August: Artist Appreciate Month

 I think all of us can think of someone who’s art we’ve seen and that captures our hearts and imaginations. It may be a painting, a sculpture, a piece of music or a book illustration— but something about it, and something about the creator, speaks to our heart.
   This month Patience Brewster, a talented artist in her own right, is hosting “Artist Appreciation Month” on her blog and I was asked to join in!
   As I selected my artists to feature, I was struck by their similarities— all women, all raising children while they created, all very much tied to New England. 
   I was thrilled to see that Patience Brewster fits all of these categories as well, so it all seems very much ‘meant to be.’
   Patience grew up in Plymouth, Mass. (yes, that Plymouth!) and she always had a love for art and creating. 
   First working as an illustrator for books and cards and later moving on to sculptural elements such as her very popular ornaments, she worked many years with little ones underfoot. 

  It is so inspiring for me to see women blossom as artists and businesswomen with family and motherhood. I believe that the life experiences, emotions and love that makes a woman a mother adds depth to her work, although it is such a tricky balance to strike— pursuing your passion for art while keeping the home fires burning, so to speak. Patience and the other amazing women in this post managed to do just that though, and I consider them all role models as I try to follow in their footsteps.
   And so, without further ado, here are the wonderfully talented ladies I have chosen to high light this month— beginning, of course, with…..

Tasha Tudor

 As you all know, I love Tasha Tudor. I count that day in the bookstore when I fished “The Private World of Tasha Tudor” out of a sale book bin at Borders one very auspicious day.
   At the time, I was trying to finish college and very newly married. I had set up a little table in a tiny corner of our tiny apartment where I could paint, but had given up on ever painting for anything other than enjoyment.
   I’d let the advice of others and the weight of classes sending me the message of ‘get a real job, and that’s not art’ pound the creativity out of me. I assumed to be ‘happy and successful’ I had to resign myself to life in an office and snatch moments of painting here and there. It wasn’t any sort of life that excited me, but I was under the impression that that was how you lived when you were ‘grown up.’
   However, opening up that book— a spark was lit! I saw a woman defiantly ‘living the life she imagined’ and being successful (tremendously successful) at it. I saw a woman who loved the same old fashioned things I loved, who lived in a home and lifestyle that spoke to her heart, and not what the world would tell her to do. 

  I think seeing that, and falling in love with her art and books, made me braver. I adopted the philosophy that the best way to live was being true to my own heart and desires. Which, of course, took an incredible amount of baby steps and going against much very practical advice. I quit my job to be with my baby. I started painting and entering shows and selling online. We sold our modern house and bought an old craftman with a studio space. We had another baby. And it’s all been…..a huge blessing.
    And I feel like step one in all of this could very well have been seeing Tasha’s art and life and seeing that there was another way of being in the world. And for this, she will always have a soft spot in my heart.

Grandma Moses

 This summer we were able to travel to “Grandma Moses Country” up in very upstate New York and into Vermont. I can’t tell you how much my heart just absolutely sang to be in the places that Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses) lived and painted.
   Probably the ‘original’ painting granny (because I’m becoming aware of my undying love for them, as you’ll see!) her story has almost a fairytale element to it.
   She didnt even begin painting until the ripe old age of 78, after raising a house full of children and living for decades as a rural farmer’s wife. She decided to take up painting after age made it difficult to continue another love— embroidering– and one of her paintings just happened to be spotted in a drugstore window by a big-time art collector in her native Hoosick Falls, NY. In a turn of events that is practically head spinning, she was displaying at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC within a year.
   What I love about Grandma Moses’ art is how authentic it is to her— she just painted what she liked and how she was able to do it and it was an outrageous success.
   Many of her works took place in the country of her girlhood, upstate New York, and remembered activities and events of the past. She painted a piece inspired by learning of the death of Abraham Lincoln as a little girl—- which is an amazing snapshot of history from one who was really there.
   I also love her depictions of every day life in 19th century New England— like tapping the maple trees, going to quilting bees, and even mischeivious pranks on Halloween.
  Grandma Moses is an amazing example of “it’s never too late to start something new” and I find her so inspiring in so many ways! During our trip I was able to see many of her works in person in the collection at the Bennington Museum in Bennington, VT. And I will always treasure those long winding drives through Vermont and New York, knowing I was actually in those landscapes so dear to her.

Barbara Cooney

 Illustrator Barbara Cooney is a new discovery for me, but I already have a strong affinity for her and her beautiful creations and timeless books.
   Cooney may have been born in NYC, but she was also immensely inspired by small town New England, especially her beloved Maine.
   I first discovered her when we bought The Ox-cart Man for Robbie at Old Sturbridge Village. 
   We were not only captivated by the story, but also Cooney’s gorgeous illustrations with their folk art feel and the way that they shared so much in so many little tucked in details— an artistic element I love and try to do myself. 
   We ordered a few more of her books, including Miss Rumphius and Island Boy and our hearts are completely captured, not only by her amazing art but her own lovely story telling in the books she wrote herself.
    In learning more about her I see many similarities between her and Tasha Tudor— the child of a painting mother, she grew up surrounded by art and creativity, and she was most happy out in the countryside, particularly the landscapes of old New England. She loved to travel, and those exotic destinations do make an appearance in her work, but it is evident where her heart truly lay—- the seaside, the country, New England.
    I have just started really delving into her art and am surprised to find that there’s not too terribly much information on her, despite her winning two Caldecott Medals and being declared a ‘treasure’ by the entire state of Maine.
   I look forward to learning more about her and collecting more of her books and art. And like the rest of the women featured in this post, I find her life and work so very inspiring. 

…….And so, here they are, a few of my favorite artists, women and creators that feed my imagination, forge a path for me to follow, and made the world a more beautiful place through their art.

   I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about those who inspire me. And now— tell me— what artists inspire you? Is there anyone out there whose work you love, or maybe you inspired you in some way in your life? Do tell!~ I’d love to hear your stories and inspiration…..


7 thoughts on “August: Artist Appreciate Month

  1. Such a nice tribute to some beautiful artists! I so greatly appreciate quality painting and illustrating because I do not have that talent. If I could, I would fill every inch of wall space in my house with all the artwork of my faves! I adore your work, Heather, and hope to purchase another piece soon. Thank you for this blog!


  2. Such a nice tribute to some beautiful artists! I so greatly appreciate quality painting and illustrating because I do not have that talent. If I could, I would fill every inch of wall space in my house with all the artwork of my faves! I adore your work, Heather, and hope to purchase another piece soon. Thank you for this blog!


  3. I love this idea of featuring artists who inspire you. Before I met you, I was delving into Tasha Tudor and Grandma Moses. For different reasons, their art has always spoken to me. Perhaps it is about life in generations past where there was less consumerism and more about family and community. American Folk art has always been my favorite after the masters of Impressionism.


  4. Lovely reading Heather!! thank you!!! I loved Georgia O'Keefee's work when I was in high school… I still do… esp. the flowers… other than this, I am drawn to the work of Elizabeth Goudge the writer, while she did not draw per say, her writing, esp. The Heart of the Family and Herb of Grace, mention many painters and artists and she paints pictures with words that can carry you to see what she is seeing! Just wonderful!


  5. Heather, Patience Brewster is one of the children's book illustrators I collect, along with Tasha Tudor and Barbara Cooney. And did you know that Grandma Moses's greatgrandson, Will Moses, illustrates children's stories in the style of his greatgrandmother? His gallery and studio is in Eagle Bridge, NY. Great post!


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