Category: Thrift Shop Art

White-Tailed Tropicbird Dec 1975

There is nothing I love more than finding an original piece of art. This is a 5 x 7 “Bradshaw Originals” oil painting, done by Ann Bradshaw in December of 1975 – just a little over 44 years ago. At that time, it had a starting price of $12.00…so obviously it HAS to be worth over a million dollars today, right? Lol.

On that back, Ann wrote: “White-Tailed Tropicbird” (so that’s what I’m calling it). I paid $1.99 for it. Total bargain for an Ann Bradshaw original, if you ask me.

I tried to Google Ann but haven’t been able to find anything about her art online. Pretty sure that makes it even more rare!

Regardless of what it’s worth, it’s priceless to me. That’s the point of this blog. Art is whatever you want it to be. I hope you find something special out there soon, too!

July Calm Puget Sound.

In a couple of weeks I will be moving away from Seattle. I sold my little condo on First Hill (closing in exactly 9 days) and will be packing up a U-Haul to head back east before the end of the month. I guess that’s why I feel the need to “stock up” on art made in the Pacific Northwest as my final few days living in the upper left-hand corner of the USA are slipping away.

Why am I leaving? Well that’s a story for another time.

The important thing is, this morning I found something that will forever make me think of my time in Seattle…

Here’s the backstory (in case you’re interested)…

THE START I have been trying to draw since two or three years old. First, it was funny little men with hats, then cartoons, then wanting deeply to put my version of what I saw in nature down on paper. Drawing was a world apart, which I could retreat into when the world my body inhabited was temporarily uncomfortable. My father was the son of English immigrants, so the children’s stories I was read before bed were illustrated by such great British artists as Arthur Rackham and Earnest Shepherd. These two artists influenced my style of drawing more than any others.

Black and white line drawings fascinated me for many years, as I trained my hand and eye to work together, to relax and flow. So I worked in pencil, charcoal and pen & ink for a long time, always delighting in working outdoors in nature. My family was a California family that camped and hiked, so I formed a passion for nature early on.

SCRATCHBOARD In later years I began to be drawn to woodcuts, linocuts and etchings, and experimented with these media for numbers of years, until I discovered scratchboard. What I loved about this medium was the fact that it allowed me to have the feeling of pen & ink as well as the feel of a woodcut, linocut or etching. The hand printing process of these latter media had never interested me much, so scratchboard was perfect, in that it is a drawing medium that looks like a hand-printing medium. I worked for years with the old type of scratchboard that can only be done in black & white.

http://sharonnealwilliams.com/pages/bio.html

Thank you, Seattle, for being my home for the past 7 years – for teaching me I am tougher than I thought I was and for introducing me to so many new things/experiences. I am forever indebted.

The Lion King Of Beasts…

Today started like any other Saturday. I got up, made breakfast, took my golden retriever to the dog park and decided to hit the Goodwill flagship store in downtown Seattle on our way home. I have found more incredible pieces there than anywhere else. And today was no exception.

As I strolled through art section, I saw “The Lion King Of Beasts” and grabbed it as fast as I could. It looked as though it had been removed from a frame, because it was just a piece of paper – but hadn’t been rolled or folded. The red price tag on the back said $3.99 and it just happened that all red tags were 50% off. YAHTZEE!

I scored the print for $2.00.

My next stop was the Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center on 4th Ave S in hopes of finding the right size frame. I had no idea the exact dimensions (I was guessing 18 or 20 x 24) but figured if I saw a frame that looked big enough I could run to the car and bring it inside to see if it would fit. ANOTHER YAHTZEE.

This black frame was $9.99 but also 50% off. So for a grand total of $7 this was my Saturday morning score!

When I got home I Googled the aritst, Shane Slayer. I found him pretty easily.

While I’m not sure what Shane is up to these days, it appears that he used to have a booth at the Saturday Market in Eugene, OR. In August of 2013 he was featured as the “Beautiful Booth of the Month” and here is what I learned about him:

Sometimes getting fired from a job is the best thing that can ever happen to you. Just ask Shane Slayer…

Fresh out of the military, and three months into a “real” job, Shane found himself suddenly unemployed and in need of funds. In all that suddenly spare time, he started drawing, and selling the drawings. He’s been a self supporting artist ever since. Shane actually sold at the Saturday Market in the 70s, moved away and sold elsewhere, and returned a few years ago.

I asked him how he learned to draw. “Copying pictures of girlfriends when I was in the military,” was his first answer. “Any formal training, though?” I asked, as his draftsmanship is so accomplished. Turns out he took a couple of drawing classes at the U of O while gaining his degree in History. The most important one was taught by a sculpture professor whose class was about anatomy, “We had to learn how to draw each muscle and understand how it works.” This knowledge is very useful for someone who draws a lot of imaginary creatures. You have to know how a dragon’s wings should be attached to make a convincing dragon portrait!

