Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities. ~ Edyth O'Neill

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Glorious spring here.

Our neighbor has a lovely collection of Iris in bloom right now. Cheryl has painted some of them with pastels.

Flowers are everywhere. My own dooryard is lovely.
Above is the back yard.

Patio viewed from the back.

I have five of these pretty old shutters, not sure what to do with them yet.

By the front door. Mexican Oregano is about to put on an extravagant display.

View of patio from the front.
When Jan B and my Jackie were both in their final year of life, Jan and Bill brought us a straggly young Little Gem Magnolia plant which Jan had intended to plant and never got in the ground. I did finally get it in the ground that fall and then the next May after it had come out pretty well, a devastating  hail storm just tore it to pieces leaving only a forlorn stalk.  Anyone else would have surely yanked it out and started over.   But I could not and instead said soft things to it and brought extra water and acid fertilizer to encourage it. It is four feet tall three years later, and has the sweetest blooms.  Now I want to make a painting of some.  
My brother wrote:  "Lovely story about the rescued magnolia. I could imagine a series of watercolors telling the story of "the little magnolia that could." From uncertain beginnings to devastating experiences onward to health, happiness, and strength through love and nurturing, which allows it to provide beauty and joyful scents." 
I am trying to set up a still life with a huge pewter pitcher and some blooms from the little tree.  The tree/bush is so small I do not want to cut it much. Cheryl is horrified that I would take any little branches off! The English ale jug or pitcher is an incredible piece. We shall see what I manage to do or if I manage to do anything.  This jug is one of the first pieces we acquired when we began to collect seriously, it was from the collection of Elizabeth Lees in Ft Worth.

I love the worn old oriental rugs and the feeling they impart to a room full of early furniture. From paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries, we know that the rugs were many times used as table coverings, and not as often on the floor.  The rugs I have bought over the years in sales and flea markets are mostly mid 19th century and later. 
 In handling one there is always a fine dust on my hands no matter how many times I have gently shaken it or washed it outside on the drive way.  (Never vacuum one.)  Always the fine dust is there if it is real and old and hand-woven.  I said to Jackie one time that I thought this is just a residue of desert sand and camel dung for years and years before the rugs were sold to dealers for export.  He laughed big and said these rugs were made for sale and never saw a tent or a camel!  
 I am not so sure about that in the case of the small pieces that were bag faces.  A long woven piece was folded in half to make a bag for nomadic families to carry possessions on their animals. One half of the piece was never to show and was plain tabby weave or perhaps kilim weave.  The half intended to show was the face of the bag, a lovely little rugglet.  Today I have just opened a second package from friend Jeanie who has sent me some as backgrounds for my still life paintings. They are thrilling to me!  Thank you Jean!  Here are the beautiful little bag faces she sent this time:

They will enhance paintings I hope to do in the coming months. Can you see the shape we quilters know as Ohio Star imbedded in the design?  Folk art world around echoes the same themes.    e 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Gonic New Hampshire redware

These six pieces are likely from Gonic NH.  The green and copper colored glaze is much loved by collectors.
Jackie loved the pitchers!

The high colored pitcher in the center is one I have painted.

Here is a beautiful mid size jug.. yes that is a large cookie cutter!

Gorgeous little jug in strong condition.

Above pieces are from our O'Neill collection.   The nice five inch jug below was sold by Skinners some time ago.  Not ours, shown just for color. It is most like our brightest pitcher.
Above link is a good article on this pottery and the families that produced it, a glimpse into Early America.  Caution you must not have the hyphen in the link.    e

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Painting Still life with Redware pottery

Like most of my artist friends I paint some landscapes. Many of us paint in plein air and that is a great sport. Some efforts we leave as is and some we use as studies for larger studio paintings.  I am not good at it but I enjoy it and have a foolish amount of gear for outdoor painting.  I have slightly better luck making a start on a painting on site to get the color and mood right then finishing it later in the studio.  Coastal New England is my favorite place to paint and I am far from there!  My Cape Ann landscape paintings are a journal of a very happy time. 

Fredericksburg is known for its vineyards and wineries and also for its art scene.   This past weekend there were four artists demonstrations to watch, I made it to two of them and treasure these opportunities. John Hanna has been a favorite painter of mine for the thirty six years I have been privileged to know him and enjoy his work. He painted for my art club, Die Kunstler which I translate as "the painters" in German.  On Saturday Sara Winters painted at Whistle Pik Gallery. She is a gifted artist with two lively little boys doing serious painting while a young wife and mother.  See Sara and two of her paintings in the gallery below.

