Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sacred Blue

Sacred Blue

“The cloak of the Virgin Mary is blue. Sacre bleu. It was not always so, but beginning in the  thirteenth century, the Church dictated that in paintings, frescoes, mosaics, stained glass windows, icons and altarpieces, Mary’s cloak was to be colored blue, and not just any blue, but ULTRAMARINE BLUE, the rarest and most expensive color in the medieval painter’s palette, the source mineral, more valuable than gold. Strangely enough, in the eleven hundred years prior to the rise of the cult of the Virgin, there is no mention in Church liturgy of the color blue, none, as if it had been deliberately avoided. Prior to the thirteenth century, the Virgin’s cloak was to be depicted in red—color of the sacred blood.

Medieval color merchants and dyers, who had been geared up for red since the time of the Roman Empire, but had no established natural source for blue, were hard-pressed to meet the demand that rose from the color’s association with the Virgin. They tried to bribe glass-makers at the great cathedrals to portray the Devil in blue in their windows, in hope of changing the mind-set of the faithful, but the Virgin and Sacre Bleu prevailed.

The cult of the Virgin itself may have risen out of an effort of the Church to absorb the last few pagan goddess-worshippers in Europe, some of those the remnants of worshippers of the Roman goddess Venus, and her Greek analogue Aphrodite,  and the Norse, Freya. The ancients did not associate the color blue with their goddesses. To them, blue was not even a real color but a shade of night, a derivative of black.

In the ancient world, blue was a breed of darkness.”

The Manchester Madonna by Michelangelo 1497

The Entombment by Michelangelo 1497 

“The pigment was, for a long time, more valuable than gold and during that time, to commission a painting that used it was a sign of status for the patron and his family. The two Michelangelo paintings, The Manchester Madonna  and The Entombment, are unfinished. The blue parts remain unpainted, and both hang in the National Gallery in London, but it’s likely that they remain unfinished because the painter was unable to obtain the ultramarine paint he needed and moved on to other commissions, or the patron refused to pay the high price of the color.”

These excerpt s are from Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art  by Christopher Moore

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pink As A Symbol

Rose pulls for family, future, and faith atop her 1953 pink Farmall tractor for a reason.

"Rose Goltz's tractor is so pink, it makes flamingos look pale. The Grandview, Texas, resident is outstanding in her field since her vividly hued 1953 Farmall tractor is both an eye-catcher and the reason she is the reigning 2011 points champion in the 6000 pound class of tractor pulling competitions.

She sat rather conspicuously surrounded by other contestants who steer famously-green John Deeres and red-shaded Farmalls in the pulling competition at the in the 27th Annual Antique Machinery Show at the Gillespie County Fairgrounds track in Fredericksburg, Texas, recently.

When asked why her tractor is painted such a bright pink, she explains that since the big 'C' has claimed most of her family at young ages, she thought it would be the best way to promote awareness in the fight for the cure and for courage to those facing their battles with cancer.

'I wanted my tractor pink because of my feelings related to cancer. God has been good to me and my kids and I thought if I can do something to give back to Him, I would do it.'

Three years ago, Goltz said she never dreamed of being a competitive driver nor did she  think anyone could persuade her to get up on a tractor. 'But this beauty came in out of a field and became at home with me in a parts trade with a well-known tractor restorer/competitor in the tractor-pulling circuit.'

Rose finally got up the courage to do a pull after the crowd had gone home for the day. She discoved a new passion never dreamed of previously.

She went on to defeat many who had been in the sport for years. 'Then, after I won everything last year, I wanted to paint my tractor pink. Not just any shade would do. I sent off for the official shade of breast cancer pink and a friend donated his time to paint it in January.'

Accents painted on the tractor include red roses to symbolize her name and a line that reads "Pulling for Jesus."

At the wheel, Goltz has taken her pink machine to several public venues including volunteer fire department functions and community parades.

'Everyone's read proud of it being pink. Everywhere I go, they give me a standing ovation,' she said.' "

Thank you to Lisa Treiber-Walter, author of this article from the Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post, June 13, 2012. I cannot think of a better way to use the color pink. BLoyd

