Finding photos from the past that match their current continuation photos was my time traveler's delight. Memory lane is joyfully beautiful, and seeing them glow and grow in the present moment is a ride I'll never want to exit. Oh how so much has changed, but the curiosity, wonder, and awe of the world around them has stayed exactly the same. These young humans with old souls teach me love, compassion, joy, and newness everyday.
Together, they move on to the next big school reaching forward to find their future, inward to find their strength & self worth, and upward to find their connection to it all. May your journey be sound, sweet ones.
It's not often you get to experience a day, and know it's one you'll never forget. Today was one of those days for me.
I had the pleasure to visit the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, MO today. This ship and all it's cargo was one of hundreds of steamboats in the 1800s that sunk in the Missouri River. It is the world's biggest and most complete pre civil war time capsule ever to be uncovered! This steamboat hit a tree snag in 1856 and went down in 15 minutes, in 15 feet of water. All 121 passengers survived. Time took the Arabia and it's 220 tons of cargo away as the river changed it's course over the next 135 years. In 1988, 5 adventurous men set forth to uncover it, buried 45-70 feet deep in a cornfield. Yes, it was buried below a cornfield.
One of those men was Jerry Mackey. I had the museum to myself, and only one man was there as it opened. Turns out, it was Jerry. He proceeded to give me a personal tour of the massive collection that they are still preserving for over 2 hours today! To hear the tale from Jerry made me feel like I was somehow connected to the steamboat, and to the discovery myself. We walked room after room together as he regaled me with the triumph and tragedy of the Arabia, and his fellow partners. This dear man is so knowledgeable, he's probably forgotten more than I'll ever know. His wisdom and curiosity are unmatched. He knows the intimate details of all the items aboard, and has been a devoted researcher over the 30 years since they painstakingly pulled up the cargo. Their discovery has literally rewritten our collective knowledge of the 1850s in America, filling gaps with stories big and small. To see two story lines unfold; the story of the frontier and the steamboat searchers made history and the American spirit come alive in me in a way I never thought possible.
Not one piece of the collection has been sold or is in private ownership. The partnership of the five men vowed to keep it all together as one time capsule to share with the world. It cost them 1.5 million to recover the steamboat, and they made their money back in ten years of museum visitors. Talk about vision! Jerry reminds me of both of my grandfathers somehow combined in one. I was hanging on each word, each story. I wanted to stay all day. I wanted to be part of their team!
I knew I would be seeing this amazing collection as I made my way to Asheville, and I listened to Surviving Savanna by Patti Callihan which is also about a steamboat from the mid 1800s and it's modern day recovery. To be immersed in this brave period of American history (and the historical preservation and seeking) over these 20 hours in the last two days has given me such a beautiful perspective on perseverance, resilience, and tenacity.
Adventure is out there. I feel the heaviness of the last two years wash away as I drive East to my beloved art show and family reunion with my fellow artisans, craftsmen, and collectors.
I could talk for hours about these photos below, but instead, I encourage each of you to come find this museum and walk it's 1856 rooms of artifacts for yourself. You will be transported back in time through the hope of the American West. Many of the items were brand new. Dishes never used, hats and shoes never worn, prefab homes never built. In many cases the last hands to touch them were their makers.... That is a powerful story for this maker, at least. 1856.com #arabiasteamboatmuseum
Bookplate by C.F.A. Voysey, 1917. This was designed for prominent lawyer and Voysey’s emphasis on symbolism was of upmost importance to his design. Voysey himself published an article in 1918 and again in 1928 entitled “Modern Symbolism” in The Builder.
Bookplate by Glasgow artist and designer Jessie M. King, 1906. King designed at least 30 bookplates between 1902 and 1910. Many were showcased at the Arts and Crafts Society’s exhibitions in London. The Studio hosted student competitions and bookplates were an appropriate graphic art form within the art school system of the period.
Bookplate by Walter Crane. Even for private use, Crane’s design philosophy combined socialist aesthetics and symbols with conventions of children’s literature. The plate refers to its creator (and the book’s owner) in three different registers. The first showing “Walter Crane” printed across the top of the image. The leading “W” appears in two forms; first, roughly formed by four paintbrushes and then below on the artist’s palette from which the brushes emerge. The central illustration, depicts Crane as his animal alter-ego; a crane. His socialistic philosophy of integrating art and life and of creating work that is consistent with one’s identity is well defined in his bookplate.
