April 30, 2016

Painting With The Girls 121

April 30, 2016

Day 121 (245 days to go)

B Is For Bird III



Mary Cassatt’s return home in 1870 was not a happy one. Very quickly, she missed all the activities of her life in Paris and was bored being with her family. There are letters from this period that reveal she did not get along with her brother Aleck’s new wife Lois Buchanan, who probably did not think Mary’s life style was a proper one.

As soon as she was able, she reconnected with her old school friends and convinced her sister Lydia to leave Altoona with her and go to Philadelphia. Her close friend, Emily Sartain, was there, and she enjoyed helping her settle in a new studio and find models.  Mary took two of her paintings to New York to an art dealer hoping to sell them and pay for her ticket back to Europe.

Her spring in Philadelphia went well, but her family convinced her to come back for the summer. They rented a house in the countryside near her brother Aleck and her disapproving sister in law. It was probably in this uncomfortable setting that Mary Cassatt decided she had to do something serious to improve her professional life. She went back to New York and took her two paintings to Chicago. There they drew the attention of the Catholic Bishop, who commissioned her to go to Italy and copy some Correggio paintings for the church. Her two paintings burned in the great Chicago fire of October 8, 1871, but the church offered her $300 to go to Italy and copy the Corraggio paintings. By December, Mary and Emily Sartain were on a steamer heading to Liverpool.

They immediately made their way to Italy and settled in Parma, where Mary would copy Correggio. In Parma, they met Signor Rossi, the director of the Academy, who gladly introduced them to the local art society of Parma. Their reception was very warm, and in a short period of time, Mary and Emily were acquainted with the cosmopolitan society, and they felt a sense of purpose as they worked. While there, Mary continued her own work, and by the spring of 1872, she shipped Pendant Le Carnival to Paris. The Salon accepted the painting and Mary was highly praised by all her teachers at the Parma Academy. They all wanted her to make Italy her permanent residence, but Mary decided it was time to move on. Emily Sartain went to Paris to visit with her brother, and Mary went to Spain.

Nancy Mowll Mathews writes in Mary Cassatt, A Life, “As soon as she left Parma however, the extraordinary combination of circumstances that brought her such approval and celebrity could never be re-created, even in subsequent trips to that small Italian city”.

Mary arrived in Madrid in September 1872. She lingered there for a while until she thought she had enjoyed all the great masters’ paintings in the museums. She then moved to Seville, where she stayed in a boarding house and made her way into the art society of Seville. Only six paintings of this period survive, although this is the time she painted the most. She hired models and dressed them in traditional local costumes. Again, one of her paintings, Torero And Young Girl, was accepted at the Paris Salon.  In 1873 Mary Cassatt left Seville and arrived in Paris, where she met her mother. The two traveled to the Netherlands, where Mary painted her mother’s portrait and studied Rubens. Mrs. Cassatt left for Philadelphia in October, and Mary moved to Rome, where she again studied the Italian masters. She had not sold paintings lately, and her financial situation was not good, even though the Salon accepted Ida in 1874. She thought it would be in her best interests to return to Paris, where the art market was still vibrant, concluding her life as a nomad. 

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April 29, 2016

Painting With The Girls 120

April 29, 2016

Day 120 (246 days to go)

Happy Birthday Mom!!



B Is For Bird II

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In this coming month of May, I will finish the history of modern art. During the rest of the year, I will focus on the female painters and talk a little about what I am doing with my postcards. I am very happy I was able to read about art history and refresh my knowledge while reporting it in a nutshell format.

I was really taken by the lives of most of the 19th century painters. First, they all lived about half of the time we live.  Life expectancy was 50 years in their time. They had to be quick and to the point. They could not count on another 30 years of life after retirement. Today, most people think that we have time stored somewhere and we will still get things done. We have time to amuse ourselves, to watch TV for hours and spend precious hours doing silly things instead of being with our children or loved ones.  Anyway, what I learned so far is that without this obligation. I will not seriously sit in my chair every day, read all those art books, and then try to do something creative. We normally fuss a lot. We need the perfect conditions and all the stars and planets positioned in a certain way for us to get serious work done.  There is always something to be done. We women get pulled in every direction, and we think we have to respond to all these distractions.  The three women painters I wrote about had very different lives from each other. Artemisia must have been super intelligent and a born diplomat to overcome prejudice, raising kids as a single mother, and working at the same time. Berthe Morisot never had to think about money and had a husband completely devoted to her and their daughter. Mary Cassatt also lived a charmed life of wealth, but knew deeply that if she wanted to continue painting, she could not get married, which would cause her to give up her career and lead a life of domesticity.

