Category: Arty Musings

Victor Shearer, Berks County, Pennsylvania, Artist

In my childhood home, I often looked at two paintings that hung on the wall in our family room. They were similar in size and style, painted in oil on canvas, with gold frames. One was a seascape and the other a landscape.

Victor Shearer Seascape, 1936

Victor Shearer Seascape, 1936

Victor Shearer Landscape, 1936

Victor Shearer Landscape, 1936

Recently, I wanted to learn more about the paintings and here is what I found out.

The artist was Victor Shearer, a landscape and seascape painter in traditional style who reportedly created many similar paintings “selling them for a few dollars apiece on the streets of Reading.”

Victor was born in 1872, the son of artist Christopher High Shearer (1840-1946) and his wife Sarah. and lived primarily in Reading, Pennsylvania. Before pursuing painting in the early 1900’s, he worked as a basket maker. Victor died at age 79 in 1951 and is buried in Alsace Lutheran Cemetery.

His initial work was similar to his father’s, realistic and traditional, but he later developed his own style.

As a child, I much preferred the seascape to the landscape. Something about the waves and the boats, I suppose. It also had a sense of danger about it. Would the sailboat crash into the rocks? It seemed likely. As an adult, I still prefer the seascape, but now I can appreciate the composition, the heavy mass of rocks at the bottom right, opposed to the airy mass of sea and sky at upper left. The waves leaping into the rocks and spiraling back around counter clockwise, leading the eye through the painting again. The solitary sailboats strike a vertical counterpoint to the horizontal weight of the sea.

Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

Oh Orange, How I Love Thee, Let Me Count The Ways…

Orange is my happy color. It radiates warmth and happiness and combines the physical energy and stimulation of red with the cheerfulness of yellow. I have touches of orange throughout my home, in the form of furnishings like throws, vases, framed art, flower pots, curtains, and candles. Although I was tempted, I refrained from painting entire walls orange, instead using it as an accent color. I find the color orange to be immensely cheerful and uplifting.

The Shades Of Orange

The Shades Of Orange

I decorated my spare bedroom with orange. The walls are painted an unassuming beige, but the curtains, bedspreads, are blankets are orange. The floor is hardwood with a natural finish and takes on an orange tone, especially when the afternoon sun streams in through the west-facing window. The spare bedroom is where we host foster children for respite care so I was delighted to learn that the color orange offers emotional strength in difficult times, helps us bounce back from disappointments and despair, and assists us to recover from grief. Hopefully we can provide some small amount of healing to our young guests, although they are with us only for a short time.

Monsters are the secondary theme for our spare bedroom makeover. What color? Orange, of course! I chose orange colored furry monster friends for the beds and an assortment of monster creatures in the form of wall decals. Meet them below:

Orange Monsters

Orange Monsters

The wall decals were purchased online from Amazon, the chunky monster at the left is from Target, and the faux furry guy on the right is one that I made a few years ago. I hope that the stuffie monsters will help our foster children scare away the monsters in their own heads.

The Meaning of Orange

Orange is associated with a number of positive aspects, including the following:

happiness • fun • joy • enjoyment • optimism • determination • stimulation • enthusiasm • invigoration • encouragement • rejuvenation • heat • sunshine • health • creativity • success • freedom • expression • strength • endurance

Objects That are Naturally Colored Orange

carrots • pumpkins • sweet potatoes • cantelope • mango • curry powder • paprika • saffron • poppies • marigolds • poppies • daylilies • fall leaves • canaries • tigers • foxes • butterflies • fish • koi • goldfish

The Color Orange in Art

The color orange was used in early art in ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, and in China on tomb paintings and frescoes from pigments made from the minerals realgar and orpiment. It appeared in Medieval art and Renaissance art.

In the early 1800’s, a synthetic pigment, chrome orange, was invented from the mineral crocoite or lead chromate. Orange became popular with the Pre-Raphaelites in Britain later in the century. One of my favorite paintings is that of Flaming June by Lord Leighton. See it below, along with a gallery of other striking paintings using orange in large part.

Using Orange in Your Art

Orange has very high visibility, so you can use it to catch attention and highlight the most important elements of your design.

Orange Inspiration

Lose yourself in my Pinterest board, “Orange You Glad for the Color Orange?” for great orange color inspiration!

