Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Month: July 2017 (page 1 of 2)

SEE – Don’t Just Look! – Avoid Numbness and Narcissism

In my opinion, the world has become populated by too many people who are numb, and I believe that the anecdote to numbness is the ability to see. By this, I don’t mean the ability to look. Looking and seeing are two separate things. Even flies can look. Looking is nothing more than image recognition. Seeing is a deeper thing. It has to do with perceiving and with understanding and the imagination. Seeing has to do with empathy and feeling and it is not the same thing as having sympathy.

Douglas LaBier, Ph.D., a business psychologist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist, is the Director of the Center for Progressive Development in Washington, DC. LaBier distinguishes between empathy and sympathy. The ability to pity another is not the same thing as empathy, which is the ability to experience through another person’s lens. The merely sympathetic recognize another’s issues through their own lenses–in ways that they can rationalize to suit themselves.

LaBier says that people who become obsessed with acquiring lose empathy:

“But many of the people I see everyday, whether in psychotherapy or executive consulting, struggle with their own versions of the same thing through too much emphasis on acquiring – both things and people. That’s going to promote vanity and self-importance. Then, you become increasingly alienated from your own heart, and equate what you have with who you are.” Read More Here

Further research indicates that not all narcissism is related to selfishness and acquiring. Some narcissists fall on the autism or Asperger’s spectrum:

“For many of those with autism or Asperger’s, mindblindness, or lack of Theory of Mind creates major barriers to communication and closeness. These barriers often lead to those nearest to the individual feel, whether real or perceived, a lack of empathy from the individual.

“When I think of Theory of Mind, I think of an amusing, but of course very inaccurate, belief I harbored as a young child. While playing games like hide and seek, I used to think, “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.” Of course, I learned very quickly that that was not the case. However, the mindblindness of individuals with autism or Asperger’s can be similar – “If I can’t/don’t feel it or perceive it, then they can’t/don’t feel it or perceive it” (or vice versa).

. . .


“While some professionals will say, as in a quote from Stephen Edelson Ph.D., ‘..many autistic individuals do not understand that other people have their own plans, thoughts, and points of view,’….” Read More Here

I often write about narcissism. Several years ago, I read Scott Peck’s book People of the Lie. I had suffered from a particularly painful experience that involved another person who seemed to have no empathy at all. This person was not obsessed with acquiring. I believe that this person’s problem was more that of an element of autism, which had rendered him devoid of empathy. Without empathy, there can be no conscience, and without conscience, evil can easily occur because people who cannot see others and  feel for them, rarely see their own behaviors. That is a defining characteristic of the narcissist. The narcissist views himself as the perfect who is attempting to function in spite of the imperfects around him. It has been 25 years since I read the book People of the Lie , but if I am not mistaken, excessive narcissism is essentially the phenomenon that Peck addressed there.


One of my most often-read posts is about narcissism and is titled: “A Narcissist Might be the Most Evil Person that You Know” Here.  Several people search for and read that post everyday. This fact gives me hope. It tells me that while narcissism persists, there are many people who are seeking to rid themselves of the problem. I believe that everyone is a bit narcissistic. That is how the human race survives, but like many others, I continuously appraise myself and buffet myself–seeking to keep my own narcissism in check.

“Fear that I was very different from everyone else. Fear that deep down inside I was a shallow fraud, that after the revolution or after Jesus came down to straighten everything out, everyone from hippies to hard-hats would unfold and blossom into the beautiful people they were while I would remain a gnarled little wart in the corner, oozing bile and giving off putrid smells.” ― Mark Vonnegut, The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity

Image result for jacki kellum queen of denial

A severe narcissist does not examine his or her behavior.  He or she has deluded himself into believing that he or she is beyond the need for self-examination. Have you met the Queen of Denial? She is probably a narcissist. Narcissism can occur at various levels, however–but at an extreme, the narcissist becomes a sociopath. In most instances, narcissism is rooted in a lack of seeing, a lack of empathy, and a numbness.

Fyodor Dostoyevsk writes that much of the world has become numb. He says that there is a place underground where he retreats from the uncaring, unfeeling mob and that it is from that underground retreat that he writes. He adds that books are the winged messengers that fly above ground and that they are an essential witness to the people above:

“Leave us alone without books and we shall be lost and in confusion at once. We shall not know what to join on to, what to cling to, what to love and what to hate, what to respect and what to despise. We are oppressed at being men — men with a real individual body and blood, we are ashamed of it, we think it a disgrace and try to contrive to be some sort of impossible generalised man. We are stillborn, and for generations past have been begotten, not by living fathers, and that suits us better and better. We are developing a taste for it. Soon we shall contrive to be born somehow from an idea. But enough; I don’t want to write more from “Underground.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground, White Nights, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, and Selections from The House of the Dead

True artists and writers must never become numb to life. They must learn to look for the fire that is always burning somewhere. The artist must learn to see the marrow of life, and he must learn to distill it in order to share it with those who do not see.

“Je vois les autres.”–Pablo Picasso [I see for others]

I have never tested the hypothesis, but I speculate that people who write from within their souls have expressive eyes.

“Blue is the most common eye color in Oria Province, but there is something different about his eyes and I’m not sure what it is. More depth? I wonder what he sees when he looks at me. If he seems to have depth to me, do I seem shallow and transparent to him?” ― Ally Condie, Matched

People who truly see are those who have learned to strip away the outer bark of their existences and to tap what lies deeper within.

“Am I shallow? she asks the mirror. Yes, I am shallow. The sun shines on the ripples where it’s shallow. Deep is too dark.” ― Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last

I believe that what people discover from deep within will be reflected in their eyes. You can often look into the eyes of someone who does not feel–and you will note that empty wells are where the eyes should be. On the other hand, when there is feeling within another creature, it floods from its eyes.

I have taught art most of my life, and every time that I teach anything about faces, I repeat the quote, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.”


Ipad Drawing to Look Like Red Chalk – Jacki Kellum

I tell my students to draw the eyes as quickly as possible. If the student cannot make the eyes talk, the painting or the drawing will never work.

“If there is a true measure of a person’s soul, if there is a single gauge of real divinity, of how beautifully a fellow human honors this life, has genuine spiritual fire and is full of honest love and compassion, it has to be right there, in the eyes.

“The Dalai Lama’s eyes sparkle and dance with laughter and unbridled love. The Pope’s eyes are dark and glazed, bleak as obsidian marbles. Pat Robertson’s eyes are rheumy and hollow, like tiny potholes of old wax. Goldman Sachs cretins, well, they don’t use their own eyes at all; they just steal someone else’s.” – Mark Morford

The entire creative process begins with the ability to see. It begins with the eyes. The eyes have it.

“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye.” – Charlotte Brontë

©Jacki Kellum July 28, 2017


Hiding in Plain Sight – Why We Need A Secret Garden – A Sanctuary – A Retreat

Not long ago, I visited The Cloisters in New York City. By definition, a cloisters area is an open hallway that surrounds a protected garden. It is a natural walkway where monks and nuns might retreat into nature and still have a degree of protection from the elements, like wind, rain, snow, sun–and other people, too. At the Cloisters in New York City, there are several gardens, and all of them are peaceful–like sanctuaries. As I was walking around and through those gardens, I thought to myself that everyone needs a natural sanctuary–a garden where they can retreat from society and its demands of them.

I have always been the arty type. I have always been “driven by passion, seized by obsession, delighted by creation, enthralled with expression, entranced by vision, diverted by daydreams, filled with emotion, fueled by compulsion, consumed with beauty, and blindsided by inspiration.” However, I have also been pulled by the non-arty desire to be popular, to be a cheerleader, and to be normal or “the same.” For two many years, I assumed false identities to please whatever my current group or situation demanded of me. I have heard that some children have imaginary friends, but my imaginary friend was real–it was the me that was hiding in plain sight.

Hiding in Plain Sight
by Jacki Kellum

Smiling, Joking, Dancing, Free
That’s the Social Side of Me.

Tossing kisses from my car,
Scared, Confused Alone We Are.

If you look, you will see
The Scared, Confused and Social Three.

Copyright Jacki Kellum December 17, 2015


Fortunately, I have grown out of my continuous need to seek approval. Yesterday, I wrote that I have come to identify with the unpretentious Black-Eyed Susans that seem to sprout and grow in random places–even out in the wild, untamed woodlands. Most of the time, I still feel that I am not like everyone else, and I often feel misunderstood, but striving to be myself is the only acceptable course for me. Yet, any kind of striving becomes exhausting–even when I am striving not to strive. In my opinion, everyone needs a secret garden–a natural sanctuary where they don’t have to try–where they can simply be–where they can feel that they are truly at home.