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Impressionists

 Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art by Christopher Moore turned out to be an imaginative farce with blue depicted as a muse and the color man as a sometimes diabolical character. Despite this, Mr. Moore included some excellent information on art and artists. The first excerpt focuses on the Impressionists and their immense contribution to the history of art:

by Claude Oscar Monet

The Impressionists

“There is a tendency among academics and art enthusiasts to dismiss the Impressionists, with their fields of flowers and their pink-cheeked girls, as insignificant, pablum for the masses, and once you’ve seen your thousandth tote bag sporting Monet’s water lilies, it’s understandable. Among museums, the Impressionists represent a cash cow, because any show that features them will pack the museum for weeks, even months, while it runs, and so they are often regarded with a restrained resentment, if not for the painters, for the masses who come to see their work. Out of the context of their own time, the Impressionists just seem to be producing “pretty pictures.” Yet, Impressionism represented a quantum leap in painting and ultimately art in general. They came from all walks of life, from all economic strata, and had wildly different ideas about both society and art, but what they all had in common, the single element that united them beyond rebellion against tradition, was their love of painting. Whether it was the invention of photography, the middle class that rose up because of the Industrial Revolution, or simply because paint became available in tin tubes, thus freeing the painter to leave the studio and paint the world, time and events conspired for the Impressionists—their technique as well as their philosophy of capturing the moment—to rise. The conditions, the context were there, but the engine of the revolution can be traced to a group of people who chose, over their own economic and social interests, to pursue an idea. There’s courage in those paintings of placid ponds and pink-faced little girls, a courage that went forth to inspire the next generation. Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh, Gauguin, and so on into Matisse and Picasso, and thus modern art through the twentieth century.”
by Pierre Bonnard, a post-Impressionist

If you are interested in the rise of Impressionism, Christopher Moore recommends:

The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe (Harper Collins 2006)

Color by Victoria Finlay (Random House 2002) This tells the story of one woman’s adventure traveling the world to the sources of the great natural pigments, in the process imparting interesting history and anecdote to bring the science and geography of color to life.

Bright Earth by Philip Ball (University of Chicago Press 2001) An exploration of the history and science of color, written in lyrical prose that explores the role of color as it applies to art history as well.

Renoir, My Father by Jean Renoir (with Pierre Renoir's stories of fellow Impressionists told to his son Jean who convalesced at home with his father after an injury.)
By Pierre Renoir

I agree with Mr. Moore on his suggested reading. Color and Bright Earth have been referred to many times for information I’ve shared in this blog.  From Mr. Moore, I also learned that Manet, Seurat, Theo van Gogh and Gaugain all died from Syphilis.
Babs Loyd

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rubens-Artist of the Month

Once in a great while, an artist comes along who has multiple skills outside his painting genius. Peter Paul Rubens, born June 28, 1577, is one such treasure. Below is one of the artist's self-portraits.

Thomas Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, summaries Rubens' gifts in the following comments:

"He was exceptionally intelligent and prided himself on his diplomatic skills. He was Ambassador to Spain, and his writing abilities as much as his fine arts talents were prodigious.

Most art historians consider his landscapes among the best ever created and his lightening-fast oil studies are more accomplished and full of more verve than 99 percent of the finished works by any artist in the upper ranks of painters.

Rubens was something of a charming knave, too, and appears to have been involved, just for the fun ot it, in "restoring" a group of copies of Italian master paintings that were damaged in a storm when they were being transported from Italy to Spain to become part of the collections of the wealthy Duke of Lerma. Rubens wrote that he didn't want the works to be fiddled around with by incompetent Spanish painters so he took on the restoration work himself and totally reworked them. He wryly notes that the good Duke never realized that he actually received copies instead of originals.

The Equestrian Statue of the Duke of Lerma

In my view, no artist in history has painted women more gloriously. Sure, there are jokes about his plump and varicose-veined goddesses and nymphs, but once one recognizes that Rubens was glorifying the ideal feminine form of the 17th century, you will see the intensity and utter love with which they've been done."

Venus at her Mirror

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Color Wars

Cadbury is declared the winner in the purple color rights contest  versus Nestle after a three year battle.

British confectioner Cadbury has won a trademark dispute with Nestlé over the rights to the “iconic” purple color that Cadbury uses on its wrappers.
The U.K. Intellectual Property Office ruled that the shade—pantone 2865c—showed enough "distinctive character" for a trademark.
The ruling follows a three-year battle between the chocolate companies. In 2008 Nestlé challenged Cadbury’s application to trademark the color, which it had used on its packaging since 1914.
The Birmingham Post reports that a legal ruling in Nestlé’s favor “would have opened the floodgates for rivals, including supermarkets, to use the color on their own-brand chocolate bars.”
Cadbury now holds exclusive rights to use the color on chocolate bar and chocolate drink packaging in the U.K. The trademark use does not, however, include chocolate cakes, confectionery or chocolate assortments, following Nestlé’s objections.
Marketing Week notes that Nestlé can continue to use a similar purple color in its Quality Street chocolate assortment.
A spokesman for Cadbury said the group was “pleased” with the ruling. “This color is clearly associated to Cadbury and something we jealously guard," he said.
The Independent reports that the registrar in the case, Allan James, noted that the color had been used in Cadbury’s advertising campaigns to distinguish the brand. These included the popular campaign showing a gorilla playing the drums. James rejected claims that Cadbury had registered the colour in bad faith as "absurd", the Independent says.
Nestlé however stresses that this is just an “interim decision.” The trademark only covers “some of the goods for which Cadbury had applied,” the company said in a statement. "We will assess the final decision once it has been issued.”

