The Mystery of the Snow Art
All of these paintings,
in addition to having a snow theme,
all painted in oil, and all painted on either side
of the Atlantic pond in Great Britain and the US,
have what in common?
Strange but True Facts
In the 1920s
the Stella Strong Stories
was pitched to a New York publisher,
adding "they might also be called the Diana
Drew Stories, Diana Dare Stories, Nan Nelson
Stories, Nan Drew Stories, or Helen Hale
Stories," but the editors at Grosset &
Dunlap preferred Nan Drew from
these options, finally deciding
to lengthen Nan to Nancy,
The Sneuk with Snow, Orkney
Sylvia Wishart (1936-2008) Scottish
Oil on board, 26" x 35" (w x h), 1966
The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery,
University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
Wiki note (edited):
Sylvia Wishart was born and raised in Stromness, Orkney. She grew up as a neighbor to poet George Mackay Brown. Wishart worked in the post office, but painted as a hobby. She was eventually persuaded to train at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen. From 1969 to 1987 she taught painting and drawing at Gray's. Her drawings illustrated George Mackay Brown's An Orkney Tapestry, published in 1969.
In 2005, Wishart was made a full member of the Royal Scottish Academy. In 1992, 2007 and 2011, the Pier Art Centre in Orkney held shows of her works. Many of her paintings and drawings depicted landscapes and seascapes in Orkney, especially views of Hoy Sound from her cottage window.
Wishart and Brown had a long friendship involving frequent drinking, occasional violence, and Roman Catholicism (they converted together). She died in 2008 at 72 years-old.
Works by Wishart are in the collections of Robert Gordon University, the Royal Scottish Academy, the Pier Art Centre, the University of Leeds, the Scottish Maritime Museum, and other institutions. A book about Wishart, Sylvia Wishart: A Study, was published in 2012. Also, in 2012, the Royal Scottish Academy held an exhibition of Wishart's works. A documentary film, Reflections - The Life and Art of Sylvia Wishart (2011), featured interviews with her colleagues and friends.
Vermont Village, January Glow
Susan Abbott (1951- ), American
Oil on linen, 28" x 28" (w x h), 2015
The artist's website notes (edited):
This painting is "the geometry of a New England village, in this case my town of Plainfield, Vermont."
Susan Abbott was born and grew up in Takoma Park, Maryland. Because her father was an artist and graphic designer, there were many art books and supplies at home; drawing and painting began at an early age. Her mother was a skilled seamstress, and Susan how to sew, knit and embroider. These hand crafts, and time outdoors playing in the creeks and woods have informed her work as an artist.
At 14 years-old she studied life drawing in the summers under the famed professor Richard D'Arista at American University. She dropped out of high school, and began a full-time student at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. She focused on figure painting and plein air landscape. She graduated Summa Cum Laude, and two years later received a MFA degree from the Institute's Hoffberger School of Painting, working with renowned abstract painter Grace Hartigan as her advisor. She went on to study intaglio printmaking in the graduate program at the University of Iowa under Professor Mauricio Lasansky.
Susan Abbott has been working as a professional artist since then, exhibiting in galleries and museums around the US. Her still life and landscapes have been featured at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, Museum of Technology, Hood College, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. She's an active partner with non-profits in projects that connect art and conservation. Her commission for Oprah Winfrey was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Susan lives, paints, and teaches in Plainfield, Vermont. Her web site is HERE.
I've been fortunate to take painting workshops with Susan at her home/studio in Plainfield, Vermont, and in Hope Town, Bahamas. I enjoy her art, watercolors and oils, in my art collection.
3Water Gap Shadow (Delaware)Lois Dodd (1927- ), AmericanOil on Masonite, 18" x 16" (w x h), 1994For sale at the Alexandre Gallery, New York HERE
Wiki and Alexandre Gallery notes (edited):
Lois Dodd, an American painter, has painted her immediate everyday surroundings at the places she has chosen to live and work - the Lower East Side of New York, rural Mid-Coast Maine and the Delaware Water Gap. The Delaware Water Gap is a water gap on the border of the U.S. states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains.
Lois Dodd was a key member of New York's postwar art scene. She played a large part and was involved in the wave of modern artists including Alex Katz and Yvonne Jacquette who explored the coast of Maine in the latter half of the 20th century.
