I couldn’t resist getting a shot of the Petunia Teacup paintings together on a yellow wall before they were split up! I’ll be bringing Petunia Tea II into Gallery 24 with a number of other Birds and Teacup paintings next week.
In Anemone Tea I, which I’ve just listed on the website and will be taking into Gallery 24 this morning, I’ve paired one of the Steller’s Jays that hangs out around my studio with an antique blue flow Chen-Si teacup and anemones which signify forsaken love in the Victorian language of flowers.
I just listed Magnolia Tea II on the website and will be bringing it into Gallery 25 with a flock of other Birds and Teacups. In this painting, I tried to bring home some of the magic of spotting a white hummingbird in the wild to capture it in a domestic still life with this unusual, unpainted Limoges demitasse set and Magnolia Grandiflora bloom which represents nobility and perseverance in the Victorian language of flowers.
I love how these paintings come together, often the teacup is the inspirational launching point, but this time I had spotted a Townsend’s Warbler in my neighbor’s camellias and while photographing it (such a shy bird) I began to imagine what flower might suit its sweet masked face… and knew right away that it had to be the black and yellow striped petunia which I picked up in one of my local nurseries, and finding a matching teacup turned to be a cinch on ebay – a Royal Standard bone china classic from England! When I discovered the Victorian meaning of the petunia was “your presence soothes me”, I thought of the mourning jewelry I’ve been quietly obsessed with as of late and included a braided hair locket in my vignette. Of course, it wasn’t complete until I had a backdrop worked out and my yellow cotton dress with black and white feather embroidery seemed perfect. I’ve framed the painting in a sculptural, undulating black frame with a rich patina. I liked this combination so much, I went on to paint a matching Petunia Tea II with a gold locket.
Both of these paintings were just listed on my website and I will be taking them into Gallery 24 in Los Gatos, California this Friday along with a flock which includes a Steller’s Jay, a White Anna’s Hummingbird and a House Finch, which I’ll be posting, post haste!
Of course the reason I began growing chrysanthemums in the first place is so I could put them in a matching teacup! I found several that I loved, one was a Limoges cup and saucer from 1895 with fabulous gold orbs bordered in black, the other (c. 1900) a handpainted Bavarian cup and saucer signed by Helen (HKaub) Grossart. Even if I didn’t have the exact mums on hand I thought I should shoot what I had so I would have something to work with. I also couldn’t resist shooting with some of the miniature pitchers, reminiscent of Fiestaware.
This time I have a group of red transferware pieces with birds already adorning them, a red bird floral by Coalport, a swan with rushes, also by Coalport, and a tiny a child’s cup with a bird on the inside is (also from England). Transferware first came onto the scene by the mid 18th century as a quick (and more affordable) alternative to hand painted decoration. Blues and browns were more common but the red may have laid the frame work for the redwork embroidery that was to become so popular in the 19th century due to the introduction of floss from Turkey which was dyed with madder (roots from the rubia plant) that wouldn’t run like other dyes. Designs were embroidered onto muslin using a simple outline stitch that even children could do, decorating linens and quilt squares reaching a height in popularity early in the 20th century.
Pairing these two up was a no brainer – the bigger challenge will be to determine what kind of bird is portrayed here? The only red bird I know of is a cardinal.
Each week that passes brings on a glorious new wave of blooms – this week it’s the dogwood that’s caught my eye. I’m amazed by the variety in my very own neighborhood (sadly the white one I planted next to my studio isn’t blooming this year as it’s still struggling to get enough sun).
Of course I do have a vintage teacup that had been begging for little dogwood bouquet, it’s tri-footed base is too wonky for tea anyway!
“Am I indifferent to thee?”, the dogwood symbolizes durability and endurance in the Victorian lexicon of flowers, because of it’s strong wood, said in Christian lore to be the wood used in the crucifixion with it’s bracts showing the nail holes at their tips and the crown of thorns at their center. How did it get that name? Some say it was because it’s bark was used to rid dogs of the mange. Others say it evolved from “dagwood” as daggers were made from this strong material. A lot of heavy symbolism to contrast against this delicate cup and bloom – I wonder which bird seems suitable to add to the mix?
I’ve been wanting to make a nosegay of violets for as long as I can remember (the violet is February’s flower and that’s the month I was born in)! A nosegay is just what it sounds like – a happy nose. These miniature bouquets were made of fragrant flowers (as early as medieval times) to be worn close enough to smell them, on a broach or in the hair. And what could be more perfect than the viola odoratta, the odorous violet (or sweet violet). In Victorian times this flower symbolized faithfulness and modesty and would have provided some relief from the less than pleasant scents of open sewers, horse dung filled streets and abundant body odor. For my purposes, I want to have a bouquet to match my antique teacups, as a setting for birds that I photograph and add to my painting schemes.
The hand painting on these Bavarian teacups from the early part of the 20th century is so charming. A lovely launching point for painting my own take on violets.
Somehow making violet tea is akin to “drinking the Kool-aid” for me, creating a window where the whimsical might be possible – like a bird alighting on a teacup.
This is the vision I had in mind when I set out for Elizabeth’s blackberry bush with my pruners this morning.
I have been collecting china that lets me believe I could drink a Nova Scotia summer in a tea cup! I spent many summers collecting wild blackberries from brambles a good deal taller that I was in the woods behind our family home. I’d come back all scratched up with ice cream containers full of berries. I’d fill up our deep stainless steel sink with water and swish the blackberries about until they were clean and glistening. Then I would strain them up into my hands like I was gathering up all the stars from the night’s sky.
I couldn’t just snip a branch and be on my way though – you never know when you’re going to need a good picture of a blackberry and they were so beautiful in the early morning light!
I liked these green ones hiding in the shadow of the roses, and I would have missed them if I didn’t pause to enjoy the moment. Did you know that roses and blackberries are related? I guess you don’t have to be pricked to many times to figure this one out.
Then there were these dark beauties basking lush in the full sun.
I love the graceful arch of the branch laden with ripe fruit and all armed with thorns!
And it’s interesting to see all the hues of ripening on the same branch.
How did I not even eat one of these? Oh, how I sacrifice for my art!
Now I’m just having a hard time picking out a favorite photo, perhaps I’ll have to do more than one painting!