Bookplate by Aubrey Beardsley (left). Beardsley was an English illustrator, author, and a leading figure of the Aesthetic movement. He was influenced by Japanese Woodcuts and emphasized the erotic, grotesque, and the decadent in his work. Beardsley’s contributions to the development of Art Nouveau and the posters styles of the time were significant. Bookplates by Gordon Craig (three on the right). Craig was an English actor, director, theatre scenic designer and writer. In 1904 he wrote is most famous work, the essay The Art of the Theatre. He also was well known for his patented movable screens and set design for the Moscow Art Theatre production of Hamlet in 1911.
Every book lover knows that a book loaned often becomes a book lost. Sharing your treasured books can often be a losing business. So, how can you gently remind the borrower it’s your property, with hope to see it once again? Enter center stage, the innovation of the bookplate.
A bookplate is also known as an ex libris in reference to the Latin inscription meaning “from the books of…” The earliest known example dates back to 1450, the same year as the birth of printing from movable type. Many early bookplates were designed to safeguard the books of barons and nobles. Because of this they were adorned with coats of arms and other indicators of inherited prestige. This was the case through the 18th century. The Victorians with their love of gathering “beautiful things” realized as early as 1875 that bookplates were collectable. In his 1880 publication on bookplate collecting, John Byrne Leicester Warren recognized four distinct styles in early British bookplate design: early armorial, Jacobean (including Restoration, Queen Anne, and early Georgian), Chippendale (rococo), and wreath and ribbon (Victorian).
The 19th century saw the rise of the middle class. Scholars, professionals, and other educated individuals became interested in bookplates and commissioned works in a pictorial vein. These drew from classical and symbolist iconography and were heavily influenced by The Arts and Crafts Movement. In 1891 a few British bookplate collectors met in London to establish the Ex Libris Society and by the end of that first year, it had grown to more than 300 members. The Society began publishing the Journal of the Ex Libris Society and it was published through 1909 with 18 volumes in all. As the collecting of bookplates from previous generations was gaining popularity, the demand for new bookplates also grew. Interest in bookplates reached its peak around the turn of the century but began to decline with the onset of the First World War. Over the next 100 years, interest has come and gone, but for me at least, the height of the art of the bookplate is directly linked to the European Arts & Crafts era. Today there are some 50 ‘national’ bookplate societies that gather world-wide every two years.
Celebrated artists like Walter Crane, Aubrey Beardsley, Robert Anning Bell, Jesse M. King, Gordon Craig, and C.F.A. Voysey created beautiful works of art, knowing that they would only be seen by a select few. It the bookplate is one of the most intimate forms of personal art during this era. Art for Art’s sake, a treasure to be hidden away in a book somehow becomes more romantic to me, than art meant to be on display for all. Personal art, originally meant only for high society, now acknowledged the social principles put forth by John Ruskin and William Morris; no matter your station in life, you deserve to enjoy refinement and objects of beauty.
Many of the artists of the time saw bookplate design as a new artistic challenge. To reduce the artwork to such a small size and to create with only a limited color palate, or even just in black and white, gave way to graphic design. Simple line contour had to speak volumes. Shape had to be distinct enough to allow instant recognition. In response to these artistic challenges we can see the birthplace of the modern logo. And art wasn’t just made from oil or egg tempura anymore. Ink was king! Early innovation in the artistic printing press was akin to adding a snare drum to the band for the first time. Such rich and bold notes had not previously been heard, and could be shocking to the ears. Even today, there is fine art--leave room for the Grand Canyon--and then illustration, including typography. In the 1990s, I received Cs in some of my painting classes at Colorado State University because I wasn’t “painterly” enough. One memorable professor said my work just wasn’t “cooked in” yet. I’ve always been drawn to sharp, defined line work and expressively bold shape. Creating a visual gut-punch of emotion with fewer details always wins in my book. Simplicity of design can be seen as the very foundation of refinement. Oh how I would love to transport back in time to dine with the bookplate artists of the Arts & Crafts Era and hear if they too experienced the inferred or even at times outright scowl from the fine art world. Art should always be personal. These artisans took the time to create small, concentrated drawings that delight to this day like humble lyrics to a whispered song. Next time you are shopping for old books, take the time to open their front covers. You never know what delicious details may be in store for you there. You may even feel the previous owner looking on, hoping to get their beloved book back. They took the time to mark it, after all.
