2007-01-12 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

If You Don't Know By Now Where Flowers Bloom In Winter… Rockaway Artists Alliance
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

If You Don't Know By Now Where Flowers Bloom In Winter…
Rockaway Artists Alliance

Commentary by
Susan Hartenstein

Title: "The Dandelion Queen" Artist: Sheryl Humphrey. Medium: Oil on canvasTitle: "The Dandelion Queen" Artist: Sheryl Humphrey. Medium: Oil on canvas After a week of breathless anticipation, you can stop schvitzing. At last, the definitive, quintessential and altogether correct answers to the Rockaway Artists Alliance Test Your Art Knowledge Quiz:

But first , the big picture: Where Flowers Bloom in Winter is the next exhibit in the sTudio 6 Gallery in the Rockaway Center for the Arts (RoCA) in Fort Tilden, on view January 20-February 18, 2007. The opening reception is January 21, 1-3 p.m. For information and directions please call the RAA office at 718 474-0861 or visit: www.rockawayartistsalli ance. org.

Sneak peek in a minute.

Beatrix Potter was born in South Kensington, London. My research tells me that she led a rather isolated life as a girl. Her most constant companion was her governess. She had many animals as pets that she studied and drew. Potter and her parents spent summer holidays in Scotland. Beginning in her teens and for two decades, they vacationed in the Lake District near Ambleside. It was here, under the influence of a local cleric, that she developed her views on the need to preserve the pristine beauty of the countryside, where she drew the animals and landscape. Through the encouragement of that cleric, she published greeting cards of her pictures and eventually used the drawings of her beloved Lakeland and the creatures that inhabited it for her books. These include The Tale of Peter Rabbit. As her success grew, she bought farmland in the district. In 1913 Potter married solicitor William Heelis and spent the next 30 years as a farmer, becoming an expert, prize-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep. Heelis' office is today the Beatrix Potter Gallery. Very successful as author and farmer, she continued to purchase thousands of acres of land, which upon her death in 1943 was willed to the National Trust for all to enjoy. She had also given her watercolors and drawings of fungi, mosses and fossils to the Armitt Library in Ambleside. Miss Potter is a new film starring Renée Zellweger as the artist, conservationist and naturalist.

Margaret Ursula Mee , also an Englishwoman, lived from 1909 to 1988 and was considered one of the best known botanical artists of her century. She studied art in her native country. In 1952 she moved to Brazil with her second husband, where she taught art and exhibited. Her highly individual style of botanical illustration brought her an international reputation. On her many dugout canoe trips on the Amazon and the Brazilian jungles she discovered, collected and painted exotic plants, painting many directly in their environment. Her books, large number of gouache illustrations, sketchbooks and diaries are a great legacy. Mee was one of the first to advocate for the preservation of the rainforest and to speak against the destructiveness of illegal mining and logging.

Sunflowers . These blooms become expressions of life, death and so much more in the hands of Vincent Van Gogh. The thick impasto brushstrokes reflect the texture of the seed heads. Van Gogh painted four sunflower canvases in August and September of 1888, a replica in January of 1889 and perhaps another in 1890.

In Gertrude Stein's 1913 poem S acred Emily, the first "Rose" of "Rose is a rose is a rose," is the name of a woman. In later writings Stein used variations on the phrase, the most famous of which is probably, "A rose is a rose is a rose." Though there are interpretations of this sentence, it is reported that Stein herself said it meant that just using a name of something automatically expresses the emotions and imagery with which it is associated.

At a time when the interior decorating fashion tended toward dark, heavy material and large, velvet upholstered furniture, Claude Monet's country home and gardens in Giverny stood in fresh, colorful contrast. They fit into the beautiful, rolling hills and bright, pure colors of the countryside. By 1890 Monet was far from being the struggling artist. He was able to buy the home he had rented and the surrounding gardens. Eventually he bought neighboring land and created a living canvas for himself filled with blooming flowers. He remained here until his death in 1926.

Sneak peek: Accompanying this column is Laura Flego's pencil drawing "The Daffodils I," one of the artworks in Where Flowers Bloom in Winter. Evidencing Flego's passion for line and the fragile beauty of her subject, the artist renders these bright blooms in the soft subtlety of the medium. CU@RoCA on Sunday, January 21, 1-3 p.m.

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