Jacki Kellum Garden Gate in 2015

“When the hornet hangs in the hollyhock, And the brown bee drones i’ the rose, And the west is a red-streaked four-o’clock, And summer is near its close It’s Oh, for the gate, and the locust lane; And dusk, and dew, and home again!” – Madison Cawein

In other posts, I tell how I have built a network of fences and arbors to create for myself a secret garden, and to maximize my blooming area, I am growing several types of clematises and roses on those fences. When it is possible, I grow fragrant flowers, like lavender, peonies, and irises, and strolling through my garden also becomes an experience of aromatherapy.

“Come into the garden, Maud, For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud, I am here at the gate alone; Maud
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the rose is blown.
For a breeze of morning moves, And the planet of Love is on high,
Beginning to faint in the light that she loves On a bed of daffodil sky.” – Tennyson

Jacki Kellum Garden Pond May 2017

“I divined and chose a distant place to dwell …
I pick leaves to thatch a hut among the pines
Scoop out a pond and lead a runnel from the spring
By now I am used to doing without the world
Picking ferns I pass the years that are left.” Han Shan

10568906_10204503980742621_1513890752537767546_n (1)

Relatively speaking, our years on earth are few, and every day that we pretend to be someone that we are not and when we fail to be ourselves are precious years wasted. Hours that we spend agonizing because we do not feel accepted or appreciated or loved are simply hours lost. Because living can become painful and toxic, we need an antidote and a place to heal. My garden is where I go to be restored, and even during the winter, nature is my solace. My sunroom overlooks my side courtyard, and my greatest winter joy is to sit by my fireplace and watch the birds dipping into my oasis for food and water. Anytime that I can sit alone in nature, I am truly home.

“I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-gray, And Winter’s dregs made desolate The weakening eye of day The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires.” – Thomas Hardy

©Jacki Kellum June 3, 2017


Previously Published on my Garden Blog Cottage Garden Living Here

©Jacki Kellum

How Publishing in the 21st Century Has Changed – The Importance of Social Media – Why Blog? – What Is A Business Platform?

People with Messages Have Been Taking the Stage or a Platform for Hundreds of Years

Social Media is the Way that People’s Message Are Made Public in the 21st Century

Social Media is the Way that 21st Century Writers Build a Platform

I am an older gal and until recently, I did not know what people meant when they were saying that all businesses–including writers and artists–need a platform to survive in the 21st Century. I have learned what that means, and I thought  that you might be interested in what I have learned.

Very simply, a social media platform is the stage from which people, businesses, and ideas can be discovered on the Internet. It is a marketing tool.

“Traditional publishers are leaving more and more of the responsibility for marketing books to the aurthors themselves.” – Joel Friedlander

Nina Amir adds that blogging a book is a way for an author to build his platform. In other words, blogging is a way to become recognized as an authority in the book business; and it is a way to become noticed by agents and publishers. [I would add that blogging a book is a way to collect, organize, and begin to collate the material needed for that book, too.]

The Publishing Industry Has Changed in the 21st Century

“You have to become your own public relations representative and promotion and marketing director. You have to start your own publishing company….

“Nowadays, blogs constitute one of the best ways to build the coveted author’s platform. A blog read by thousands of people each month goes a long way toward impressing upon a publisher that you are a good publishing partner with a marketable idea. It also proves that you will be able to sell your independently published book.

“Many publishers now expect aspiring authors to have blogs and to blog often because this tool is so effective for creating successful books.” Nina Amir, How to Blog a Book, pgs. 4-5

Why_is _blogging_necessary_publised_authors

Joel Friedlander outlines reasons that writers should blog in the 21st Century.

“…blogging and book publishing–have changed!…

Where bloggers in earlier days were oftend treated the the illegitimate offspring of ‘real’ media, the attractions of blogging remain strong….

“But blogging continued to morph into new forms, incorporating multimedia, penetrating other social media platforms, and claiming a seat at the table. It’s common to see bloggers sitting on panels on broadcast news, and they are quoted everywhere.

“Blogs, in fact, are now the most trusted source of information for many consumers….

“…book publishing has continued to evolve toward a future of which no one is quite certain….

“…no group of people is better situated than bloggers RIGHT NOW to take advantage of the  historic movement to digital books and the exploding populatoin of self-publising.

“Soon, Internet marketing, an activity most bloggers learn about if they survive the first few years online, started to wake up to book publishing, too. Especially the speed and ease of digital publishing.

“And slowly, bloggers started using the content they had developed to publish real honest-to-goodness books, not just PDFs formatted to look good on screen…. Joel Friedlander | January 2015 | Foreword to How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir

According to the information that I found Here, Facebook is still considered to be the best Social Media resource for building a platform.


facebook mobile

According to the previous report, 21st Century businesses must also find ways to become available via mobile devices, Blogging, that is accessible only on the computer is not even enough.

The same report also says that video marketing will become more and more important:

“Text-based ©ontent will stick around, but for marketers hoping to survive on any social platform, it’s obvious what format they need to pursue.”

In short, social media has vastly changed the formerly traditional methods for marketing and conducting all business. Writers and other artists must wake up and smell the coffee. They too are businesses and they too must learn to market themselves. Self-publishing has offered writers alternative methods for distribution of their work, but self-publishing alone is not enough. Every person in business, including writers, must adjust to the markets within which they are competing. Learning to use social media effectively is a must for the 21st Century Writer.

©Jacki Kellum July 25, 2017


The Barbizon School of Painters, The Hudson River Painters, and The Tonalists – Seeking Harmony Through Nature and Art

The French Barbizon School of Painters was a reaction against the Renaissance art which sought to idealize the classical form. The Barbizon Painters looked to nature, rather than to the classical ideal, as a source of inspiration–in much the same way as described of the scientist by Poincaré.

“The scientist does not study nature because it is useful to do so. He studies it because he takes pleasure in it, and he takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful it would not be worth knowing, and life would not be worth living. I am not speaking, of course, of the beauty which strikes the senses, of the beauty of qualities and appearances. I am far from despising this, but it has nothing to do with science. What I mean is that more intimate beauty which comes from the harmonious order of its parts, and which a pure intelligence can grasp.”
― Henri Poincaré, Science and Method

Image result for george inness paintings

George Inness – Autumn Oaks

After the emergence of the Barbizon School in France, an American Barbizon School formed. One of its members was George Inness.

Albert Bierstadt – The Hudson River School of Painting

The Hudson River School also followed the French Barbizon school of painters.

Image result for john francis murphy

John Francis Murphy – Autumn – Tonalist

The Tonalists followed the Barbizon painters and the Hudson River Painters, and they continued to focus on nature, as they began to seek a deeper spiritual truth or peace or harmony through their affiinities with and  paintings of nature. All of these painters were Romantic in nature.

In many ways, I am a Romanticist. I wrote my first master’s thesis about William Blake, who was a forefather of the Romantic period of English Literature, which began about 250 years ago, but my art has always been modern, bright, and colorful. Until recently, I have not been highly impressed with landscape painters–especially with people who want nothing more than a slavish representation of reality in painting. I prefer a camera for that purpose. I did not begin to fully appreciate landscape painting until I became familiar with the Hudson River Painters. I discovered them after I moved from the South to the Northeast.

Durand – The Catskills – Hudson River Painter

Even as a child, I found nature to be my greatest source of inspiration. I often write about the ways that my summers at camp influenced my chidhood. It is in nature that I find personal peace and harmony, and I enjoy learning more about artists who have endeavored to recreate that natural harmony through painting. Today, I have been trying to research where this artistic tradition began, and it seems that we can thank the French Barbizon painters for leading the way.

©Jacki Kellum July 23, 2017

“The Barbizon school of painters were part of an art movement towards Realism in art, which arose in the context of the dominant Romantic Movement of the time. The Barbizon school was active roughly from 1830 through 1870. It takes its name from the village of Barbizon, France, near the Forest of Fontainebleau, where many of the artists gathered. Some of the most prominent features of this school are its tonal qualities, color, loose brushwork, and softness of form.[1]” Wikipedia

Image result for john constable landscape

John Constable – Wivenhoe Park – 1816

“In 1824 the Salon de Paris exhibited works of John Constable, an English painter. His rural scenes influenced some of the younger artists of the time, moving them to abandon formalism and to draw inspiration directly from nature. Natural scenes became the subjects of their paintings rather than mere backdrops to dramatic events. During the Revolutions of 1848 artists gathered at Barbizon to follow Constable’s ideas, making nature the subject of their paintings. The French landscape became a major theme of the Barbizon painters.[2] Wikipedia

Troyon – The Ford

Dupre – The Old Oak

Jacque – The Old Forest

“The leaders of the Barbizon school were Théodore Rousseau, Jean-François Millet, and Charles-François Daubigny; other members included Jules Dupré, Constant Troyon, Charles Jacque, Narcisse Virgilio Díaz, Pierre Emmanuel Damoye, Charles Olivier de Penne, Henri Harpignies, Paul-Emmanuel Péraire, Gabriel-Hippolyte Lebas, Albert Charpin, Félix Ziem, François-Louis Français, Émile van Marcke, and Alexandre Defaux.” Wikipedia

Millet extended the idea from landscape to figures — peasant figures, scenes of peasant life, and work in the fields.

“In The Gleaners (1857), for example, Millet portrays three peasant women working at the harvest. Gleaners are poor people who are permitted to gather the remains after the owners of the field complete the main harvest. The owners (portrayed as wealthy) and their laborers are seen in the back of the painting. Millet shifted the focus and the subject matter from the rich and prominent to those at the bottom of the social ladders. To emphasize their anonymity and marginalized position, he hid their faces.” Wikipedia

Julien Dupre

Many of the aforementioned painters included cows in their paintings. There is something particularly bucolic about pastoral paintings with cows.

Jacki Kellum July 23, 2017


Visual Harmony – John Singer Sargent and His Depiction of White

When I hear the word “harmony,” my usual thoughts are about music, but today, as I consider the nature of harmony, my mind shifts to painters, like John Singer Sargent–painters who have excelled in depicting visual harmony. In my opinion, Sargent’s mastery is no better realized than in his depictions of things that are white, and in this post, I’ll share with you some of my favorite of Sargent’s white paintings.

Artistically speaking, white is not a color. We only see white as it is reflected upon and shaded by other colors. Hence, in painting whites, Sargent painted delicious but subtle values. It is safe to say that John Singer Sargent was a master of capturing value and he is a past master or a virtuoso of capturing light or luminosity.

La Biancheria [Linen Sheets – John Singer Sargent

“Color is an inborn gift, but appreciation of value is merely training of the eye, which everyone ought to be able to acquire.”  ―John Singer Sargent


Man Seated by a Stream – John Singer Sargent

In the above painting, you see the way that Sargent used ochres in the highlighted areas and blues in shade.

Tent in the Rockies – John Singer Sargent

I recently saw an exhibition that included Sargent’s painting Tent in the Rockies, and that piece took my breath away. This reproduction doesn’t come close to Sargent’s mastery of light in that painting. The fabric of Sargent’s tent fabric shimmers, and the powdery blue shadows on the birch tree poles are suggested flawlessly.

Workmen – John Singer Sargent

Boats – Venice – John Singer Sargent

Boy on a Rock – John Singer Sargent

Brook Among Rocks – John Singer Sargent

Cashmere Shawl – John Singer Sargent

Corfu – John Singer Sargent

“The scientist does not study nature because it is useful to do so. He studies it because he takes pleasure in it, and he takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful it would not be worth knowing, and life would not be worth living. I am not speaking, of course, of the beauty which strikes the senses, of the beauty of qualities and appearances. I am far from despising this, but it has nothing to do with science. What I mean is that more intimate beauty which comes from the harmonious order of its parts, and which a pure intelligence can grasp.”
― Henri Poincaré, Science and Method

Egyptian Water Jars -John Singer Sargent

Escutcheon of Charles V

Facade of a Palazzo – John Singer Sargent

Feet of an Arab – John Singer Sargent

Sargent seems to paint most of his watercolor shadows in  transparent tones of either raw sienna, burnt sienna, or blue. I am not sure what his exact watercolor palette was, but I found a list of the colors that Sargent used for oil painting Here:

On the right are modern colors one could use.

This is from the book, “The Technique of Portrait Painting” by Harrington Mann, J.B.

1.  Blanc d’ Argent                                                             1.  Permalba White

2.  Pale Chrome                                                                  2.  Cadmium Yellow Light

3.  Transparent Gold Ochre                                         3.  Transparent Gold Ochre

4.  Chinese Vermillion                                                      4.  Cadmium Red Light

5.  Venetian Red                                                                 5.  Venetian Red

6.  Chrome Orange                                                            6.  Cadmium Orange

7.  Burnt Sienna                                                                  7.  Burnt Sienna

8.  Raw Umber                                                                     8.  Raw Umber

9.  Garance Fronce                                                            9.  Rose Madder or Perm Alizarin Crimson

10.  Viridian                                                                          10-14.  same as old name

11.  Cobalt Blue

12.  Fr Ultramarine Blue

13.  Ivory Black

14.  Cobalt Violet

The Conservation Dept of Tate Britain, London also discovered Mars Yellow,

Emerald Green, Sienna, Mars Brown, Red Lead, Cerulean.   The dark backgrounds were often a mixture

of ivory black, mars brown, and lot of medium mixed from stand oil and turpentine.

Poppies – John Singer Sargent – Oil

Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.― Wassily Kandinsky

I don’t ant to end this post suggesting that Sargent could only paint in white. John Singer Sargent was a prolific painter, and his colorful pieces are also brilliant. I guess it is because my own paintings are very colorful that I feel the need to focus today on Sargent’s paintings of white. In my opinion, Sargent’s whites are the essence of harmony. I hope to learn something of the way that John Singer Sargent played with the entirety of his instrument–the way that he painted both colors and whites.

“In the end we shall have had enough of cynicism, skepticism and humbug, and we shall want to live more musically.”― Vincent van Gogh

©Jacki Kellum July 23, 2017

See My Review of John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer in the Exhibition of American Watercolor  http://jackikellum.com/john-singer-sargents-luminous-watercolors-and-winslow-homers-painted-stories-a-discussion-of-the-exhibition-american-watercolor-at-the-philadelphia-museum-of-art/


The Importance of Visual Images and Illustrations in Books, Marketing, Social Media, and Other Communication

A couple of years ago, I began researching the importance of visual images in communication. A report in 2015 said:

“…marketers who are leveraging visual content are seeing significant increases in their blog traffic, social media engagement, visitor-to-lead conversion rates and inbound customer acquisition results.”

“Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets.”

“70% of marketers plan to increase their use of original visual assets in 2015”

“Over the last 12 months almost every major social network, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram have increased the prominence and importance of visual content. Keeping pace with this trend, several research studies conducted over the course of 2014 point to the rather amazing effectiveness of visual content for social media.” http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-strategy

Conclusions of a 2017 report indicate that opinions about the importance of visual images in marketing has continued to find favor Here

General Visual Content Statistics

2) 74% of social media marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing, ahead of blogs (68%) and videos (60%).  (Source)

3) When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.  (Source)

The Uncle Sam poster [above] is probably one of the best marketing efforts of all time, and the visual images and colors on that poster are what caused its success. The image of Uncle Sam is what catches your eye and draws the viewer in. I have an experiment for you. How impressed are you with the following comment:

I Want You

I dare to say that the previous sentence is not very impressive to most people.

Let’s try it again. Let’s try it in bold:

I Want You

That is still fairly unimpressive. Let’s try the words as a quote:

I Want You

Well, at least I see the words now. The words are separated from the rest of the text. Let’s try bolding the words and then putting them in a quote

I Want You 

Now, let’s see how much better the impact becomes with the addition of color and the increasing of the font size:


With every added action on the words, we make them more noticeable, but nothing that we do to the words alone will make the same impact as the poster does once the image of Uncle Sam is added.

Dr. Lynell Burmark said the following about the importance of images:

“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.” Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional Development and writer of several books and papers on visual literacy, said, “…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear.”

Whoever controls the media—the images—controls the culture. – Alan Ginsberg

Considering that Alan  Ginsberg was a poet and an author and not a photographer or visual artist, this admission from him speaks volumes. 

The Uncle Sam poster was released in 1916, and its purpose was to motivate Americans to support the war effort. That poster is still powerful today–100 years later–and its importance does not lie in the words that it provides. The power lies within the image.

I have completed graduate work in several areas. Because I was essentially paid to get my MA in English, I earned that master’s degree first. As I sat before the graduate committee to earn my second master’s degree in visual art, a professor said to me, “You already have one master’s degree, why do you want another?”

My quick and simple reply was [and still is]: “Because A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words.”

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I penned my first master’s thesis about William Blake who both wrote and illustrated his writing almost 250 years ago, and I am committed to my belief that images energize and draw interest to the written word. William Blake was not a marketer. He was a writer, and yet he realized the value of visual images in communicating through his writing.