Texture in Art and Collage Painting

Texture is one of the elements of design that refers to the surface quality in a work of art, whether two-dimensional or three-dimensional. Texture in painting is often expressed with layers of paint built up in various areas to indicate form or to supply energy or movement to the work. In collage painting, texture is very easy to achieve using any number of found materials as texture tools, along with different acrylic mediums.

Here are a few examples of backgrounds I’ve created for my collage painting:

I’ve used layers of paint and acrylic mediums like soft and heavy gel medium, glass beads medium, and stucco paint effect medium. I used found objects like toilet paper rolls to imprint circle shapes, bubble wrap to stamp dots on my canvas, and cardboard, sticks, plastic, and more to incise lines or patterns. And that’s just the background! I then continue on, adding more elements such as scrap papers, photos, tape, and embellishments.

Of course, texture is also evident in other forms of art, including fiber art, pottery, jewelry, furniture-making and more, as seen in my Etsy treasury, Texturium.

Texture also exists in nature and in many aspects of our lives. See my Pinterest board for the many examples of textures in life, nature, art, and our everyday world:

Please pin this!!!

Texture in Art and Collage Painting Graphic by Trilby Works

Texture in Art and Collage Painting Graphic by Trilby Works

En Grisaille: Painting and Art in Shades of Gray

Grisaille is a French term (pronounced gree-zeye) for painting executed entirely in monochromatic color, usually in shades of gray (gris in French), although many grisailles in fact include a slightly wider color range with inclusion most often of browns and creams. A grisaille may be executed as underpainting for an oil painting; for its own sake; or as a preparatory design for a sculptor or engraver.

En-Grisaille-Graphic by Trilby Works

Grisaille As Underpainting

Grisaille as a preliminary underpainting for an oil painting can be seen in this Odalisque in Grisaille (ca. 1824–34) by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867) along with assistance from his students. It’s a beautiful rendering in shades of gray of a previous painting (La Grande Odalisque) done in full color. Unfinished, the work was painted in oil on canvas and would have been overpainted with numerous layers of color glaze.


Odalisque in Grisaille, ca. 1824–34, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867) and Workshop, Oil on canvas, (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

The Grande Odalisque of 1814 (Musée du Louvre, Paris), also by Ingres, is an example of a finished work using grisaille underpainting to control tone and warmth of hue.

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, La Grande Odalisque, 1814

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, La Grande Odalisque, 1814 (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

When pigments were scarce and expensive, underpainting in gray permitted artists to achieve a textural ground that reflects light through the many layers of paint and glaze while minimizing the use of colored paint. The end result showed great luminosity, one of the traits of the great masters.

Grisaille As A Finished Work

Examples of grisaille as finished artwork abound in the Renaissance, where painters take the technique to its ultimate result, achieving previously unknown depth and realism, indeed almost a three-dimensional quality. Flemish painter Hugo van der Goes provides us an example with the frontispiece to his Portinari Altarpiece, completed in the 1470’s. This work was commissioned by the Portinari family to grace the church of San Egidio in Florence.

van der Goes, Hugo, Annunciation, Portinari Triptych Frontispiece, c1476

Hugo van der Goes, Annunciation, Portinari Triptych Frontispiece, ca. 1476 (Uffizi Gallery)

The frontispiece depicts the Annunciation, the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Mary that she is to bear the Christ child. When opened, the doors reveal further scenes from the lives of Joseph, Mary, and Christ on three panels, known as a triptych. The doors are remarkable for their realistic look of a marble sculptural relief.

Grisaille as a Preparatory Design

Grisaille drawings were often created by artists as a guide, study, or model for a painting, tapestry, sculpture, fresco, or stained glass window. Some, especially those used for fresco, were known as cartoons, from the Dutch word “karton” or the Italian “cartone” meaning strong, heavy paper or pasteboard, they were full-sized sketches in monochrome that served as guides for the executing artist.

Grisaille Today

Some artists who paint in the classical style of oil painting still use this technique, yet we also see the influence of a monochromatic palette in the broader world of art and craft today.

For myself, I love the paired down, simple color range of grays and other neutrals in art and craft. In this Etsy treasury, monochromatic grays in shadows and lights make for a pleasing, calming compilation:

I also have a Pinterest page for neutrals, grays, and shadows: