Saturday, March 31, 2007

Practicing One's Craft

"Curtains" Painting copyright Amy Crehore
Seth Godin posted this on his blog the other day:
Art that's not for sale
Jordan Tierney and her colleagues have been working for months on the Periodic Tableaux, a one-of-a-kind art book that's not for sale.
Why invest the hours and the sweat and the talent in a piece of art you can't (and won't) sell?
Two reasons. The best reason is that when you practice your craft for yourself, not for the market, it drives you in new and important ways. And the other reason is that people are going to talk about it. Ideas that spread, win."
I totally agree about practicing your craft for yourself first. That is what I have done all of my life and certain people who think "money first" tend to think I am crazy. I have actually had people say, "Why even do it, if you aren't selling it?" They just don't understand the creative process and the goals of an artist. I could have been strictly a cartoonist-type illustrator (I did plenty of it) when I was younger for money, but I wanted to learn how to paint in a more representational way. I wanted to come up with my own unique way of painting. Not realism, but imaginative painting that transports you to a place that is "realer than real". I needed the challenge of painting with oils. I had a vision. It was a long-term goal. I struggled for years. Over humps and into valleys. I devoured art history books. Sometimes a painting would take me months with a hundred paintings underneath. I persevered. It was all about putting love and my own experiences into the work and letting my humor and ideas flow freely without fear. And painting things over and over and over until they "felt" right. I think it was worth it - to get to the place I am now.
(Thanks to Marshall at for the link)
(above image from my "Little Pierrot" series which started as an experiment and has evolved into 3 different series of works.)

Monkeys Galore

Monkey Wallpaper
Red-Ruffed Lemur 1894 Chromolithograph
Spider Monkey 1894 Chromolithograph
Monkey -1894 Chromolithograph
My friend sent me this great sample of monkey wallpaper and I found these antique prints here: Collectors Prints
I have been locked away for the last 5 or 6 weeks working on a new painting in my "monkey love" series. It's more ambitious than most and it is taking me forever to finish. If I owe emails to anyone, I hope they will understand that I must block out all distractions temporarily.
I start from scratch with my paintings and don't use any reference materials except perhaps my own previous works (to stay consistent). My first painting ("Banana Eater") in the "monkey love" series was researched, however. It was loosely based on the people, animals and plants of French Guiana or Devil's Island. (I needed a background setting- like a novelist would have in the opening paragraphs of a book.) That is where my squirrel monkey came from. Some people think my work is Polynesian or Hawaiian-based, and I have to admit that it has evolved now into a kind of cross-over art, but it wasn't my intention. It is all intuitive. The drawing comes first (from my imagination) and then I transfer it to canvas. I do enjoy looking at all kinds of vintage art, though, and over the years, it has become a part of me- my roots. One thing I don't do is look at contemporary art too closely. One must stay pure and create one's own unique little modern symbols and icons without straying into anyone else's territory. That's my philosophy, although I know that some current day artists tend to mimic whatever is "in" at the moment (nevermind copyrights). To me, that is not real art and defeats the whole purpose of creating something entirely new!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jayne Mansfield's Double Entendre

Still from the movie, "The Girl Can't Help It", showing Jayne holding a couple of milk jugs.
Read the post about this movie on mardecortesbaja

French Postcards

This is a great book by Martin Stevens. The images are sepia-toned, hand-colored photo postcards of female nudes in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. And they are quite humorously posed. It's a steal at $14.96 on Amazon :"Artfully posed with classical architecture or in flirtatious dishabille with stockings and lingerie, the winking models embody the erotic fantasies of a repressed society. Some of the women shown are demure and shy, wearing a slip or low-cut blouse-a great tease in an age when showing an ankle was scandalous. Their daring glimpses of decolletage carry a particular charge, so rare in today's world of overexposure. These cards were sold, often in packets, at street kiosks and under tabac counters, hush-hush but nevertheless ubiquitous. As foreigners flooded the city in the early part of the 20th-century, the cards became cherished souvenirs that were secretly collected and shared among men abroad."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Painted Portraits of Girls

Eugène Delacroix: Girl Seated in a Cemetery (1824, Oil on canvas)
Portrait by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot 1833, oil
Portrait by Angelo Bronzino 1542, 0il
Portrait by Juan De Flandes, around 1500, oil

Wikimedia Commons has a wonderful collection of painted portraits of girls.
I love all of these. Corot and Bronzino have been two of my favorite painters for a long time, but this Delacroix painting leaves me breathless. It is unbelievably alive. The Juan De Flandes portrait has a marvelous primitive style to it and a nice sense of design.
(Thanks again to Internet Weekly!)
The Art of Amy Crehore

Saturday, March 24, 2007


These covers of Martin Denny's "Exotica" albums are so witchy and strange. I think Louise Brooks had those dark eyes, too. (Which means I did not really look like her at all since I have blue eyes. Blue eyes don't cut it. I happened to watch "Pandora's Box" last night and confirmed that fact.) These women all have that tantalizing come-hither look in their eyes. The music is queasy-listening, classically surreal, Hawaiian lounge-style from the late 50's. It will put you in a trance, I think. Or make you do a naughty dance with your cat.
Read about Martin Denny: The High Priest of Exotica

