The Eyes Wander Paths

I discovered the naïve art of Olaf Ulbricht through a friend of mine only just the other day: I was charmed by a picture he shared of one of Ulbricht’s village scenes, seen from overhead (above).

Typically, Ulbricht’s paintings depict rural scenes of people interacting with the landscape in daily life or festivities. From the ‘simpler compositions in his earlier work, Ulbricht’s pictures became steadily more colourful and elaborate in detail, and more static. While in his earlier work musicians and houses might float around a church in the autumn breeze, today his pictures tell little stories’. These are stories that are a joy to meander over, like a tourist discovering a new town.

A rich and vivid colour palette is a consistent characteristic of his paintings, which Ulbricht achieves using acrylic paint on wood, and the application of multiple layers of lacquer; the lacquer gives the bright colours a brilliant finish. The irregularity and individuality of the woodgrain are integrated into the painting as much as possible.

For a definition of Naïve style, I can’t go past that from The Gallery of International Naïve Art:

‘Naïve art is characterised by a refreshing innocence and the charming use of bright colours, child-like perspective and idiosyncratic scale. It portrays simple, easily-understandable and often idealised scenes of everyday life. The naïve artist – often self-taught - treats us to a uniquely literal, yet extremely personal and coherent, vision of what the world was, is or should be. It offers us, often in painstaking detail, a timeless and optimistic depiction of an ancient story or Biblical tale, an ordinary occurrence or current event, a special ceremony or daily activity. The naïve painting bustles with colour and excitement, brims with wry humour and candour, bubbles with unbridled empathy and love.’

Ulbricht is also a wood carver; discover more on his website, most of which is in German with some translation into English, portions of which are quoted above.


Graveyard of Dreams

I had stumbled across images of the Neon Boneyard before online, but the other day I had to do some picture research at work on neon signs, and I was reminded once again of the fairylandish wonderland that is the Las Vegas Neon Museum.

The Museum is located in a desert strip not far from Las Vegas, and first opened in 2012 with its first restored sign, the Hacienda Horse and Rider. Since then it has amassed over 200 signs in its Boneyard, nine of which are fully restored.

The gallery includes the Lucky Cuss Motel, the Bow & Arrow Motel, The Silver Slipper, Society Cleaners, Binion's Horseshoe, the Normandie Motel, the Hacienda horse and rider, the Landmark and 5th Street Liquors. Just the names are evocative enough to send me daydreaming of travel.

How I would love to go there! It would be glorious to wander amongst all these decayed and decrepit relics of history. One can only wander on a guided tour however, and they offer both day and night tours. During the latter, the restored signs are lit up, and the others are illuminated with dramatic lighting. I would be compelled to book both!

These great photos – appropriately vintage-looking – are by Pam Sattler, found on The Coolist.


Alpaca Day

Today is May Day, and according to my Frankie calendar, it is also Alpaca Day! I was charmed when I turned the page over and saw this illustration by Monica Ramos. Born in Manila, Ramos now works in New York. Executed in mostly watercolour, her work is lovely and whimsical, reminiscent of yardage design (and indeed some of her work has been produced in textiles) and displaying a wonderful sense of humour. Her line work also reminds me of Henri Matisse.

The alpaca painting is such a joyful, comforting work, depicting crowds of the cuddly creatures joining a group hug with the lone human. They are social creatures, but can be aggressive, and like llamas, they also spit (sometimes at humans). A few years ago I saw a competition at an agricultural show, and it was delightful to walk amongst their pens afterwards and see them close up.

You can see more of Monica Ramos’ equally delightful work at her website, or on her blog. Have a wonderful May!


It’s Not Just Chocolates

Easter, as you may have forgotten, not known, or not thought about, is not all about chocolate and Easter bunnies! It is not a free vacation from work that the government has decided to give us out of the goodness of its heart, so that we can go away for long weekends and eat a lot of chocolate and hot cross buns.

It is in fact a Christian holiday celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus – which is the bedrock of Christian faith. One famous, oft-quoted verse in the Bible sums it up: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

As an accompaniment to the cute little boy with his bunnies, here are some religious themed Victorian cards, and an example of Easter scrapbooking. I love the look of these, from the bright colours to the textured paper and embossing techniques the publishers of the day used – they are so tactile and appropriately chocolate-boxy.

It does amuse me however how Anglo-Saxon Jesus looks – did it not occur to anyone in Victorian times that Jesus, born to a Jewish family, would have had dark skin and hair? I do like his and the angel’s robes however – I hope angels do get to have polka dots on their gowns if they like.

I hope you are having a wonderful Easter!


A Sweet Easter

Here is some Easter cuteness in a rare depiction of a boy in a Victorian scrapbooking card feeding his pet rabbits. I love his innocent expression and rosy cheeks, and his striped socks and gleaming boots. It’s such a sweet, gentle image. I hope you are having a very Good Friday and a happy Easter.