Thursday, June 30, 2011

Who Are You? Where Are You From?

My Day of Rest, Original oil on canvas Helen Tilston
Who Are You, Where Are You All From?

During my single days some years ago, three of us were out for a drink following a difficult day at the office. We were deep in conversation when I noticed a table of handsome men glancing in our direction. Finally one plucked up courage to approach our table, shuffled his feet  and in a  shy fashion asked "Where Y'all From" (I think he was from Texas) I responded, I am from Ireland, Gillian is from Jamaica and Jen is from India  (both Gillian and Jen are caucasian of English descent).  The Texan, disbelieving, got all huffed and said "Lady if you do not wish to talk to me just say so, but you don't have to tell lies and be  a smart a**). 
Come and Stay Awhile, Original Oil on canvas Helen Tilston
Original Oil paintings by Helen Tilston


Recently at one of our art openings a lady approached me and asked me where I was from, I told her Ireland.  She said "we all thought you were French, you paint like a French artist, you even look French" A flattering compliment which I accepted graciously.

I pondered and wondered why she felt so strongly that I was French and then I remembered that I am a Celt and that is a possible answer.
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in the Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Gaelic. Linguistically they still survive in  Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and in the Basque region of Spain.  Their influence is visible in these regions.

The Irish group, The Chieftains, did a documentary featuring the Celtic music and traditions still prevalent in these places, outside Ireland.   I was unsuccessful in finding the video on u tube, however this Chieftain recording featuring Alison Krauss  I feel is appropriate.






I hope my fate differs from Molly Ban's

Who are you and where are you from?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Encaustic Painting Using Beeswax & Pigment

Memories of Yesterday Encaustic Helen Tilston
American Flag by Jasper Johns
The first encaustic painting that caught my attention was Jasper John's, the American flag, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City more than 30 years ago.  I was spellbound and wanted so much to touch it, it is such a  tactile medium.  The burly guard read my mind and did not let me out of his sight and I did not get to touch it. 

Encaustic,  a wax based painting medium characterized by luminous colour and a lush surface, flourished more than 2,000 years ago in Greco-Roman Egypt.


Encaustic painting
, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. The liquid/paste is then applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are often used.  It is then fused to the canvas by blow torch.Layer upon layer of wax and pigment is built up.  It has a luminous quality and a transparency.  The glow from encaustic is magical.  It can be further polished by rubbing the palm of ones hand on the surface  The aroma of beeswax is an added bonus when working in encaustic.  There are synthetic waxes available and more commonly used  for economical purposes.
"Places I have been" Helen Tilston encaustic on canvas


When a Student is ready, the teacher appears.

One day while walking past Ontario College of Art and Design, I stopped in and found that there was a course in encaustic painting commencing in a week. I immediately signed up.  The course was in the old OCAD building during the summer of 1998 which was one of the hottest summers I can remember. OCAD was not airconditioned and one can imagine 16 students with hot wax on burners, blow torches and enthusiasm. Many times hot wax fell on my toes and blisters were common.  We worked on smaller practice pieces but our graduation piece was to be 30" x 40".

Since my graduation from the old campus,  OCAD has a new state of the art building. Ontario College of Art & Design's $42.5 million campus redevelopment, completed in September 2004, features the Sharp Centre for Design, designed by acclaimed British Architect Will Alsop, of Alsop Architects in a joint venture with Toronto-based  Robbie Young & Wright Architects.
Blessings -Encaustic painting by Helen Tilston
God Bless the day I found you Encaustic  Helen Tilston
Home  Encaustic by Helen Tislton
Irish cottages by Helen Tilston Encaustic


A well ventilated studio, preferably a garage, shed, barn is best suited to working with encaustic as it is quite messy. 

Time for a cup of tea and toast with honey.

So my honey bees, how is your weekend?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Polo is your passport to the world





Nacho Figueras Argentinian  world champion Polo Player and model for Ralph Lauren
"Polo is your passport to the world "  Sir Windston Churchill.

Polo was first played in 1863 at the Calcutta Polo Club, which proudly holds the title of being the oldest Polo club in the world still in existence.

The Royal Jaipur Team Challenge at "Polo for Heart in Toronto" welcomed Jaipur royalty and a Princess yesterday.  This annual fund raising event has been in progress for 32 years at the Toronto Polo Club.  A group of long time friends joined us on for this day of joy, laughter, learning, entertainment and delicious food and we have some new friends too.

Fashion television star, Jeanne Beker interviewed Helen Tilston between her on air commentry


Nacho Figueras
Nacho Figueros from Argentinia and a world champrion polo player he is also Ralph Lauren's top model.
He is handsome, talented and kind hearted - here he poses with our friend Lesley Plaza
Nacho Figueros and Lesley Plaza at Polo Toronto 2011



Our new friends Lesley and Erica have promised to join us same time, same place, next year at Polo for Heart.  Will you please join us too.
Nacho Figueras

Friday, June 17, 2011

Polo, Picnic and Pleasure



On Saturday we join a group of long time friends to attend a Polo Match, a fundraiser, supporting  the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation.

The picnic basket is being aired.  Seasonal Grilled Vegetales on Ciabotta bread and Atlantic  smoked salmon with fresh cream cheese are on the menu.  Fresh local strawberries and scones with a dab of Devon Cream. 