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Villa of Mysteries

A nymph suckles a goatGod of Love, Eros
View more photos in a slide show here: Villa of Mysteries
Read the story of the Villa of Mysteries, Pompeii, Italy and view more close ups of art here:
Art and Archeology
I love the colors and the compositions of these frescoes. I can completely relate to them. They seem so modern as though no time has really passed. It's all about telling stories with paintings.
Thanks to Internet Weekly for reminding me of the frescoes of Pompeii

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Makoto Aihara

I just ordered this sweet new Fine Scenery Rumble Roses figure, Makoto Aihara, as a gift for someone. Play-Asia has a good price on it - about $39.00. Animaxis has it for $38.48. I should have shopped around first because I paid $42.00 and I saw it listed for $53.00 on yet another site. So, it's good to compare prices when buying these anime figures. I like the pose and the face on this one.

Monday, March 19, 2007

R. Crumb's Underground

78 Quarterly Magazine
78 Quarterly- art copyright R. Crumb- one of the pieces in the retrospective
Here is the printed cover of 78 Quarterly and the original drawing of Robert Johnson by R. Crumb below it. We have all 12 issues at home. These are rare, and I'm not sure if there will ever be any more issues, but we still have a subscription. R. Crumb is well-known not only for his amazing and masterful comic drawings, but he is a long-time hokum music lover, collector and player.
"A massive Robert Crumb retrospective curated by Todd Hignite just opened at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. It runs from March 16 to July 8, 2007.The show includes over 200 of the best examples of Crumb's art, spanning his prolific and rich lifetime body of work."
Check out this amazing R. Crumb Underground photo set on flickr of the exhibition in San Francisco by Buenaventura
(via boingboing)
The Art of Amy Crehore

More Shanghai Advertising Art

For an East Asia Cigarette Company
Featuring Japanese Brand Mosquito Incense and Poison
I'm sort of hooked on these western-influenced Shanghai Advertising Images from the 1930's. Here are a couple of posters that you can order from a wide selection at They also have postcard sets. All are reproductions of the vintage art which featured alluring gals, beautifully painted.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Louise Brooks Society

Me at 21
Me at 32
You know, somebody told me I looked like Louise Brooks when I was younger (above) and, needless to say, I was flattered. I did wear my hair in a bob (sort of) with bangs and I still do. No one can come close to Louise, though! I never really had her confident spunky quality.
Anyhow, The Louise Brooks Society live journal blogged about me today which was nice. So, I might just have to paint a portrait of Louise someday. Why not? I did use 3 of her more provocative poses in my Little Pierrot series paintings. They were the only 3 paintings that I actually used a photo reference for. There is a nice repro-poster of a vintage magazine cover for sale on ebay -"Police Gazette". And here's a link to The Louise Brooks Society website, Pandora's Box.
I have blogged about Louise quite a few times myself: all of my blog posts about Louise.
The Art of Amy Crehore

Victorian Scraps

You can buy some vintage scraps from
Above images courtesy of Beryl Peters Image Archive
And here is another beautiful website from the UK all about Victorian Scraps:

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Photographer of Paris, Brassai (1899-1984)

Backstage at the Folies-Bergere 1933 by Brassai
Brassai's wanderings around the cafes and bars of Paris at night brought him into contact with many of the artists and writers living in the city during the early 1930's. He established friendships with Picasso, Giacometti, Sartre, and Henry Miller. He published a book of night photographs in 1933 called, Paris de Nuit. Check out this great website:
When I was in art school, I took a lot of photography and filmmaking classes. I did not start painting seriously until after I graduated. I consider myself to be a self-taught painter with an early background in photography. This has given me a greater sense of composition and story-telling and a desire for finding surreal elements within reality.
Try the amazing Powell's books in Portland, OR for books
about Brassai or anything else your little heart desires.

Friday, March 16, 2007

In Honor of Women

This brief post is dedicated to all women who have lost their sparkling youth to sadistic men. Hopefully they can heal, perhaps through art therapy. May they laugh again and discover their inner strength. May they love again with all of their heart. May they never look back.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The "It" Girl

Why is Louise Brooks so much more amazing than ANY woman in cinema today? Or any woman in fashion, music or theater? Why, why, why? For one thing, she's natural. She's got heart. She doesn't have tattoos. She doesn't have clown make up on. She's not hardcore. She doesn't have fake boobs. She's got class. She's got style. She's got guts. She's fearless. She's beautiful. She's unique. She stood up to the phonies and the copycats. She's got that certain something that is sorely lacking in today's world. We need her more than ever. Go buy the newly restored dvd of Pandora's Box.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Notecannons Nationals