We know times have changed, but a lot of women still question themselves about what is best for their careers and their family life.

What has changed too is many women are raising families all by themselves. And that’s remarkable.

April 28, 2016

Painting With The Girls 119

April 28, 2016

Day 119 (247 days to go)

B is For Bird I

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Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was a Dutch painter and founder of the De Stijl, which means the style. He believed blocks of colors and lines could represent everything. The term Neo-Plasticism was coined to describe this style of painting. He is best known for his paintings called Compositions 1-10.

In September 1938, Mondrian left Paris as they were invaded by the Germans, and moved to London. As the World War II advanced rapidly in Europe, he left to New York in 1940 where he would remain until his death in 1944.

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Broadway Boogie Woogie  1942




April 27, 2016

Painting With The Girls 118

April 27, 2016

Day 118 (248 days to go)

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Georges Braque (1882-1963) was a French painter who was highly influenced by Cézanne and later developed Cubism. He collaborated with Pablo Picasso, who also created many Cubism-style paintings. Together they created the first paintings with writings and later with collages.

He is well known for Violine and Palette, on which he wrote musical notes (1910), and Fruit Dish and Glass, on which he glued wallpaper to the canvas.

Braque joined the army in the World War I, and was seriously wounded by a bullet lodged on his head.

In his later years, he turned into a reclusive person and developed another new way of painting. In his series Atelier, objects take the form of other objects, making the paintings complex and difficult to view.

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April 26, 2016

Painting With The Girls 117

April 26, 2016

Day 117 (249 days to go)

Watercolor, collage sewing Postcard 5x7 Matted


Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno de los Remedios Crispín Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruíz y Picasso (1881-1973), of Spain was the most prolific of all professional painters in a career which lasted 75 years. Picasso mastered every art movement of the twentieth century.

It has been estimated that Picasso produced about 13,500 paintings and designs, 100,000 prints and engravings, 34,000 book illustrations and 300 sculptures and ceramics. His body of work has been valued at USD 800 million.

Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon 1907 is considered the painting that started Modernism, Picasso’s La Guernica (1937), thought of as a masterpiece of the century.  In Nancy Frazier’s Art History she writes, “Inspired by the destruction of the Basque town of Guernica by German planes during the Spanish Civil War, the paintings description of war’s obscenity and horror is unique.  The hundred or so studies he made for it, the themes familiar from his earlier work, the symbolism - all contribute to its interest, yet nothing can satisfactorily approach and explanation of its power.”

Personally, my favorite Picasso quote is as follows: “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”

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April 25, 2016

Painting With The Girls 116

April 25, 2016.

Day 116 (250 days to go)

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Paul Klee (1879-1940) was a Swiss/German painter who resorted to a very individual and inventive way to express himself with each individual picture he created. One could say he had his own private vocabulary to explain his creativity. His figures are wire-like shapes, and there is a playfulness element to his paintings especially in his later years.

He explored widely different theories about color in his writings, later translated as Paul Klee Notebooks.

Klee suffered from a rare skin disease called scleroderma for many decades until his death in 1940 in Switzerland.

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April 24, 2016

Painting With The girls 115

April 24, 2016

Day 115 (251 days to go)



Worry About Something

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Egon Schiele (1890-1918) was an Austrian Expressionist painter.  He became very close to Klimt, who was his senior, and encouraged Schiele to express his anger and anxiety.  His paintings depict the human form with distortion and tormented sexuality.

He died very young in the influenza epidemic in 1918 at age 28.

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April 23, 2016

Painting With The Girls 114

April 23, 2016

Day 114 (252 days to go)

Watercolor Postcard 5x7 Matted

Part III

Mary Cassatt continued enjoying classes in the countryside for the next year and half. It was her intention to stay at least a few more years in France before returning home for a visit. By the spring of 1868, Mary Cassatt and her friend Eliza finally heard from the Salon. Both their paintings had been accepted. They were completely elated with the news. They arranged to go to Paris and spend time there until the exhibit and all the events were finished. They gave up their apartment in Ecouen and stayed in a hotel for several weeks.