Bookplate by Robert Anning Bell. Bell was a fine artist painting in oil and gouache. He designed stained glass windows and mosaics for many churches and from 1895 to 1899 Bell was an instructor at the Liverpool University school of architecture. In 1911 he was appointed chief of the design section at the Glasgow School of Art.
Driving home from The Grove Park Inn on Feb. 25th with one of my life-long friends (Terri Boylan), listening to Brené Brown's The Power of Vulnerability was a highlight for me. I had just come from the 34th Annual Arts & Crafts Conference for the 7th year in a row in Asheville, North Carolina. I had sold my artwork to peers, collectors, and respected & dear friends. I had the great joy and honor to facilitate a Roycroft Artisan brainstorm session with some of the most talented people on the planet that are like family to me. I had amazing conversations about the future, full of excitement and discovery. You just can't stop me after Grove Park Inn every year. I get SO filled up with all the good in the world, all the healthy choices I want to make for myself, all the friendships that have deepened, all the art I want to create... it's really a spiritual experience for me on many levels.
As we were driving home on that Tuesday, my hubby called me and told me the CDC was saying that COVID-19 wasn't a question of "if, but when" it would hit. That it would disrupt daily life for everyone. This was a sobering moment to say the least. I didn't go into denial, I went into "what can I control" mode. I made it home Wed. afternoon, unpacked my car from the art show, and headed straight over to Costco for a cart-worth of, well, everything. It was surreal in many ways. Seeing all the shelves full, seeing normal shopping happening, no one worried about much of anything. I was grateful for each and every item in that huge store. I was calm, but reserved as I walked up and down isles, picking out all sorts of tasty varieties for the days ahead. I was thinking to myself, this may be the last normal shopping trip for me for a time. It wasn't. I returned to the grocery store the next day to buy things I forgot, and the next day because I didn't think to buy x, y, or z. It was almost like the twilight zone everywhere I went - for a full two weeks, my husband and I thought maybe we were going crazy --no one else was paying any attention, and the collective denial of our fellow man was HUGE. Everyone around me and on social media was making a joke of how blown out of proportion this whole thing was, and some actively mocking and belittling anyone that was voicing any sort of concern. I felt very alone. Yesterday, March 11th arrives, and WHO declares it a pandemic. Everyone is forced to see it now, things start to change. Everything closes down: schools, sports, concerts, tourism, conventions, airlines, stocks. I asked myself, what is in my control? Cleaning. Taking my kids out of school one day before the district extends Spring Break. Staying home. Numbing out to a favorite movie. Working on taxes. Washing my hands. Mindfulness on not touching my face. Breathing. Treadmill. Meditation. Being grateful for all that I have...
In The Power of Vulnerability, Brené talks about how we as humans handle crisis. We have one of two paths: under function, or over function. That's it. I am an over function queen in crisis. I tick off the checklist, I do the deeds. I gett'er done. I'm also an under performer in crisis when I think I've run out of my list of things I can control. I've laid in bed in the fetal position and scrolled the news on my phone plenty too. The key to these patterns that we all share is to be aware of which one you are in. Take the time to do a self scan. Am I over performing? That means I may be stressing out the people I'm with, I may be barreling ahead too much without thinking. I may be adding stress to my crisis. Am I under performing? Am I frozen in unrealized fear, ready to numb out at all cost? Am I not functioning like I need to be? I say to myself "Jules, you are under functioning. Get up." This very new practice is really working for me. I tend to bounce back and forth between the two, but with smaller amounts of time between. Smaller waves. It's a great regulator to take the time to check in on yourself and see where you are on this simple, binary topic. All the emotions come into play still, but if I use these terms, I find that I can see it better as constructive criticism, and the negative self-talk can't take hold. Brené 's research on the 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living is a daily ritual for me to review now too:
This audible book is different than her TED Talk, it's not in printed form that I know of. This is a culmination of all of Brené Brown's decades of research. It's brilliant. Six 1-hour sessions that will change your life. Session 5 & 6 are all about these guideposts. I've listened to this talk 3 times now in the last 7 months. I recommend a listen through, and then a second pass with paper and pen for notes because there are so many nuggets of wisdom everywhere. Terri and I had 21 hours of road in front of us, and it didn't shock me even a little that we would listen, pause the book and talk, and then listen again for the entire drive. We had 15 hours of the most authentic, caring, and vulnerable conversation two best friends could have.
