Tag: seattle

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 🙂

If you like it, you should buy it.

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you probably already know there isn’t much rhyme or reason to what I buy…or why I buy it. And I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would say that if you wanted to start your own art collection you *could* hit up an art show or hope to get lucky and find an original in a thrift shop (as those are both viable options). Or you might try looking around places like OfferUp or LetGo. You’d be surprised how many artists put their own pieces on sites like that.

Take this piece, for instance:

When I saw it, I fell in love. The artist listed it on LetGo for $100 and said it was an acrylic and mixed media piece. I offered him $75 and he was like, “sure.”

In my last few posts, I’ve written things like “even though this isn’t necessarily my aesthetic, I still bought it” or “doesn’t really fit my style, but I liked it anyway.” With this, those statements do not apply. I was beyond obsessed with it. It’s big, bold, bright, urban, street, has attitude and personality…everything I like.

I’m calling it “Flamingo King” and I bought it from a guy named Genaro Rivas in Tacoma, WA. I’m actually thinking about reaching back out to him to commission another piece…something similar, but perhaps with a political perspective? Haven’t decided yet. The point is, I liked it and I bought it. It is, to date, my most-prized acquisition. So go look around – on Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, apps, etc. – because you never know when you just might find your favorite piece of all time.



Art History in the Making…

I usually paint with acrylics. I’ve done one mosaic (which took me so long I swore I would never do another) and today I woke up wanting to learn how to do photo transfers. The process entails exactly what it sounds like – taking a photo and transferring it to a canvas, piece of wood, tile, glass…anything you can paint on.

I watched a couple of YouTube videos online and decided to give it a try. There’s only one way to learn and that’s just to go for it.

Step One: I found a couple of photos to experiment with. They can be color or black and white, doesn’t matter. Just make sure they are high resolution.

Step Two: E-mail the pictures to a print/copy shop. I used Staples.

Step Three: Make sure to use Laserjet and not Inkjet printing. Also, get a couple of copies of the image you want to use just in case you mess up. This is trial and error, so it might take a couple tries.

Step Four: Get your materials. I used canvas for my first go-round because it’s a smooth surface and (I figured) the easiest to use. You will also need a gel medium, a paint brush, modge podge (to seal it when it’s done) and a sponge/cloth/spray bottle – basically anything you can use to moisten the finished product with when it’s time to peel the paper off.

Step Five: Watch a YouTube video and follow along. Trust me, you will have questions as you go and having the tutorial as a guide will be immensely helpful.

Step Six: Have fun. Seriously, what’s the point if you aren’t enjoying yourself. Pour a glass of wine and forget about everything else going on in your life.

Here’s my finished product:

My photo transfer of “Seattle at Night” was done on an 11×14 canvas…and even though I messed it up, I still kinda like it. Looks vintage.


Why are cigar labels so cool?

In the interest of full disclosure, I know nothing about cigars. I only know that every time I see an old cigar box label I think, “Oh my God that is so cool.” That’s why when I found this Antique Original Label that had been professionally framed for Frances Lee Kaufman in Culver City, CA I was like, “I’m definitely buying this.”

But first, a little research:

Prior to the Civil War, few cigars were packed in boxes. Even in Cuba, most cigars were sold singly, by the handful or in small wrapped bundles called yaguas, made from palm fronds. In this country, cigars were typically shipped in barrels of 2,500 or more. Overworked revenue agents, faced with counting individual cigars in a factory, found it impossible to keep track of the movement of taxed and untaxed cigars. “They all look alike,” one harried agent complained to Congress.

The Revenue Act of 1864 tried to solve the problem by requiring all cigars to be packed in “boxes or bundles,” but feisty cigar makers harassed inspectors with odd lots, turning record keeping into a nightmare. With Lincoln’s strong support, the laws of 1865 resolved the problem of counting by requiring all cigars, foreign or domestic, to be packed in wooden boxes containing 25, 50, 100 or 250 cigars, giving IRS agents somewhere to paste a stamp proving taxes had been paid. By the end of the war, cigar boxes were everywhere: the federal solution to a very taxing problem.

Even the most far-thinking visionary in the chaw-chewing 1860s could not have foreseen that within a few years superb, new cigar tobaccos would be developed, cost-cutting cigar molds would be introduced from Germany (then the cigar-manufacturing capital of the world), exorbitant Civil War taxes, which made a five-cent cigar cost 12 cents, would be lifted and a huge, immigrant labor force would arrive eager for work.

With those changes in the 1870s and 1880s, domestic cigars became better, cheaper and more available, and for the next 50 years, cigars replaced the plug as the most popular form of tobacco use in America.