The sport of Kings- HRH Prince Charles

Always a question of what to wear to polo



Tea from Thermos, Scones with Devon Cream and Strawberry Preserves

Heart Shaped Scones - to honour the Heart & Stroke Foundation



What are you doing this weekend?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sorolla, Madrid Part 11 Helen's trip to Madrid


Mending the Sail 1896 (Museo d'Arte a Ca'Pesaro, Venice
Thank you for your supporting comments and emails on my trip to Venice & Madrid. Sorolla hit a chord with many who were unfamiliar with his work and wanted to know more.


Self Portrait 1900
 Joaquin Sorolla received his intial art education at 14 yrs of age in Valencia. At 18 he travelled to Madrid and self studied at the Prado Museum. Following his military service, he received a grant for 4 yrs study in Rome Italy. In 1885 a sojourn in Paris France provided him his initial introduction to modern painting. In 1888 maried Clothide Garcia del Castillo (whom Sorolla met at her father's studio).  In 1900 at the Paris Universal Exposition he was nominated as Knight of the Legion of Honour.  Though subsequent large-scale exhibitions in Germany and London were greeted with more restraint, while in England in 1908 Sorolla met Archer Milton Huntington, who made him a member of The Hispanic Socy. of America in New York City, and invited him to exhibit there in 1909. The exhibition comprised 356 paintings, 195 of which sold. Sorolla spent five months in America and painted more than twenty portraits, including one of my favourites "Louis Comfort Tiffany 1911 (Tiffany glass)
Louis Comfort Tiffany by Sorolla painted and purchased in 1911 by sitter for $800.
A la Senora de Madrazo/J Sorolla B. 1906
Detail of Antonio Garcia on beach by J Sorolla B
Maria (Sorolla's daughter) painting in el Prado 1907(Maria had been severly ill and is now recovered)
A gypsy woman 1912
The Pink Robe 1916- Mureo Sorolla Madrid
Sorolla understood light and shadow and this was from his constantly painting en plein aire.  He one time commented to friends


"I hate darkness. Claude Monet once said that painting in general did not have light enough in it. I agree with him. We painters, however, can never reproduce sunlight as it really is. I can only approach the truth of it.”


Sorolla also once said:  "Modern impressionistic movement has given us one discovery, the color violet. It is the only discovery of importance in the art world since Velazquez."





Sad Inheritance painted 1900. Crippled children (polio epidemic) bathing under supervision of a monk

It is time for lunch

I enjoyed a delicious lunch of grilled fish, salad with olives  at this restaurant.



It is always a joy to people watch and the fashions

With a heart full of gladness and inspiration I bid a fond farewell to Madrid and I promise to return.
Steps to Sorolla home and museum in Madrid
Thank you Joaquin Sorolla and all the beautiful people of Madrid and until we meet again, I will hold you dearly to my heart.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Joaquin Sorolla My Inspiration and trip of a lifetime to Madrid


After the Bath 1908 - Sorolla

Good-Bye Venice, Good Bye - I must leave you today.  Following a celebration and graduation with my God Child and nephew in Venice Italy.  We travelled by vaporetto to Venice airport.  Destination:London for my nephew.  Destination: Madrid for yours truly.


Vaporetto ride from Zattere to Venice Airport



Ceramic on exterior wall of Sorolla's home

My favourite artist is the Spanish impressionistic painter Joaquin Sorolla (one time someone told me my work resembled Sorrolla's and it was the biggest compliment I could ever have been paid and it went straight to my head. Oh how I wish, wish and wish, hope and pray that I will understand light and shadow as he did.  St. Barbara patron saint of artists please grant my wish)

Sorolla Museum Madrid



 With sketchbook and paint box in tow for the next  3 days I sketched, painted, studied and took notes. The staff were most kind and helpful and I was made feel very welcomed.
 The Sorolla Museum is located in Madrid, Spain.  Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida was born in Valencia in 1863 and died in 1923. He was orphaned at 2 yrs. Lived with his sister, under the tutelage of his maternal aunt and uncle, who saw his interest in art. He was given art lessons. He spent a lifetime studying and painting. He met Clothilde who became the love of his life, married and moved to Madrid where he brought up his family, in the home which is now his museum.  Every item in the home was selected with love and a passion and eye for colour and detail.Among his  collection were exotic butterflies which were framed beneath glass and these vivid cobalts, lapis lazuli and turquoises showed up in his paintings. He has a beautiful collection of religious statues, holy water fonts in ceramics and artifacts which held meaning for him.  His eternal love for his family is evident in his home and his work.  His studio, paint box and easel are visible.

Pathway leading to Sorolla's studio

The Museum is actually the Sorolla home and the rooms remain as they were. The dining room is of particular interest.  It has a large border of canvas painted by Sorolla, which is garlands held by cherubs and the faces on the angels are those of his children and his beloved Clothilde.  He loved his wife and his children.
Dining room - panel painted by Sorolla - the models for angels were Clothilde and Sorolla's children


Once inspired, Sorolla  would hastily use any surface to paint, it could be a matchbox, napkin, piece of cardboard  and it was these initial paintings which were so exciting for me.  There is a wall with several of these miniature quick paintings, which exude so much energy, excitement and urgency

Study 5" x 7" on cardboard
Study on cardboard
study on paper
blocked in study on board

The time went all too quickly.  At such times, one forgets to eat, drink or even breathe. Aaah!

Adios a mi amigo
Sorolla Museum in Madrid