Most of the people who read this post will be bloggers, and I heartily recommend the use of visual images in blogging, but I am also convinced of the importance of visual images in novels and other books. In my opinion, pictures are the best way to bring your words to life. Because of the hurried pace of life in the 21st Century, many people will never approach your writing at all–unless your writing is enhanced by images.

©Jacki Kellum July 22, 2017


From Earth to Art: Thoughts on the History of Color

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I have always liked history, and I applaud television series like The Borgias, The Crown, Downton Abbey, etc., for the ways in which they employ art, music, story, and cinema to recreate history. I have recently completed the watching of all 3 seasons of The Borgias, and perhaps because I am also teaching a class about shading with colored pencil, I noticed the casual mentioning of Umbria.

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I found myself thinking that the color Umber must come from Umbria, which I discovered is in the Papal States, just beneath Siena [as in the color Burnt Sienna].

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I began reading about the mining of these two earth-like pigments and before long, I found myself considering again how men, since the period of their having lived in caves, have sought to devise means to express themselves visually through variations of color.

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Cave Art Above – From Lascaux – 16,000 Years Ago

The cave art at Lascaux, France, was discovered in 1940 by 4 teenage boys,

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“Red, Yellow, Black, White, Brown. These were the colors of the first known art in the world. You could say that this is what you’d expect; they are, after all, colors found easily in nature. Red and yellow ochre are found naturally where the ground is full of iron. Black can be made by burning a stick into charcoal or collecting soot from a fire. White comes from chalk. And browns is just the color of dirt. If these materials are pounded into powder and mixed with animal fat or some other binder to to make them stick, then, with the right atmospheric conditions, they can stay n limestone walls for thousands of years. But  that isn’t the full story of the colors of what became known as the Lascaux Caves.” Finlay, Victoria. The Brilliant History of Color in Art, p. 9.

Most of the figures on the walls of the Lascaux Cave are animals, but there are also abstract symbols and representations of humans at Lascaux:

“Of the animals, equines predominate [364]. There are 90 paintings of stags. Also represented are cattle, bison, felines, a bird, a bear, a rhinoceros, and a human. Among the most famous images are four huge, black bulls or aurochs in the Hall of the Bulls. One of the bulls is 17 feet (5.2 m) long – the largest animal discovered so far in cave art.” See more Here

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“In the 2000s. French scientists took a tiny sample from the snout of the Great Bull. They found that some f the black was not just soot or charcoal but also contained a rare kind of manganese oxide called hausmannite.” Finlay, Victoria. The Brilliant History of Color in Art, p. 9.

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“The paint on the Great Bull was applied by mixing ground minerals with something liquid and then spraying it from th e mouth, either straight or with a blowpipe. It probably tasted horrible, but the same idea occurred to a a lot of people around the world in prehistoric times. You can see similar techniques in other caves, not just in Europe but also in Australia from 40,000 years ago, as well as in the Kalahari Desert in Africa, in the Patagonian Mountains in Agentina, and in Baja, California.” Finlay, Victoria. The Brilliant History of Color in Art, p. 10.

Map of Prehistoric Art from Metropolitan Museum

The Lascaux Caves were painted by 16,000 to 17,000 years ago, but there is evidence that men have been creating paint for at least 100,000 years.

“Apparently one of the earliest human instincts was to paint things, including bodies and cave walls. That’s the conclusion from scientists who have discovered something remarkable in a South African cave — a tool kit for making paint. It looks to be the oldest evidence of paint-making.

“Over in southern Africa 100,000 years ago, Homo sapiens was pretty new on the scene. A favorite hangout was a cave named Blombos near the Southern ocean.

“Archaeologists like Christopher Henshilwood have spent decades finding stuff there that our ancestors left behind. Recently, Henshilwood uncovered two abalone shells with ocher ground into the shell. ‘Above and below each shell and to the side of each shell was a complete kit that was used for producing a pigmented mixture,” he says.

“In addition to the shells were stone flakes, grinding stones and bits of bone with reddish ocher on them. Ocher is a kind of iron oxide dug from the ground that early humans used as a pigment and to thicken glue.” See More Here

“Red ochre has been used as a coloring agent in Africa for over 200,000 years.[22] Women of the Himba ethnic group in Namibia are famous for using a mix of ochre and animal fat for body decoration, to achieve a reddish skin color. The ochre mixture is also applied to their hair after braiding.[23]” Wikipedia

“The most common red pigment on Earth is red ocher, also known as iron earth. Barns in Scandinavia are painted with it; roads are sometimes surfaced with it; red bricks get their color from their iron content.” Finlay, Victoria. The Brilliant History of Color in Art, p. 15.

Traditional Swedish House Painted Falu Red, which Is Made from Red Ocher

Making Falu Red Paint

“Falu red or falun red (/ˈfɑːluː/ FAH-loo, in Swedish falu rödfärg (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈfɑːlɵ ˈrøːfærj])) is a dye[1] that is used in a deep red paint, well known for its use on wooden cottages and barns. The paint historically originated from various copper mines in Sweden. Most well known is the mine at Falun, in the province of Dalarna. In Finland, falu red is known as punamulta (“red earth”), after the pigment, which consists of finely divided hematite. Since the binder is starch, the paint is permeable to water. In Estonia, falu red is known as Rootsi punane (“Swedish red”) and is most common in Western Estonia in the former Coastal Swedish territory.

“The earliest evidence of the use of falu red dates from the 16th century. During the 17th century, falu red was commonly used on smaller wooden mansions, where it was intended to imitate buildings with brick facing. In Swedish cities and towns, wooden buildings were often painted with falu red, until the early 19th century, when authorities began to oppose use of the paint. Increasingly many wooden buildings in urban areas had by then begun to be either painted in lighter colors such as yellow or white, or to be sided with stucco. The number of buildings made of bricks had also increased.” Wikipedia

I have decided to research the history of the creation of paints and pigments further, and I found some books that you might also want to explore:

The Brilliant History of Color in Art by Victoria Finlay


There are several books that provide information about the historic evolution of color, but I especially like Finlay’s The Brilliant History of Color  in Art. Because of its outstanding photographs, this is the book that I myself will purchase.

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Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

Finlay’s first book Color: A Natural History of the Palette has over 400 pages of text, and it have very  few photographs. I plan to read both of Finlay’s books.


Color: The Story of Dyes and Pigments by by Bernard Guineau and Francois Delemare

As I consider the inter-connection of the soil, pigments, color, and self-expression, I am reminded of the final pronouncement: from earth to earth and ashes to ashes, and I realize that we are the earth which has historically provided the pigment to create our art. Our spirits–our souls–are linked to the pigments that lie within the bedrock of our lives. Perhaps it is primarily because of mankind’s need for self-expression that the human can be distinguished from beasts.

“Drawing gives shape to all creatures, color gives them life, such is the divine breath that animates them” – Dennis Diderot – 1713-1784

I hope to read all of the books listed above, and afterwards, I hope to have more to say about this topic. But in closing, I want to congratulate yet again the way that film is able to bring history to life and the way that it lifts its viewers to a pinnacle from which they can experience meaning in a more dynamic way. I love the way that good cinematography fosters better thinking. For many years, it has been faddish to denounce television as the evil sponge that siphons the mind dry, but I disagree with that thought. I believe that good television and good movies can actually exceed the teaching value of mere reading; yet, I would not like to live in a culture that would force me to choose between the two.

©Jacki Kellum July 18, 2017


Breakfast at Tiffany’s Merits Another Look – Identifying Some of the Film’s Locations in New York City

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a movie that was released in 1961 when I was 11-years-old. It is loosely based on Truman Capote’s novella by the same name.

Audrey Hepburn Sunglasses

Most of us know that Audrey Hepburn made fashion history in the black dress and sunglasses that she wore in the film. Like most people, I have long associated the fashion staple the little black dress with Audrey Hepburn and the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and when I as a child, I memorized the theme song “Moon River” and learned to play it on several instruments. In many ways, I grew up with Breakfast at Tiffany’s and could have sworn that I had seen the movie before, but until yesterday, I had not.  I decided that I needed to correct that mistake, and I am glad that I did.

“The song ‘Moon River’ was written especially for Audrey Hepburn, since she had no training as a singer. The vocals were written to be sung in only one octave. The famous black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the opening scenes of this movie was sold for $807,000 on December 4, 2006 at Christie’s Auction House in London, making it the second most expensive piece of movie memorabilia ever sold.” Read More Here

“Tiffany’s flagship store (since 1940) is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan, New York City. The former Tiffany and Company Building on 38th Street is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The polished granite exterior is well known for its tiny window displays. The store has been the location for a number of films including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sweet Home Alabama and Sleepless In Seattle.” Read More Here

Aubrey Hepburn plays the part of Holly Golightly, a former Texas Hayseed who has somehow managed to land herself in a very expensive apartment on the Upper East Side.