A Mandolin Player is Mary’s earliest, surviving painting, and it established her as a figure painter.  Mary enjoyed this very early success in her career, but also later had to reconcile with the frustration of being rejected for many years by the Salon.

The two friends enjoyed this visit to Paris and even visited the infamous Mabille Gardens to enjoy the outdoor dance and watch the latest trend in cancan dancing.

In the end of May, Mary went back by herself to a small town near Ecouen.  She arranged to stay at the Villiers-le-Bel boarding school and study with a new teacher, named Thomas Couture, also well known among Americans. In the summer, she went back to Paris to visit Eliza and her brother Carsten, who had been a childhood crush.  If Cassatt had ever considered marriage, this would have been the opportunity to rethink it. Instead Carsten left with Eliza back to America and Mary had to adjust to a life without her close friend. Eliza was married a year later and their friendship became distant and cold.

Another year went by, and in the summer of 1870 Mary’s mother came to take her back to America.

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April 22, 2016

Painting With The Girls 113

April 22, 2016.

Day 113 (253days to go)


Spring Rain

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Edward Munch (1863-1944) was a Norwegian painter well known for his popular painting called The Scream, which was stolen in 1994 from the Museum of Fine Arts in Oslo. It was recovered after ten days as the thieves left fragments of the frame and other clues in their attempt to ransom it for $400,000.

In 2004, Sky and Telescope published an article that links the painting The Scream to the disappearance of the Island of Krakatoa following a volcanic eruption in 1893. The ashes traveled to Europe causing the sunset sky to look as if it was on fire. The painter described this twilight event in his journal and painted The Scream, one of the most     celebrated images to this day.

Munch battled with mental illness all his life but lived to be eighty-one years old.

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April 21, 2016

Painting With The Girls 112

April 21, 2016.

Day 112 (254 days to go)


Three Cherry Trees In The Rain

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Gustave Klimt (1862-1918) was an Austrian painter famous for his Art Nouveau style golden paintings of sensual women. Klimt’s paintings appeared to be several paintings within one. His portraits of women are mixed with dreamy forms and symbols creating a jewel-like blanket around his characters.

His landscapes were painted mostly in Attersee, and they look very flat. It is believed he used a telescope to achieve that effect. Gustave Klimt never painted a self-portrait.

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April 19, 2016

Painting With The Girls 110

April 19, 2016

Day 110 (256 days to go)



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Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) was a Russian painter who relocated to Germany after a career of teaching law. He went to Munich to study painting, and there met Marc and Klee. Together they formed the Der Blauer Reiter group. Through his career, Kandinsky evolved from painting identifiable objects painting more abstract compositions. Most of his compositions were painted based on a process of sketches and prior ideas. He believed he should paint without form and strive to express spiritual thought through abstract painting.  He became a German citizen in the late 20’s, but moved to France when Hitler became chancellor. He was given French citizenship in 1937; the year Germany put his artwork on the list of degenerate art.

April 18, 2016

Painting With The Girls 109

April 18, 2016.

Day 109 (257 days to go)


Watercolor Postcard. 5X7Matted

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was a German painter, printer and sculptor. He moved to Berlin in 1911, and painted mostly nightlife and people who looked like clones. There is sexual tension and sordidness in his paintings. His perspective is distorted and his colors acrid.

His paintings depict well pre-war Germany and its attempt to promote racial cleansing and purge the decadent affluent class. Kirschner suffered from mental illness and depression through his life and committed suicide at age 58.

April 17, 2016

Painting With The Girls 108

April 17, 2016.

Day 108 (258 days to go)



Camilla and Ella

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Henry Matisse (1869-1954) was a French painter and sculptor and leader of the Fauves. He adopted Gauguin’s flat shapes and original use of colors. He said, “I dream of art devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter… [Art that is like] a good armchair in which to rest.” He was a life long friend of Picasso’s, and was his rival at times. He had two children and had strong bonds with his daughter Marguerite, who he painted dozens of times through a forty-year period. His entire family was involved in the French resistance during World War II, and his daughter survived the Nazi camps.  His son became an art dealer in New York and represented the most prominent artists in the twentieth century, including the works of his own father.

