100 artists of the brandywine valley by catherine quillman

Recently my friend Catherine Quillman gifted me a copy of this glorious book she wrote, 100 Artists of the Brandywine Valley.

I love it! I think everyone should own it ūüėä and you can read an excerpt HERE.

Catherine is very talented and just a wonderful human being!

You can read more about Catherine and what she has been up to on her website. (Catherine is always on the go, so her website is not updated often . She is also a regular contributor to West Chester FIG .

In addition to being a writer and author of many wonderful books (some of which I own!), Catherine is a working artist. You can often find her work at The Chester County Art Association . As a complete segue but related, the Chester County Art Association ofersterrific classes for children and adults and some classes are even free.

Catherine’s book 100 Artists of the Brandywine Valley joins my copy of Eugene D’Orio’s Chester County: A Traveler’s Album on my coffee table.

Chester County is home to so many talented artists and writers!

christmas ūüéĄ serendipity


Tonight we went to Malvern’s Victorian Christmas. I have sponsored a lamp post Christmas tree the past couple of years and we couldn’t go last year. Sadly I did not find my tree but serendipity was the word of the evening. We did a little shopping, had dinner….and strolled.

While we were strolling I noticed the sign photographed above. I had seen it fly by on Facebook- it is the new gallery next to Gallery 222 on King Street (which was also so much fun this evening as a matter of fact!)

Painted Fine Art & Gallery Coming Soon the sign said. The gallery exterior was warm and festive. So I had to check it out, and I am so glad I did, as this is definitely Malvern’s next treasure! (you heard it here firstūüėä)

Inside the studio greeting people was the gallery owner and artist, Sharon Henderson McHugh.

I have an affinity for artists to be sure, but Sharon is someone you would just like if you met her somewhere else. Warm and welcoming, and her art is amazing I think. She has a tremendous sense of color, texture, and light. Her subjects also come to life on the canvases – each has a vibrancy.

Her middle room were portraits and portraits of nudes. Nudes can be extraordinary if they are painted by the right artist. Sharon is in the photo above, and I photographed her next to the nude that is my favorite. I also love the garden scene which is the last photo in this post.

I am sorry I did not take more photos of her art. She also has some pencil drawings which are exquisite.

I look forward to the gallery’s opening and you will definitely want to check it out.

#ShopLocal and go to Malvern’s Victorian Christmas tomorrow! So much fun!

small art

Small art is anything but. They are a little jewel boxes of works of art that you can tuck into small corners in your home. You can even tuck them into bookcases.

My friend Sherry Tillman, who is an artist and owns a store in Ardmore, PA called Past*Present*Future used to have an artist show hang in her store occasionally during First Friday Main Line events called a "Square Deal".

This "Square Deal" was a show that always intrigued me – it was a show of literally small art as in inches big that was affordable to everyone, and helped spread the principle of art in unexpected places and didn't intimidate people. Because that is the thing about art – it shouldn't intimidate people but it often does.

A lot of people when it comes to the art in their homes are hung up with names and value. To me it is more important to have something hanging that you love to look at, versus an actual monetary value.

Nothing is worth anything if it does not bring you pleasure when it comes to art. And beautiful art can be sourced from all sorts of places and doesn't have to cost a lot.

For example, one of my favorite pieces in my home has no real value and I found it quite literally on a trash pile before a home in Haverford, PA was demolished years ago near the Haverford School. It had meant something to the occupants of the home at one time, but it wasn't anything that would ever have resale value so after the property was sold the house with everything that was left inside of it was demolished. This one piece was left propped up with bags and bags and boxes of trash and I happened to see it walking my dogs. So I took it off the trash pile, and had it reframed.

Again, nothing valuable, I just like it.

And that is how I have chosen my art. Do I like it when I see it? Does it evoke emotion in me? Do I think it's pretty?

I have never forgotten those "Square Deal" art shows. They have made me mindful of the beauty of small pieces, so when I see ones that I love I don't pass them by.