She received studied at the Cooper Union, New York City from 1945 to 1948. From 1971 to 1992, Dodd taught at Brooklyn College and at the Skowhegan (Maine) School of Painting and Sculpture, where she served on the Board beginning in 1980 and is now Governor Emerita. In 1992, she retired from teaching at Brooklyn College. Since 1954, her work has been the subject of over fifty one-person exhibitions. Dodd is an elected member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and of the National Academy of Design.
As part of the wave of New York modernists to explore the coast of Maine just after the end of the Second World War, Dodd helped to change the face of painting in the state. Along with Fairfield Porter, Rackstraw Downes, Alex Katz, Charles DuBack, and Neil Welliver, Dodd spent her summers in the Mid-Coast region surrounding Penobscot Bay. Attracted by inexpensive old farmhouses, verdant fields, and the bright sunshine, they sought both companionship and an escape from the demands of city life. The break from the city and its urbane art circles allowed them the freedom to explore new modes of painting, both landscapes and figures, that were anathema in the era of Abstract Expressionism.
Hopfields under Snow
Joyce Austin (1911-1988), British
Oil on canvas, 23" x 19" (w x h)
Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum,
Worcester City Gallery note (edited):
This oil painting of Hopfields under Snow is the only artwork in the Worcester City collection by talented local artist Joyce Mary Austin. Hopfields under Snow's scene is set on a wintry day in West Worcestershire, UK. Snow covers the dormant hop stocks, which are waiting for the warmer days of spring before bursting into life. It will be over six months before the hops are ready for picking, drying and sending off to the brewery. Sadly, over the years these traditional hop-yards are slowly disappearing from the Worcestershire landscape, with some being replaced by the new dwarf varieties.
Born in Kidderminster in 1911, Joyce Austin's interests and artistic inspirations were widespread. She concentrated mainly on landscape watercolors and oil paintings. Her subjects and styles varied widely.
She trained at both the Kidderminster and Birmingham Schools of Art. She studied printing under Leonard Jay at the Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts between 1935 and 1937. Joyce was appointed to Worcester College of Education as a Lecturer in Art and Craft, where she lectured for 22 years. Austin exhibited her work often both locally and further afield, including at the Royal Academy, selling many paintings in Worcestershire and beyond. Austin retired from teaching in 1966, and passed away in Malvern in 1988.
Bobbi Heath (1951- ), American
Oil on canvas panel, 6" x 6" (w x h), 2010
Artist's website and blog and online notes (edited):
This painting was jury selected for the Anything Goes exhibition at River Arts in Damariscotta, Maine. "It was warmish (above freezing) today, which drew me to this photograph, the stream in the middle would have been running today. Thanks Suzanne, for the photo!"
Bobbi Heath grew up in coastal Texas. She studied Chemistry in college and grad school. However, she drew and later painted. She received an undergraduate degree from The University of Texas and a doctorate from Brandeis University. She's a former Vice President-Engineering at VoltDB, Inc., former Vice President-Engineering for Conjoin, Inc. and former Vice President-Professional Services at StreamBase Systems, Inc. Her technology career in chip making and software development was regularly interrupted by painting workshops and trips with friends to paint.
Today she paints full-time, a plein air painter painting outside from direct observation, as well as from photos. Bobbi and her husband split their time between the Maine coast in summer, traveling in their Lobsterboat cruiser up and down the coast, and Massachusetts in the winter.
The artist's website and blog is HERE.
I've had and have the good fortune to paint with Bobbi for years. I also have the good fortune to have Bobbi's art in my collection.
Snow at Tilton
Vanessa Bell (1879-1961), British
Oil on canvas, 11" x 14" (w x h), 1941
Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London
Purchased from the artist, 1942
Wiki note (edited):
Vanessa (Stephen) Bell (1879-1961) was an English painter and interior designer, a member of the Bloomsbury Group and the sister of Virginia Woolf, an English writer, considered one of the more important modernist 20th century authors. Vanessa married Clive Bell in 1907 and they had two sons, Julian (who died in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War at the age of 29) and Quentin. The couple had an open marriage, both taking lovers throughout their lives, him with men. Bell had affairs with art critic Roger Fry and with the painter Duncan Grant, with whom she had a daughter, Angelica in 1918, whom Clive Bell raised as his own child.