We all are going to have a bit more time on our hands perhaps with all the disruption to our daily lives. What will you do with your time?
What if we can lessen the blow of a different disease, the "Disease of Busy" (too much stress, too much work, too many activities, too much travel, too much everything) because of COVID-19? What if the silver lining is that we make it a goal to slow down, we find time to appreciate our family more, ourselves more and seek deeper connections? Pickup that guitar that's gathering dust, or learn how to really use that new tech thing you bought that's still in the box. Catch up on your family photo albums... play those games that are in the closet. What if we can take some of this balance back out into our world when this crisis fades? I believe we have a global opportunity to collectively use this gift of more time. We may even leave a larger impact on our planet than we can fathom. Wouldn't that be something? It may not impact the whole world for very long, but this gift of time could impact your life, and your family for many years to come, if you choose it.
I know this hiatus from the norm will increase my gratitude, make me a better mom, wife, artist, cook, and house-cleaner. Setting this intention now for myself is how I'm going to succeed. It's how I'm going to honor my creator and the universe for the positive, collateral and residual good that can come out of something so unknown.
Be The Change by Julie Leidel, 2020. Gouache on Illustration board, 20 x 24.
New Year Greeting Card, artwork by Britsh illustrator Ethel Larcombe, early 1900-10s.
Ethel Larcombe's, 1899 submission to The Studio Magazine entitled "Summer"
1900 children's book illustration by Ethel Larcombe.
The Letter O from Larcombe's 1902 original alphabet design.
One of Lacrombe's many book cover designs.
1917 design work for Sears, Roebuck, & C0. Designer unknown, but fits Larcombe's book design aesthetic.
As the idea for my next painting rolled around in my heart for a few weeks, I knew I wanted to have a strong visual to bring it alive with connection. I wanted this artwork to resonate with the historical time between 1890-1910 when the Art Nouveau Movement flourished and the time in which Mahatma Gandhi lived. The monarch butterfly has represented change across many cultures for centuries.
This female figure in my artwork is not meant to be a fairy however, but it is more of a representation of the "hats" we wear in our lifetime. Similar to putting on a uniform, this is a way we become the job. It's more of a nostalgic take on why a super hero would wear a costume. I've heard many interviews with ordinary citizens put in extraordinary circumstances where the news heralds them "A Hero." Almost always, this hero never feels deserving of the title, they were just doing their part. That's exactly the point behind putting on your wings. We all can be that hero to someone by being the change we want to see in this world.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world" is a beautiful quote, but it's not word for word from Gandhi in printed format. After some research, it is based on his printed teachings from 1913: "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him." In 1989, the L.A. Times asked Gandhi's family about the quote and this was their response. "The Gandhi family states that M. K. Gandhi was known to say this verse many times in his lifetime and believes it to be original with him." So to be as accurate as possible, this is why I wrote "Inspired by Gandhi" on the artwork. Notably in 1976, Arleen Lorrance wrote with the same idea "Receive all people as beautiful exactly where they are. Perceive problems as opportunities. Be the change you want to see happen instead of trying to change everyone else..."
Many times the idea for my art's verse, and the idea for my art's composition & visual layout don't happen at the same time. I knew I wanted to base a painting off of Gandhi's teachings in Sept. of 2019 and include monarch butterflies. For my creative process, I muse over different ideas (usually just in my head) as the artwork starts to take shape in a very natural way. I keep my mind open and on the look out for inspiration. New Year 2020 comes around, and I can always count on my dear friend Robert Rust, co-author of The Arts & Crafts Home, and Arts & Crafts Architecture & Design Library to post the most wonderful, antique illustrations & cards on social media. I saw this amazing greeting card drawing, and I was in love.