Recently I found three very small pieces. Not expensive, in fact so inexpensive you might term them "cheap" yet there's nothing "cheap" about them.

These pieces are Chester County scenes and they are literally inches big. None of them are signed that I can determine, but I think they're beautiful.

I just tucked them into little spots around my house. And there they will hang, bringing me pleasure.

I have written before about how you can find art all over the place. You can find artists hanging art at local fairs and festivals. You can find art at garage and yard sales and even estate sales. You can pick art out of barns, and find it in thrift shops and consignment stores. The piece just above this paragraph is a little winter scene oil painting. I paid six dollars for it. It is about 3" x 5". Tiny and I love it.

You can also find reasonably priced art of lesser known artists at local galleries. It doesn't have to be expensive – the most basic of rules (again) is you just have to like it.

The only person you need to impress with your art choices is yourself. Art is a very personal thing – just ask any artist who creates. And don't forget as we grow as human beings, often or tastes will change or evolve. So you don't have to be wed to pieces. You can swap things out.

Twenty years ago I would've looked at people like they were crazy if someone mentioned to me how cool small art was. Today, I totally get it and appreciate it.

Experiment with small art. And always remember you can source local art probably more inexpensively wherever you live then the fake art canvases you will find at stores like Home Goods or TJ Maxx.

When you find yourself a piece of local art it ties you to where you are from no matter where you move in the course of your life. Small art is portable. And to me the other thing that is important to me is someone actually took the time to create it, it just wasn't an image transferred in a factory onto a canvas.

One of the great things about living in Chester County is the fact that there is a thriving arts scene. You can find beautiful quality pieces hanging in local galleries and shops, festivals, fairs, and so on. And one of the things I love is the abundance of small pieces out there that you can buy to experiment with.

Small art. It's a good thing 😊

Thanks for stopping by.

something new: gallery 222 in malvern

222-1

Today I had a meeting with someone at The Buttery in Malvern (one of my favorite places).  On my way out of the door, I realized I had not been able to make the opening over the weekend of the brand spanking new gallery that opened on King in Malvern.

And there it was, across the street.

So I crossed King (carefully, today pedestrians in the crosswalks were largely invisible and ignored by drivers – Malvern PD can you do some enforcement?) and cheated on my Malvern favorite, JAM Gallery.

29988643225_f8072635e2_oIn my own defense, I love local art and I love welcoming galleries even more. And Gallery 222 just beckoned me like an old friend.

I did a Facebook live video that is loaded on this blog’s Facebook page but the audio today on every Facebook live thing I tried was messed up, but it is a very nice virtual tool.

The owner, Andrea, is a friend of a friend.  And much like walking into JAM which is across the street and down a piece, it’s a comfortable feeling when you enter. And the art is lovely.   I saw several pieces that also like at JAM, are reasonably priced.

Andrea said to me that this is her dream to have a gallery. I totally get that, and her dream is ever so lovely. She will also have artist space above the gallery floor, which to me is so cool. She is creating an artists’ colony right in her building!

29988643315_4c99f49927_oMalvern having a presence in the local art scene with galleries and artists in residence is a great idea, and so positive for a small town.

Ironically, I have a friend who shares this vision.  My friend Sherry Tillman who owns Past*Present*Future in Ardmore, PA and who is an artist  in her own right. She had the vision to create First Friday Main Line to put art in unexpected places. For several years before I moved to Chester County, I did the event PR and photography for First Friday Main Line and loved every minute.

222-2Sherry made me remember why I loved local and regional art.  It wasn’t about the price point or if they were a listed artist, it was about liking what you saw. Did it evoke an emotion? Strike a memory chord? That was the thing: you liked a piece for whatever reason. And when the art is affordable, you can take that piece of happiness home and look at it every day.

Looking at art is a wonderful experience.  And no, you do not have to like all of it.  For example, I might be committing art sacrilege but I do not like Picasso anything.  I never saw the genius.

