Tag Archives: retro

This Lovely Life: Janet Hill

3 Sep

I love artwork that transports me into a different world.  The paintings of Ontario artist Janet Hill  gives us a peek at a sweet and beautiful life, where all is loveliness and cheerful color.


Her figures, lovely and graceful, entrance and enchant, her palette of sepias punctuated with bright, saturated color takes us back in time like faded photographs.


General Custard

Hers is a world that feels like that magical afternoon hour.. you know the one.. when the sunlight is just the right shade, streaming through the window and giving everything in its path a magical glow.  A world that is accessibly glamorous, where even the most mundane task is done with delicious joie de vivre!


Seriously, doesn’t her work just make you smile?  See more of it on her website and in her Etsy shop– lots of beautiful, affordable prints to be found!  Perfect for girlie girls, big and small.

Featured image is Lady and the Lobster.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Dreams of Doris Day: Tracey Sylvester Harris

16 Aug

In my much younger years, many a Sunday afternoon was spent glued to the television, enraptured by the movies of my parent’s generation.  Each one filling my impressionable mind with images of the perfectly coiffed hair, sophisticated fashions and charming coquettishness of starlets like Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn and Leslie Caron.  The work of California artist Tracey Sylvester Harris hearkens back to those glamorous days of my dreams.

Convertible, oil on canvas, 24×30

Those old films and their heroines led me to believe in a world in which women wore heels to the swimming pool, men were redeemable rakes and an awkward bookworm could be transformed into a beautiful swan.

Light Blue Slip, oil on canvas, 60×40

Starlet, oil on canvas, 60×40

They caused me to prance around our house in my mom’s high heels and a floating negligee dreaming of the glamorous and romantic life I would lead when I grew up.  But soon, reality taught me its hard lessons and I realized that the worlds I so admired weren’t real after all and the world of my dreams began to look a little different.  A bit more earthy and down to earth.  A little less frothy but a lot more fun.

Cocktail Hour, oil on canvas, 36×48

But that doesn’t mean I don’t still occasionally long to thrown on a little black dress and pearls.  Old dreams die hard.

To see more of Tracey Sylvester Harris’ work, please visit her website.  You can also see her work in person, if you’re in the Los Angeles area, at Skidmore Contemporary.

All images are via the artist’s website.

Portrait of Things Already Come

5 Jan

We are a world that loves stuff.  One look at the tv show Hoarders will confirm that, as human beings, we develop emotional and psychological attachments to objects.  Certain things may represent for us the physical manifestation of the memory of a time, a place, a relationship.  Canadian artist Christopher Stott celebrates this connection by elevating every day objects to the subject of portraiture.

Good Times, oil on canvas, 30x30

Stott takes simple objects, isolating them against a neutral, traditionally lit backdrop, he treats them his subjects tenderly, as another portrait artist might portray the innocence of a child or quiet strength of a grandmother.

GE Vintage Electric Fan, oil on canvas, 22x28

Compositions containing multiple objects take on an interesting dynamic– they seem to communicate, to regard and relate to each other in an almost human-like way.

Candlestick Phone and Electric Fan, oil on canvas, 24x24

Remington, Overwhelmed, oil on canvas, 36x24

By choosing subjects with an already inherent history, the artist celebrates the lives of these every day objects– the people they have served, the differences they may have made to a human life, the treasured memories that may be associated with their torn pages and chipped paint.

Baggage, oil on canvas, 30x30

To see more of Christopher Stott’s work, please visit his website.  Maybe these portraits will inspire you to look at your “stuff” a bit differently!

Featured image is Quartet, oil on canvas, 48×24.  All images are via the artist’s website

Loneliness and Loveliness: Holly Farrell

12 Dec

I have a weakness for objects with a past.  Everyday pieces from days gone by hold the  untold stories of a person, a family , a home.  Toronto artist Holly Farrell’s paintings of vintage objects explore this sense of nostalgia for days gone by, while also having a strong, strikingly melancholy visual impact.