“There are several sources that report the location for Holly Golightly apartment incorrectly. Some say it is number 171, whereas others say it is 169. In fact, the number showing in the film is 167 even though the correct number is 169.” Read More Here

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is classified as a Romantic Comedy, and I normally try to avoid that genre. For several minutes into the film, I thought that the movie was going to be silly, but by the end, I was in tears. Holly Golightly is a well-developed character who is caught in the fruitless snare of trying to play the part of someone that he can never be. One of my favorite Holly Golightly quotes is:

“But Doc, I’m not fourteen anymore, and I’m not Lulamae. But the terrible part is (and I realized it while we were standing there) I am. I’m still stealing turkey eggs and running through a briar patch. Only now I call it having the mean reds”

If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s and several other related features free Here.

I have watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s repeatedly now, and every time “Moon River” begins to play, I get cold chills. The weakest part of the film is Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of Holly’s Asian neighbor, and because the film quickly digresses into one of Rooney’s scenes, I almost abandoned it too early.

I’m glad that I stuck with the movie through the rough patches and into the relationship that develops between Hepburn and George Peppard. This relationship and Holly’s struggles with “the Reds” is the meat of the film.

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
Paul Varjak: Sure.
Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

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Cat, George Peppard, and Audrey Hepburn costar in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and each of them plays a vital role.

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During the early part of the film, Cat is the only character who wasn’t wearing a mask.

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The New York Library also plays an important part in the development of Holly’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Until the Peppard character gives Holly a copy of his book, she had no books of her own.

(Puts single book into an otherwise entirely empty bookcase.) “…There now. Doesn’t that look nice?”

“The New York Public Library (NYPL) is one of the leading public libraries of the world and is one of the United States’s most significant research libraries. It is composed of a very large circulating public library system combined with a very large non-lending research library system. It is simultaneously one of the largest public library systems in the United States and one of the largest research library systems in the world. It is a privately managed, nonprofit corporation with a public mission, operating with both private and public financing.

“The NYPL has frequently appeared in feature films. It serves as the backdrop for a central plot development in the 2002 film Spider-Man and a major location in the 2004 apocalyptic science fiction film The Day After Tomorrow. In the 1978 film, The Wiz, Dorothy and Toto stumble across the Library and one of the Library Lions comes alive and joins them on their journey out of Oz. It is also featured prominently in the 1984 film Ghostbusters with three of the titular protagonists encounter the ghost of a librarian named Eleanor Twitty, who becomes violent when approached. Her origins and the Library’s prominent standing are explored in the video game sequel, Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Other films in which the library appears include 42nd Street (1933), Portrait of Jennie (1948), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), You’re a Big Boy Now (1966), Chapter Two (1979), Escape from New York (1981), Regarding Henry (1991), The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), The Time Machine (2002), and Sex and the City (2008).” Read More Here

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Truman Capote became an important writer, and it seems appropriate that part of the film would take place in a library.  George Peppard plays the part of a writer, and that also seems appropriate. I also enjoyed seeing Patricia Neal in the film. Neal plays the part of the rich woman who “kept” Peppard. You may or may not know that in real life, Patricia Neal was the wife of famous author Roald Dahl. All of that seems to fit.

In 1961, I was 11-years-old and growing up in rural Southeast Missouri which is a world away from New York City. I did not visit New York City until 2010, and in an odd way, I am glad that I did not watch Breakfast at TIffany’s until after I had become familiar with the Big Apple. My current home is very close to New York, and I visit the city often. As the film opens, a cab makes its way from Tiffany’s to Holly’s apartment, and it follows a route along what has become my favorite walkway. Breakfast at Tiffany’s was filmed over half a century ago, the New York City that it captures is very much the same now as it was then, and I loved seeing NYC captured in the film.

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Central Park is one of my very favorite places, and part of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is filmed there.

Bandshell, Central Park (from 66th to 72nd Street) Manhattan

Conservatory Water, Central Park (from 72nd to 75th Street) Manhattan.

In most ways, Breakfast at TIffany’s is a tame affair. Holly’s party is one of the most savage scenes, and re-experiencing the Bossa Nova music of the era is pretty wild, too. The only reason that I could stand listening to that music again is because I am a bit nostalgic about it. Otherwise, it makes me cringe.

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But the true monsters of the film are its rats, and the depth of the movie revolves around Holly’s discoveries about them.

“All right — so he’s not a regular rat, or even a super rat. He’s just a scared little mouse. But — oh, golly, gee, damn!”

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I don’t want to completely destroy the film for people who haven’t seen it yet, but the strength of the movie revolves around Holly Golightly’s attempts to deny what is and is not valuable in life. Because of the honest way that Capote created Holly Golighty, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is much more than Romantic Comedy.

“She’s a phony. But she’s a real phony. You know why? Because she honestly believes all this phony junk that she believes.”

“Promise me one thing: don’t take me home until I’m drunk — very drunk indeed.”

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“Didn’t I tell you this was a lovely place?”

“I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I’m not sure where that is but I know what it is like. It’s like Tiffany’s.”

“Do they still really have prizes in Cracker Jack boxes?” “…Oh; yes.” “That’s nice to know… It gives one a feeling of solidarity, almost of continuity with the past, that sort of thing.”

“It’s better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place; so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear.”

“No matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”

“I’m like cat here, a no-name slob. We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other.”

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“Oh, cat.”

©Jacki Kellum July 9, 2017



Paul Poiret and the Orientalism of the Late Edwardian Era & the Roaring Twenties

Everyone who loved Downton Abbey and its glorious fashions remembers the moment that Lady Sybil entered the room, sporting her Haram pants–a look that is attributed to the French Fashion Designer Paul Poiret.

“Every age has its own prophet–someone who knows the secret longings of his or her contemporaries and is capable of converting them into public demand.  Paul Poiret, the Parisian fashion designer, was just such a visionary. His modern, corset-free silhouettes broke with everything considered to be fashionable before 1905.  The Frenchman is still considered today one of the most innovative designers in the history of haute couture.  Almost as legendary is his financial extravagance.  He died in 1944 in abject poverty, a genius forgotten by the world.” Werle, Simone. 50 Fashion Designers You Should Know, p. 17.


Paul Poiret

Poiret’ first wife Denise Boulet [above]

“As a teenager, Poiret, the son of a cloth merchant, was already selling fashion drawings and small designs to Paris fashion studios.  After training with the couturiers Jacques Doucet and Charles Frederick Worth he finally went into business with his own salon in 1903.  His muse was his young wife, Denise Boulet.  Slim, emancipated, and independent, she was the perfect advertisement for Poiret’s vision.  At a time when the female body was still divided into protruding bosom and buttocks, Bolet’s athletic figure served as a basis for Poiret’s loosely hanging garments, draped directly on the body (he couldn’t sew), and for whose fit neither hoop skirt nor corset was required.”  Werle, Simone. 50 Fashion Designers You Should Know, p. 17.

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Heavily Corseted Fashion Prior to Poiret – 1896 [above]

“Above all, Poiret’s designs were inspired by art and culture.  When he presented his harem fashions, the stories of Scheherezade had just been translated into French.  The Ballets Russes, visiting Paris in 1909, prompted his turbans, coats with kimono sleeves, richly decorated tunics, and flat slippers.”  Werle, Simone. 50 Fashion Designers You Should Know, p. 17.

   Leon Basket Costumes

Leon Basket Designed the Costumes for Scheherezade that Influenced Poiret

scheherazade-leonbasket Leon Basket Designs for Scheherezade

Fauve Painting – Mountains at Collioure by André Derain

“His expressive color schemes seem to have been borrowed directly from the group of controversial artists known as the Fauves (the wild beasts).  His models, mostly produced with the use of extravagantly gorgeous fabrics, are marked by an exciting contrast between impressive modernity and stunning theatricality.

“Like no designer before him, Poiret had an infallible instinct for marketing.  He traveled to Russia and the U.S. to present his creations in person (and pick up ideas for new designs).  He complemented his fashions with perfume, makeup, nail polish, and interiors.

. . .

“Poiret introduced the decorated window display and gave fashion photography, then still in its infancy, an artistic direction.  His legendary Oriental banquets (at on of which half-naked, dusky waiters served 900 liters of champagne to 300 guests) are considered among the first modern PR stunts.