29694684380_567dcb36bd_oI like landscapes. I love portraits that tell a story. I like my farm animals and my farmhouse scenes.  I also like a lot of the work of my parents’ friends who are (and were) artists.  Joyce De Guatemala, Harry Niblock, Margery Niblock, Noel Miles.

I don’t know the artists of some of the stuff I have picked up over the years. I just bought whatever because I liked it. It made me happy.  I have a  watercolor of three girls and a dog that was an early 20th century equivalent of sofa art.  I found the piece on a trash pile years ago when a developer was getting ready to tear down what was the Clothier House in Haverford on Buck Lane. I saw it and felt bad for a piece of art tossed like a sack of rotting potatoes on the trash pile.  I was walking my dogs when I saw it and walked it across Lancaster Avenue and had it re-framed.  It has no real value but I like it.

Local artists have a way of connecting us to where we live in very special ways, so I am happy Malvern is becoming a gallery town at one end. I told Andrea today that 222 and JAM should do a Gallery Night – maybe quarterly as the seasons change.  I learned from First Friday Main Line that bringing art to the community is so positive, so why not spread the love further in Malvern?

I wish Gallery 222 in Malvern a long and happy existence! I look forward to their next show and JAM Gallery’s as well. I like the idea of Malvern being an art destination.

Gallery 222. 222 East King Street Malvern Pennsylvania 19355
610.608.6636 | andreastrang@gallery222malvern.com

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jenkins arboretum

 I am at Jenkins Arboretum for a gallery  

 opening for my friend Dr. E Ni Foo. The exhibit of his latest paintings run through the first of November or so. The show is amazing and so is the arboretum. I also had to buy some plants and a membership!

 

    

    

yes, I also brake for yard sales…and barn sales…and so on

chair

Chair $40 at Eclectic Market in Malvern, floral needlepoint pillow $8 at St. David’s Church Fair a few years ago, and chicken pillow $4 at St. Paul’s in Exton¬†during AngelFest

Truly, you can hire that interior designer if you want to ¬†but you don’t have to.¬† You don’t have to be design challenged and you can¬†find the time.¬† I get inspiration from all over. People like Lara Spencer and Cari¬†Cucksy¬†inspire me.¬† Not Martha Stewart any longer. Besides her issue with bloggers she is way too comfy¬†with pastel paints and washes and she is enough to make you dream in cr√®me de menthe which is too close to Kmart green and similarly pastel nightmares, but I digress.

Lara Spencer used to be a host on Antiques Roadshow.¬† A lot of people know her from being an anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America, and from Flea Market Flip. Now she has a book I Brake For Yard Sales and a series by the same name that made what appears to be a limited debut on HGTV.¬† I say limited because HGTV is a little hard to figure these days.¬† They replay a lot of home crashing series but no real gardening shows any longer and don’t have a lot of air time (in my opinion) on some of these fun shows like I Brake For Yard Sales or Cash & Cari.

Chair one of a pair ($18 for both) from  Smithfield Barn, Downingtown. Sampler pillow embroidered by me and other pillow a gift

Chair one of a pair $18 for both Smithfield Barn. Sampler pillow embroidered by me and other pillow a gift

Why I love watching ladies like Lara Spencer and Cari Cuksey is because they show you it is not a beige, beige world and not everything has to be all matchy-matchy. They give you great re-purposing ideas too.

I have never needed to hire an interior designer or decorator. And I know a few who are amazing.  But in this economy, why not train your own eye and save some money?  At least do some of the leg work if not the whole thing?

I did our new house by myself with my sweet man (and a terrific carpenter who built us amazing bookcases and storage benches).  Fortunately our tastes are compatible.  Or should I say he is a man who will actually communicate about house stuff?

unknown watercolor - approximately $20 from Smithfield Barn in Downingtown.

unknown watercolor – approximately $20 from Smithfield Barn in Downingtown.

