Reagan Wigboldy – Fall 2017 Honorable Mention

Meet Reagan Wigboldy, a a junior at Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, Illinois who is majoring in Art. We would like to congratulate Ms. Wigboldy on being selected as one of the three recipients of our Fall 2017 Honorable Mention Commendations for a Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarship. You can read Reagan Wigboldy’s artist statement below:

There is an intricate web that reaches its tangled arms across the world, formed and thickened each time a soul opens up to another. Our longing for relationship characterizes humanity. The art I create, regardless of media, is an exploration of the pain, trust, and love that comes alongside these connections. As expression surges through my fingers, I watch the joy of a new friendship scrawled onto a page, the pain of those lost twisted into rusted wire, and the confusing longing for God carved into the pages of a book.

I was pulled in countless directions when working to narrow down a major, but a single passion glistened through each of my interests: story. I am drawn to character development, whether it be developing backstory through writing, expressing relationships through drawing, or creating life through special effects makeup. Animation and 3D modeling enable me to pour into the depth and detail of a character, thus enhancing the quality and intricacy of a plot. I love taking a character’s story and creating an illustration, specifically drawn from who they are and who they’re becoming. I will not come up short. As I continue to learn, I constantly remind myself: why squander an art education on simply following rubrics when the assignments can be used as an opportunity to express one’s soul and create something never done before?

The allure to story naturally kindles my affection toward adventure games; however, I have a love for strategy as well. I thrive in the field of mathematics and enjoy solving calculus problems for their puzzle-like aspects. Though I want to focus on art, the left side of my brain needs to be constantly challenged as well, for me to complete my best work. This strengthens my adaption of and endurance with coding. Finally, working in the field will allow me to make a difference in the fight against hyper-sexualization of females rampant in the game industry. It allows me to grasp purpose in aiding the equality and diversity of video game character representation.

I am a decahedron surrounded by cubes. This used to be my strong opener: an attention grabber that lead into my thesis and pulled together my final point at the end. I would talk about my journey from a timid, lonely middle-schooler to beginning to really discover myself and my inability to fit into a box in high school. Though the friends I found in high school inspired me to grow as a person, they weren’t responsible for my change, something extremely important that I initially missed. Life shifted and friends changed; I was left without direction, or even definition. Gradually, I realized that growing isn’t finding the group that I strive to be like, but discovering the bonds that I can make through each relationship that I form and the pieces of my life that they highlight. As I make more and more connections from each point in my life, I’m not adding more sides to myself, but finding myself in a tangled journey through dimension. I am not a cube, but neither am I a decahedron. The growing mess that is my life has passed by polygons and polyhedrons, and endlessly grows in complexity and beauty.

Checking it Out, 2016 ©Reagan Wigboldy

Genesis, 2017 ©Reagan Wigboldy

  

Inge Snethen-Hoogstra- Fall 2017 Honorable Mention

Meet Inge Snethen-Hoogstra, a junior at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who is majoring in Art History and Applied Linguistics. We would like to congratulate Ms. Snethen-Hoogstra on being selected as one of the three recipients of our Fall 2017 Honorable Mention Commendations for a Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarship. You can read Inge Snethen-Hoogstra’s artist statement below:

Reaching the halfway point of my college education has been an exciting time for me. Throughout my first four semesters here at UW-Milwaukee I have been able to familiarize myself more with the opportunities that a University can offer me. Through information sent by UWM and conversations with professors and fellow students the road to my graduation is now geared even more towards my interests. One opportunity that has greatly influenced my college experience is my acceptance in to the Honors College. Its concept of small classes and discussion based seminars has evolved my way of thinking and learning. It has been and will continue to be a positive influence on my college career. Thanks to the Honors College, I am well on my way to completing both my majors, Art History and Applied Linguistics.

