Entries in pattern (23)


The Exuberance of Cecil Beaton

First edition of The Blessing, by Nancy Mitford with cover art by Cecil BeatonRecently I started reading Nancy Mitford’s book The Blessing, which, a few chapters in, is proving very entertaining. I first spotted this first edition book on a shelf in an op shop (thrift store), my eye caught by the author’s name as well as the colourful though tattered spine.

I had heard of Nancy Mitford (1904–1973), but I didn’t know much about her life. One of the famous Mitford sisters, she was a novelist, biographer and journalist. The book The Blessing, is considered one of her best, and was dedicated to her very good friend Evelyn Waugh. He told Mitford he found the book, “admirable, deliciously funny, consistent and complete, by far the best of your writings”.

My eye was caught by the illustration; the cover artwork of this first printing in 1951 is by Cecil Beaton and through the rearing horse, and tilting angles evokes a madcap adventure with the heroine’s young child (the ‘blessing’ of the title) at its centre.

Portrait of Coco ChanelCecil Beaton (1904–1980) was a prolifically creative person: ‘a fashion, portrait and war photographer, diarist, painter, interior designer and an Oscar-winning stage and costume designer for films and the theatre’. [Wikipedia] I have always admired Beaton’s dedication to detail in his drawings in particular: what patience he had in faithfully depicting the intricacies of interior décor in his portraits of the wealthy! The wallpaper patterns especially impress me, and it is no wonder after all, for he was also a textile designer, and his fabric designs were used by Balenciaga, Dior and Lanvin. (Read more here.)

Here is a small collection of Beaton’s exuberant illustrations that show a joyful sense of colour and playful riot of pattern and texture.

Images from Pinterest

Portrait of the Duchess of WindsorBeaton's accessories for Vogue magazineVogue cover, June 1935Vogue cover, July 1935Front cover of one of his personal scrapbooks, full of society photographsBack cover of Cecil Beaton's scrapbookWraparound book cover (click image for larger version)


A Delightful Little Diva

Oh, this illustration makes me chuckle – it’s delightful and funny. I once new a white cat just like this one, called Diva, and that naughty child is certainly being a bit of a diva!

This is the picture on the August page of my calendar, and it is a pleasant one to look at. The linework is masterful, as well as the trick of filling the negative spaces with a lovely palette of colour and pattern, and allowing the white of the page to fill the positive. It’s a very effective technique. Unfortunately, the calendar does not include illustration credits, but this looks 1920s or 30s to me.

Happy August, dear readers!


Alpaca Day

Today is May Day, and according to my Frankie calendar, it is also Alpaca Day! I was charmed when I turned the page over and saw this illustration by Monica Ramos. Born in Manila, Ramos now works in New York. Executed in mostly watercolour, her work is lovely and whimsical, reminiscent of yardage design (and indeed some of her work has been produced in textiles) and displaying a wonderful sense of humour. Her line work also reminds me of Henri Matisse.

The alpaca painting is such a joyful, comforting work, depicting crowds of the cuddly creatures joining a group hug with the lone human. They are social creatures, but can be aggressive, and like llamas, they also spit (sometimes at humans). A few years ago I saw a competition at an agricultural show, and it was delightful to walk amongst their pens afterwards and see them close up.

You can see more of Monica Ramos’ equally delightful work at her website, or on her blog. Have a wonderful May!


A Colourful March

Miju Lee, an artist currently living in Barcelona, works in coloured pencil on paper, acrylic on canvas and also in ceramics. The March page of my Frankie calendar features one of her drawings of an interior that is both colourful, reminiscent of early 20th century art movements, and possibly showing influence of the recent geometric trend in design.

Lee’s style is naïve, and charming with it, full of whimsical detail. The geometric patterning in the rug, as well as the overall colour scheme, puts me strongly in mind of 1920s textile artist Sonia Delaunay’s work, and perhaps even touches of Expressionism in the palette; and even Cubism in the upended picture planes. The later work in acrylic is more stylised, and flatter – it has a look of cut paper. Whatever Lee’s inspirations, these various combinations create a unique and idiosyncratic style.

It is certainly an enjoyable and cheerful picture to gaze at this March. Have a great month!


See more of Miju Lee’s work at her website, or on her Facebook page.


Smashing Ceramics

Livia Marin’s series of Nomad Patterns and Broken Things are just sublime. Smashed ceramic vessels appear to be melting into pools of molten clay, puddling over the table surface. Made from ceramic, resin and plaster, they are transfer-printed with patterns in the classic Oriental blue and white style.

The London-based Chilean artist says of her work:

My artistic practice has been characterized by large-scale installations and the appropriation of mass-produced and consumer objects. I employ techniques and strategies that are characteristic of Sculpture, Installation and Process Art. I employ everyday objects to enquire into the nature of how we relate to material objects in an era dominated by mass-production, standardization and global circulation.

By appropriating mass-market objects I seek to offer through the work a reflection on how we particularize our relation to them. I reflect on how, in a secular and materialist society, identities are increasingly designated through the material tokens derived from consumerism. 

Fascinating, beautiful and simply smashing.

See more of Marin’s work on her website, and read an interview with her at Underline Gallery.