Mar 26, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done.
Think how thrilled I was when just this very minute I realized that the third verse of this poem contained the word PLUM!

Here's a tote bag decorated with a reproduction of one of my own acrylic paintings, in turn based on a painting by William Goodridge Roberts.

Measuring 13.5 inches square with a two inch gusset, this tote bag is the perfect size for tucking under your arm for a trip to the library, or a quick outing to the market. It doesn't fit a pig or a hog, but probably a plum bun would fit nicely. It also carries a book, a bottle of wine and a baguette quite neatly. With 10 inch handles it really does fit nicely next to the body.

The bag is natural cotton. The image decorating the carry-all is 7 inches square. To see it on Etsy, please clink here.

Here's a detail of the artwork.

Mar 12, 2010

Marie Laurencin

One of my Plum Tarts - the lady in purple, the one who I call Marie,  is not based on anyone. She just came out of my paintbrush. I felt the need to paint a face and she appeared.

When we were dismantling our old couch I salvaged two old pieces of Masonite and I used them for painting. The boards aren't perfectly square, so Marie is permanently skewed on a rhomboid.

After I finished this lady in purple I thought she looked a little like Augustus John's wife Dorelia Mcneill.

But over the years I realize that she looks a little like something the french painter Marie Laurencin might have done.

Marie Laurencin was one of those Parisian art school girls that I'm so envious of. Born in 1883, Marie attended various art institutes.  At the Academie Humbert she met Georges Braque and Georges Lepape. ( I have a pochoir by Lepape). In 1907 she met  Picasso and the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. She was Apollinaire's girlfriend until 1913 and while he expounded on art theory and Cubism, Marie's art always maintained an ethereal, dreamy characteristic. It was in 1907 that she first showed her works at the Salon Independants.

Through Picasso and Apollinaire, Marie met many influential acquaintances including Gertrude Stein who was the first to buy one of Marie Laurencin's paintings. 

During the First World War, Marie had to leave France with her German husband , because through her marriage she had lost her French citizenship. After they divorced she returned to Paris where she lived the rest of her life and achieved great success as an artist.

Marie Laurencin's art is mainly based on women, or groups of woman - all tender and pastel. While she was associated with the Cubists, the femininity of her work is counter to the masculine Cubism

I have to say she gives me hope because although,  I kind of like her stuff, I don't feel she was terribly talented. But like so many people, she was in the right place at the right time. Here's a selection of her work including a portrait of the ever-popular Coco Chanel. I tucked my "Marie" at  the bottom for good measure.

Madame Paul Guillaume at the Orangerie
At the Tate

Mar 10, 2010

Etsy Showcase - Paper Goods

 Good Morning!

My Plum Tarts are featured on the Etsy Paper Goods Showcase today. I've added note books. Please click here if you are curious. 

Thanks. XO


Mar 6, 2010

Old Orchard, Maine 1930

Recently, when my father-in-law, died we came into possession of my husband's grandfather's papers and photographs.

Some of the early photos are simply awesome; showing my husband's Grandparents as a young, frivolous couple.

Several times in their young married life they ventured from their home in Montreal to the seaside at Old Orchard, Maine. They forged friendships there that lasted for decades.

The pictures featured here today were taken on the Brownie shown in one of the images.

I love my grandmother-in-law's bathing costume. Is it an original Jantzen. Here's a picture of the iconic Jantzen bathing suit. And I adore the friend who looks like Charlie Chaplin sans moustache.

Through the magic anonymity of internet printing I was able to turn a few into postcards. They're a little skewed, but attractively priced. They are available at The Plum Plum.

Mar 5, 2010

The Plum Plum Shop is Open!!!

Whew! I can't believe a procrastinator like me actually did it.

I have a small quantity of note cards for sale on Etsy. You can find me here.

Please drop by for a visit. There will be more and varied merchandise in the days and weeks to come.

Mar 4, 2010

Thora Dardel

Thora Dardel nee Klinkowstrom was born in Sweden in 1899. In 1919 she moved to Paris to live with her art-student brother who was studying in Montparnasse. What fun. Count me in! She was to study art under the tutelage of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. On the way over from Sweden, Thora became friendly with a shipmate named Nils Dardel, also an artist.  Through Nils Dardel, Thora was drawn into the circle of artists who frequented the Cafe de la Rotonde where Modigliani was a regular.