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April 16, 2016

Spring in Washington DC. Read about the lives of female painters Artemisia Gentileschi, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassat and Beatrix Potter. For more information go to www.sufieberger.com

Read More

April 15, 2016

Painting With The Girls 106

April 15, 2016.

Day 106 (260 days to go)


Watercolor Postcard. 5X7Matted

Fauvism and Expressionism are the first art movements of the 20th century following the Post Impressionists. Major exhibits of these movements opened in France and Germany. Fauvism mostly uses the elements of painting, such as the color and lines used by Van Gogh, shapes and flattening space used by Gauguin, and geometrical forms used by Cezanne. In the expressionism movement, artists express their own feelings and personal views rather then painting to accommodate the publics taste. 

April 14, 2016

Painting With The girls 105

April 14, 2016

Day 105 (261 days to go)


Self portrait in Red Lines

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Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) was a French painter and part of the Nabis avant-garde painters group in the beginning of his career. Vuillard, who also was part of it, became a lifetime friend and they both collaborated in design and decorative arts that was very popular in Europe in the end of the 19th century.

Bonnard hardly painted in his studio because he wanted to keep his art fresh and spontaneous. He never used an easel. Instead, he tacked his canvases to the wall and chose the size he wanted to be painting. On 1945 Bonnard said, “There is a formula that perfectly fits painting: lots of little lies for the sake of one big truth.”

He was a very successful painter throughout his career, and is best known for his interior still life with windows that open to colorful landscapes.


April 13, 2016

Painting With The Girls 104

April 13, 2016.

Day 104 (262 days to go)

Jefferson Basin

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Vuillard (1868-1940) was a French painter who followed the footsteps of Gauguin with his approach to painting patches and shapes. He was part of a group known as the Nabis.  He was trained formally at the École des Beaux-Arts, but felt obliged to continue the work of the Impressionists and aim to create the art for the twentieth century. He lived with his sister and mother, a seamstress, until he was sixty. He was well familiar with the domestic life of a woman and liked painting while indoors. He mainly focused on patterns of fabrics, and the decorative aspects of interiors. It is composition of colors and shapes that set the soft atmosphere of his paintings.

April 12, 2016

Painting With The Girls 103

April 12, 2016.

Day 103 (263 days to go)

Cherry Blossoms            Watercolor Pencil Wash

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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) was a painter, printer, and illustrator whose immersion in the vibrant theatrical life of Paris allowed him to produce a collection of appealing, elegant and provocative images of the decadent end of the 19th century.

He was born a dwarf. His parents, the Comte and Comtesse, were first cousins, and he suffered from congenital health conditions sometimes attributed to a family history of inbreeding.

Because he couldn’t engage in physical activities, his mother encouraged him to paint and stay away from taunting children.

He was fascinated by the life of prostitutes, their relationships and life in brothels. His paintings were not vulgar, but informing.  He didn’t offend and instead he painted journalistically. One felt sympathetic to his depictions of life as a dancer or a prostitute.  He is also well known for the posters he made for the opening of the Moulin Rouge.

Toulouse-Lautrec was a heavy drinker, and he died of complications from alcoholism and syphilis at age 36.


April 11, 2016

Painting With The Girls 102

April 11, 2016.

Day 102 (264 days to go)


Watercolor Postcard. 5X7Matted


George Pierre Seurat (1859-1891) was the youngest member of the Impressionist and Post Impressionist movement. He also died very young at age 32.

He liked the concept of the Impressionists, but believed there was a scientific solution as to how to apply paint to a canvas imitating how the human eye processes color and light. His technique was called Pointillism, as it referred to the dots of colors Seurat would paint on the canvas. Instead of blending colors together, Seurat methodically juxtaposed unmixed colors to achieve color variation.

For unknown reasons, he hid his relationship with Madeleine Knoblock, his mistress, and moved her to a different address when she became pregnant. The circumstances of his death are not exactly known. He died at his parent’s home of what most historians describe as something similar to meningitis. His first child with Madeleine died two weeks after him from the same illness. After his death his second child was born to Madeleine, but he also died a few days later.

He is best known for his painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.