Another interest of mine is helping others better understand the rich history of the world through art, language and culture. That is why I have joined PASS, Panther Academic Success Services, as a Supplemental Instruction Leader. I spend ten hours every week helping students better comprehend the material of Art 100: American Art and Culture…. My interest in foreign language and culture has further led me to apply for a Certificate in Ancient Mediterranean Studies. I remembered that I enjoyed studying Latin in middle school and learning about the history of Europe including the country where I grew up, the Netherlands…. After I finish my Bachelor degrees and my certificate I hope to be able to pursue a Master’s degree. Ultimately, I wish to obtain a PhD and become a professor at a University, doing what I love: teaching the        significance of art, culture, and history.

Essay Question: Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker each used very distinctive color palettes in their paintings. Please compare and contrast Fred & Eileen’s color palettes, taking into consideration their emphasis on thoughtful preparation, execution, and technique in their watercolor practice.

At first glance, Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker appear to have a similar style, choosing both watercolor for their medium and similar subject matter. But on viewing their works more intimately they go about depicting their chosen subject in distinct ways.

Architecture was Frederic Whitaker’s preferred subject matter and this shows in his use of stark lines and detailed facades. Especially in his work “Baroque Facade”, he uses different shades of grays, browns, and blues to create a crisp image, making it possible for the viewer to discern every detailed aspect of the building. His buildings are well thought-out structures that jump to the foreground. Frederic Whitaker is not afraid to show the meticulous study and planning that went into his works, as he keeps the line-work an important part of his paintings. This is not only the case with his architecture paintings, but with any subject matter he chose. His figure studies for example show a classical approach to anatomy, using the medium of watercolor to examine the play of light and shadow on a figure. He manages to create depth and perspective in his work by using mainly the same color in different shades of light and dark. As with his buildings, every line, curve, and wrinkle is shown.

Eileen Monaghan Whitaker, on the other hand, uses a more vibrant color palette and vivid forms. In her architecture paintings she creates a lively scene by adding spots of red and blue to bricks and rooftops. She also adds figures in such a way that it makes the scene active. They do not blend in with the architecture, but stand out to the viewer. The different shades on building facades create the illusion of detail. Brickwork and decorative architecture is suggested, stark lines are blended in with the rest of the surroundings. The brickwork is suggested in such a way that while she leaves it up to the viewer to complete the details, the hints she leaves make it flow naturally. The building becomes part of the scene as a whole, not its sole focus point. Her vibrant color palette is even more prevalent in her figure studies. Where Frederic had a more academic style, studying form and figure in a Renaissance way, like a DaVinci or Michelangelo. Eileen depicts her figures in a more everyday, whimsical way. Her paintings have a journalistic quality, like family photos of days at the beach, such as in “Con”, or a lazy day at home in “Ah! What Sweet Repose!”, reminding the viewer more of nineteenth century, European, Impressionist painters. Her figure paintings are snapshots of everyday life, whereas Frederic’s are posed and lengthy studies.

Their differences are even more pronounced in their flora and fauna paintings. Frederic Whitaker continues his crisp line-work and focus on figures. However, he does add a pop of color to these works. The color is focused on the flora of the works. The animals themselves are mostly quite monochrome, such as the elephants and the rhinos. The trees and plants are where the color can be found. Different shades of reds and browns are used to indicate leaves and flowers. Eileen Monaghan Whitaker uses color in a much more pronounced way. It is in her animals, plants, and backgrounds. Just like her architecture, the use of color all over blends the figures in with the background. The animals become part of the scene. There are no stark outlines, but flora and fauna weave in and out of each other.

After this closer look at the works of Frederic and Eileen it appears they do in fact have a very distinct style from one another. Even though they both use the medium of watercolor and both paint similar subject matter, they each have their own approach to painting. Eileen Whitaker embraces the use of watercolor fully, expressing its liquid quality. She blends her forms together, hinting at their specific shape and detail. She lightly brushes the paint across the canvas or lets it splotch and run across, emphasizing its watery aspect. Frederic uses the medium in a different way. His detail and linework make his watercolor almost mimic oil paint. He puts the emphasis on the subject matter, not the scene as a whole. He chooses a specific object and lets that stand out to the viewer, depicting it in full detail.

Despite this difference, it is no surprise that they exhibited together and supported each other’s work. The way their works contrast allows them to complete one another. Eileen’s work complements Frederic’s and vice versa.

