Showing posts with label watercolors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label watercolors. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2019

Book Review: Down Bohicket Road: An Artist's Journey

Artist Mary Whyte
Down Bohicket Road: An Artist's Journey is a collection of exquisite watercolor paintings by Mary Whyte and excerpts from her book Alfreda's World. The combination of stories and portraits of the Gullah women and girls of John's Island moved me to tears at one point. 

My opinion is that women are generally cruel to other women. We are judgemental based on looks, culture, race, religion, and other differences. We tend to exclude women who don't fit in our group. This book is a gentle and beautiful display of women who accept, love, and nurture other women - transcending all of the wrong lessons we are taught as girls. 


Artist Mary Whyte 


Mary Whyte is a talented watercolor artist who was raised in a typical segregated, rural, white home of the 50s and 60s. Her exposure to people of color included the attendants in the private club her family belonged to and the man who cleaned their 12 acre property two times a year. 


Down Bohicket Road: An Artist's Journey
As an extremely brief summary, Mary grew up to be a painter, wife, and cancer survivor. She and her husband owned an art gallery in Philadelphia during her battle with cancer. They decide to relocate to Charleston, South Carolina. Even though Mary had planned on painting beach scenes and children on those beaches her focus quickly became painting the amazing Gullah women of Hebron St. Francis Senior Center.


"While the words here may reveal some of their character, I hope that my paintings and sketches more closely capture the lilt of their voices, the heat of the kitchen, and their fierce love of God."  - Mary Whyte



The Gullah Women and Girls of Johns Island


Years ago I saw a random, short video clip of a Gullah parade, funeral, or celebration. I wasn't sure what it was but I was immediately interested in learning a bit more about that culture. Which is how I learned about Mary Whyte's amazing watercolor portrayals of Gullah women.

I will probably never be able to afford a Mary Whyte painting (original or reproduction) so I recently bought this hardcover book for the collection of paintings. Little did I know that the story behind the paintings was just as beautiful.

When Mary Whyte, a privileged white woman, arrived in their community the Gullah women of Hebron St. Francis Senior Center immediately took her in. They fed her, loved her, and added her to their family. Nevermind that these women had no material wealth, some had been impacted by hurricane Hugo, and most (if not all; I'm still learning) descended from lowcountry slaves.

These women welcomed her into their weekly Wednesday gatherings; quilting, eating, and worship. They posed for her paintings. And she portrayed them with the light in their eyes shining through.

When asked what Ms. Alfreda thought of Mary the first time they met, her answer moved me to tears:
"Here was this skinny, kind of pitiful white girl comin' in, not knowin' where she was goin' or what she was looking for, and definitely in need of some love..." 

I'll leave the rest of it for you to read in context of the story. I think it will be better that way. 

I will say that I don't know if Mary and her husband knew what they were looking for when they moved to South Carolina following that year of cancer treatment. But I don't imagine they had any idea they'd find someone like Ms. Alfreda and the other women of Johns Island.





This book is a gentle weaving of memories and paintings, descriptions of ordinary lives, and examples of extraordinary love and acceptance. This is not a hit-you-over-the-head social commentary even though it is a powerful example of how women should love and care for each other during the "little biddy amount of time" we have on this earth.


"All royalties from the sale of this book benefit the Hebron St. Francis Senior Center on Johns Island, South Carolina."  - from the backflap of Down Bohicket Road



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, April 9, 2018

Reviewing the Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Compact

Reviewing the Cotman Water Colours Compact.
Are your friends or family members artistic? Do you need a gift idea for that artist? The Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Compact set is an appreciated gift.

The Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Compact set comes complete with 14 “half pans” of watercolor, a small field brush, and a detachable water cup. Winsor & Newton is a respected name in the world of art supplies and paints. The half pans can be removed and replaced when a frequently used color runs out. Or exchanged for other colors that are needed for the current painting.  The case closes and is slim - easy to slip into a backpack, bag, or purse.

Over the years, I have found that it is difficult to buy gifts for the artists in my family. I would love to be artistic, but I’m just not. So I love to nurture the creativity of the artists who surround me and live vicariously through them. The only problem has been that artists usually have very strong opinions of the supplies they prefer to use. I have found it so intimidating to purchase art gifts over the years that I have usually stuck with the “safe” things. Gift cards. Or the pad of paper that they use the most frequently. Blah. Boring.

Artists are often very particular about certain brushes for certain projects. It’s so overwhelming that I tend to stick with the gift card safety net. However, I occasionally want to purchase something that, over time, he can think, “I remember when Dawn gave this to me”. That would mean that I’ve chosen something useful to him, something he likes, and of good quality.

Apparently, one year, I managed to do that. Time has gone by so I can’t recall what the occasion was. But, I gifted an artistic friend a Cotman Watercolor Compact. 

He is often outdoors; taking long scenic drives, camping, fishing, and hiking on a regular basis. When he goes out he often takes the Cotman Watercolor Compact along. If he sees something that interests him, he does a quick sketch or painting.

I asked him why he likes this item and he went on a long explanation about why certain paints (i.e Windsor Newton Cotman) are of such high quality due to the pigments and how they are made. My eyes glazed over. So he started over and summarized with the following:

“It’s high quality”

“It’s durable. I’ve sat on it and it’s fine”

“Any brand of half pan paint will fit”

“I love the portability”

“It doesn’t become stained except for the creases where you would expect some staining”

“I do prefer Cotman pigments”

“Although the Van Gogh pigments are good too”

“I really have no complaints about it” but then went on to say “the little brush was okay, not the best, but I take my own along anyway”.

Of course he does.




If you have an artist/painter on your gift list, consider the Cotman Watercolor Compact. I think your artist will love it too. I bought this gift years ago (in 2013 if I recall correctly) and have seen first hand that it is still in use and is appreciated. 


A riverside plein air painting (photo taken in 2013)




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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

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