“Poiret’s style, derived from Art Deco, was considered groundbreaking until the end of World War I.  After that, the eccentric designer increasingly began to lose his prosperous clientele to other ambitious designers, above all Jean Patou and Coco Chanel.  In 1925, with one last grand appearance, he sealed his own demise.  Deep in debt, he rented three luxurious ships to present his collection at the Paris Arts Decoratifs show.  Despite the expense, his competitors could not be fought off.  In 1926 he left the fashion house he had founded, and in 1929, his wife and muse finally left him. Fifteen years later Poiret died a clochard, a homelss vagrant, in the occupied Paris of World War II.”  Werle, Simone. 50 Fashion Designers You Should Know, p. 17.


Paul Poiret at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Irudrée” Gown, ca. 1923
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Silk, metal; L. at center back 52 in. (132.1 cm)
Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2007 (2007.146)

“Paul Poiret’s technical and commercial innovations were fundamental to the emergence and development of modernism. Yet despite ushering in the new movement, Poiret rejected its postwar embrace of the aesthetic of the engineer governed by functional rationality. In the face of modernism’s repudiation of explicit narratives, decorative strategies, and historical references, Poiret continued to endorse the ideal of artistic originality and the aesthetic of artisanal workmanship.

“Poiret’s vision of beauty was also at odds with la garçonne, the feminine archetype of modernism. While Denise [Boulet] Poiret’s slender, small-boned figure was the prototype for that boyish silhouette, Poiret dismissed its emphasis on androgyny, describing its followers as “Cardboard women, with hollow silhouettes, angular shoulders and flat breasts. Cages lacking birds. Hives lacking bees.” Poiret’s ideal of beauty still clung to his wife’s body type—that is, slight but not bony, irrefutably feminine and never androgynous. Poiret’s rejection of modernism on the grounds of ideology and aesthetics resulted nevertheless in designs of remarkable structural modernity. The “Irudrée” gown of 1923, for instance, is particularly noteworthy for its reductive simplicity.

“The skirt is made from two pieces of fabric sewn selvedge (either of the loom-finished woven edges of a length of fabric) to selvedge and gathered at the waist of the bodice. In turn, the bodice is made from one length of material with no side seams, and Poiret used the selvedge of the material to define the neckline. Indeed, with its emphasis on process and truth to materials, “Irudrée,” despite the historicizing low-slung tubular rouleau that is a nod to the hip roll, or farthingale, of the Renaissance, stands as an icon of modernist design.

Coat, 1911
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Textile design by Raoul Dufy (French, 1877–1953)
Ivory and navy block printed velvet with brown fur trim and gold metallic mesh–covered silk closures; L. at CB 56 1/2 in. (143.5 cm)
Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2005 (2005.199)

“In his memoir The King of Fashion (1931), Poiret wrote, “Am I a fool when I dream of putting art into my dresses, a fool when I say dressmaking is an art? For I have always loved painters, and felt on an equal footing with them. It seems to me that we practice the same craft, and that they are my fellow workers.” Dismissing the sibling rivalries that have always dogged the fine and applied arts, Poiret believed that art and fashion were not simply involved but indivisible. This belief was central to Poiret’s vision of modernity, which, to a large extent, was achieved through his deployment of art discourse.

“As well as presenting himself as an artist and patron of the arts, Poiret promoted his fashions as unique and original works of art in and of themselves. He did this by marshaling the visual and performing arts, and by working with artists associated with avant-garde modernism. Among Poiret’s various collaborations, the most enduring was with Raoul Dufy, whose career as a textile designer he helped launch. Dufy’s flat, graphic patterns were ideally suited to Poiret’s planar, abstract designs, a fact that is palpable in such signature creations as “La Perse” coat, “La Rose d’Iribe” dress, and the “Bois de Boulogne” dinner dress, which is made from a fabric that Dufy designed in conjunction with the silk manufacturer Bianchini-Férier.

“Dufy’s boldly graphic designs reflected Poiret’s preference for the artisanal. The postwar embrace of an industrial and mechanical modernity was antithetical to Poiret. However, in the years before the war, the art of the workman, such as Dufy, or the self-schooled, such as Henri “Le Douanier” Rousseau, whom Poiret so admired that he created a dress, “Homage à Rousseau,” in his honor, was seen as modern in the repudiation of Belle Époque decadence and sophistication.

Coat, 1919
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Silk, wool, metallic thread; L. at center back 90 in. (228.6 cm)
Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2005 (2005.207)

“Poiret once ruefully admitted that he could not sew and was thus unable to fully control all aspects of his art. However, it was this very absence of training in tailoring and dressmaking that facilitated the couturier’s audacious technical advances.

“The “Paris” coat exemplifies Poiret’s conception of dress as a three-dimensional form that maintains the integrity of its two-dimensional fabric. It is constructed of one fifteen-foot length of silk velvet that has been twisted into shape without resorting to cutting. The apertures for the arms are unstitched interruptions along the single seamline that forms the garment. Devoid of decoration, except for the placket at the hipline that anchors the loop-and-button closure, it is a masterwork of modernist simplicity and structural ingenuity.

“Poiret designed the coat for his wife, Denise, who was photographed wearing it like a great wrap with a short evening dress called the “Faune.” While the dress does not appear to have survived—it was an astonishing combination of gold lamé and black monkey fur interspersed with gilt military fringe—Denise Poiret’s coordination suggests that the “Paris” was among the more exotic evening coats in her wardrobe.

Coat, ca. 1912
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Natural and blue striped woven linen, blue silk, and faux abalone buttons; L. at CB 53 in. (134.6 cm)
Isabel Shults Fund, 2005 (2005.200)

“From just before World War I to the closure of his maison de couture in 1929, Poiret’s strongest narrative thread was his fantasy of the seraglio and his orientalizing evocations of the Near, Middle, and Far East, which earned him the sobriquet “Pasha of Paris.” For Poiret and other modernists, the imagery of Eastern cultures offered a freedom from the traditions and conventions of the West.

“Poiret’s orientalism first manifested itself in his use of color. In his memoir, Poiret records that his vivid color palette was among his greatest innovations: “The taste for the refinements of the eighteenth century had led all women into a sort of deliquescence. Nuances of nymph’s thigh, swooning mauves, tender blue hortensias, all that was soft, washed-out, and insipid, was held in honour. I threw into this sheepcote a few rough wolves; reds, greens, violets, royal blues, that made all the rest sing aloud.” Bold colors were, in fact, popular from the mid-nineteenth century onward with the introduction of aniline dyes, but Poiret’s originality was expressed in his exotically charged color combinations, a novelty that preceded the Ballets Russes’ performance ofSchéhérazade.

However, Poiret’s most enduring and fundamental orientalism resides less in his vivid colors, or even in his opulent fabrics and lavish embroideries, than in the construction of his garments. It was the reductive planarity of such dress types as the caftan and the kimono, cut along straight lines and constructed of rectangles, that inspired and influenced Poiret’s radical changes of silhouette. In his typically sybaritic manner, however, Poiret tended to conflate Western and non-Western apparel traditions. While utilizing the geometric simplicity of regional costumes, Poiret would introduce the shaping of Western dressmaking approaches to create garments that could only exist in the fictive, mythical East of Poiret’s imagination.

Coat, ca. 1919
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Black silk and wool blend with white leather appliqués and white fur trim
Gift of Mrs. David J. Colton, 1961 (C.I.61.40.4)

“In the 1910s, Poiret introduced an avant-garde sensibility into couture. His penchant for opulent gestures, lush fabrics, fur, and feathers was part of his grandiose Gesamtkunstwerk, inspired by stage and Orientalist extravaganza. He was also capable of more subdued garments. In the case of this day coat, the leather of the appliqués is cut into delicate filigree and couched by hand onto the wool to create a graphic lattice of white over black. The cylindrical silhouette and standing collar suggest inspiration from Chinese or Near Eastern robes and coats.

Dinner dress, 1922–23
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Navy–blue and red silk faille, gold metallic bullion buttons
Gift of Mrs. Muriel Draper, 1943 (C.I.43.85.2a,b)

“During the first decade of the twentieth century, Paul Poiret initiated a fashion sea change when he declared the wasp-waisted silhouette outmoded, and the columnar form of high-waisted Directoire-Revival gowns the vogue. This jettisoning of the corset alone established Poiret as among the most important and influential designers to this day. In this two-piece dinner gown, Poiret’s interest in the “liberating” style and cut of non-Western regional dress results in a peplos-like ensemble. Two separate but identical squares of cloth, one worn like a short poncho and the other wrapped into a cylindrical skirt, create a peplos effect with its apoptygma-style top. Although the ensemble is not constructed like any classical Greek precedent, the use of cloth, completely orthogonal as if off the loom, suggests an affinity to the simply configured garments of the ancient world, which were also formed out of rectilinear pieces of cloth scaled to their intended use directly on the loom. This interest in the nontailored traditions of much regional dress was not restricted to Poiret, nor was his conflation of classical styles with ethnographic forms. Madame Grès is perhaps the best example of the phenomenon, but Cristobal Balenciaga, Valentino, Issey Miyake, and Romeo Gigli, among others, have all made Greco-Roman allusions through minimalist constructions based on clothing traditions outside the Western fashion system.

