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The Magnificence of Antoni Gaudi (or “Things to Marvel At”)

With Europe on my mind, and my daughter studying in Spain, I’m reminded of my fascination with Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. Known for his engineering genius, there are so many elements at work in his work that he bursts the seams of any one title – except perhaps that of artist, whose buildings were his canvas representing a treasure trove of design and unbridled creativity. You look at them and think “How….???!”

Revered worldwide as one of the most important modernist style architects, Gaudi lived from 1852-1926. “Over the course of his career, Gaudi developed a sensuous, curving, almost surreal design style which established him as the innovative leader of the Spanish Art Nouveau movement. With little regard for formal order, he juxtaposed unrelated systems and altered established visual order. Gaudi’s characteristically warped form of Gothic architecture drew admiration from other avant-garde artists.”

To view Gaudi’s work is to see “thinking outside the box” at whole new levels. His extraordinary examples, many of which reside in Barcelona, are movement and dance; they’re sugar-laced monuments with creamy frosting; they’re marshmallows and gingerbread, sand-castles, stone, glass and iron; they’re original, dramatic, striking blends of angle and color.

I marvel at the boundlessness. Fantastic. Illogical. Stunning.

 
*References
Dennis Sharp. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Architects and Architecture. New York: Quatro Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0-8230-2539-X. NA40.I45. p61.
Muriel Emmanuel. Contemporary Architects. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980. ISBN 0-312-16635-4. NA680.C625 1980.
 
Images via Google.
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Friday Night Book Club: A Russian Feast

Some books read like a symphony. They start out innocently enough, a little tug here and there to capture your ear, then they rise and float as different instruments chime in – and before you know it you’re swept away by the melody, by thunderous twists and gentle pauses, cheerful refrains and deep undertones carrying heart and mind to unexpected places.

A Gentleman in Moscow is such a book. It’s also a book that reminds me why I find the written word so magical.

In telling the story of an aristocrat under house arrest in Moscow’s finest hotel during the 1920’s – 1950’s, a world within a world is brought to mesmerizing life – a world as surprisingly large as it was obviously small, as delightful as it was touching, while offering a glimpse of Russia during a broad span of massive change  – and Amor Towles masterfully ties it all together with a steady beat of delicious writing.

Like a fine wine (or perhaps a Vodka?), there were passages so yummy I had to pause now and then to savor the flavor. Like moments in a symphony that hold you briefly but luxuriously suspended in time and space, I would find I’d stopped to relish a particularly brilliant sentence. (But, don’t worry, you won’t pause for long, because you’re already anticipating the next movement.)

A Gentleman in Moscow had all the key elements right – irresistible characters inside a beautifully written, well-crafted tale. Well done, well done.

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Happy Birthday, America!

Peace is liberty. And today we honor the liberty of the United States of America.

We honor our founders ~ their courage, their foresight and their brave ideals. We honor our collective, indomitable, independent spirit; our community of souls originating from all over the world who have made this the land of the free and home of the brave. And as night skies across America burst with color, rumble and crack with cannon-like blasts, we’re reminded of all those who’ve fought for our freedoms and fought for peace, who have dreamed and toiled for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In that celebratory spirit, here’s a small collection of some designs I’ve created over the years, wishing a Happy Birthday to America!

saxton_peace.flagtype1

week87.peace_flagweek45.52weeksofpeace

saxton_P.patriotism

saxton_pencils_flag

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Tim Cantor: Amazing

Tim Cantor is ridiculously talented. (I’m pretty sure if you look up the word “amazing” in the dictionary, his picture would be there.) With a brand new exhibit (on both coasts) and a beautifully produced 333-page hard cover coffee-table book showcasing his extraordinary art and poignant writings, he’s a shining star and rightly so. (Oh, and did I mention that one of his paintings inspired an original dress design? I don’t recall who designed the dress – apologies! – but did have fun seeing it.)