Bethany Habegger – Fall 2017 Honorable Mention

Meet Bethany Habegger, a freshman at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana who is majoring in Fine Arts/ Arts Education. We would like to congratulate Ms. Habegger on being selected as one of the three recipients of our Fall 2017 Honorable Mention Commendations for a Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarship. You can read Bethany Habegger’s artist statement below:

“Proper education is crucial to being successful with future endeavors, such as career goals. As a student who is dedicated to achieving high classroom grades, I am well aware of what it takes to reach a goal. Throughout my high school career, I have taken many leaps and bounds toward reaching my upcoming graduation and future college life…. I am a visual artist, and I have made every effort to create a unique portfolio of artwork that I have shared by exhibiting my work. … During my college career, I want to soak in knowledge, new experiences and explore creating art and improving as an artist. I am so excited to have the opportunity to expand how I can create art and share it with others. I want to grow my skills and show the world my creations so that they can hopefully have an impact on others. My goal is to be accepted into the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program, a very specialized professional arts program, and I plan to also take business classes to increase my knowledge about how to market my work.

After earning a BFA in painting, I plan to continue my education by attending graduate school. I am interested in exploring careers in the field of museum studies or teaching art at the college level. I want to make the best use of my skills to engage others with art and improve my community. … There are so many possibilities for the years to come, and no matter which career path I take, I know that my passions will be my driving force. I will continue to make art and share my vision; this passion will be a part of my life no matter what career path I take. 

Ghost, 2017 ©Bethany Habegger

Speckles, 2017 ©Bethany Habegger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Hedges – Fall 2017 Scholarship Winner

Meet Emily Hedges, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky who is majoring in Art History. We would like to congratulate Ms. Hedges on being selected as one of three recipients of our Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarships for the Fall 2017 term. As part of the application process, Ms. Hedges was asked to submit an essay response to a question about the Whitakers and their work. You can read Emily Hedges’ artist statement and essay below:

“Hello, my name is Emily Hedges. I’m an Art History major at the University of Kentucky. I’m also majoring in Arts Administration. After I receive my bachelor’s degree, I plan on getting my Master’s degree in Museum Studies. I aspire to work in a museum, particularly as a museum curator. I found this interest through an internship at a small museum in my hometown a few years ago. I worked directly with the director and I learned so much about museums. That’s when I discovered my dream of becoming a museum curator. As I recently completed my freshman year of college, I’m even more certain that I have chosen a career path that I love and enjoy. With each class, my passion for art history continues to grow. I’m excited to see where my degree will take me.

My future career doesn’t incorporate my own art, however I still enjoy drawing and painting. I love to read books and watch movies in my spare time. I love to learn, so you can find me reading a book on art history, or other topics like astronomy or plant life. … I love to experience art in its various forms; concerts, exhibitions, or theater productions. I feel there’s so much to learn and feel about the world around us and art can provide that interaction.

Essay Question: Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker each used very distinctive color palettes in their paintings. Please compare and contrast Fred & Eileen’s color palettes, taking into consideration their emphasis on thoughtful preparation, execution, and technique in their watercolor practice.

Watercolor is an extraordinary medium. It’s created with a pigment dissolved in water and applied with a brush, typically to dampened paper. The result has a translucent effect on what is expected of watercolor painting. An artist does not have total control when painting with watercolor. The beauty of this art form is the spontaneous outcomes that come when applying the wet paint to paper. A mistake cannot be simply painted over without impacting the entire piece. With watercolor, one can glaze layer upon layer without losing luminosity. It gives artists a chance to play with light and color in a completely different way than oils or acrylics. Artists have used this distinct art form to create striking works of art. Artists like Frederick and Eileen Whitaker have taken the expectations of watercolor and gone a step further. The versatility of watercolor painting can be seen in the difference between Frederick and Eileen Whitaker’s artistic style and color palette.