Bowl, acrylic and oil on masonite, 18x14

The self-taught artist isolates her subjects, often with a muted, neutral background, taking a bit out of their normal context, emphasizing their design and calling our attention to their forsaken state.

Couch, acrylic and oil on masonite, 28x18

These are works that are wryly reverent.  Remember that hideous sofa in Grandma’s living room?  It is now immortalized on canvas, forlornly longing for the days when grandchildren used to bounce and play on it’s floral-covered cushions.

Mugs, acrylic and oil on masonite, 12 @ 7x8 each

Colorful Fire King mugs, which once warmed young hands and tummies with hot cocoa are now another kind of “mug shot”… snapshot compositions feel like they could be the sales photos for an eBay or Craigslist ad.  Going once, going twice.. sold.

Ken and Barbie dolls, once beloved playtime companions now seem vacant and distant.

Kens, acrylic and oil on masonite, 4 @ 12x14 each

Barbie, acrylic and oil on masonite, 12x14

Though there can be a definite sadness surrounding some of Holly Farrell’s work, it is tempered with charm and joy.  Just as our memories should be.  To see more of Holly’s work, please visit her website. On her website, not only will you find more deliciously intriguing work, but also a list of galleries in the US and Canada where you can see them live and in person.

** Thank you to The Jealous Curator for the introduction to Holly Farrell’s work via her post on SF Girl By Bay!

Featured image is Books, acrylic and oil on masonite.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Emancipation of Me, by Mimi ( Williams )

20 Jul

A bad night’s sleep does not sit well with me.  Ask George.  And last night, I did not sleep well.  Tossing and turning, waking up every hour to toss and turn some more.  A restless night = crabby blogger this morning.  But do you know what will turn my frown upside down?  Wonderfully fun and happy artwork.  While crabbing around this morning, after bearing too many Facebook statuses, links, etc re: um, odorous exports from bodily orifices, accidentally smearing blackberry jam on every article of clothing I’m wearing and falling up the stairs, one image kept coming to mind.  This one, by Olympia, WA artist Mimi Williams

What A Dandy Day by Mimi Williams

Was it my mind being cyncial & sarcastic?  Maybe.  Or was my subconcious trying to remind me that no matter how the day is going, that my life is, indeed, dandy?  Or maybe it was the universe reminding me of Mimi Williams’ work and nudging me forward to feature her on the blog.  I’m thinking it was a combo of those last two.

Kitchen Confidential by Mimi Williams

Whatever the case, it gives me great pleasure to present Mimi’s wonderful linoleum prints to you.  Seriously, these make me smile, so it is doing much for my mood just to peruse her website.  Unlike a painting, which can evolve over time, a linoleum print must know what it will be from the beginning.  The artist must decide the composition, the positive and negative spaces and such beforehand, because once you start carving into the linoleum, there’s no going back.

Flying Free by Mimi Williams

So it is no wonder that I am marvelling at how free and fluid these pieces seem to be.  They flow with narrative detail, unlike most linoleum block prints I’ve seen, that are more, well, block-y.

Cup of Joe to Go by Mimi Williams

There is something about the nature of her visual storytelling that seems both nostalgic and modern.  Kind of in the way that Mid-Century design fits in so smoothly with contemporary design.  Perhaps it is the way the design and colors remind me of groovy 1950s barkcloth.

Anything is Possible With the Right Partner by Mimi Williams

The compositions suggest the capturing of a moment in time, almost photo journalistic in style.  Almost like they could be screen-shots from an old movie or those wonderful old photographs found in your grandmother’s closet.  Back before laptops and internet and smart phones, a slower, simpler time.  A time when riding in the back of a truck was okay.  Feeling the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, an open road before you.

Wishing I'd Brought a Hat by Mimi Williams

If you’d like to see more of Mimi Williams’ work ( and I heartily suggest you do! ), check out her website.  Now that I’m smiling, maybe I’ll indulge in some more happiness inducing activities.

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