Cadbury's most recent ad shows their creative side. Any company surviving since 1914 must be doing something right! I congratulate them for winning the right to use the distinctive color for their product. I plan to buy a bar soon to celebrate.

Cadbury Dairy Milk isn’t afraid of head-scratching advertisements. In the past, the company has given us everything from dancing monks to magically animated thrift-store apparel—none of which has had much relation to chocolate bars—so it comes as no surprise that the brand’s 2012 London Olympics campaign has so far been quite strange, to put it mildly. (For proof, check out this spot (click below) from Cadbury’s debut Olympics campaign, Stripes V. Spots.)
Cadbury Dairy Milk teamed up with agency Hypernaked for the "Keep Singing Keep Team GB Pumped" campaign, which aims to get the British singing power anthems to support their Olympics team. First up was Europe’s classic hit, “The Final Countdown.” And for their second spot, Hypernaked is tackling Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best”—in true Cadbury Dairy Milk fashion.
The spot opens in a gymnasium pool, where swimming champion and Olympics hopeful (and participant in the Stripes V. Spots campaign) Rebecca Adlington is training. A radio broadcast informs us that a rendition of “Simply the Best,” sung by hundreds of Brits, will play through underwater speakers to inspire Adlington as she swims laps.
Instead of just voices, we get a whole cast of characters—a butcher, a cafeteria lady, a sheep farmer, and a glam rock group just to name a few—singing to Adlington from the depths of the pool. The earnest message of “Simply the Best” might be encouraging, but as the spot proceeds, the water gets more and more crowded. The message? We're all in the water with her, rooting her on.

Agency: Hypernaked
Brand: Cadbury Dairy Milk
Creative Director: Oliver Green
Creative Team: Joseph Keirs & Sef Tedder
Executive Producer: Linda Paalanne
Producers: Matt Keen & Andy Bell
Director: Taika Waititi
Production Company: Hungry Man Films

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Queen of Color

Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee has ended, but what a colorful celebration it was. One pundit called Queen Elizabeth II The Queen of Color and, of course, that appealed to me immediately. The following article shows the glorious colors she's worn throughout several years. Hail to her majesty!

Royal style: Why Elizabeth II is the queen of color

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse for CNN
Bright, bold and beautiful -- the Queen has never shied away from strong colors and daring hats.
Bright, bold and beautiful -- the Queen has never shied away from strong colors and daring hats.
  • Famed for her unique hats and bold colors, the queen has a trademark fashion style
  • For years her clothes were made by British designer Hardy Amies, now couturier Stewart Parvin makes her eye-catching outfits
  • Designers are given royal warrants to become dressers to the queen and it is no easy feat getting one
London, England (CNN) -- Her outfits don't send royal fashion watchers into a frenzy like those of the Duchess of Cambridge or Princess Diana before her, but Queen Elizabeth II has developed a signature style that has withstood the test of time.
Her attire over the last 60 years has reflected the sovereign as a British symbol of refined, regal elegance. The looks she has worn have steadily evolved into her trademark -- monochromatic color with matching coat and hat.
Not one to wear sombre, muted hues like black or beige, the queen has always had a preference for vivid blues, intense greens and dazzling purples in a variety of dramatic shades.
Over the past six decades, Her Majesty has employed the talents of several British designers.
A man decked out in full Union Jack regailia celebrates the Diamond Jubilee.A man decked out in full Union Jack regailia celebrates the Diamond Jubilee.
Union Jacks everywhere
One of her first designers was Norman Hartnell, who worked for her in the 1940s and created many of the full-skirted evening silk dresses she wore to various events as a glamorous young princess.
As a newly crowned queen in the early 1950s, she chose Savile Row tailor Hardy Amies to create elegant evening gowns for her waspish 23-inch (58cm) waist. He was granted the coveted Royal Warrant in 1955. Amies once famously declared: "I do not dress the queen. The queen dresses herself. We supply her with her clothes -- there is a difference."
Two decades later the queen chose a young designer, Ian Thomas, to soften her look with "flowing chiffon dresses," according to the British Monarchy website.
Queen marks diamond jubilee
Couture designer Karl-Ludwig Rehse started making outfits for Her Majesty in 1988 and the queen still wears his designs. He also dressed the late Queen Mother and describes the queen's clothes as a work uniform.
He told CNN: "They have to be comfortable in as much as when the queen puts on the clothes she wants to forget about them.
"You have to take into account the different countries and the different climates in which they'll be worn. The queen always makes sure that she follows the tradition."