Ensemble, 1913
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Ivory silk damask, ivory silk net, and ivory China silk with rhinestone trim; ivory silk net with green and black silk gauze, applied tape and rhinestone trim; green and black silk gauze headdress with strands of rhinestones; ivory silk damask shoes; L. at CB (a) 52 in. (132.1 cm)
Paul D. Schurgot Foundation Fund, 2005 (2005.193a–g)

“Poiret’s radical approach to dressmaking was inseparable from his ideas of the body, which found their ultimate expression in his advocacy of an uncorseted figure. While Poiret was not the only designer to promote an integrated and intelligible corporeality, he was among the first to link it to the naturalism of Greco-Roman dress.

“The first display of a classical sensibility appeared in Poiret’s fashions of 1906, the year that he abandoned the corset. However, as seen in his “1811” dress, which reflects the proportions and cylindrical silhouette of the Directoire, it was classicism through the lens of the late eighteenth century. The same allusive rather than academic classicism is manifested in Poiret’s “Théâtre des Champs-Élysées” evening dress, which was worn by Denise Poiret to the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps, marking the opening of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on April 1, 1913.

“Denise Poiret’s slender figure was the perfect canvas for Poiret’s classicizing tendencies. Unlike the odalisques of the Belle Époque, her svelte, gamine beauty adhered to the more active body type that was emerging in the early twentieth century. Among the dresses of more explicit classical allusion that Poiret made for his wife was a series of provocative baby-doll-length nightdresses. With their one-shouldered necklines, they cite the bareness of the Amazon, who would allow one shoulder of her tunic to fall open, exposing her breast. These “classical” negligées also recall the costume Denise wore to Poiret’s classically inspired party “Les Festes de Bacchus,” held on June 20, 1912. Made from a fabric by Mariano Fortuny, a designer whom Poiret promoted in his maison de couture, Denise Poiret, in the role of Juno, queen of the gods, represented both the ideal of classical beauty and the paradigm of the modern woman.

Evening dress, 1910
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Green and ivory striped silk, black silk chiffon, white linen

Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Ogden Goelet, Peter Goelet and Madison Clews in memory of Mrs. Henry Clews, 1961 (2009.300.1289)

“A rare example of Paul Poiret’s early revolutionary designs loosely based on the upright, columnar, high-waisted styles worn in ancient Greece, this gown is an innovative melding of the avant-garde and the traditional. The tubular shape and graphic horizontal stripes are harbingers of the modern era, while the below-the-knee gathering of the overskirt suggests the “hobble skirt” that Poiret introduced in 1910 and was briefly the height of fashion. Decorative touches taken from traditional sources mollify the radical form. One of Poiret’s signature decorative techniques was to use folkloric textiles and trims that he collected on his travels. Here the collar and cuffs are fashioned from a traditional French pleated linen bonnet, and brightly colored brocade ribbons that would have adorned a festive folk bonnet or costume encircle the raised waistline.

“Requiring less restrictive undergarments and conforming more to the natural shape of the body, Poiret’s designs of 1908–11 are regarded as pivotal in the transition from the rigidly corseted silhouettes of the Victorian and Edwardian eras to styles providing greater freedom and comfort in dress that would characterize twentieth-century fashion.

Fancy dress costume, 1911
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Seafoam green silk gauze, silver lamé, blue foil and blue and silver coiled cellophane cord appliqué, and blue, silver, coral, pink, and turquoise cellulose beading; L. (a) 50 1/4 in. (127.6 cm)
Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Trust Gift, 1983 (1983.8a,b)

“Poiret’s interest in l’art de vivre found its most tangible expression in his highly theatrical costume parties. The most extravagant was “The Thousand and Second Night,” which took place in the garden of his atelier on June 24, 1911, and which revealed the strong influence of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes on the designer’s imagination. In his memoirs, Poiret dismissed any relationship between his work and the artistry of Diaghilev’s talented designer, Léon Bakst. But the spectacular success of Schéhérazade fromOne Thousand and One Nights a year before Poiret’s lavish party makes clear that the designer was willing to parlay the excitement generated by the Russians to his own advantage.

“Like Diaghilev’s Schéhérazade, Poiret’s “The Thousand and Second Night” party revolved around a fantastic evocation of the East. For the occasion, Poiret required his 300 guests to dress in oriental costumes. Those who failed to do so were given the choice of leaving or outfitting themselves in Persian-style clothes designed by the couturier, including the highly controversial “harem” trousers that formed part of his spring 1911 collection. Poiret thus used the occasion of a private party, staged as a cross between an elaborate fashion show and an extravagant theatrical performance, to promote his latest creations.

“Denise Poiret, who played the role of the “favorite” to Poiret’s “sultan,” endorsed her husband’s “harem” trousers by wearing them under a wired skirted tunic. Two years later, in 1913, Poiret launched this crinoline-hooped silhouette in a theatrical production of Jacques Richepin’s historical drama, Le Minaret, to be quickly followed in Poiret’s fashion collections of the same year. A fancy-dress costume worn in the privacy of an exclusive party became the prototype for a “minaret” or “lampshade” tunic worn in a theatrical production. Thus publicized, the silhouette was then modified for the fashion public.

“The “Sorbet” ensemble, to which the illustrator Erté claimed authorship, was among the most popular of the silhouette’s fashionable interpretations. Its signature rose motifs of “caviar” seed beads were applied as silk-backed appliqués rather than embroidered directly on to the satin ground. This technique would have meant a shorter construction time and allowed for the disposition of the decorations over the tunic at the last minute, with the possibility of their placement contingent on the overall proportion of the garment. The bodice, with its kimono neckline, represents a stylistic feature typical of Poiret, while the underskirt, with its petal form, is a development of Poiret’s iconic hobble skirt.

Opera coat, 1912
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944)
Yellow and pale blue silk satin, black silk velvet, turquoise silk satin with gold and silver filé crocheted overlay, and silver filé trapunto half–belt and trim; L. at CB 16 1/2 in. (41.9 cm)
Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1982 (1982.350.2)

“Of all his collaborations with artists, Poiret was proudest of his introduction of Paul Iribe to a wider audience through the album Les robes de Paul Poiret (1908). Distributed without charge to Poiret’s elite clientele, the album, like that of Georges Lepape’sLes choses de Paul Poiret published three years later, was exhibited at the Galerie Barbazanges, a commercial gallery on the premises of Poiret’s couture house. It was Iribe who designed Poiret’s rose motif, as depicted in the dress “La Rose d’Iribe,” and as used in the couturier’s label.

“In his memoirs, however, Poiret dismisses the suggestion that his collaborations with Iribe and Lepape implied that they were anything more than interpreters of his fully formed expressions. In his description of his relationship with the two artists, they emerge as disseminators of his designs, representing his works through their talents as illustrators, never as creators of the designs themselves. The reality, however, is likely to have been much more complicated.

“The charming renderings of Iribe in Les robes de Paul Poiret, and Lepape in Les choses de Paul Poiret (and later in the Gazette du Bon Ton) conveyed a contextual reality to Poiret’s exquisite creations. Comparing extant costumes to their representation, however, often reveals that accuracy was sometimes sacrificed for dramatic intention. Nevertheless, Iribe and Lepape’s subtle stylistic elisions and exaggerations imbue Poiret’s fashions with a beauty less seductively conveyed by the harsher documentary evidence of photography.

Textile, ca. 1923
Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944); manufacturer: La Maison Martine
Printed linen; 72 x 50 in. (182.9 x 127 cm)
Purchase, Edward C. Moore, Jr. Gift, 1923 (23.14.8)

Martine, which opened on April 1, 1911, was the interior design business owned and operated by Paul Poiret, a noted Parisian couturier. The business consisted of École Martine, Atelier Martine, and La Maison Martine. École Martine (housed in Poiret’s premises in rue d’Antin) was an experimental art school for young, working-class girls. Under the direction of design educator Marguerite Gabriel-Claude Sérusier, these untrained girls sketched plants and animals in local parks and zoos. Poiret bought the best of their drawings, which were adapted for use by Atelier Martine, the design studio. At first, Atelier Martine produced only textiles and wallpapers, but soon expanded to create carpets, lighting, hand-painted glassware and ceramics, and other items for interiors (including dolls outfitted by Poiret). Furniture and interior decorating services were introduced under the direction of Guy-Pierre Fauconnet. Little is known about the manufacturers of their products, but it is unlikely that the atelier was able to realize most of their designs in-house, turning instead to outside specialists: Paul Dumas or Defossé & Karth for wallpapers, Adolphe Chanaux for furniture, and Murano for glassware. One notable exception was the deep pile carpets, hand-knotted by the students. The output of the atelier was sold through the retail and interior design service of the business, La Maison Martine. The shop was located at 107, rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré; it remained there until 1924, when it moved to 1, Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées. By the early 1920s, branches had been opened in Marseilles, Cannes, Biarritz, Deauville, La Baule, as well as in London and Vienna. Martine products were actively promoted and sold in department stores in America and Germany.