The contents of Frederick Whitaker’s artworks range from figures and architecture to still life and ideal landscapes. However, there is one common factor among all his works; the color palette. Frederick incorporates rich, vivid hues into his works of art. His combined use of muted colors and earth tones in his structured compositions contributes to his personal style. Through his color palette, watercolor allows him to exhibit different forms of lighting and colors in everyday scenes of life. He constructs these landscapes and figures by mastering the wash technique, followed by several layers of smaller brushstrokes. Some of Frederick’s pieces reveal use of black pen to add thin, contour lines of detail to the forms. Frederick almost always presents a full composition. In many of his architectural pieces, Frederick uses washes of pigment to create an atmospheric perspective. The closer buildings are more vivid and detailed while the buildings farther away appear blurry, just as the eye would see it. Frederick adds to his realistic quality through his use of lights and shadows. He captures highlights by using the white color of the paper. His delicate use of colors and shadows brings his paintings to life, despite the transparency of watercolor itself. His consistency of layers brings a depth to his works. Frederick’s color palette is a key characteristic to how he approached the art form of watercolor.

Like her husband, Eileen Whitaker explores a variety of subject matters in her works. However, Eileen’s use of bright, saturated colors stands apart. In addition, her incorporation of pastel colors and loosely painted layers leave her images with a soft, soothing atmosphere. While most of her compositions do not feature a realistic scene behind the subject, the blossoms of bold colors and flicks of speckled paint instead add an expressive quality to her stylized works. It’s clear that she wants her paintings to look like artwork, and not mistaken for a photograph because of a heightened realism. However, a majority of her works do exhibit a good amount of detail. Eileen works with her color palette and the luminosity that watercolor offers to create idealized beauty in many of her pieces. This factors into her expressive style and need to paint with emotion. In several of her pieces, especially of the still life genre, she uses the white pigment of the paper to contrast the brightly colored, detailed subjects. The negative space immediately draws the eye to the subject of the painting. Through her bold brushstrokes and bubbles of color, it’s evident that she paints with emotion and has no great concern for depicting things exactly as they are seen in the real world. She portrays life through her own imaginative conception.

Frederick’s analytical vision is the opposite of Eileen’s emotional one. Their differing styles and use of colors showcases how an artist can take on an art form, like watercolor, and make it their own. Frederick’s sketch-like paintings exudes a confidence of proportions and perspective in contrast to Eileen’s brilliant hues of beautiful expression. The different color palettes had a great effect on their own style and how they wanted to express it. Frederick’s muted colors and earth tones grounded him to the type of realism he wanted to portray. Eileen’s saturated colors in contrast with bright pastel colors gave her the creative freedom she wanted to express emotion and feeling through her work. While both artists demonstrate a variety and vibrancy of colors, their differences illustrate the creative thinking that goes on in the mind of an artist. The dynamic duo of Frederick and Eileen Whitaker has forever influenced the watercolor art form.

Logan Magee – Fall 2017 Scholarship Winner

Meet Logan Magee, a freshman at The New School, New York City, New York who is majoring in Communications Design. We would like to congratulate Ms. Magee on being selected as one of three recipients of our Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarships for the Fall 2017 term. You can read Logan Magee’s artist statement below:

“I have created art all of my life. Even when I was very little I would force my mother to draw smiley faces so I could see how she did it. When I began drawing, I drew girls and boys; their hair was the yellow crayon, their skin was the skin crayon (a crayon that looks like a mix of apricot, white, and tan. Should’ve been named “fair skin”), and the lips on their smiling faces were light pink. Growing up, I didn’t even notice that I was only drawing white people. I had normalized “white” as normal. I had never included myself. As I grew, I studied art more intensely and learned art history. I loved the Renaissance; porcelain white skin in flowing white robes was a common motif that symbolized innocence, purity, and most importantly, beauty.

However, I was internalizing this and applying it to myself. From about fourth to eighth grade, I started to hate my dark, tightly coiled hair, my golden brown skin, and my developing curves. I decided to cut and relax my hair, and I hung out with a mainly white crowd. I also applied this negative thinking to my art. I painted white girls with blonde hair, and rosy cheeks. I remember quite often my mother would ask me “Why don’t you ever paint any black girls?” My response was usually “No reason, I just paint,” but secretly, I was scared to. I neglected representing anything other than European beauty standards. Seeing only white women being the subject of both art and beauty ads made me process “white” as beautiful, and anything else as not.

