Clementine Was An Artist

Do you like to draw pictures? Do you like to color your pictures with crayons or markers or paint? If you like to draw, color or paint, then you are an artist. You have a special talent. An artist is someone who creates a picture without words. The pictures in the piece of artwork you create tell others what you are trying to say.

Back in the 1800’s, there was once a girl named Clementine Hunter who lived with her family at Melrose plantation located near Natchitoches, Louisiana. A plantation is a large farm where crops are grown, like cotton, corn or other vegetables. Clementine spent her entire life living and working on a plantation. It was not always an easy life for Clementine – it was sometimes hard and harsh.

When she grew up and got married, she had five children. She would take her children to the fields to work with her so that she could check on them while picking cotton. Even though it was hard work, she enjoyed picking cotton.

Clementine was promoted from the fields to the house. She became the gardener and took care of the laundry. She made clothes for the plantation owner’s children and their dolls. Designing clothes was another of her many hidden talents. Clementine was an artist in many ways, and loved to create quilts in beautiful rich colors in addition to the clothes she made.

She was very poor as a young girl and could not afford crayons, markers or paints like students have today. She didn’t attend school in her younger days very often but she had many artistic talents that she kept hidden. And she never learned to read or write.

Throughout the years, Melrose Plantation where Clementine lived became a haven for many artists and writers. They came from all over to paint or write in the quiet relaxing atmosphere at Melrose. Clementine would receive small amounts of paint from visiting artists. Sometimes, she’d find paint she found left over after they’d leave. Clementine started painting pictures at night. For forty years, she painted over four thousand pictures, each one telling a story of life as she saw it in a simple way. By this time, Clementine was in her fifties.

Because she couldn’t afford a canvas for her paintings, she would use things like bottles, pieces of cardboard or brown paper bags to paint pictures on. She painted things about her life on the plantation – the daily things she did, what she saw, and what others about her were doing. Without using words, she used her paintings to tell the story of her life and work on the plantation. She used pictures to tell whatever story she wanted to tell. These paintings were simple but told vivid stories of her life on the plantation. They were the storybook of her life.

Clementine Hunter became known as the first African-American woman to exhibit in the New Orleans Museum of Art and Louisiana’s Most Famous Folk Artist.

After all Clementine’s hard work, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts by Northwestern State University of Natchitoches and her name is preserved in the famous ‘walk of stars’ in the city of Natchitoches.

If you’d like to create a storybook picture of your own, you will need the following:
large manila art paper, or any thing you can draw on, crayons, colored pencils or markers, and a little imagination.

Let’s name the picture. ‘What I did today… ‘

Take a look at the paintings by Clementine. She starts from one side of the paper and works across the page with her pictures until there is a story to be told.

In your picture, you want to draw some main things you did today. What did you do this morning? You got out of bed. Capture that scene in one corner of a large sheet of paper. What color were your pajamas?

What did you do after that? Did you eat breakfast? Draw a picture of you and your family having breakfast.

Then what? Time for the school bus? Draw a picture of the school bus coming down your street.

After that, you came to school – draw the school and children getting off the bus going into the building.

Remember the day as it unfolded and draw some eventful highlights that others can relate to. What if you had a birthday party? Here’s an opportunity to express how you saw the cake, and how delicious it may have looked.

Maybe you went to the mall or went grocery shopping. Maybe you saw a snake slithering in the grass. Or maybe there was a terrible thunderstorm with streaks of lightning everywhere.

Maybe you rode a horse or bathed your puppy. These are fun things to draw and others would like to see them.

Create a different picture storybook each day. Keep your artwork in a safe place. If you went fishing or camping over the weekend, this is a magnificent story to tell with your pictures. Drawing a picture of your family vacation is another good storybook idea. Or when your new baby sister or brother came home from the hospital.

Design & Art History – The Psychedelic Movement (CA 1960 – 1970)

In the late sixties something happened to an american generation that would mark them forever. It is a story of war, the struggle for racial equality and the explosion of counter culture, it was a time when a generation rebelled, and lost its innocence in the fight against injustice. Vietnam was the first ever televised war, and the images were inescapable.

A decade that ended with disillusionment and rage began on a moral high note. Thanks to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King jr, it seemed the time for racial equality in the US had finally arrived.

There is so much to write about in this era, that it is very difficult to select just one thing to focus on. Even though there is an absurd amount of art and design that stems from this time period. When we talk about the “sixties” all we seem to recognise is the music, psychedelic rock and artists like Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix in particular.

Album art and festival posters however is a good place to start. As music was a force to be reckoned with, so came the album art work and poster designs, hand in hand. One thing that seems to be re-occurring with most of the visual artists at the time is a relation with “Underground Comix”. These were small press or self published comic books, usually socially relevant and satirical in their nature. These depicted content deemed unfit and forbidden to the more strict mainstream media.

Rick Griffin:
When we look up band posters it is hard to avoid finding a Grateful Dead poster somewhere, anywhere. The artist behind these were Rick Griffin. He was an American artist and one of the leading designers of psychedelic posters in the 1960s. His work within the surfing subculture included both film posters and his comic strip, Murphy.

Victor Moscoso:
A Spanish-American artist, Moscoso was the first of the rock poster artists of the 1960s era with formal academic training and experience. After studying art at the Cooper Union in New York and later attending Yale University, he moved to San Francisco in 1959 to study at the San Francisco Art Institute. Here he later became an instructor. He was one of the first of the rock poster artists to use photographic collages in his art work.His art and poster work has continued up to the present and he is a big inspiration to rock poster and album illustrators to this day.

Bonnie MacLean:
Another American artist making a name for her self at the time was Bonnie MacLean. She was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the Penn State University in 1960. She then moved to New York where she worked at the Pratt Institute while attending drawing classes in the evenings. She later moved to San Francisco where she met and worked with a man named Bill Graham, who became famous as the promoter of rock concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium. There she worked alongside another artist by the name of Wes Wilson.

Wes Wilson:
The aforementioned artist Wes Wilson was also one of the leading illustrators of psychedelic posters in the 1960`s. Working with Bill Graham and Bonnie MacLean, he was a big part of promoting venues at the time with posters and illustrative work for musicians and bands. The font and lettering of the posters from this era were created by him. He popularised this “psychedelic” font around 1966 that made the letters look like they were moving or melting. This lettering is still used on newer albums and art works for artists like Foo Fighters, Kyuss Lives and The Queens of the Stone Age. This in turn proves that the psychedelic movement is still influencing artists, especially in the world of metal, desert rock and stoner rock. The style is very much still alive as its own staple.

Modern poster styles:
Posters still influenced by the styles of art work can be traced through homages and inspirations in rock and metal posters from the present all the way back to this era. Several modern posters can be viewed on the web pages of Malleus Rock Art Lab if you should be interested. I personally find a lot of inspiration through their imagery.