Monday, November 28, 2011

Art Attack

FIRST OFF, I'd like to say that I did try to resist Black Friday shopping—which I'll have you know I did quite successfully. I didn't wake up any earlier than my body wanted to, I didn't go into stores or e-shop any of the sales that tantalized me from my inbox. The best part is, instead of ensconcing myself in the hysteria I picked up a few things to support my latest art addiction and gathered ideas for everyone on my Christmas list in the process.

Mary Heussenstamm's career began in nursing, but she always had an interest in art and frequently sketched pencil drawings of her patients. Upon her retirement at the age of 59, she began painting watercolors, using multiethnic models on the streets of Los Angeles as subjects. I discovered her book featuring 100 of these watercolor portraits and I immediately knew this collection had to be mine in spite of how pricey it was. I was drawn to her incredible ability to depict the play of light and shadow upon different faces, and the expressions she was able to capture in less than an hour for each portrait. The simple cleanliness of her paintings and her masterful use of color truly left me in awe. Heussenstamm passed away in 2005 from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

You can purchase the book from Amazon here for $60.

As if you needed any more convincing of my centenarian-like qualities, I lately discovered crewel embroidery and want to start using some as artwork in the apartment. Here are some crewel poppies that I am thinking about working on and framing. I don't know about how long it will take or if it will even turn out like the picture, but I might give it a stab. Insights anyone? I am thinking about putting these alongside some vintage postcards and other artwork. Maybe even a small plate or two. I guess we will just have to see how Nick reacts... although let's just say I have a feeling he will be open to other suggestions. ;-)

You can find these already stitched or in kits at flea markets,, or

Cavallini carries some of the most gorgeous paper goods, some of my favorite being their line of gift wrapping papers, available from Paper Source here, at $3.95 for a 20" x 28" sheet. Although I think it's a bit steep for that size wrapping paper, I adore them for wall art because they're high quality construction and awesomely-priced as artwork. This one is currently displayed in our kitchen (pictures to come!):

I love that everyone thinks it's an antique! It's now sold out at Paper Source, but they do restock so be on the lookout.

Insects of Surinam is a collection of Maria Sibylla Merian's copperplate engravings, detailing phenomena like the metamorphoses of butterflies and the natural habitat of insects in Surinam. In addition to helping lay the foundation for modern entomology, she pioneered travel and exploration for women when she sailed to South America in 1699. The amount of detail in her work is remarkable. We're thinking of hanging a few of these up in our living room (something I think Nick will be much more on board with than floral embroidery).

Available for $26.39 at Amazon here.



Erica Leigh said...

good job on resisting the black friday temptations! i was pretty good too...that is, until cyber monday -_-

the crewel embroidery looks quite nice! you should definitely give it a try ^_^

Elle Sees said...

Thanks for stopping by! I would love to frame that wrPping paper.