In the first years of high school, I changed. I started seeing more black women in the arts, like Katrina Andry, Kara Walker, and Lina Viktor. For the first time, I felt compelled to do something about the fact that I had rejected painting women of color. I wanted to paint with more browns, reds, blacks, and bronzes, and I wanted to paint curly hair. I wanted to make my portraits of girls have more substance, and not just be something to stare at. And so I did – and ever since then, I have had the drive to represent what wasn’t shown to me in art class growing up. My work now has a lot to do with gender politics, race, identity, and inward feelings vs. outward appearances.

Moving forward, I have decided that the one of the best ways for me to communicate equal representation is via magazines. I love magazines – I owe a lot to journalism about art, music, and fashion because it helped me discover a good portion of the contemporary artists I know today. One thing I’ve noticed consistently with magazines, however, is the lack of diversity. Black artists, writers, and designers, especially women, are neither featured as often nor as fairly as we should. Therefore, I have decided to continue my education at the New School, and study for two degrees: journalism and communications design. My goal for post-college is to head my own magazine, where I would feature and cover a population of unique artists, intellectuals, and writers of color. My second goal is to continue creating visual content that features a diverse cast, whether that be through performance, sculpture, 2D works, and video. I want to be the artist, the business woman, and the writer that other little girls of color look up to when they need inspiration, when they need to see something like themselves.”

 

Stretch/uttanasana, 2017 ©Logan Magee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light Study/Truth, 2016 ©Logan Magee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Renee Ryckman – Fall 2017 Scholarship Winner

Meet Renee Ryckman, a junior at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida who is majoring in Emerging Media: Experimental Animation. We would like to congratulate Ms. Ryckman on being selected as one of three recipients of our Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarships for the Fall 2017 term. You can read Renee Ryckman’s artist statement below:

“My college experience first began as a student at Pennsylvania State, studying Animal Sciences. However, as I progressed in my major, I soon began to realize that I could not be studious and focus on art the way I wanted to. After working on a piece for over eight hours I realized that this wasn’t just a hobby and I wanted to make it my career. So, I transferred hundreds of miles and left that life behind to pursue a major in animation and illustration. Now, I have a family of peers that are supportive and creative. We share a lot of the same small classes, so I feel very close to them and I never really had a family of friends like that before. I have had a lot of wonderful opportunities to meet people and to learn from them. I have studied mediums I would have never thought to explore, like sculpture, watercolor illustration, acrylic painting and contour line drawings. Coming to UCF has brightened, and enriched my life immeasurably. I would love to continue studying traditional painting techniques. When I first started painting in classes, I hated painting. It was messy and hard and there was no undo button, so it was extremely foreign to me. However, by the time I had finished the semester, I had learned so much and excelled with it, I wanted to make more and more paintings. I went to galleries and scrutinized the work that has come before me with new eyes wanting to absorb so much from the masters. I am not only focused on the present, I am also concerned with my own future as a student and as a working professional artist. While, I have painted for myself since, I would also like to attend more classes that will help me develop technical skills with watercolor, acrylics and oils. My immediate education goals to develop my skills in animation and painting serve to aid me in becoming the artist I want to be. When I graduate, I plan to work in the production of media like movies and video games doing concept art, illustration, and storyboarding–focusing on the foundation of an idea. To me, this brainstorming phase is the most important part of the creative process. A concept artist helps a producer, or director, see their ideas realized visually. I can think of no greater career than that of a creator. I also have a deep interest in animation, which is my major here at UCF, because the most evocative art is art that moves you, and there’s no more expressive art form than that of animation. I want to be a well-rounded artist, capable of bringing a lot to any project with the experience to work on the projects I love. Ultimately, becoming an artist that works fluidly in many mediums to tell powerful stories. I want to work on huge projects like video games and movies because those are the stories we surround ourselves with. I want to tell a story that might inspire another little African American girl to take that terrifying plunge into art. My motivations are not for fame and glory, which is certainly a fine goal if you’re interested, but I am content to stay behind the curtain as long as I know that the show was in part realized by me. I am far from the same disheartened sophomore that weighed the merits of freedom and security on unforgiving scales and shied from change. Now, I stand tall in the knowledge that I am capable and I am excited about my future again. … I have been blessed to find something that I am deeply passionate about and even now I wake up some mornings ineffably happy because I get to create—assignments to draw and paint rather than to calculate. I have always been a dedicated student, but now I am a devoted one and my once restless spirit is settled. Indubitably, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be and nothing else I’d rather do.”