By 1900, four out of five men (and a goodly number of women and children) smoked cigars, and cigar connoisseurship had become an art. Dozens of distinct domestic tobaccos were blended with tobaccos from Cuba and Sumatra and rolled into more than 3,500 shapes and sizes–ready “for every occasion, purpose and time of day.” About 150,000 cigar factories flooded the country with a bewildering array of product. Between 1870 and 1920, more than 1.5 million brands of U.S. cigars appeared and disappeared on the market. More than 250 billion cigars were manufactured. And the law said they all had to be packed in boxes.

At first, cigar boxes sat closed on shelves behind the bar or counter, with only the simplest markings to identify the contents. But as the cigar industry became more competitive, the humidified cigar counter was developed to allow the new varieties, shapes and colors of cigars to be displayed without drying out. Colorful inside labels became essential to make a brand stand out among a sea of rather similar-looking competitors.

Cigars were unique among American retail products because everyone had a finger in the advertising pie. Cigar makers labeled cigars in accordance with their own tastes, but any wholesaler with a big order could get the same cigar packed in a different box with a different label, any saloon or drugstore that bought as few as 10 boxes could have the cigars reboxed under yet another label. With fancy labels costing only a penny or two, even customers could easily order “custom” brands emblazoned with their children, dog or favorite boat. As a result, there were more brands of cigar than any other product in history. During the height of cigar popularity, a small-town drugstore was forced to carry as many as 350 brands to keep its clientele happy.

For example, the 60 hand-rollers at the Powell & Goldstein factory (1870-1926) in Oneida, New York, made only two cigars: a five-center they sold as Factory 370 and a popular 10-center called Napoleon. Although they made just two cigars, they (like many other factories) were responsible for hundreds of brands. For more than 50 years, Powell & Goldstein’s five salesmen covered every town within a day’s ride of the Erie Canal. They created “custom brands” of cigars for hotels, restaurants, barbershops, train stations, social clubs–even haberdashers and shoe-shine parlors. The same cigar was sold side by side under multiple labels depicting well-dressed dandies, children at play, Masonic temples, white elephants and the mustached proprietor of a Buffalo pool hall–each trying to catch the eye of a smoker with a dime in his hand.

And catch his eye they did. Cigar labels were spectacular: full of colorful flags, eagles and naked women…showing off dogs, guns and fast horses. Ballplayers, actors, vaudevillians, opera stars and popular comic-strip characters were immortalized as were local heroes, civil servants and saloon keepers.

Labels depicted the high life, gambling, racial stereotypes, popular paintings, regional railroads, automobiles, inventions, political candidates, famous generals and women by the carload, generally staring virtuously into space. Labels featured lightbulbs, gas meters, wireless, the transatlantic cable, talking machines, radios and the Model T. Each new product or trend, new feat or event made it onto a label.

The Art of Cigar Boxes by Tony Hyman

I mean, I feel cooler just having this in my possession. But again, I’d be lying if I said I  knew anything about this brand of cigar or what the antique original label is worth. I paid $3.99 for it and feel perfectly ok with that.


The Ancient Kingdom of Mithila…

Besides pieces that are fun, bold and bright…I’m also drawn to travel-themed art and/or anything that comes with a really good story. I bought these two together because, while they don’t necessarily fit my aesthetic, I love what they represent.

These were hand made in India using fingers, twigs, nib-pens and paint brushes. They are identified with the Madhubani District, and are (therefore) referred to as Madhubani paintings.

Because they are devotional in theme, they depict scenes from the ancient epics and legends…and are rich with Vedic and Tantrik symbolism. They are simplistic manifestations of the philosophical heights achieved by Indian civilization.

The point is, you can be inspired by anything you see at any time. I got these both for less than $8 and I think they are worth WAY MORE than that…

A State of Oblivion…

It was Black Friday and while most people were battling mall parking lots or waiting in mile-long lines at Target, I was checking out a new thrift shop on Capitol Hill in downtown Seattle. Everything was 50% off so when I found this painting that cost slightly more than what I would normally spend on a piece from a secondhand store, I thought, “Meh…why not splurge a little?”

From the bid card on the back, it looks like this was part of a school fundraiser. The artist, Reba S. Bigelow, had handwritten the title of her work in pencil on the back.

“A State of Oblivion,” it said. While I have no idea what it went for in that auction, the price tag in front of me said $14.99. Paying half price for it meant that I could have it for $7.50. SOLD!

Luckily, the artist had also taped her card to the back so I was able to Google search her to learn more about the woman behind this particular state of oblivion.

Reba is originally from Kansas but married a Seattleite. Her interests include line dancing and volunteering. I even found this YouTube video of an interview she did while her art was on display at ArtNotTerminal (https://www.antgallery.org/) in August of 2005.

What I like most about Mrs. Bigelow’s painting is how abstract it is due to the lack of facial expression. I guess being in a state of oblivion shields us all from extreme emotions and leaves everyone guessing…