Photo courtesy of

We have one of these rare ukuleles at home: a 1928 National Tricone Style 1. We thought it was a National mandolin because of the body and often wondered why it had a uke neck, but then finally realized that it is indeed a uke! This is just one of many Nationals in our collection. They are all Art Deco gems. I might have to paint a National guitar, uke or mandolin into my next painting. Here is a great site to just look at them all:
The Art of Amy Crehore

Monday, March 12, 2007


"Andromeda" by G.O.W. Apperley 1917
I like this stylized nude by British artist George Owen Wynne Apperley (1884-1960). More paintings at Apperley-Art .
(Thanks to Internet Weekly)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mark Ryden News

Beautiful Kirsten of Roq La Rue Gallery wrote up a blurb on the new Mark Ryden "Tree Show" that opened in L.A. this past week. She included pics of the opening.
Check out That Ain't Art blogspot.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Circus Family

Picasso 1905 Drawing, Circus Family
I love Picasso's line drawings. This one has a cat in it doing the typical cat rub. Small gestures and details like that are what make the composition special. I am locked away in my studio this week working on a new painting and I have put everything else "on hold" until I finish. Things like cleaning, answering emails, paperwork, etc. have been put on the back burner for now. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Hokum Lantern Woman

Explore for vintage costume photos like these.

Barnes Collection Revisited

Portrait of Dr. Barnes 1926 by DeChirico (courtesy Barnes Foundation)
Photo courtesy of NYTimes
Here is a just a mere glimpse of one of the 24 rooms at the
Barnes Foundation in Merion, PA from a New York Times article. There are 59 Matisses, 180 Renoirs and 68 Cézannes in the Barnes art collection. That fact alone is astounding! There are also many Rousseaus, Picassos, Modiglianis, De Chiricos and Van Goghs. If you haven't been to the Barnes Foundation, you are missing the best collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings in the world. There are a great number of rare masterpieces. I might have to order the CD-Rom from the Barnes Foundation website just to renew my memory of the place.
When I was young, we used to visit my grandparents in Merion, PA quite a bit. I never even realized that hiding behind one of the gates in a nearby neighborhood was the secret Barnes collection. That is until I went to college and one of my art history professors took us on a field trip to see the place. I was never the same again. It's the most spectacular art collection that anyone could ever lay eyes on. I went back over a decade later and was astounded again. It's still very private and mysterious and you have to call first and arrange an appointment, but anyone who truly loves painting should really make it a vacation destination.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Beautiful Vintage Nude Girl

Félix-Jacques Antoine Moulin, Daguérotype coloré, 1851-1854
Here is a nice find by Internet Weekly !
(vintage nude photograph link at

The Art of Amy Crehore

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Cats in Art

Pompeii, Italy 1st century A.D. mosaic tile
Japanese watercolor 1850 of Sleeping Cat
1867 painting by Renoir, "Julie Manet with Cat"
Felix Vallotton 1896 "La Pareese", woodcut

I got these images here: Cats in Art (Cats in the House).
There are six galleries of cat images throughout art history. I can relate. Cats are cool.

The Art of Amy Crehore

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Jeff MacNelly, 1948-2000

" Shoe" Comic by Jeff MacNelly
Jeff MacNelly, photo courtesy of ValueRich Magazine
I have been wanting to do a tribute to artist Jeff MacNelly for some time now. He was a 3-time Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist and creator of the comic strip, "Shoe".
When I was much younger and fresh out of college at V.C.U., I had a part-time waitress job at Eden's Restaurant in Richmond, VA. One of my customers was Jeff MacNelly, who walked across the street everyday to the restaurant from The Richmond Newsleader to have lunch with a friend or two. He always sat at the same table in my section and, even though I was a terrible waitress, he was my loyal customer. The day he won his second Pulitzer Prize, he ate lunch in my booth and I took a polaroid of him sitting there with the same grin on his face as in the photo above.
I remember that he invited me to see his office one day and I noticed that his book shelf was filled with art books (including the Society of Illustrators Annuals). He was kind enough to write me a recommendation for a grant at the VA Museum and he gave me extremely good advice: "Keep practicing your craft. That is what my father told me."
To this day, I will never forget those words. "Practice, practice, practice". And that is what I did. He also told me that there were not enough women political cartoonists and that I should think about becoming one. He was very humble and generous with his time. I was certain that I was bugging him the day I went to his office with my portfolio, but he really liked talking about his dad and painting.
I wish he was still alive today so that I could tell him, "Thank you". I kind of wish that I could show him my new work in "Blab!" and all of the other things I have done in the years following my waitress years. But, alas, Jeff died in the year 2000 of cancer at the very young age of 52 and I was shocked to hear the news.
Here is a 2005 article about Jeff:
And a little bio of Jeff from
"Jeff MacNelly, the son of a publisher and portrait painter, created his first strip in 1969, while working as a political cartoonist for a weekly paper in Chapel Hill, NC. A year later, he relocated to The Richmond Newsleader in Virginia, and in 1972, his work was awarded with the first of three Pulitzer Prizes. In 1977, he started drawing the newspaper strip 'Shoe', named after the legendary Jim Shumaker, for whom Jeff used to work at the Chapel Hill Weekly."