Last night I had the opportunity to meet Tim and his incredibly sweet, gracious wife, Amy, at the opening of his show in SOHO at the AFA Gallery. Props to my friend Roxanne for the introduction, and thanks to the weather for making it a perfect evening to stroll through the city. Then, of course, was the phenomenal art, admired with a glass of champagne in hand.

And, there was a dragon! A marvelous dragon, and another point of connection between two artists finding a few moments amidst the flurry of an opening reception to chat about how our minds work and how we don’t really go to many art shows and never wanted to be influenced by other artists so kind of kept our heads down, eyes on the canvas, brushes ready for the whichever inspiration would win out over another. (I don’t think you realize missing other people “getting” that sort of thing until you stop working long enough to rub shoulders.)

Tim, though, unlike myself, has made his fine art into a hugely successful full-time endeavor – and with his mastery, it would be a crime if he didn’t.

His demeanor is gentle and genuine, and his work – even if you didn’t know that he’s considered an artistic “rock star”, or that his art was introduced into the permanent art collection of the White House at age 15, or that his paintings hang in numerous celebrities’ homes (Robert DeNiro, Robert Redford, for example), have been exhibited around the globe and garnered wildly impressive media recognition – is truly exceptional. Seeing his surreal pieces in living color in the relatively intimate, high-ceilinged well-lit space of AFA was a delight.

The exhibit is up all summer at 54 Greene Street New York, NY 10013. Details here.

tim.cantor_rose.dragonfly_detail

tumblr_o7lon066xH1uf915ko1_1280

cantor_dog

cantor_apple

cantor_dancer2

cantor_dragon

All art created in oils, © Tim Cantor. See more of Tim’s work at timcantor.com.

 

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Gifts to Inspire

Here’s my collection of offerings for the holiday season!

And I’d just like to say that igniting imaginations and bringing smiles to young and old is an honor and one of my greatest pleasures. My deep thanks to all of you who’ve helped keep these books alive and appreciated! I hope they’ll delight many new hearts this season. Blessings to all – Patricia

4books.xmas.15

 

 

(All products are also individually listed on my Shop page. Happy Holidays!)

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Twelve Months of Flowers

If only it were true. Unless you count holly berries, there’s really not much in the way of floral color in northeast winter months.

But “Twelve Months of Flowers” can be had via art prints, from the series published in 1730 by renowned British horticulturist and author Robert Furber. Mr. Furber’s name is highly attributed to these exquisite prints, and while I’m grateful that he had the insight, substantial research and knowledge (and, no doubt, the funds) to produce the collection, I’m mostly interested in the artistry.

We had two of these prints hanging in our dining room during my growing-up years – one May, one November, the months of my parent’s birthdays. Admired by all, they adorned a modest space with a rich, subtle elegance, (and now that I think of it, may have had an influence on my own interest in drawing things botanical) ~ but in all those years, while we probably did, I don’t remember talking about the artist. Regardless, for some reason they lodged in my mind’s eye today ~ so I went looking.

First of all, they are hand-colored engravings, produced by English engraver Henry Fletcher from paintings of Flemish-born artist Pieter Casteels . (They also produced an equally stunning second series, Twelve Months of Fruits.) Each work is a glorious detail of plants in seasonal bloom, with each plant numbered, and, at the time, a list of the corresponding names. More than 400 plant species were featured. This was no small project.

And so a few centuries later, I thank them ~ all three of them: Furber, Fletcher and Casteels ~ for their fine, luscious collaboration of study, talent and skill. They are so beautiful, I might even venture to call them a labor of love. But that’s what art is.