I guess I am kind of sort of quasi-traditional with a dash of quirky .¬† I like vintage and I like the lines of a lot of older furniture.¬† I like a more country or should I say¬†less formal¬†kind of look as in what¬†some would call “farmhouse chic”, but if you are expecting mad for plaid with ruffles, gag me with gingham, so not my style. Yet I am not so casual as in Cindy Crawford icky denim love seats or lots of plastic things. Comfortable and pretty works but not a frilly gilded lily. And also a component of my home to be considered are things from my childhood home I liked and wanted to emulate.

And interestingly enough, my sweet man and I both had mothers who loved to check out estate sales, so you could say we sort of inherited this treasure-seeking meets bargain hunting fun.

I do think my style is uniquely my own and can’t be pigeonholed as one particular category because to me what I have done is a little bit of this a little bit of that.¬† I have put what I love into my home and it is a house where every room is used.¬† No, the living room is not for teenagers to play video games in, but neither is it some shrine to formal living and roped off with a velvet rope except for special occasions and sherry by the fire.

I like pops of color and am not afraid of color.¬† I don’t like wallpaper.¬† I can admire it in other people’s houses in small doses, but would rather look at a colorfully painted wall than wallpaper. I remember once being in a house in Massachusetts near where the Brimfield Antiques show is held.¬† You would have thought they house would have been New England fabulous, right? It was instead a¬† study of ¬†contradicting and competing wallpaper.¬† Every room was papered and even the halls. And nothing complimented or flowed.¬† The house literally gave me a pattern headache. And the owner was so house proud too.¬† But they loved their house, so that was what mattered.

I have a¬†glass bowl my sister gave me one year for Christmas about ten years ago.¬† It was inadvertently color inspiration for a lot of my current¬†living room.¬† The bowl is a beautiful almost cranberry crossed with raspberry kind of color.¬† With it in mind I found a traditional Chippendale hump back¬†sofa of similarly colored damask circa late 1950s or early 1960s¬† at Reseller’s in Frazer for $125.¬† Yes, really.¬† It was a lucky find that had sat on the sales floor until it was reduced, reduced, reduced.¬† It was in pristine condition and the only thing it needed was the legs dusted.

At the Eclectic Market on King Street in Malvern one Saturday last fall I found a vintage wing chair in a pattern that was palatable, and compatible to my sofa.¬† Yet it isn’t nauseating matching like furniture garanimals. And this sturdy chair was…wait for it…forty dollars. Yes $40.00.

It is that easy.  A little time and effort and it actually comes together. Not all on one day, but it does come together.

You all know by now that I love barn picking.  And yes, the Smithfield Barn in Downingtown is that awesome.  Kristin has a fabulous eye and thanks to her I can actually identify some country antiques now that might impress an actual farmer or if not that an antiques dealer or two.

I also will check out yard sales and estate sales and church sales and country auctions and resale shops and flea markets.

I love Frazer Antiques and the dealers who work there are so incredibly nice and patient with my 10,000 questions.  They are helpful too.

Resellers Consignment in Frazer is also a favorite haunt and they get fabulous stuff all the time Рeven vintage table linens, crystal, lighting fixtures, garden ornaments,  artwork and china.  Not just furniture.  But the trick to them is if you like it, buy it because much like the Smithfield Barn, stock move quickly because the pricing is reasonable.

And I can’t forget Garage Sale Chic Chester County.¬† Now there is a woman with a terrific eye! And without her I would not have my pot rack for $60 in my kitchen and the only floor lamp I have ever liked in my life.

I bought the  furniture pieces mentioned because among other things they are sturdy, classic pieces I can reupholster  some day and still love them.  And that is part of developing your eye: imagine what something might look like stained differently, or painted, or reupholstered.

I love going to places like Clover Market  (Ardmore, Chestnut Hill, and Philadelphia in the winter at the Armory) because I might spy something fun and quirky.  The true kings and queens of repurposing are vendors there  like Nanny Goat Antiques, Chairloom, and Brandywine View Antiques (who should also be visited and often in Chadds Ford), so I also always leave with great ideas.