I stayed up all night on Dec. 29, 2019 creating my conceptual layout for the art. At the time, I didn't know who "LE" was, and neither did Robert. Weeks later, Laura Euler, author of The Glasgow Style, and Arts & Crafts Embroidery, gave us the missing link. LE is British illustrator Ethel Larcombe (1876-1940.) Anytime I can stumble across a new (to me) female A&C illustrator, I'm all in. I want to share my research of this amazing artist that was also thriving in the time of Gandhi (1869-1948), albeit in a much lesser known capacity.
Ethel Larcombe was born in 1876 in Exeter, England where she lived all her life. Not to be confused with Ethel Thomson Larcombe (British tennis player, 1876-1965.) Her early influences included the book illustrations of Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway, whose work she studies and copied. William Morris’sKelmscott Chaucer in 1896 inspired her to explore the Arts & Crafts style, and her artistic influences shifted to painters like Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
In the following years she decreased her use of medieval elements and concentrated on more modern Art Nouveau designs and winning many competitions. Her work was featured in The Studio Magazine.Other publications that featured her work were Stone, Von Larisch, and Salwey. Her typographic lettering was shown in 1902 in Italy, and a German publication alongside an original alphabet by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
This style soon caught the eye of prolific book designer Talwin Morris, the Art Director of Blackie & Son in Glasgow. He commissioned her to design several book bindings for the firm and its London subsidiary, Gresham, between 1904 and 1912. Today, many of Larcombe's bindings are misattributed to Talwin Morris. Larcombe’s work was usually more compact compared to Morris’s. She also provided the title pages and initials to Walter Shaw Sparrow'sWomen Painters of the World, published in 1905, seen below.
In the Spring of 1917, American retailer Sears, Roebuck, & Co. hired her to design green-bordered cotton textile "coverettes" and catalogues to appeal to the female buyers looking to decorate children's rooms. Ethel is also well known for her illustrated "rag books" for Dean & Son. Her designs were also used in postcards printed by E. W. Savory Co. and she provided graphical design work for Arts & Crafts furniture designers Neatby & Evans. Not much is known about her personal life, sadly. Ethel Larcombe died in Exeter in 1940.
This is one of my favorite things about being a Revival artist; I love to bring back not only the style of the Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau movements, but also I love to raise awareness to some of my personal unsung heroes, the lesser known artists from this era. As I was writing, I discovered a lead on the 1917 Sears pamphlets. The last two images posted below have decorative designs that stand starkly against much of the other design work produced by Sears at that time, so I did a little more digging. I have a hunch both of these are Ethel's designs. The Glasgow School of Art put together a wonderful "Treasures of the GSA Library" online after GSA lost their centuries-old library collections in two separate and devastating fires in May 2014 and again in June 2018 before all renovations were complete. I don't believe this digital collection was available before the fires. This image below shows Ethel's 1905 cover (left) next to a 1917 Sears ad (right). Ethel Larcombe's unique typography is unmistakable in both.
Lastly, I want the reader to understand that artists are inspired by other artists and have been since the beginning of time. Art history shows us time and time again how peers (and rivals) have influenced, innovated, and copied each others work whether they are living at the same time, or are divided by a century or more. When I saw this 1905 title page of Women Painters of the World illustrated by Ethel Larcombe, the first artist that popped into my 21st century mind was none other that of Mary Engelbreit. I'd be willing to bet she's been influenced by this book illustrator too. It's a small world, after all.
Brian and I took our kids (Abby & Brady) out of school for two weeks earlier this month and we went on an amazing Alps tour, through Switzerland, Austria, and Southern Germany. Bavarian food and customs were all around us as we explored the mighty Alps. I love feeling small when nature can feel so enormous and encompassing. This road-trip style European vacation included castles and hikes, churches and museums, lake cruises and mountain cable cars, salt mines and Hapsburg Palaces, bustling city streets and quaint, quite walkways in towns that time forgot.
Oh, and cows. Yes, more cow bell is a real thing in Switzerland. This was a trip of a lifetime, and my family is beyond amazing. We have always been a very close family, but this trip pulled us that much tighter together. We did drive around one round about three times, and the roads are so narrow in places that we somehow ended up on a sidewalk once. Oh, and there was that incident with the castle playground in Innsbruck that caught Abby's pants in just the right way to rip a huge hole in her bottom! I'll remember Brady flying through the air at Nordekette, and Abby joining a Mozart opera and quintet on stage forever. Memories for a lifetime, and probably a few paintings will be coming out of this inspiration too.