Mantis Shrimp/Representational , 2016 ©Renee Ryckman

Mantis Shrimp/Soul , 2016 ©Renee Ryckman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Announcing the Contrasts that Complement Exhibition

The Whitaker Foundation proudly announces an exciting new exhibition celebrating the watercolor paintings of artists Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker.

The exhibition, Contrasts That Complement, pairs selected watercolors by National
Academicians and lifetime partners Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan
Whitaker, evoking a sometimes subtle and often dramatic dialogue between two
celebrated artists. From the exquisitely detailed architecture of Frederic’s Baroque
Facade, to Eileen’s exuberant rendering of Horton Plaza, this exhibition celebrates the
historical magnitude of both Whitakers’ contributions to the American watercolor
medium. Featuring some of Frederic and Eileen’s most iconic work, the watercolors
in the Contrasts That Complement traveling exhibition highlight the distinctive
voice of each artist in such a way that the paintings become counterparts, reflecting
a visual articulation of the Whitakers’ professional and personal relationship during
their lifetimes.

This exhibition was organized by The Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan
Whitaker Foundation, in celebration of the Foundation’s 30th anniversary. Established
in 1987 by Eileen Monaghan Whitaker, The Whitaker Foundation was created to
preserve her and her late husband Frederic Whitaker’s works and to promote the
American watercolor medium. Over the past three decades, the Foundation has
used innovative programs and technology to breath new life into the Whitakers’
legacy and inspire the next generation of watercolor artists. Some of this outreach
has included a comprehensive online exhibition of the Whitakers’ watercolors
through the Google Cultural Institute, publication in 2004 of the biographical book
Contrasts That Complement, the institution in 2014 of a bi-annual art scholarship
program to assist students majoring in art (watercolor emphasis) or art history/
museum studies, and savvy use of social media and the Foundation blog/website
to engage with artists, curators, collectors, and other watercolor enthusiasts from
around the world.

Maren Forsyth – Spring 2017 Scholarship Winner

Meet Maren Forsyth, a Senior at the University of New Hampshire, who is majoring in Art History. We would like to congratulate Ms. Forsyth on being selected as one of three recipients of our Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarships for the Spring 2017 term. As part of the application process, Ms. Forysth was asked to submit an essay response to a question about the Whitakers and their work. You can read Maren Forsyth’s artist statement and essay below:

Artist Statement

“I am an Art History major with minors in Sociology, Spanish, and International Affairs. Last semester, I was fortunate to study abroad for five months in Granada, Spain and visited several works I was learning about, including La Alhambra. 

My art history journey began when I took introduction to architectural history during sophomore year to fulfill a discovery requirement. I was intrigued to discover that architectural spaces have more of a purpose than just places to live, work, or entertain. With each lecture, I was intrigued by how architects employed the use of ribbed vaulting during the Gothic, how the décor during the Baroque displayed excessive exuberance, and how artists were fascinated with portraying organic life during the art nouveau. From that class forward, I was fascinated with the concepts of iconography, of vision, and the public reception of art. I have taken classes from the range of studying the life of Michelangelo to Late Medieval Art to studying the Rococo…

I am interested in working towards completing a graduate degree in Digital Media. My top career choice would be in art design and would like to eventually be an art director. I believe that with my art history background and with the graduate degree, I’ll be able to examine the past and bring it closer to present day conceptions…”

Essay Question: Americana: the paintings of Frederic Whitaker & Eileen Monaghan Whitaker, two distinctive views

Americana: That which reflects the charm and nostalgia of America’s past.