Vanessa, Clive, Duncan Grant and Duncan's lover David Garnett moved to the Sussex countryside shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, and settled at Charleston Farmhouse near Firle, East Sussex, where she and Grant painted and worked on commissions for the Omega Workshops. Her first solo exhibition was at the Omega Workshops in 1916. Bell is one of the most celebrated painters of the Bloomsbury group. She exhibited in London and Paris during her lifetime, and has been praised for innovative works and for her contributions to design.
This art is part of the Arts Council Collection (online HERE), the most widely circulated national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art. The Collection includes important and often early works by all of the most important artists working in the UK over the last 70 years.
Snow (Catterline, Scotland)
Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley (1921-1963), Scottish
Oil on board, 45" x 40" (w x h), circa 1958
National Galleries of Scotland,
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art,
Wiki note edited:
Joan Eardley was noted for her portraiture of street children in Glasgow and for her landscapes of the fishing village of Catterline and surroundings on the North-East coast of Scotland. One of Scotland's most enduringly popular artists, her career was cut short by breast cancer. Her artistic career had three distinct phases. The first was from 1940 when she enrolled at the Glasgow School of Art through to 1949 when she had a successful exhibition of paintings created while traveling in Italy. From 1950 to 1957, Eardley's work focused on the city of Glasgow and in particular the slum area of Townhead. In the late 1950s, while still living in Glasgow, she spent much time in Catterline before moving there permanently in 1961. During the last years of her life, seascapes and landscapes painted in and around Catterline dominated her output.
Eardley's work was already highly acclaimed by many in Britain by the time of her death. Since then, she's been recognized as an artist of international importance, although not universally. In 2013, a collection of letters written by Eardley to Audrey Walker were released, having been placed under an embargo by Walker until decades after she had died. Eardley had first met Walker, who was ten years older than her and was married to a prominent Scottish barrister, in 1952 in Glasgow. When the two were not together, Eardley would write to Walker on a near daily basis and the letters show Eardley's intense love for Walker.
Snow Squall at Twelve Corners
Carol L. Douglas (1959- ), American
Oil on canvas, 16" x 12" (w x h), 2011
Artist's blog and Camden Falls Gallery notes:
"I was waiting for my son at Brighton High School and amusing myself by taking photos of the streetlights with a hand held camera. Never thought of the photos as a painting until it was suggested by my friend Pilan. Here it is in an expanded sketch. I love the winter light better than I love the winter cold, but after a few months of it, I'm glad to see the days slowly lengthening again."
"What do plein air artists do in the winter? Mostly, we paint indoors. I paint outdoors in the winter because I want to, not because I've got something to prove. That means I can set limits: no subzero weather, no gloomy days, and no howling winds."
Carol Douglas studied under Cornelia Foss, Joseph Peller, and Nicki Orbach at the Art Students League in New York. Originally from Buffalo, New York, Carol lives and paints in Rockport, Maine since 2015. "As with other New York artists who came to Maine, the draw isn't primarily the art community, but the land and sea themselves: the ceaseless rise and fall of the tide, the granite outcroppings, and the dark pines." She studied painting and clay modeling with her father, a trained artist, from a very young age. In 1997, she quit working as a graphic designer to take up painting full time. Two bouts with cancer were transformative experiences.
The artist's blog, Watch Me Paint, is HERE.
I have had the good fortune to paint with Carol. One of my paintings hangs in her home.
The solution to
The Mystery of the Snow Art?
All of these paintings are
painted by brilliant women artists.
And if you figured that out,
way to go Nancy Drew.
Strange but True Facts Bonus
"Nancy Drew, an attractive girl of eighteen, was driving home along a country road in her new, dark-blue convertible." So began the journey of Nancy Drew in the first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock, that's traveled in a series of 64 books with 80 million copies sold in ninety years from 1930 to 2020. Under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, Mildred Wirt wrote 23 of the first 30 books from 1929 to 1947, which were bestsellers.
Among the many prominent and successful women who cite Nancy Drew as an early formative influence, whose character encouraged them to take on unconventional roles, are U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor.