but they don’t have the same impact. In fact, sometimes I look at a photo and wonder why I took it, but I always know what attracted me to a journal entry.

Years ago, I took Margaret Hoybach’s journaling workshop.  She talked about how to work when you’re in a tour group with non-painters. You may have only a few minutes to draw while everyone else is snapping photos.

In that case, I carry only part of my kit. Journal, pencil, pen, possibly watercolor crayons. Dry media only, no water. I make a small drawing about the size of a photo (4×6 inches), leaving white space around it on the page. A few lines establish the horizon and major design elements. In the margins, I make notes on color, weather, smells, sounds, and texture. This is an exercise of 5 minutes or less. I do more than one if I have time. How much can I capture before someone yells “back on the bus!”?

Later when we stop for lunch, or have a few quiet moments in the hotel, I add color with paint and details with black ink. I also add tickets and other bits of paper with the glue stick. If I do it the same day while the memory is fresh, I will retain the important information and eliminate unnecessary details.

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Ready, Set, Go!

Travel Kit Watercolors, drawing media and journal

Travel Kit
Watercolors, drawing media and journal

June is the beginning of travel season for me. Of course, I may travel year-round, but the feeling is a holdover from school days and the excitement of summer vacation.

I’ve been cleaning out and repacking my art supplies, and thought I would show you what I’m using these days.

When I attend a plein air event or workshop, I pack my Soltek easel, canvases, acrylic or oil paints. I’m glad to have all of that if I have a lot of painting time, but it’s heavy and doesn’t leave much room for clothes and souvenirs. If I’m going with non-painters, I want a small, portable art kit.

The minimum I need to make art is paper and pencil. That lets me make a variety of marks, capture shapes, and make notes. I also want a way to add color. Everything else is an expansion of these requirements.

Paper can be bound or loose, mixed media or watercolor paper. It needs to be heavy enough to take watercolor without warping. I’m using a small watercolor palette by Winsor-Newton that I refill with my favorite tube colors. I squeeze out the paint and let it dry on the palette. It will rehydrate when I add water to it. In addition, I use a watercolor brush that holds water in the handle or carry a water bottle. I put it all in a plastic box and carry it in a cloth bag with shoulder straps.

  • Shoulder bag
  • Strathmore Art Journal with watercolor paper (8.5 x 5.5 inches)
  • Watercolor crayons
  • Water bottle
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic box
  • Winsor-Newton watercolor palette
  • Pencil
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Black pens (Faber-Castell, Staedtler, Tombow, Sharpie)
  • Watercolor brushes
  • Glue stick
  • White gouache
  • White gel pen
  • Exacto knife (put in checked bag if flying)
  • Small cup for water
  • Wax (for resist)
  • 6 inch ruler

Next week – how to use this kit when traveling

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Barnwell State Park

Calm Before the Storm 24x24 inches Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas ©2016 Lucinda Howe NFS

Calm Before the Storm
24×24 inches
Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas
©2016 Lucinda Howe
NFS

The South Carolina Park Service offers an Artist in Residence program at some of the state parks. Last fall I applied and was accepted for a stay at Barnwell State Park in the rural area between Aiken and Orangeburg. The deal is that I would receive the use of a cabin for a week in exchange for an original piece of art inspired by my stay. After contacting Eddie Richburg, the Park Manager, I scheduled my visit for October 2016, a time when the park would have low attendance and lovely autumn weather.

I forgot to consider hurricane season.

When I arrived at the park on Monday, October 3rd, it was a warm sunny day. My cabin was a dodecagon, divided into 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, and living area. I explored the park and painted a small piece on Tuesday. My sister came and spent her time writing while I was painting. We were glad to have satellite TV service because we were watching the approach of Hurricane Matthew.

Thursday was a beautiful sunny autumn day. There was a lot of yellow beginning to show among the green leaves. I painted the piece above by a small lake, trying to capture the glow of the translucent back-lit leaves. After I varnished and framed this piece at home, it’s on its way to become part of the park’s collection of art.

As Matthew came closer, I bought gas and gathered no-cook food, but I wasn’t worried.   My sister was smart and decided to leave the park and head back to North Carolina on Friday.   The park rangers told me they expected only wind and rain and that the park’s cabins and campgrounds were full of people who had evacuated from the coast.

On Friday night the storm was quite an experience.  I heard several things hit the roof and roll off. I could see the tall trees swaying by the security light. I saw some car lights and activity around neighboring cabin #3 around 3:30 am.  The power went off around 4 am and it was DARK in the words without any lights.  The next morning I couldn’t do much without power and decided to pack up and leave.   The park manager came by and said there were three trees down on top of cabin #3!!  He and the rangers rescued the guests and gave them cots to sleep on in the laundry facility.  Fortunately no one was hurt. The rangers also had to cut several trees off the roads to get around the park in the morning. I drove home and found minimal damage in Columbia although I saw a lot of power lines down along the way. I was glad to be home!

After I told my husband my story, he said he was sorry I had that BAD experience.   I said, wait… it was a GOOD experience. I had a good visit with my sister, made three paintings, and survived a hurricane without getting squashed by a tree.   The park manager and rangers were taking care of things. What’s bad about that? I guess it’s all in your perspective.

Anyway, I enjoyed my residency and look forward to applying for a stay in a different park sometime in the future. I appreciate the park service’s program that encourages artists to experience and celebrate South Carolina’s natural resources. If my experience hasn’t scared you off, and if you’re an artist who would be interested in applying for a residency, check out this link. The application for 2017 is due October 31st, so apply now!

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Caribbean Colors

 

Sky and Sea

Sky and Sea
8.5×5″
Watercolor on paper
©2014 Lucinda Howe
www.lucindahowe.com

Sea and Sand

Sea and Sand
8.5×5″
Watercolor on paper
©2014 Lucinda Howe
www.lucindahowe.com

Last week my husband and I went on our annual vacation to a warm place, this time to Grand Cayman.  I took a small watercolor kit and had big painting plans.  At first I warmed up by capturing the amazing colors in the sky, water, and sand.

By the Pool

By the Pool
8.5×5″
Watercolor on paper
©2014 Lucinda Howe
www.lucindahowe.com

While sitting by the pool, I made this small painting of the palms and Seven Mile Beach.

Courtyard

Courtyard
8.5×5″
Watercolor on paper
©2014 Lucinda Howe
www.lucindahowe.com

When the sun was too hot in the afternoon, I painted in the courtyard by the turtle pond.

After an exhausting day of painting, I had to take a nap.  The next day I started to relax, took a walk on the beach, and did a little reading.  Somehow my painting ambition evaporated in the sun, but I filled my eyes with Caribbean colors for future paintings.

 

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Wildacres Morning

Wildacres Morning 16x20" Oil on canvas ©2013 Lucinda Howe

Wildacres Morning
20×16″
Oil on canvas
©2013 Lucinda Howe

In a recent workshop with Caroline Jasper, the exercise was to create depth in the painting.  I allowed the foreground to come forward by using the strongest value contrasts and leaving larger patches of the red underpainting.  The middle ground layers have cooler colors and less value contrast, and the distant mountains  are light and cool to fade into the sky.

 

The exerci

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