Watercolor is more ephemeral than other types of painting. Acrylic and oil have a greater concrete presence on the canvas or panel than watercolor, and with less precision it has a wider range of expressivity. The translucency of watercolor gives it a fleeting, ghost-like quality and creates nostalgia, even if the moment depicted was only a few days previous. The Whitaker’s choice of watercolor as a preferred medium amplifies the nostalgic elements in their painting: making the moments that they capture, whether from life or created from imagination, even more ethereal and untouchable.

When Frederic Whitaker paints cities, the buildings loom out towards the viewer, making the people seem like ants in comparison to the formidable skyscrapers ie: “Trinity Church.” Frederic’s works are complete narratives, leaving little to no questions. They lead the viewer from beginning to end, walking your eye up on a path towards the focus, and then letting your eye loose to explore the the fauna and sky behind. Color wise, he treats more important subjects with stronger, more vibrant colors, while separating the supporting elements by tinting them with more neutral shades of grays and browns. He doesn’t want the viewer to be confused on what part of the composition is the focus. He describes buildings by using strong, linear brushstrokes, while using curvilinear forms to construe the organic elements. Frederic has a formulaic approach to his art, continually customizing the conception of a true fore, mid, and background to adapt from scenes of country life to those of New York City.

“I Pledge Allegiance” shows the nuclear family saluting an American flag. Their homestead is down on the lower left corner while the flag dominates the composition in size and acts as the pinnacle of the work. The family looks peacefully at the flag, while the flag seems to be billowing in the fierce wind, turning and twisting in every way possible. A wreath wraps its way around the flagpole towards the golden eagle, the overseer of all. The work epitomizes the way a proper American family should feel about their homeland -hand over their heart, looking up towards that ideal of becoming the best and most productive citizen they can be. It also emphasizes a suburban or rural way of living rather than a focus on city life. This is a recurring theme for Frederic. He seems preoccupied with the industries that America was shifting away from ie: logging, fishing, or milling towards more white collar jobs in the city.

There is much more of an emotional connection with Eileen Whittaker’s perspective on America and this is shown through her painting techniques. More so than her husband, she is preoccupied with the relationship between nature and the female body. Formally, she doesn’t believe in the traditional background, uses various techniques such as splattering color to compose the background. Because of the informality of her compositions, ie: using oval vignettes as a frame rather than using the entire canvas, her works almost feel like dream visions, static and blurry like a having bad reception on a tv. Unlike Frederic, her architecture does not loom over the composition and instead extends beyond the canvas. The architecture is decentralizes and becomes a story about the smaller architectural spaces and the people rather than a showcase of architecture might. Her paintings are like microcosms of life, small insights into the working environment at large that make the viewer wonder about the details beyond those she provides. If there is a house, who lives there? If she paints a person, where is that person going? The viewer is an active participant, and the artist is no longer simply the messenger. There is an alive quality of her works, an expectation that something will change if one looks at it just long enough.

Compositions like “Nostalgia” from 1966, or “Fireworks” from 1979 are two very different takes for Eileen. “Nostalgia” shows Eileen’s taste for cropping the subject.  One can’t see the entirety of the house, instead it seems more like a detail study. The vanishing point leads the eye towards where the doorknob is, and invites the viewer inside to explore. Her brush strokes create blocks of form rather than distinct outlines. In “Fireworks over San Diego,” Eileen uses a an oval vignette shape to frame the bay view. Inside, the cityscape of San Diego is represented by a peppering of red, white, gold, and blue colors. The shape is evocative of the shape of one’s own vision. Eileen still activates each edge by extending the form of some of the fireworks, beyond the oval vignette.

Eileen produces nostalgia for the rural landscape of America. Her works “Nostalgia,” “Fourth of July,” and “Winter New England” portray farm houses, each progressively further away. In this way the paintings function as a progression of society away from these acres of land towards suburban and city living. As America progressed towards this way of living, individual features and the sense of distinctiveness (especially concerning where one comes from) slipped away. One becomes part of the greater landscape, and the individual parts of a house or a person becomes indistinguishable. “Fireworks over San Diego,” an urban architectural outlier in this genre of her portfolio, the viewer is the furthest away and therefore has the least amount of personal connection to the subject.