Did you know our Rocky Mountains are 77 million years older than the Alps? Imagine what they must have looked like before erosion in their prime... I'm blown away by this planet of ours...
As I settle back into my daily life, I'm reminded just how much I love and cherish what I do. It's not work for me at all. I missed my career that was at home waiting for me as soon as we got on the plane for home. This is proof that I've found the meaning in my life. Carpe Diem.
My daughter Abby in Grindelwald, Switzerland
Leidel's in Laterbrunnen, Switzerland
360 Degree Views from the top of Shilthorn
Bird's Eye Views form Bern's Gothic Cathedral
Ceramic work by Freidrich Ernst Frank (1862-1920) on display at Schloss Thun in Thun, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland
Lake Lucerne (and my future home one day...)
Fall Colors Over Lucerne, Switzerland
Hapsburg Palace in Innsbruck, Austria
Brady in meat heaven.
Austrian Alps from Innsbruck
Nordkette, the top of the Austrian Alps
Gothic Glory at Schloss Tratzberg (My favorite castle!)
Movie spots from the Sound Of Music in Salzburg
Hallstatt, Austria. So breathtakingly beautiful that the Chinese built an exact replica of this town!
My daughter swooped up into a Mozart Opera in Salzburg, Austria
I've recently been commissioned by the Civic Center Conservancy to create a painting to commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Greek Theater and Civic Center Park in Downtown Denver. On this journey, I've found and fallen in love with the artwork of Allen Tupper True (1881-1955.) and I wanted to share some of his amazing story here.
He was born in Colorado Springs, and spent a great deal of his life here in Colorado. He grew up living at a time where the west was still a beautiful combination of early settlers, Native Americans, frontiersman, trappers, and prospectors. His goal was to always tell the true story of his American West: the hardships, virtues, spirituality, work ethic, and daily life of all the people living here at the turn of the century.
Photo Credit: Victoria Tupper Kirby in her book Allen Tupper True: An American Artist
The Happy Hunting Ground Mural for the Colorado National Bank photo collaged with Allen at work on this mural in the 1920s. This mural is the last in this series and has followed an American Indian Chief through his entire life. Sitting on his burial platform, ready to transition to the afterlife, you see him look back over his life through visions and spirits in the sky. Five blue herons help guide him onto his final journey. Photo Credit: Victoria Tupper Kirby in her book Allen Tupper True: An American Artist
Mountain Telephone Construction is in the outer lobby of the 14th Street entrance to the current Qwest building downtown Denver. Photo Credit: Victoria Tupper Kirby in her book Allen Tupper True: An American Artist
"Civic Center Park" 20" x 24" gouache on illustration board by Julie Leidel
Allen Tupper True studied at The University of Denver for a year, and then went out east to Delaware to study under Howard Pyle as a book and magazine illustrator from 1902 to 1907. He was drawn overseas to study art in London in 1908 and apprenticed with muralist Frank Brangwyn. Here he learned how to tell a powerful story through his mural work. He became a master of mural painting, and received many public mural contracts all over the American West. His first mural was sold to Anne Evans (daughter of Governor Evans) in 1912. He partnered with Brangwyn on the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco 1913-1915, and was commissioned for an astounding amount of murals (many not listed here but a few of note) for the Denver Public Library 1912-17, Wyoming State Capitol 1917, Denver Civic Center Park 1920, Colorado National Bank 1921-25, Missouri State Capitol 1922-1925, Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Company 1927-29, restoration to the Central City Oprah House and Teller House 1931-34, Colorado State Capitol 1934-40, The Brown Palace 1937, University of Denver 1946, Denver's City and County building 1950, and his last mural for the CU Students Union building in 1953-55 where he suffered from a stroke while working.
He was hired by the US Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation from 1934-42 to design color schemes and decorative floor designs for several dams and power houses including the Hoover dam. True was commissioned in 1935 to design the bucking bronco for the Wyoming license plate that is still used today. He also had many exhibits of his paintings nationally throughout his career, including a solo exhibition at the Denver Art Museum in 1947.
True had been allergic to turpentine for most of his life, which caused painful skin conditions and later caused him to work with egg tempura rather than oil paint, which was his first love. Many of his murals have been lost to time sadly, but some of the best examples of his mural work in Colorado can still be found at The Renaissance Hotel (in the historic Colorado National Bank Building) at 17th & Champa, and the Qwest Building (formerly the Mountain States Telephone company) at 14th & Curtis as well as the Brown Palace and the Colorado State Capitol.