TwelveMonths1_sm

TwelveMonths2_sm

TwelveMonths3_sm

TwelveMonths4_sm

TwelveMonths5_sm

TwelveMonths6_sm

TwelveMonths7_sm

TwelveMonths8_sm

TwelveMonths9_sm

TwelveMonths10_sm

TwelveMonths11_sm

TwelveMonths12_sm

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Stars & Stripes: A Visual Tribute to the American Flag

In May 1776, Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. A year later, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, establishing an official flag for the new nation:

“Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

However, between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several legislations that changed the shape, design and arrangement of elements on the flag, eventually settling on extra stars and stripes to reflect each new state. This broad span of time without specific guidelines resulted in many design interpretations – which, in a way, also reflects the deeply rooted sense of freedom so cherished by Americans. The expressions were rich and proud, eventually evolving into the flag we pledge allegiance to today.

Carrying that theme of evolvement forward, in 1986 I discovered a beautiful book by Kit Hinrichs, called “Stars and Stripes” – a compilation of exceptionally creative American Flag images created by some of the finest graphic artists of our time. I found it absolutely delightful, and a great tribute to the creativity and talent that abounds amongst us – and the creative freedom we’re able to enjoy in this great land of the free and home of the brave.

Below are just 13 samples of the many ingenious designs from that book honoring our American flag.  Enjoy, and Happy Birthday USA!

flag1flag2flag3flag4flag5

flag6

 

flag7

flag8flag9flag10flag11flag12flag13

all images copyright of creator

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Outrageous Happiness #16: Purple Doors and Other Beautiful Things

saxton.outrageous_beauty

As the snow rages on here in the northeast, winter stubbornly insisting on showing its power over mortal beings, my discontent (affectionately called cabin fever) is assuaged by firewood and chocolate and beautiful things.

Because beauty, even in the middle of winter, is always within arms reach. The snowfall itself is a thing of beauty; but even then, yes, one gets restless for gardens and seagulls and afternoons on the porch. So I find bits of joy and comfort in things out of reach ~ things I can imagine, or dream of, or plan for. And somehow, just knowing that the purple doors below exist somewhere makes me happy.

Right, right, things, in and of themselves, do not “make us happy”. And what an empty existence it would be if we prized things over love, laughter and companionship. But our hearts can make us happy, and things can touch our hearts. Beautiful things.

Like a gorgeously purple garden gate, detailed by someone’s skilled hand. Like a well-made chest of drawers, or a child’s painting. An exquisite vase, a red cardinal on a branch, the smell of muffins in the oven, a tulip field, a perfectly comfortable chair with a lovely covering. All things of beauty in their way – expressions of love, a medium for experiencing this life with all the senses; to touch and see and hear and feel the endless multitudes of tastes and textures we have the opportunity to know.

What is life if not for diving in to sample its delicious variety. And what magnitude abounds! Even if we can’t see, hear or touch every bit, we can appreciate God’s – the Universe’s – the Great Creator’s – handiwork at every single turn. And the fruits of our own labors, too – the music, the art, the dance, the carefully crafted violin, the windmill, the garden gate.

We can appreciate the lush carpet beneath our feet, whether made of wool or sand or heather.

And when we do that, when we step out of our daily this-or-that, when we unclench our engagement with what’s wrong or what doesn’t feel good or what hurts or what’s bothersome, we elevate our experience. And what can be faulty with that?

We’re only here for an instant. We can believe it’s to struggle and fight, or we can believe it’s to learn and uplift. We can admire and expand, or we can shut down. We can stay small or we can let our spirits breathe large. We can be held captive by the world’s ills, or we can spread more light.

Beauty, and beautiful things, are a physical gift for our human experience. Seek beauty. Surround yourself. And let purple doors and other beautiful things do what they’re meant to do; nurture and inspire.

garden.gate

purple door

How’s your Outrageous Happiness going?

……………………

PS: I haven’t been able to find the original source for these 2 photos. They are not my own, and I would love to give proper credit if anyone knows.

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Twelve Months of Flowers

If only it were true. Unless you count holly berries, there’s really not much in the way of floral color during northeastern winter months.

