Tuesday
Dec042018

An Edwardian Selfie

Eeep! The last few months of the year have just slipped away so quickly, and once more the only posts on this Sketchbook blog are calendar pictures one after the other. I’ve already blamed my old iMac last time, but it does inevitably get busy at this time of year.

Our Edwardian family here are getting ready for their Christmas selfie, a charming festive scene to end the year on. I love the small details in this painting, like the Dutch tiles on the fireplace, the decorated tree ornaments, and the way the child is playing with this new technology, pretending to take the cat’s photo with a box! And the cat is posing perfectly, of course.

It will soon be time to start the annual hunt for a calendar, but in the meantime, I hope your December is full of pleasant business and fun as you wind up the year.

Saturday
Nov172018

The Windmills of Montmartre

Hello! Belated November greetings, in part due to my poor old iMac dying a wheezing death and my website become partially inaccessible. I’m now up and running with a new iMac and all the latest whizz-bang software, so I am delighted to bring you this charming illustration of two black cats and a windmill.

I love the wobbly, hand-drawn text, the roughly-hewn windmill and muted colour scheme in this screen print. It’s easy to see the inspiration behind the vintage-style illustrations and fonts that are so in vogue today. The nostalgic charm with which they imbue designs is very appealing and uplifting.

I’ve not been to Paris, so it was interesting to read that once there were thirty windmills standing atop the hill of Montmartre – it must have been such a distinctive sight, though now there is only one functioning windmill left.

I hope you are having a happy mid-November!

Monday
Oct082018

Rice Flour

Belated October greetings: hello! This month’s calendar picture features a little girl with her feline companion. Reis-mehl translates from the German to ‘rice flour’, so perhaps she is enjoying a rice pudding? Who can say, but it must be good since she has rosy cheeks. I like her Mary-Janes too.

Here in Melbourne spring-proper has finally burst into bloom, which, since the spring equinox was on 23 September, is not surprising, but it is exciting! Today is forecast to be a particularly glorious 26°C, and lunch al fresco has certainly given me rosy cheeks.

Happy October!

Tuesday
Sep252018

Warhol’s Captivating Sense of Fun

Looking at Cecil Beaton’s illustrations immediately put me in mind of Andy Warhol’s own illustrations, which I have always preferred to his fine art output. In the 1950s and before he became his own brand, Warhol worked in the advertising industry as a very successful artist. He even won several Art Directors Club awards.

Warhol moved to New York in 1949 after studying commercial art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. And for the next ten years he worked on Madison Avenue, illustrating fashion, in particular shoe advertisements for I. Miller and other advertising clients; LP covers; and several books, such as 25 Cats Named Sam and One Blue Pussy, Love Is A Pink Cake, and Wild Raspberries.

He returned to drawing in the 1970s, continuing to his death in 1987, but probably his most famous are the shoe drawings, which were published on Sundays in the New York Times, with captions written by his mother. (I must say I much prefer Warhol’s shoe illustrations to the work of another famous shoe illustrator, that of Manolo Blahnik.)

There is a lovely, light unselfconsciousness in Warhol’s drawings; in the imprecise linework that charms; in the whimsical creatures that inhabit the drawings – unicorns, yapping lapdogs and well-to-do pussycats wearing pearls. The sense of fun is captivating.

Images found on Pinterest.

Monday
Sep242018

Vintage Mementoes

Recently I bought some vintage items on Etsy, a pair of 1940s sunglasses, and a hat (actually one of a few!), but these two sellers used vintage photos for thank you cards. Aptly, the 1940s beach photo above came with the sunglasses.

Both the photos are very tiny, about 6cm wide, and there is only so much one can see with the naked eye. I didn’t notice at first, but the photo above is actually a square negative printed on rectangular paper. When I scanned it at 200% of actual size, I was able to pick out a bit more detail – I love seeing what’s going on in the background of vintage photos.

Her expression is a little pensive, looking away from the camera as though she is thinking of someone far away from her.

Here, there is a man’s hat sitting on a rock just behind the two young women, children running about perhaps playing a ballgame, and numerous people doing the kind of things you do at the beach. You can see the girl closer to the camera is much prettier, and her dress has scalloped sleeves and neckline, and she is wearing a polka dot sash. Her expression is a little pensive, looking away from the camera as though she is thinking of someone far away from her. The other woman is wearing a floral print, and both of them are holding sunglasses in their hands.

I always wonder about the people in such photos – what were they thinking at the moment the shutter snapped? Where are they now, or their descendents?

And who are the two Edwardian women wearing bowties? Mother and daughter perhaps? The woman in the polka dot tie has such weary, deep-sunken eyes and looks much older than the other. Look at the detailing on their dresses – so many pleats!

I love the old cardboard these photos are printed on. I’ve always been fond of those deckle-edged photos because I remember them from old family albums; I even own a pair of scissors that cut like that, but of course I never print photos anymore. The embossed Edwardian frame is perfectly lovely – I actually might get photos printed if you could order frames like that. It makes them seem far more special, real mementoes. I wonder if these women are remembered by someone.

Click images for larger versions.