I go to high-end¬†antiques and craft shows to educate my eye as much as anything else.¬† I don’t really buy at those shows, I am not in the demographic they shoot for – I am just average. But you need to educate your eye, because that is how you learn.¬† And trust me, I have seen and be able to recognize some pretty amazing things in thrift shops and picking barns as a result.

I eBay too for small stuff like vintage table linens and locating the vintage plates and even cookware I like to use. I also will swap things with friends and so on.¬† I am an insatiable bargain hunter with a knack for barter (I am told another word for it is “hondle”.) It’s fun.

At the end of the day, I want my home to reflect me, not someone else who doesn’t live there.¬† I want it to be homey and personal. And what I hang on my walls isn’t running away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art or something.¬†I prefer things I see by more local artists and unknowns altogether. One of my most favorite things is a watercolor in a simple wood frame I bought for $20 at the Smithfield Barn.¬† It’s no Wyeth and never will be, but it makes me happy.¬† I buy what I like.¬† It doesn’t have to impress anyone, I just have to like it.

little table from Berwyn estate sale a few years ago - about $15. Candlestick and dish $5 from Harriton Fair at Historic Harriton House ten years ago. Print on the table of Chester County Farmhouse a gift

little table from Berwyn estate sale a few years ago Рabout $15. Candlestick and dish $5 from Harriton Fair at Historic Harriton House ten years ago. Print on the table of Chester County Farmhouse a gift

Another example is the little painting my sweet man found for me recently. Nothing fancy, but some unknown¬†artist did a print of a farmhouse I love to photograph and have¬†photographed in West Nantmeal¬†Township. To me I would rather see things like that on someone’s walls than framed posters of art reproduction. Do you have a First Friday celebration in your community or near by? You might pick up a cool piece of art at a First Friday. Or check out local art shows.¬† The art show prices are generally high, but if you like the artist, take down their information and contact them after the show. (For fun and funky art and high end crafts try Past*Present*Future in Ardmore )

Home is where your heart is, so to me that makes decorating where you hang your proverbial hat easy.¬† Assemble your home to make yourself happy.¬† I like looking at Architectural Digest, but I don’t want to live in Architectural Digest. I would rather live in something most probably found in Country Living Magazine, truthfully.

My photo of the same farmhouse in the print above!

My photo of the same farmhouse in the print above!

I do Pinterest.¬† It to me is like a giant cork-board.¬† I will pin rooms that inspire me, things I might want to try, recipes, and so on. I will also¬†ask my friends how and what they did if I like what I see.¬† I am not dumb, I will not do work a professional should do so you won’t see me putting up dry wall and slathering mud on, but I can do basic painting if I have to¬†and goofy things like sponge painting stair risers.

I do have a pretty good eye for color and special relationships and I can hawk a bargain. And most of all I still like looking even when there is nothing I need to buy.  Window shopping is fun and inspirational.

So while you might find some in the Exton or King of Prussia Malls, chances are you will find me in a consignment shop , yard sale, or barn hunting for treasures.

My late father always said if you can read, you can learn to cook and I think a similar vein can be applied to decorating your home. And taste evolves, so what you like today could be completely different from ten years ago and twenty years in the future might be different again.

All I am saying is start small and just try.¬† Then if you really don’t have a Designing Women gene, find someone to help you.¬† But they should understand that you are the boss and listen and have a compatible personality.

I don’t know if I am doing it right or wrong. I just know what I like (and I know my limits.)¬† It has been a process of trial and error over time. Kind of like when I experimented¬† years and years ago with purple eye shadow. Some ideas work better than others.¬†¬†After all if you hate the color the walls are painted, you can always paint¬†them a different color.

And oh by the way, this coming weekend is an OPEN barn weekend at Smithfield Barn.