Frederic and Eileen reflect on the charm of America’s post WWII life, when the culture shifted from mass production towards white collared suburban lifestyle. They were preoccupied with losing individuality and the human connection with nature. While Frederic demonstrates a more systematic style to his landscapes and Eileen more of a freedom with her composition, both Whitakers display the essence of what it means to be American, simple diversity. There is no one landscape that can summarize what America is all about. America is its’ bustling cities, and the farmers working tirelessly in the countryside.

 

Abigail DeVizia – Spring 2017 Scholarship Winner

Meet Abigail DeVizia, a Senior at Kutztown University, who is majoring in Fine Arts. We would like to congratulate Ms. DeVizia on being selected as one of three recipients of our Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarships for the Spring 2017 term:

“As an undergraduate art student, I have spent a great deal of time visiting museums and learning from the works displayed there.  While I am concentrating on my work as a painter, I have decided to focus my career towards gallery or museum service while simultaneously investing time in my own portfolio.  This way, I can educate others in art history and art production while still educating myself on a daily basis…

In my recent body of work, I drew inspiration for my watercolor landscapes from a town near where I grew up.  Port Jervis, New York, has been repeatedly abandoned by the government, and so the education systems are failing and crime occurs at an increasing rate.  Through painting these landscapes of vacant spaces I can tell stories of loss that equate with my interest in painting mundane and overlooked places.

I have held a few exhibitions with the campus galleries and these shows have featured my oil paintings and my watercolor landscapes. When I am not engaged with exhibiting my art, I am employed in the Marlin and Regina Miller Gallery on campus…By this time as a senior, I am pursuing internships at museums and galleries within a commuting distance of home in anticipation of my  graduation… 

For me to receive the Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarship would open up a host of opportunities for me to continue my art and to be recognized by a larger national community.”

Conrad Oil, 2016 ©Abigail DeVizia

For Rent, 2016 ©Abigail DeVizia

Xiaoyan Zhao – Spring 2017 Scholarship Winner

Meet Xiaoyan Zhao, a Senior at the California College of the Arts, who is majoring in Painting and Drawing. We would like to congratulate Ms. Zhao on being the first of our Whitaker Scholarship Alumni, to be selected for a second time as one of the Spring 2017 Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarship recipients:

“In the past year, with exploring the art direction, I had experienced many art practices outside of the school such as participating and selling my paintings at the SFMade Holiday Fair 2015, became the selected artist for the third annual Clyde & Co Community Art Award (two of the three selected artworks are watercolor paintings) and become the fall 2016 scholarship winner of the Whitaker Foundation Scholarship Fund. All these experiences made me more and more confident. I feel so grateful with these opportunities to glimpse the art world outside of the school, because through these opportunities I know myself in a better way, and recognize what kind of art I want to make.

The semester has come to the half way, there is a crucial reason to participate in the Whitaker Foundation Scholarship Program again: the scholarship program is an effective way to test the new idea of my watercolor and art concept, and also the best way to prove myself. The self-criticism of art made me realize that as a practicing artist, the most important point and the first thing for me is to make art that I love, make art that I want, make art from the bottom of my heart instead of creating some “great” arts in order to attract the attention of others or make myself look “important”. Painting is all about “self”. Without “self” or without knowing “self”, my painting will become a kitsch art. “Self” has the ability to make art unique. This kind of “unique purity” has been the key to distinguish each outstanding artist. In order to have the unique condition, “self” has been the theme of my painting. I used to look for this kind of condition from the stories of grandparents and family, but perhaps returning to “self” is the most direct way to keep me away from confusion and reach my uniqueness.

Of course I still have many confusions, but rather escape from it, I choose to face it and show them in my painting, because they are parts of my “unique purity”. You may see my confusions of being an artist, the future, self identity; inferiority and narcissism. All these confusions can be the artistic language and speak for me in my art. I love this expression, and love to share with audiences if they experience resonance in my painting.”

Self Series 1, 2016 ©Xiaoyan Zhao

 

Self Series 2, 2016 ©Xiaoyan Zhao