But I am swimming against the tide a while and painting still life instead of landscapes. Here are two of mine below:
This one is set up on a little oriental rug fragment from Jeanie.

The redware pitcher was probably made in New Hampshire from the color of the glaze.

Wild flowers are magnificent this year and my favorites are the fire wheels or indian blankets.  Finding vintage frames for these pieces is a challenge, but it helps them blend in with other things in the house. I am on a search for these!  e

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

For Everything There is a Season

Where  have I been?  Enjoying a spring time full of painting since I cannot garden much now.  A few pot plants is about all I can manage.  I have the opportunity for an on-going art workshop with a gifted teacher named Carla Sanchez who has studied with artist David Leffel for ten years now.  Google "images" for his paintings to see what makes him a renowned artist.  Google hers to see how beautifully she paints her own thing also.
The type of classic chiaroscuro still life I am studying is usually a technique for painting a piece of oriental porcelain or two with fruit and flowers and a branch of eucalyptus  on a damask or oriental rug background.   I am doing that sort of thing in class work to learn the method which David Leffel has painstakingly documented as approximating the early style of Rembrandt and other old masters.   Leffel is my age exactly and has taught for decades passing on the golden brush of knowledge as so many artist do. His method has had tremendous influence on this genre in our time. And now Carla offers that golden brush to a few dozen of us in the Texas hill country.  Paul Strisik, who lived on my beloved Cape Ann for over forty years also painted this type of classic still life, with the expected oriental themes. Below are three of my class  pieces.
 The silver bowl below  was great fun to do as were the brown eggs!  The cloth is an oriental rug fragment or a similar fabric.


 What I want to do is to use these formal techniques to paint informal works of my own design featuring Jackie's pottery and other antiques in our collection with fruit or veggies and perhaps a sprig of bittersweet,  shown on homespun fabrics or coverlets or oriental rugs.   These paintings are my own style and my own things and I am excited about this and hope I can complete a fair number of them!  So far three are finished.  I have two more in the works.  This is a different way to enjoy  our antiques and Jack would be pleased I am sure.  I do not need to search out more things or own more as I am out of space and beyond much more collecting.  I enjoy just living with what we put together and painting some of them is a joy.  As collectors know each piece has a personal story for me, where  we found it and what we learned about it and so on.

The still life to be painted is set up in a shadow box. It takes more space than I have in the little library so I am using an area of Jackie's front room. 

These large ones are heavy and hard for me to frame.  A friend tells the story of how her 90 year old mother had a load of soil delivered and dumped in her front yard.  She said "Mama you can't spread this out by yourself!"  The reply was "Yes but I can with this little bucket."    That is me on this framing. I measure some and set a few screws pushing down as hard as I can and then go sit a spell and sip iced tea and begin again on a few more steps.   I have a nice little electric drill, I should try it but am leery of pushing through the frame moldings.   Cheryl will come help me hang these in the kitchen near a cupboard of redware. 

Gertie K. around the corner from my house always has a magnificent field of bluebonnets each spring.  I asked and was given a bucket full to paint.  The flo blue sugar bowl was given to me years back by Jack's father.  John senior, (for Jackie was a John also) lived to be 99 and never lost his love of hunting antiques throughout his long life.  His interests were broader than ours as he knew fine oriental and European things to a degree also. Jack's parents lived in the rich old city of Chicago for many years.   They haunted the estate sales and auctions there and also in Louisville.  They were dealers with a small shop for a time, and part time dealers always.  Jack liked best our New England things and the accessories which might have been imported early-on to use there.  Think of Canton ware and some pewter, foreign but still correct.
  John found this sugar bowl at a local thrift shop about two years before he passed on.  The bowl is set on butternut checked linen homespun.  I tried the bluebonnets  in several containers and on several fabrics.

I need several pieces of oriental rugs and had only two here, and dear friend Jeanie responded with a wonderful package today! I have just opened it.  Glorious. Thank you Jeanie!   See below for two she sent.

The red one below is a bag face used on a gate leg table in my entry now.
The small faun colored rug is used on a nice stretcher base tavern table.  Visible in this picture is a pair of candlesticks my sweetheart made of wood on his lathe when we were reluctant to pay for similar pewter ones purported to be 17th century Holland Dutch.  Many are, perhaps many are not.  Edyth, who enjoys your comments and loves to know someone is out there!


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