Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More African Drawings Created on Site at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Who were the Heroic Africans?
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt
Painting of Afukwa, African Queen
Memorial head of Afukwa
An African terracotta sculpture inspired this watercolor painting. I viewed the sculpture as part of a special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art titled "Heroic Africans." The exhibition takes a look at sculptural traditions from West and Central Africa created between the twelfth and early twentieth centuries and pulls together works from all over the world never before brought to an American audience. This Memorial head of Afukwa was part of a mother daughter commissioned work. I especially liked the futuristic look of the terracotta which depicted the African Princess in a robotic fashion reminiscent of a Tim Burton character. I made the drawing on site by standing in front of the glass display case with my watercolor sketch pad and a charcoal pencil I had nabbed from the drop in drawing session that was going on. The drop in drawing session in front of the Turkish carpets was fun, but so crowded I was asked to give up my stool after 30  minutes. The watercolors I added back in the studio and you can see that the colors were of my own design.

Head of an Oba, An African King

Bronze Head of an Oba
There are many portrait busts of African Kings and leaders on display. The Kings, or "Oba", commissioned the highest skilled artisans to craft the bronze sculptures. When the King died the first task of the newly appointed King, who was the first born son, was to create a memorial bust of his father to be placed on the palace altar. Although the art was usually created posthumously, the sculptures always depicted the kings during the prime of their life. This particular bronze sculpture is from present day Nigeria. Unfortunately records no longer exist to connect which King each bronze sculpture represented.

Tribal Art from Commemorative Throne

 I was very excited by the wooden commemorative thrones on display, These totem like thrones were carved from wood and were large and imposing rising more than life size. I loved the animated faces of the kings and queens on display. By this time my stolen pencil was beginning to dull but I had bought an overpriced pencil sharpener at the museum gift shop that allowed me to keep going. My routine was to alternate sharpening my pencil while I listened to the audio guide and sketching the compelling sculptures. I would love to return to the exhibit with a box of pre-sharpened pencils and do justice to all the magnificent African art on display. I am glad this exhibit continues through January so I can get back there when this busy holiday season wanes.

Decorating inspiration:
A set of Three African Paintings add a global touch to a modern brown and blue bedroom

Where in the world will you be this holiday season??
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures

Drawing at the Metropolitan Museum
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt
Set of 4 African Paintings
This art was drawn from a special exhibition titled "Heroic Africans" which takes a look at sculptural traditions from West and Central Africa created between the twelfth and early twentieth centuries. I brought my watercolor sketch pad into the gallery on a friday night and sketched from seven different sculptures on display. The room view here shows four from that series. I also listened to the audio guide while drawing. One of the guards who noticed what I was doing came over to compliment my drawing which is always a thrill to have people appreciate my work and the artistic process.

African Woman
Oba King, African art
African King, Tribal Art
The original charcoal drawings were painted with watercolor back in my studio. The tribal wall art has a wonderful abstract quality giving it a modern sophistication. I added texture to the watercolor painting to add to the visual appeal.The dominant colors in these artworks are blue, and coffee brown but some paintings have tones of jade green and other glowing earth tones. 

These abstract interpretations would look great in your house and complement your modern global home decor.

See the exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum: 

exhibition through thru January 29, 2012


Do you love art and decorating? Get art you love and decorating inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Click HERE.


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Monday, November 21, 2011

An Artful Tradition in Jewish Wedding Ceremonies

Interview with Ketubah Designer Jerise Fogel
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt

Ketubah available on etsy
SchulmanArt: Where are you from and where do you live now?
Jerise: I grew up in NJ, near Philadelphia, and have lived all over the US—in Michigan, Nebraska, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York—and for a year also in Germany. I love to travel. Currently,  I live in New York City, in
Washington Heights.

How long have you been an artist?
Jerise: Well, I have been doing art since I was very young. I took high school classes in ceramics and drawing that made a big impression on me; I took some Studio Art classes in college, and I have attended drawing sessions in most of the cities I have ever lived in, sometimes more regularly sometimes less. I keep a sketch book and love to sketch around the city. Since college and grad school, I’ve taken studio classes at Parsons School of Art and Design, and at the School of Visual Arts, both here in New York City. I have also taken quite a few calligraphy classes, some with the Society of Scribes again in NYC.

SchulmanArt: I love your Ketubahs. Could you please explain to my reader who may not be familiar with Jewish wedding customs a little bit about their history in traditional marriage ceremonies?
Jerise: Ketubahs (the plural in Hebrew is ketubot; the word basically means “written text”) are fascinating documents. They began as a simple legal contract specifying the monetary obligations of the groom, and stipulating that the groom, in accepting co-responsibility over the money and property that was being brought into the marriage by the bride, would need to pay all that back if the marriage were ended for some reason. So, basically, the ketubah was a document to protect the woman from being exploited, and from having her money and goods stolen away, should her husband leave her, or should she want to get out of the marriage. It was very progressive in its time. Modern Orthodox and Conservative ketubah texts stick fairly closely to this original idea of the contract; modern Reform ketubah texts vary widely—some sounding very contract-like, and others talking more about emotional and spiritual support and partnership. Many couples write their own ketubah texts, and you can even take classes in how to do this in such a way as to satisfy your tradition’s legal requirements.

SchulmanArt: How did you learn ketubah design? What special skills do you need?
Jerise:  I had always admired those old papercut designs that one sees in books and museums. With that in mind,  I tried something rather intricate, and delicate, with paper and an exacto knife, for someone who asked me whether I would do their ketubah for them. Trees are a lovely subject for this kind of thing, and I’ve always liked drawing from nature, so that part was pretty natural. I had also worked with stencils and screenprint, so that helped my design sense. I had practiced and sometimes studied calligraphy since I was a teenager, and developing my skill with Hebrew letters is an ongoing project for me—those are really the two essentials, text-wise. I have a background in Greek, Latin, some ancient Hebrew, and several other languages, which always helps.

drop in and chat on her blog!
SchulmanArt: What music do you listen to while creating?
Jerise: I don’t have too many art rituals—unless making coffee counts! I tend to listen to Joan Baez, or sometimes k.d. lang (Hymns of the 49th Parallel), when I’m cutting designs out; my other favorites are: Kateryna Kolcova (her CD “Karev Yom (Day is Near)” is amazing), the Klezmatics (anything!), Bustan,  Jane Siberry, Simon & Garfunkel, John Denver (sorry, it’s true, don’t laugh!), Sweet Honey in the Rock (especially Sacred Ground and B’lieve I’ll Run On), Chopin (√Čtudes), the Indigo Girls, and the Chieftains (San Patricio).

SchulmanArt: What is your studio space like? 
Jerise: I live in a one bedroom apartment, and the bedroom is my studio (I sleep out in the living room on a futon). It’s in transition from a messy space to a more organized space. Right now, there’s a lot of paper around, but when I get cleared up more I will let my cats come back in and hang out in the armchair or on the windowsill as I work, which makes me calm. 
The view is not much to look at—I look out onto an inner courtyard of the apartment building—but there is a really nice time around 3pm every day when sunlight floods the space and makes me very happy. And I love my pretty fire escape latticework.

SchulmanArt: What is your most popular item other than the Ketubahs?
Jerise: My Obama-in-Yiddish t-shirt has been selling well lately as well as holiday-related, or anniversary-related cards. I have a little papercut card that says “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” in Hebrew, with little trees on either side, that people tend to like a lot. In addition, my NYC Sketch Calendar for 2012 is doing very well.

Do you do Bar Mitzvah invitations or anything Bar Mitzvah related?
Jerise: I love custom work, so I have done Bar and Bat Mitzvah invites and artwork, and would always be happy to do that again.

To commission Jerise for your wedding or special event, please contact her at

Jerise Fogel
Lettering & Artwork

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Picasso Painted Watercolors

Reinventing Tradition: Picasso at the Frick
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt~

Nudes in a Forest
, spring 1908
Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on wove paper
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Picasso loved to draw. The Frick Collection currently has an amazing exhibition that chronicles the development of Picasso's drawings, from academic life drawings done when he was eight through maturity of his modern style. The Frick has more than fifty works on display in their downstairs galleries and the upstairs annex. Highlights include radical innovations of cubism and collage and watercolors that look forward to his Avignon. The exhibit is filled with never before exhibited works which are framed magnificently. When you think of drawings you think of black and white line drawings but many of the "drawings" on display have gouache and watercolor which make them truly paintings and delight the eyes and senses.

Nudes in a Forest
, early 1908
Gouache, watercolor, and pencil on paper
The Museum of Modern Art
During the week timed tickets are available and are included with the museum admission. On Sunday until 1pm the museum is pay what you wish and there are no timed tickets until 1pm. On our visit we arrived at 12:30 and waited for about 20 minutes. The show was delightful, and worth the wait. If you don't mind waiting in line. After your visit, head over to Madison Avenue and wait in line at LADUR√ČE for their famous airy macaroons. The little shop has a line out the door since its write up a few weeks ago in the New York Times

Picasso's Drawings, 1890–1921: Reinventing Tradition
through January 8, 2012 at the Frick Collection, 70th and Fifth Ave, NYC
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pet Portrait Presents

It's raining cats and dogs!
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt.

Commission your own Pet Portrait or Buy this Cat Print!
This brown tabby cat sits on top of a white wrapped Christmas present with a red bow. She was the apple of her mother's eye and climbed into every box that ever came into the house. Her daughter commissioned me and sent me a darling photo of the cat to surprise her mother with a pet portrait of her sweet "Louise" for Christmas. If you have a darling pet that graces your life, send me your photo and I will be happy to create a pet portrait just for you.

I was so happy with this watercolor that I am also offering it as a fine art print for sale. The fine art print comes matted and in an acetate sleeve gift ready to stick a bow on it. The cat lover in your life will adore this giclee of a watercolor painting. Does this cat painting remind you of your cat? Check out my other cat art.

Work in Progress photo of Double Dog Portrait
I am not bias to cats either--- the dog portraits are also coming in. Right now I am hard at work on a double dog portrait a woman has commissioned me as a gift for her friend. What better gift for a friend than man's best friend? For the black friday special you will get Free matting if you order this by November 25th midnight on etsy. Check out all my dog art on etsy.
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Monday, November 7, 2011

How a Watercolor Portrait Comes Together

Step by Step..
New blog post by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt.

Most recently complete portrait, View full portfolio
My portraits of children are owned and cherished by parents throughout New York. My usual practice is to spend time getting to know the family I am going to paint, studying them, taking as many as hundred photographs. Back in the quiet and seclusion of my own studio I paint the finished portrait working from a photo picked with consultation of the parents and my remembered impressions.

Starts with a great photograph! (family photography by Schulman)
When I am commissioned for a portrait I recommend that the subjects wear white for the photo shoot as this leads to a classic portrait that will not be dated. The white reflects light beautifully onto the faces and the figures clothing does not compete with each other.

Outdoor light is always the most flattering, but I can creatively use a combination of window light as well as photographic lamps if weather does not permit an outdoor photo shoot. When I return to my studio, I study the photographs, making adjustments in photoshop. Here is the photograph chosen by the parents that will be used as a reference for the portrait. I uploaded all the photos to a private online viewing area and sometimes the family will choose to purchase photos as gifts in addition to the watercolor portrait.Sometimes it is  necessary to use a combination of photos and when circumstances require, I can work from a photograph provided by the client; however, photographs I take myself are the ideal. 

A Pencil Drawing of the Portrait for the client to review
After the photo is selected I begin a pencil drawing directly onto the watercolor paper. Sometimes a likeness will emerge with the drawing but I don't expect a full likeness until the magic of color is used. I like the clients to see the drawing before I begin painting just to make sure all their needs have been communicated to me.

At this stage the fun begins. I add a wash of either yellow ochre with a touch of scarlet lake or cadmium red with a touch of yellow for the skin tones. I add these colors to the background and adjacent clothing for harmony.

Shadows are defined with a wash of gray I mix myself and the background is established.

I continue to adjust values throughout the painting as I go.

Once I establish all the darks, I decide to lift watercolor paint to reveal white and highlights.

The added white adds light to the painting and I decide to push this further.

Finally, a glowing portrait that is ready to be presented to the client!
Although I prefer to take photos and be in control of the entire project from start to finish I will work from your photos of young children. Baby and toddlers make excellent models for watercolor portraits. You can get an online deal on a baby portrait from my etsy store. For a fully commissioned portrait including photographs, please see my website for more information.
Holiday Card card
Holiday Card with watercolor portrait by schulmanart
available for customization at zazzle
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Decorating Day of the Dead

Colorful Ethnic Home Decor
by Miriam Schulman

Decorating Idea using ethnic Mexican Decor
Designer Kathryn M. Ireland used her own color-saturated fabrics, which pack a punch in this guest bedroom. Featured in the March 2008 issue of House Beautiful. Room is re-imagined with my artwork. 

"Forte Forest" original watercolor for sale

The watercolor painting depicts an abstract landscape with trees in a forest lit up by the changing orange and yellow maple leaves of autumn. The painting is a color field painting with jade green, phlox purple, and yellow orange. 

Detail from Forte Forest with piano music
The modern tree art is also representational. The collage elements are torn pieces of painted pieces of sheet music.The painted piano sheet music represents the bark of maple trees. This stunning large wall art will look great with many decorating schemes but is shown here with the colorful ethnic bedroom.

mentioned in this article @house_beautiful, @KathrynMIreland,
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