Friday, November 27, 2009

The Artist's Tree at the Florence Griswold Museum

Crescent Moon, acrylic on wooden palette, Jan Blencowe
copyright 2009, Connecticut, USA

Miss Florence’s Artist Tree is back this year with additional painted palettes, bringing the count to over 100 artists from across the country who have donated works to this one-of-a-kind tradition. The 12-foot tree has become a holiday icon for the region. The idea of artists painting on palettes relates directly to the Museum’s history as the center for the Lyme Art Colony, and alludes to the doors and wooden wall panels the artists painted throughout Miss Florence's house over a hundred years ago. The palette artists’ styles and subject matter are as varied as the individuals. Oils, acrylics, watercolors, ceramics, and collage (and this year, glass) are used to transform the palettes into traditional holiday scenes, delightful landscapes, and more than a few surprises! Designed by Jean Callan King and Georgann Ritter.

This year I was honored to be asked to contribute a palette to Miss Florence's Tree!  My palette, above, is painted in the tonalist style similar to the way one of Miss Florence's first boarders Henry Ward Ranger and his circle of artrists would have been working in 1899.

Description of the Tonalist Painting Style and Technique

• rooted in the French Barbizon movement

• emphasize atmosphere and shadow.

• middle values as opposed to stronger contrast and high chroma

• compelling overall effect

• no effort to communicate a message or narrate a story

• each sensitively chosen color, composition, and line is arranged to create an intriguing visual poem

• luscious and luminous evocative atmospheric effects featuring misty backgrounds illuminated by moonlight

• convey both the natural and spiritual realms

• the palette is minimal, characterized by warm hues of brown, soft greens, gauzy yellows and muted grays

• preferred themes evocative moonlight nights and poetic, vaporous landscapes

• favors unconscious states and psychological experiences over reality.

The Museum has a very interesting page on tonalism and its role in the Lyme Art colony here

I visited the museum today and snapped a picture of this years Artists Tree! It's just beautiful! At a towering 12 feet tall the museum provides binoculars to visitors so you can get a closer look at the palettes way at the top!

The museum also has four other beautifully designed and decorated themed trees. Marshland designed by Jennifer Johnson and Matt Greene was my favorite. The marshes along the Connecticut coast provide a deep current of inspiration for my paintings and this beautiful tree captures the feel of the marshes perfectly. It is crowned with a large osprey nest, illuminated by lit dragon flies, a family of beavers has taken up residence beneath it on one side and a pair of mute swans graces the other.

The Magic of Christmas exhibit, including Miss Florence's Artist's Tree is on display until January 10, 2010.


AutumnLeaves said...

Your landscapes are so beautiful. I love the use of the palette as your canvas too!

Jan Blencowe said...

Thanks so much! Isn;t that a great idea to paint on a palette!