Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Who's Who in American Arts & Crafts

For those of you who want to know more about the American Arts & Crafts Movement, I highly recommend attending a presentation by Kent Gebhard at Gabberts furniture store this Saturday, October 30th, 1pm-2pm. I heard it presented to the Twin Cities Bungalow Club last Spring and learned so much about how the movement developed and how the designers influenced each other. It's at the Galleria in Edina, MN and free. You can oooh and aaaah over Gabberts' Stickley furniture and rugs afterwards. Reservations are requested so here's the link if you're interested.

My blog could use a visual so here's a pic of my bittersweet I picked yesterday on the fence. It's lovely. I hope to use it for drawing a new design soon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hand in Hand with Machines

An overload of Victorian ornate designs and a workforce in England being replaced by machines creating shoddy products sparked William Morris' movement in the mid 1800's. He wanted a return to quality handmade products using the nature around him for decorative themes. Well-known for his wallpapers, he took inspiration from his own garden for floral designs and made ink from vegetables. But by refusing to use machines, the time put into handmade pieces made them only affordable for the rich.

The American Arts & Crafts Movement took inspiration from the European movement and focused on clean simple design and quality workmanship but in contrast, did use machines for some production. That kept costs down to where the average person could afford to buy them. Two prominent figures were furniture maker Gustav Stickley and the Roycroft Community of artisans led by Elbert Hubbard.

I draw my inspiration from the Arts & Crafts ideals of simple beautiful designs with a little curvy Art Nouveau thrown in. Like Wm. Morris, I prefer to draw from native plants and flowers in the Midwest and try to grow my own when I can. My sister has contributed many wonderful perennials to my garden over the years, too. I gain more insight into the plant when I can look at it from all angles and it's a nice perk to have a vase of flowers in my studio.

Like the American Arts & Crafts Movement, I rely on today's technology to take my hand drawings and fill them in with color. I feel the computer is a tool that works much like silkscreening for building layers of flat rich colors. It offers flexibility to try different palettes like the earthy palettes used in the Arts & Crafts Movement and the versatility to transform the design into a repeating pattern for fabric and rugs.

Digital production also keeps costs down and allows artists like me to venture into the marketplace with my own cards, prints, fabric and rugs. But it all has to start with a handmade drawing first.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A New Beginning

Today my new website is being launched and I am so excited. It will launch my new and expanding business of my Arts & Crafts style illustrations on cards, prints, fabric and rugs. This is the most personal and rewarding art I have done in my long career as a freelance illustrator. With the help of my Etsy shop, my alliance with Rug Rats, Spoonflower and consignments with wonderful shops like The Linden Tree, I am a budding entrepreneur!

This blog will be an opportunity to share with you how to bring the Arts & Crafts Movement style into contemporary living. I admire the original pieces of textiles, ceramics, architecture and rugs from the movement, but I want to share how to bring pieces and ideas of the movement thru a contemporary interpretation with art and home decor. I hope to share my ideas with my designs and other artists with similar goals.

Secondly, I plan to emphasize the importance of handwritten notes. I feel strongly in this day of emails that we need to reach out and send a personal written message to friends and family. It's your handwriting that distinguishes you and feels so much more personal than helvetica type. Some of my prized possessions are handwritten notes, recipes and cards sent to me by friends and family no longer with me.

So here's to new beginnings. Let's get going!