Paul Poiret Joined the House of Worth

In 1901, Poiret joined the House of Worth, where he was asked to create what Gaston Worth (the son of Charles Frederick Worth, the eponymous founder) called “fried potatoes,” simple, practical garments that were side dishes to Worth’s main course of “truffles,” opulent evening and reception gowns. One of his “fried potatoes,” a cloak made from black wool and cut along straight lines like the kimono, proved too simple for one of Worth’s royal clients, the Russian princess Bariatinsky, who on seeing it cried, “What horror; with us, when there are low fellows who run after our sledges and annoy us, we have their heads cut off, and we put them in sacks just like that.” Her reaction, however, prompted Poiret to found his own maison de couture in 1903 at 5 rue Auber. Later, in 1906, he moved his atelier to 37 rue Pasquier, and then, in 1909, to 9 avenue d’Antin. Two years later, he established a perfume and cosmetics company named after his eldest daughter, Rosine, and a decorative arts company named after his second daughter, Martine, both located at 107 Faubourg Saint-Honoré. In so doing, he was the first couturier to align fashion with interior design and promote the concept of a “total lifestyle.”

While Poiret learned his craft at two of the oldest and most revered couture houses, he spent his first decade as an independent couturier not only breaking with established conventions of dressmaking, but subverting and eventually destroying their underlying presumptions. He began with the body, liberating it first from the petticoat in 1903 and then from the corset in 1906. Although constantly shifting in its placement, the corseted waistline, which had persisted almost without interruption since the Renaissance, divided the female form into two distinct masses. By 1900, it promoted an S-curve silhouette with large, forward-projecting breasts and equally large backward-protruding bottom. In promoting an uncorseted silhouette, Poiret presented an integrated and intelligible corporeality. He was not alone in this vision of dress reform. Lucile (also known as Lady Duff Gordon) and Madeleine Vionnet also advanced an uncorseted silhouette, but it was Poiret, largely owing to his acumen for publicity, who became most widely associated with the new look.

In freeing women from corsets and dissolving the fortified grandeur of the obdurate, hyperbolic silhouette, Poiret effected a concomitant revolution in dressmaking, one that shifted the emphasis away from the skills of tailoring to those based on the skills of draping. It was a radical departure from the couture traditions of the nineteenth century, which, like menswear (to which they were indebted), relied on pattern pieces, or more specifically the precision of pattern making, for their efficacy. Looking to both antique and regional dress types, most notably to the Greek chiton, the Japanese kimono, and the North African and Middle Eastern caftan, Poiret advocated fashions cut along straight lines and constructed of rectangles. Such an emphasis on flatness and planarity required a complete reversal of the optical effects of fashion. The cylindrical wardrobe replaced the statuesque, turning, three-dimensional representation into two-dimensional abstraction. It was a strategy that dethroned the primacy and destabilized the paradigm of Western fashion.

Poiret’s process of design through draping is the source of fashion’s modern forms. It introduced clothing that hung from the shoulders and facilitated a multiplicity of possibilities. Poiret exploited its fullest potential by launching, in quick succession, a series of designs that were startling in their simplicity and originality. From 1906 to 1911, he presented garments that promoted an etiolated, high-waisted Directoire Revival silhouette. Different versions appeared in two limited-edition albums, Paul Iribe’s Les robes de Paul Poiret (1908) and Georges Lepape’s Les choses de Paul Poiret (1911), early examples of Poiret’s attempts to cement the relationship between art and fashion (later expressed in collaborations with Erté and Raoul Dufy, among others). Both albums relied on the stenciling technique known as pochoir, resulting in brilliantly saturated areas of color (2009.300.1289). It was an approach that not only reflected the novelty of Poiret’s designs but also his unique palette. Indeed, although the columnar garments depicted in the pochoirs referenced Neoclassicism, their acidic colors and exotic accessorization, most notably turbans wrapped à la Madame de Staël, were more an expression of orientalism (as were several cocoon or kimono coats for which Poiret was known throughout his career).

Spurred on by the success of the Ballets Russes production of Schéhérazade in 1910, Poiret gave full vent to his orientalist sensibilities, launching a sequence of fantastical confections, including “harem” pantaloons in 1911 and “lampshade” tunics in 1913 (earlier, in 1910, Poiret had introduced hobble skirts, which also can be interpreted as an expression of his orientalism). As well as hosting a lavish fancy-dress party in 1911 called “The Thousand and Second Night,” in which the fashions and the scenography reflected a phantasmagoric mythical East, he also designed costumes for several theatrical productions with orientalist themes, most notably Jacques Richepin’s Le Minaret, which premiered in Paris in 1913 and presented the couturier with a platform on which to promote his “lampshade” silhouette. Even when Poiret reopened his fashion business after World War I, during which he served as a military tailor, orientalism continued to exercise a powerful influence over his creativity. By this time, however, its fashionability had been overshadowed by modernism. Utility, function, and rationality supplanted luxury, ornament, and sensuality. Poiret could not reconcile the ideals and aesthetics of modernism with those of his own artistic vision, a fact that contributed not only to his diminished popularity in the 1920s but also, ultimately, to the closure of his business in 1929.

It is ironic that Poiret rejected modernism, given that his technical and commercial innovations were fundamental to its emergence and development. But although Poiret’s orientalism was at odds with modernism, both ideologically and aesthetically, it served as the principal expression of his modernity, enabling him to radically transform the couture traditions of the Belle Époque. While Poiret may have been fashion’s last great orientalist, he was also its first great modernist.

Koda, Harold and Andrew Bolton. “Paul Poiret (1879–1944)”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/poir/hd_poir.htm (September 2008)

Paul Iribe – Illustrations of Poiret’s Designs in Les robes de Paul Poiret (1908)



A 4th of July Tutorial – How to Use the Free App Ipiccy to Blend Images

Photoshop has Blend Modes, but iPiccy is the only free photo editor that I have found to blend 2 images together.  Blend Modes allow the transparency of images to be reduced, and it also allows the blending or the merging of 2 images into 1

It is best to begin with 2 images that are the same size –including the same Aspect Ratio  or proportions.

You may save the following 2 images to your photos library.  I have already cropped them so that they are the same size and Aspect Ratio,

Liberty600px  Flagz600px

The appearance of your blend will vary according to which image is loaded first, as well as to which blends are applied afterwards.  We’ll load the Statue of Liberty first.

1.  Go to http://ipiccy.com

2.  On the ipiccy site, click on the yellow tab, [referenced on the below image] which says Start Editing!


3.  Click on the tab that says, “Upload photo.”  Browse to the folder where you saved the Statue and open it.


4. layersicon2 On the top menu, click on the Layers Icon.

5.  AddPhotoIcon  On the menu beneath the top, click on the Add Photo Icon.

6.  Upload the Flag Image, and it will appear in the left panel.

7.  Click on the Flag image in the left panel, and drag it over the Statue image.

8.  To pull the flag completely over the statue, select it by clicking inside the flag.  Little squares will appear on the corners of the selected image.


9.  Grab one handle at a time and pull the flag outward until it completely covers the statue.

10.  The Blend Menu is on the left.  You can alter the blended image’s appearance by changing the Blend Mode and/or the Fade.

11.  To change the Blend Mode,  click  the arrow beside the word “Normal.”  This will open a drop-down menu.  The following image has been altered by the Overlay Blend Mode.

12.  You can change the image even more by also changing the Fade, along with the Overlay Blend Mode.  The Fade on the following image is at 44%.

13.  Continue to play with the image by selecting different Blend Modes and Fade Percentages.  The Following Image is on Blend Mode Hardlight at a Fade of 48%

©Jacki Kellum June 7, 2017 at: https://ipiccyphoto.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/how-to-reduce-transparency-and-merge-2-photos-with-ipiccy/

Reprinted July 4, 2017 – Happy 4th of July!

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