He works in dark pencil, then has the art copied. Prints are individually colored by hand by a method he developed himself. He uses cloth to apply pastels to the prints, so each one is unique. Along with drawing, he’s also a poet. He has written poems for all kinds of occasions, al neatly displayed and sorted by sentiment. “It’s all pretty upbeat, people like a positive message,” he says. He will even personalize artwork to commemorate a special person or occasion.

https://eugenesaturdaymarket.org/artisanpages/Slayer/slayer.html

If you’ve heard me say it once, you’ve heard me say it a thousand times. Don’t worry about what something is worth. The pretension of the art world can lead you to believe that something has to be expensive to be valuable. But there is a big difference between those words – expensive and valuable. If you like it, BUY IT! Happy collecting 🙂

Beginning the Journey…

I’ve learned that art doesn’t necessarily have to be “your style” or “your aesthetic” to have a place in your house. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t match our decor or go with the other pieces in your living room. Sometimes you can see something and know that it belongs with you anyways.

This framed print is called “Beginning the Journey” and, upon first glance, I was pretty mesmerized by it.

What better reminder could there be?

Stop. Look around. Put the phone away. Take a breath. Absorb. Be present.

And yet as simple as it sounds, it’s rarely done.

I think that was my attraction to this little print. Anything that reminds me to slow down and pay attention in life, whether it matches the color scheme in my house or not, is coming home with me.

Price: $1.99 at a thrift shop in downtown Seattle.

Place Where the Gods Come and Go…

If you’re like me, you may have never heard of Navajo sandpaintings but now that you’ve seen one you gotta admit…they’re pretty incredible, huh?

The Navajo word for sandpaintings means “place where the gods come and go.

Sandpaintings’ use four principal colors: white, blue, yellow, and black. They remind Navajos of the Four Sacred Mountains bordering their traditional homeland. These mountains and some of their associations are:

White Shell Mountain (Sierra Blanca Peak, Colorado): white-east-dawn
Turquoise Mountain (Mount Taylor, New Mexico): blue-south-day
Abalone Shell Mountain (Mount Humphreys, Arizona): yellow-west-twilight
Coal Mountain (Hesperus Peak, Colorado): black-north-darkness

http://www.collectorsguide.com/fa/fa083.shtml

The sandpainting has been used for centuries in religious rituals, including healing ceremonies performed by Navajo medicine men. A sandpainting for a ceremony is made on the ground in the ceremonial hogan and destroyed at the end of the ritual.

In order to preserve this long-standing tradition, in the late 1940’s Navajos began to create permanent sandpaintings, changing the design slightly to protect the religious significance when these paintings were shown publicly. Pictorial sandpaintings which reflect the Navajo environment and lifestyle are also made. Today sandpaintings are made by slowly trickling sand through the hand onto epoxy-covered particle boards, using sand made from naturally colored crushed rock, stone, and minerals for the different shades and colors.

http://www.penfieldgallery.com/sandPaintings/sandPaintings.html

While I don’t know the story behind this exact piece, I’m happy that I now  know more about the rituals performed and history behind the Navajo sanpaintings.

The Birthplace of Beethoven…

Admittedly, I only bought this because it was small and cute; a little piece that could fill in an awkward space on a gallery wall. At just 4″ x 4″ total, the actual print probably only measures half of that.

On the back, it appears this was purchased in 2001 to commemorate Steve Andy’s visit to Bonn…

I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought Bonn was in France. It’s not. Turns out, Bonn is actually in Germany and is known as the birthplace of Beethoven. Also, fun fact, no one really knows when Beethoven was born. It was sometime in December of 1770, but the date of his birth is not recorded. However, since it was customary for baptisms to take place within 24 hours of birth, it’s likely he was born on December 16th.

Anyways, I hope Steve Andy or Steve and Andy (if that’s meant to be two different people) enjoyed his/their trip to Bonn. And I’m glad, 17 years later, this little souvenir found its way to a store shelf in Seattle.

The Bull…

I love how anything can be art. You could frame a gum wrapper, hang it on your wall and…boom…art. No one can tell you that something you put in your house doesn’t classify as art, because there are no rules. Art is the wild west of decor. Paintings, fabrics, labels/wrappers, photographs…absolutely anything you decide is art, is art.

The same can’t be said for a lamp or a couch. Those have a specific form and function. You can’t put a bar of soap on the floor and call it a coffee table. It doesn’t work that way. But art is different. So in a sense, the boundaries that confine other things in our homes don’t apply when it comes to how we decorate our spaces.

Take this picture of a bull standing in the desert. Why do I like it? What made me say, “Oh that’s something I’d like in my house?” The answer is: I don’t know. Sometimes you just see something and it makes sense…to you…even if to no one else.

Bulls symbolize passion, transformation, virility, strength and fulfillment. I didn’t know that before I Googled it. Doesn’t matter. I saw this at a thrift shop for $0.99 and was like, “Yup. Mine.”