In Thora's memoirs she recounts her first meeting with Modigliani

"Modigliani ...drew me piece by piece on several sheets of paper which he then spread out edge to edge. All his figures had such long necks and bodies that he usually needed two or three sheets of paper for each person that he drew when he drew on the Rotonde's small stationery. Then he wrote Italian verse on the drawings and gave them to me. I thought he was extraordinarily fascinating. Then one day some time later Modigliani asked Nils Dardel if he was allowed to paint my portrait. The question was of course relayed to me, who of course was happy and overwhelmed."

Later she goes on the describe the modelling session.

"Modigliani's studio was on the top floor of a house on rue de la Grande Chaumiere. His floor was covered with a carpet of trod on charcoal and matches. He almost fainted when I asked him to sweep the floor. I think he had worked several years to make it look like that. A large table with his painting stuff, a glass, a bottle of rum was the whole environment, plus two chairs, some canvases and an easel. He drank often and easily - against the cough, he declared and he really did cough a lot. It was cold and miserable outside but in his studio corner there was a charcoal stove that he did up well. Modigliani put a large canvas on the easel and drew me. I got the same El Greco-like lines and the same figure as all the women in his art had. The likeness of me was therefore not very good. I returned on several occasions and sat for the portrait and liked Modigliani more and more."

Thora married Nils Dardel. During the 20s she worked as a photographer and journalist for a Swedish magazine.

Years ago I came across the top photograph of Thora Dardel in my "Desert Island" book, Kiki's Paris. The photo inspired me to paint another Montparnasse lady.

I had forgotten that I'd ever seen this picture, when just the other day I stumbled across Dora's photo again and recognized her hat. Because I was just inspired by her hat, my humble painting is not at all a true likeness.  But is it closer than Modigliani, I wonder? Anyway, I call her Marianne, not Thora, because she reminds the rest of my family of my step-mother-in-law.

with notes from the Dictionary of Artists Models ed. Jill Berk Jimenez, Thora Dardel, Billy Klüver and Julie Martin.

Mar 3, 2010


Here's a photo of the terrace outside the Cafe du Dome taken by André Kertész in 1925.

Identified in Kiki's Paris, Artists and Lovers 1900-1930 are, from left to right are Marie Vassilieff, Cubist painter; Erno Goldfinger, Hungarian architect (the inspiration for Auric, maybe? "Auric Goldfinger - sounds like a French nail varnish"); an unknown woman: Lajos Tihanyi, the deaf Hungarian painter; and Dora, friend of photographer Berenice Abbott.

Could this Dora be a very young Dora Maar? I do see a resemblance.

Whether she was Picasso's muse or not, I liked the look of Dora very much and with green and yellow paint in hand she became the first of my Montparnasse ladies. She is still the favourite of my husband and son.

Mar 2, 2010


This painting of mine is based on the Man Ray photo of Kiki de Montparnasse, Parisian muse, model and general gal about town. She helped define the liberated culture of Paris in the 20's.

A fixture of Montparnasse's social scene, Kiki was a popular artists' model posing for Soutine, Foujita, Francis Picabia, Jean Cocteau and Alexander Calder to name a few. She was the companion of Man Ray who created many well-known images of her. (think "cello")

On my other blog, The Clever Pup, I refer to the book Kiki's Paris, Artists and Lovers 1900-1930 as my "Desert Island" book. The book is a bible; a veritable encylopedia of who was active in Montparnasse in the 20's. Picasso, the Steins, Matisse, Modigliani and Hemingway were all within Kiki's orbit. Published in 1989, biographers Billy Klüver and Julie Martin called Kiki "one of the century's first truly independent women."

In my rendition of Kiki I simplied the details and of course added some colours. I could imagine her in burgundies and golds. I corrected her wardrobe malfunction.

This is one of the images I'm including on my note cards.

My New Adventure

I've bit the bullet, so to speak and I'm in the midst of opening my own Etsy shop. The shop itself is called The Plum Plum, but I made a beginner's mistake. Although I thought long and hard about the name I was going to use and researched it up and down and top to bottom, I signed into Etsy using hazelsmith62 thinking "surely this isn't the time for my brilliant name". hazelsmith62 is my Etsy URL. Depressing.

Hopefully I can funnel a lot of people through my blog site and we can just pretend that indeed I am The Plum Plum.

I'll be selling printed cards of my acrylic paintings and some post cards derived from vintage family photographs. Maybe a couple of tote bags. And when time allows maybe some vintage paper goods.

I'm pretty excited about The Plum Plum.

I'm not open yet, but I'll let you know.