As I work on my commission painting for Civic Center Park here in 2018, I'm reminded that each building in this painting (The Greek Theater, The Denver Public Library, and the Denver Art Museum) now house some of Allen Tupper True's work today. I wanted to honor True's lifetime of murals by paying homage to him through using what I call the "True Light" - his color palette through much of his collective body of work. His choice of color is extraordinary, bringing bold colors forward, mixing with the pastel coloring of the background. His illustrative painting method is also an inspiration to me as an artist.
I've had some questions about my raven and the meaning. There's a lot tucked into this one. The messy tail feathers are very much on purpose.
In my raven, there's an Art Nouveau feel of course, so there are some curves thrown in, but most importantly, this raven is a truth seeker. Especially when it's hard and can be unbelievably brave to tell the truth. This raven and the motto were inspired initially by the "silence breakers" of 2017 and beyond. It's quite literally meant to ruffle tail feathers. The truth isn't always easy, and it's not always attainable for many. Odin (from Norse Mythology) had two truth-seeking ravens fly the world and report back to him. They were named Thought (Huginn) and Memory (Muninn.)
In each voyage for every individual, I believe that if we strive to speak truth, happiness is close at hand. Speak truth not only in the present to those around us but, even more importantly, to ourselves. The narrative we end up believing about our inner self through our thoughts and our memories needs to be checked or even reevaluated from time to time. Are we holding up truth even then? Are we honoring our truth by not tearing ourselves down with our inner monologue? Are we glossing over something we really should feel remorse for and make it right? Are we being fair, loving, and truthful to the one inside? Be honest... The voyage of self discovery is the longest journey we'll encounter in our lifetime.
There's a lone tree atop a hill filling tens of thousands of people with inspiration, a sense of stability, connection to nature, and peace. This tree isn't deep in the Rocky Mountains, or on a hilltop somewhere in a remote part of Tibet. Nope, it's in an environment that you may least suspect from the description you just read. It's in the heart of Los Angeles, California.
This aging gnarled pine is a respite from the hustle and bustle below. People from all over the world hike to this singular tree in hopes of changing their perspective. Not just by the view, but by the words, images, song lyrics, and letters of inspiration that people leave in a box beneath the tree for all to read. It's a place to reconnect with Mother Earth, amid a sea of busy. It's a place to rest and breathe, and stretch, and write. Wisdom Tree represents a vein of hope for the natural world and a reminder to lift your head up and seek stillness if even for a short moment each day.
Original gouache painting 16" x 20" Framed in quartersawn oak - $2600.00. Prints available.
Inspiration comes both from the past and present for me. The beautiful dance through time that Edward Curtis and Paul Unks have is an amazing thing to behold. I'm so honored to have Edward Curtis's Incense over a Medicine Bundle in my art studio. This artisan giclee print brings mindfulness everyday through the grounded spirit of the Hidatsa People (plains tribe from modern-day North Dakota.) The pipe you see from this photo taken in 1908 is actually over 2,000 year old and still used in ceremony today. I can almost smell the single smoke line of sage burning as I gaze into this quite moment in time.
Paul Unks of Mountain Hawk Fine Art http://www.curtisprints.net is unmatched is his authentic and painstaking detail to recreate Curtis's work as he would have done over 100 years ago. I'm grateful for your friendship Paul, and if only we had a time machine to go back and meet Curtis and the Native American friends he made, I think we'd do just that.
To learn more, please read my article (written for the Colorado Arts & Crafts Society, see the file below these two images) on how much love goes into Paul's photogravures, & goldtones. Everyone should know the name Edward Curtis. The historical work he did in preserving the heritage and history of over 80 Native American tribes through story and photography still lives on today. My admiration for both the Shadow Catcher, and The Brother of the Shadows runs deep.
Spring blossoms at Red Rocks are a reminder (in Colorado especially) that some things last only a short time. But if you live that moment fully, it will bring more joy to you during the glimpse you witness.
As an artist, I feel so much gratitude when I can catch a short glimpse that will live on in my work.
Julie Leidel shares news and musings on inspiration for her artwork.