Monday, April 25, 2016

PROGRAM APRIL 6, 2016 - A HISTORY OF WATERCOLOR

Program Chair, Claudia Taylor, introduced our presenter for April, Craig Lloyd.  Craig received his degree from Wright State, and Masters from U.C.   He is an Associate Professor at Mt. St. Joseph and was the Judge for our 2015 GCWS Art Show.   His topic was “A History of Watercolor”.    We saw many wonderful slides of paintings which were representations of the subjects and elements of design that were discussed.
 The first element discussed was “Unity” – that is, repetition with variety, sometimes shapes, or color, or values.  Other elements of design include balance, proportion, and a focal point.

The history of watercolor begins about 16,000 B.C. by the “cave men” who drew on walls with charcoal, or perhaps even put paint pigments inside hollow bones, and blew air through them to make representations of their everyday life.  Some were found in France.  The Egyptians were able to create “paper” – papyrus, by pounding stems of plants, and used a type of watercolor about 275 B.C.   Chinese silk painting – watercolor or ink on silk came into being about 1100-1200 A.D.   Next, the Europeans used egg tempera on vellum (sheepskin).  The Limbourgh Brothers created magnificent manuscripts in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Chinese paper was used extensively as a trade medium, shipped throughout the known world in trade for other goods.  Paper as we know it was developed from about 220-500 A.D.   At first, Sicily was the center of papermaking; then it was made in Italy, France, and Germany.  Woven paper was refined in the 1760’s, and when the paper-making machine was invented in 1807, it was so improved and much more abundant, that many artists could now afford to buy the paper and really begin to paint.  Most started as apprentices and worked with the great artists.

Albrecht Durer was the first real watercolorist, using roundness, shading, and color.  He used watercolor and gouache, which was called “body color”.  Until about 1781, most artists had to make their own paint, but Reeves was the first to use honey as a preservative to keep the pigment moist.  In 1846, artists were finally able to purchase tubes of paint – gum Arabic and pigment and water, by Windsor & Newton.  This opened the field to another whole round of artists.

In Britain, the Royal Watercolor Society still used the art form of watercolor and gouche.  In 1841-1842, a wonderful watercolor painter, JMW Turner came upon the scene.  He painted landscapes, scenes, many with large skies, and architecture.
In America, the artists were chronicling America – the birds, plants, etc.  John J. Audubon , who was born in Haiti, but eventually lived in Kentucky, worked on a Birds of America folio book.  He owned a dry goods store, made a fortune, but went into bankruptcy.  Luckily, he went to Britain with his large 30” x 36” folio.  It was published, and it was a great success.

Winslow Homer painted in the 1900’s; painted the Color Light – Chicago.  John Singer Sargent also painted in the 1900’s – 900 oils, and 2000 watercolor paintings.  He lived in Europe, but also had U.S. citizenship; was also talented on the piano.

Other painters whose work we saw:  Paul Cezanne, an impressionist; Berthe Morisot (painted 1872-1882).  She was known as a great drawer, and a fast painter.  Our Taft Museum had a show of her paintings recently.  Paintings by Dixie Selden (1930s), Emma Mendenhall (1960’s), and Ida Holterhuff Holloway (1930’s)  were other slides that we enjoyed at this presentation.

Elizabeth Nourse, a Cincinnatian (Mt. Healthy – 1890’s) went to the Cincinnati Art Academy; was a student of Frank Duveneck.   Duveneck (1848-1919) lived in Covington, KY, learned his craft from the Masters in Germany, and a number of his paintings are displayed at the Basilica Cathedral in Covington and at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Members of the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society are following a long and very fine tradition of the many great watercolor painters who came before us.  Maybe, some day, some of our members will have paintings hanging in museums.


Submitted by Joyce Grothaus, Secretary , GCWS, - April, 2016.   

No comments: