Friday, January 23, 2015

FemArt Friday: Beatrix Potter (1866-1943)

My art journal sketch: Beatrix Potter's Birthday (July 28)
"I cannot rest,
I must draw, 
however poor the result, 
and when I have a bad time come over me,
it is a stronger desire 
than ever..."

~Beatrix Potter~

Pictures of Beatrix Potter often feature her with her many animals and pets.

This FemArt post differs from my previous posts. My previous posts have focussed on women artists who are living or have lived in my lifetime.

In this post, I am writing about a Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) a woman who's life story and watercolour art has inspired me and planted a seed in me to one day illustrate a children's book. A dear friend reminded me recently how we had, in our youth, made a promise to each other that she would write a children's story and I would illustrate it for her!

This three minute introduction to the movie "Tale of Peter Rabbit" below features Beatrix Potter's creation of the Peter Rabbit character and the scene makes me so incredibly happy! The outdoors, nature, children singing, a rain shower, a warming fire and a cup of tea before starting to sketching....three minutes of bliss!

I love all of the characters that Beatrix developed: Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs. Tiggly-Winkle, and Squirrel Nutkin to name a few. I read these stories to my children when they were small over and over again.

Beatrix' life story fascinates me as well:
  • she was an animal lover
  • she loved dogs
  • she was self-published!
  • she kept a journal … in code!
  • she was financially independent at the turn of the century (uncommon for women)
  • she wrote an illustrated letter to a five-year-old boy and Peter Rabbit was born (see more below)
  • her books came into public domain in July 2014
Beatrix was "born to wealth and privilege in 1866, the only daughter of a Nonconformist family from the north who renounced their roots in trade for a place in London society".

Her father (a lawyer who never practiced law) "devoted himself to photography and art. Her mother Helen was skilled at embroidery and watercolors". 

The Art of Beatrix Potter

As a young girl, Beatrix meticulously sketched plants and flowers from life accurately depicting them on the page as a means to identify them. These sketches informed the 'reality' of her fantasy drawings in her later books. She also did studies of bees and other insects.

Photo Credit:Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo Credit: Victoria and Albert Museum

Beatrix wanted to ‘do pen and ink better’and applied herself to mastering ‘the art of leaving out’ – the ability to evoke movement, humour and expression with a minimum of pen strokes

Peter Rabbit Appears In A Letter

Just as the movie depicted above : "In September of 1893, at 26 years of age, Beatrix Potter sent the following illustrated letter to Noel, the five-year-old son of her friend and former governess, Annie Moore. The letter contained a tale of four rabbits, and in fact featured the first ever appearance of Peter Rabbit; however it wasn't until 1901, eight years later, that Potter decided to revisit her letter to Noel and develop the idea."

Beatrix Potter Links

Links to Beatrix Potter Public Domain Works

The tale of Tom Kitten (1907, 1994)

Various books by Beatrix Potter

Painting and drawing book : with Tale of Peter Rabbit (1915) -
More Pictures of Beatrix With Her Pets

With her mouse
With her rabbit
With her rabbit
With her dog
With more dogs
and more dogs..

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