While most people would be hard pressed to imagine what they will be wearing the next day, the queen's wardrobe is planned out months in advance, says Rehse.
"It's not the case that the queen is going somewhere next week and thinks 'What am I going to wear?' Sometimes it is six months, 12 months or longer."

Her Majesty, wearing a design by senior dresser and personal assistant, Angela Kelly, stands with the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla and mother of the bride, Carole Middleton on William and Kate's wedding day in April 2011.
Her Majesty, wearing a design by senior dresser and personal assistant, Angela Kelly, stands with the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla and mother of the bride, Carole Middleton on William and Kate's wedding day in April 2011.
A very VIP patron
One person who is currently in the queen's fashion inner circle is couturier and wedding dress designer Stewart Parvin. He first started making royal outfits in 2000 and recalls the secretive selection process that took place before he started working for the queen.
She has a very informed opinion and she knows when it's right and she knows when it's wrong.
Stewart Parvin, royal designer
"At first I wasn't told who it was for," Parvin told CNN.
"It was, 'Could you design for someone who is a really prominent person in the public eye and wants a very chic image?' I thought it was going to be a politician or a tycoon's wife. I put together a packet of sketches but it wasn't until they were chosen I knew who they were for."
"She is someone who is very interested in her clothes. She always has an opinion on it and she has a very informed opinion and she knows when it's right and she knows when it's wrong," said Parvin, who designs two couture collections a year and was in 2007 awarded the Royal Warrant -- given to designers who have worked with the queen for five years or more.

An ensemble fit for a queen
Both Parvin and Rehse told CNN the queen is very involved in the design process, culminating with fittings at Buckingham Palace.
Queen Elizabeth II leaves the BBC Broadcasting House, London in 2006 wearing her trademark ensemble of monochromatic color and matching coat and hat.
Queen Elizabeth II leaves the BBC Broadcasting House, London in 2006 wearing her trademark ensemble of monochromatic color and matching coat and hat.
"Sometimes I choose the fabric and then propose ideas for them, as I would do for any client," said Parvin. "I put together a scheme, maybe four designs for one fabric combination, then she would look at them and either choose a design straight away or suggest some changes."
I put together a scheme... She would look at them and either choose a design straight away or suggest some changes."
Stewart Parvin, royal designer
Rehse says the queen asks him to come up with two or three different alternatives for a particular fabric she likes before settling on a final design.
"I do get a lot of input from the queen," said Rehse. "The pressure is there but I take great joy out of it and it's very rewarding to see Her Majesty wearing my clothes in public."
In addition to warrant-holding royal designers, Her Majesty also has a senior dresser and personal assistant, Angela Kelly.
Queen Elizabeth II tends to break sartorial rules choosing to wear vibrant colors like bright purple during the March 2010 state visit by South African President Jacob Zuma.
Queen Elizabeth II tends to break sartorial rules choosing to wear vibrant colors like bright purple during the March 2010 state visit by South African President Jacob Zuma.
The daughter of a Liverpool dockworker, dressmaker Kelly originally joined the royal household as a maid before working her way up to her current position. She established the first ever in-house couturier and has gone on to design outfits for some of the most enviable royal events including last year's wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.
Known to have a close relationship with the queen, it has been noted by some royal observers that Kelly has slipped into the vacancies left by the deaths of the queen's sister and mother. Kelly and her team use old and new fabrics when designing for the queen using material given to her from when she was a princess, according to the Buckingham Palace website.

The queen is very involved in the design process according to royal designers Parvin and Rehse who spoke to CNN. Parvin says:
The queen is very involved in the design process according to royal designers Parvin and Rehse who spoke to CNN. Parvin says: "She knows when it's right and she knows when it's wrong."
Hats off to Her Majesty!
Milliner Philip Somerville received a royal warrant following 12 years working for the queen. Now, when the queen steps out she's usually wearing a Somerville creation.
"You have to realize that you are never sure when Her Majesty will wear (a particular hat)," he said. "It depends on the weather on many occasions. You are also creating something that has to be very wearable and must be in colors that suit her. She must be noticed in a crowd."
After 33 years in the business, Somerville stepped down as the queen's hatter handing the business over to Dillon Wallwork.
"I've been here for some time now and we've always had a Philip Somerville look which is very clean, understated and elegant," said Wallwork.
Creating a hat fit for a queen is not without its pressures, Wallwork says.
"You know you are under a certain pressure because of the press and what people are going to say," he said. "You know she is going to be looked at. There are certain styles that you can and can't do but within those limits there's lots that you can do. It's quite a challenge but the queen can be quite adventurous."

Of the 20 hats shown above, I would say the queen is a "Summer" in her coloring. The white hat washes her out and the pale pink with dark red lipstick is not one of my favorites. What do you think?