But “Twelve Months of Flowers” can be had via art prints, from the series published in 1730 by renowned British horticulturist and author Robert Furber. Mr. Furber’s name is the one most highly attributed to these exquisite prints, and while I’m grateful that he provided the insight, substantial research and knowledge (and, no doubt, the funds) to produce the collection, I’m mostly interested in the artistry.

Two of these prints hung in our dining room during my growing-up years – one May, one November, the months of my parent’s birthdays. Much admired, they gave a rich, subtle elegance to a modest space (and now that I think of it, may have influenced my own interest in drawing things botanical) ~ but in all those years, strangely, I don’t remember talking about the artist. So I went looking.

I discovered that the meticulously hand-colored engravings were created by English engraver Henry Fletcher, based on the paintings of Flemish-born artist Pieter Casteels, and that Twelve Months of Flowers was originally produced as a gardening guide in catalogue format and sold by subscription. (They also produced an equally stunning second series, Twelve Months of Fruits.) The images were aimed at wealthy landowners interested in growing plants for beauty more than functionality.

Each work is a glorious detail of plants in seasonal bloom, with each plant numbered, and, at the time, a list of the corresponding names. More than 400 plant species were featured. This was no small project. Huge talent. Enormous dedication to both botany and craft.

And so, a few centuries later, I thank them the three of them: Furber, Fletcher and Casteels ~ for their luscious collaboration of study, talent and skill. They are so beautiful, I would even venture to call them a labor of love. But that’s what art is.

TwelveMonths1_sm

TwelveMonths2_sm

TwelveMonths3_sm

TwelveMonths4_sm

TwelveMonths5_sm

TwelveMonths6_sm

TwelveMonths7_sm

TwelveMonths8_sm

TwelveMonths9_sm

TwelveMonths10_sm

TwelveMonths11_sm

TwelveMonths12_sm

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In Praise of Black and White: Part V

Almost like clockwork, every January I’m reminded of my love for black and white. Maybe it’s the monotones of winter. Maybe it’s the bright white snow against a black sky. Maybe it’s because each year a new Ansel Adams calendar hangs on my studio door.

Whatever it may be, I’ve long been drawn to the beauty of black & white art, going back to the first time I picked up that favorite tool of mine (the #2 pencil) and sensed that magic was held within its lead.

From pencil or pen to the magnificent drama of a fine black & white photograph, I’m captivated by the power and emotional breadth that can be achieved without a spot of color. No distractions. Just character and grace, depth and strength and guts and mood. And like a good story, well done black & white allows your mind to add its own color by filling in what’s left unsaid.

Enjoy!

1d2f5f2d2fa35f176b5f04697a47bca2

Jornal da Fotografia

cowgirl.boot2

Clare Colins

paris.fog2

Michael Rajkovic

amish.field2

Jenő Dulovits, 1935

snowy.field2

Gorazd Kranjc

ocean.wave2

from UltraLinx

eagle.photo2

Yves Schüpbach

baby.wolf2

Jeff M for Short / Lifecreations

cobweb2

Patrick Hübschmann

batman.robin2

Batman and Robin

apple.waterdrops2

by the-definition.deviantart.com

old.woman2

found on The Happy Mango @ pinterest

violin2

Nelson Rietzke

old.camera2

source unknown

254f3753a74f73789254a5f768fec4e5

Joko on 500px

244fb0961cf7fd30105e0d9b06f44700

source unknown

gatsby

source unknown

Andre Kohn

Andre Kohn

Patricia Saxton

 

Stéphane Berla

Stéphane Berla

Patricia Saxton / Book of Dragons

Patricia Saxton / Book of Dragons

source unknown – possibly claudihexlein?

wedding.cake2

Modwedding

Portrait and wedding photographer East Yorkshire

Ally Byrom

white.cat2

Vishuddha

sea.rocks2

Michel Rajkovic

mlk.blackwhitehands

source unknown

 

Please note, I’ve tried to find image sources for all of these images, and sometimes failed. I would love to give proper credit where due, so if you know the original source of any of these labeled “source unknown”, please let me know!

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