Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Affect of the Wyeths and How Tastes Change yet Remain the Same

My son asked me the other day (because I make my children critique my blog, and sometimes regret it),
"Where are you going with this, Mom?  One blog is about kitchens, another about the Wyeths, and then kitchens again.  Isn't your blog supposed to be all about kitchens?  It's a bit confusing.  You need a time line or something."  If you too are confused, let me try to clarify - over thirty years,  in both print magazines and online websites, I've observed kitchen design change.  I've saved my favorites with piles of organized magazines and folders within folders on my computer.  So, before dwelling only on "kitchens I have loved" today, I must dwell on "kitchens (and design) I have loved" yesterday because, darn it all, so many earlier kitchens were great kitchens and have molded kitchen design into what it is today.

So let's start today with two kitchens from Colonial Homes Winter 1978.  Colonial Homes, now out of print, had a huge following in its heyday.   Both kitchens here are reminiscent of the ones from my first two posts in that they both have fireplaces and are reminiscent of the Wyeth posts in that both contain antiques.

The next three images are from Early American Life, April 1985, and contain many more of the period antiques I love.  The wing chair in the first image reminds me of some of the Belgian linen chairs of today (though I'm sure it was not linen in 1985), and the woodwork reminds me of the paneling in so many of the Wyeth interiors.

Love the fruit on the tables above and below.  The bowl in the second image here is great, and I love the primitive portrait - not a Wyeth, but old.  The fireplace could be straight out of a Wyeth interior.

Another image, another great bowl, a period highboy, a settle, a windsor chair, and another primitive portrait.  So old New England.

Skipping way ahead now to a kitchen from Architectural Digest, June 2010, we see a combination of elements from the past and the present - old beams, an island countertop and flooring from reclaimed wood.  Yet, what I love here is that these early elements are combined with today's stainless shelving, black iron pot rack, and new Viking stove.  Also note the stone work surrounding the stove area.  This kitchen really works today but contains some of the past.

The next kitchen from Southern Accents, July-August 2005, also demonstrates use of old with the new - brick flooring, old butcher block combined with Wolf stove from today and a wonderful knife block.

The kitchen below from House Beautiful, November 2010, combines a wall of reclaimed wood with a beautiful Le Cornue stove, red Kitchen Aid mixer and it works.  Love the counter full of fresh broccoli and onion mounds.

And today's last kitchen from Traditional Homes, spring 1987 issue - "Colonial Warmth" is from a Greenwich Connecticut home.  If you can enlarge the text from the article, I think it says everything I have been trying to say.  

Hope you have enjoyed these kitchens, hope I have demystified the path I am taking.  My next posting will again be about Wyeth country and its interior design.  Can you tell this family and area impacted my taste??  Please be patient, hang with me, and I hope enjoy the journey.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Huge Thank You and the Young Wyeths

Bruce Riddell's website
First, I want to thank Greet from Belgian Pearls for sending my way such lovely people.  She was gracious enough to mention my blog on her own, and in a matter of minutes I heard from very supportive, interesting people.   Greet and her friends encouraged me to keep going, to know that there is some interest in what I post.  So, I wish all of you, but particularly my special friend, Greet, a beautiful day - a day full of sunshine and beauty just like the one above.  Thank you.

Now on to one of Andrew Wyeth's sons, Jamie, a gifted artist in his own right and one I greatly admire just as I do his father. Here is just a sampling of his work.

In addition to their home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, the Jamie Wyeths live on an island off the coast of Maine during the summer months.  It is peopled with, or should we say "sheeped with," sheep.  One of them most probably inspired this great painting.  Doesn't the ram seem to be proudly overlooking  his domain?

I think his portrait of John F. Kennedy is the most memorable portrait of a too short-lived president.  He looks pensive, concerned, and oh, so young.  A tragedy that his life ended so abruptly, but this portrait lives on as Jamie's tribute to our 35th president.  (The painting is great, my resolution is not.)

This is Jamie Wyeth's painting of his father.  Here I admire how the son has captured the feeling that the father sees what ordinary people never see, and it reflects his gravity of this vision.

This painting is absolutely huge, and when you see it at the Brandywine Museum, he (I think it is a "he") looks very proud, very proud and very huge.  I think I read in one of the museum's catalogs that this pig and one of his cohorts once ate a live rooster.  Only the rooster's feathers remained in the morning.  This is a pig not to mess around with.

And now:
The above and following images are from House and Garden magazine July 1984.
This  painting hangs over the young Wyeths' living room mantel.  While the living room is reminiscent of his mother and father's home, it's decor appears to be busier.  Take a look.

All the antiques in this room are period and authentic and very Pennsylvania.  Love even the red ware plates on that great trunk.  The ladder-back chair and tea table are so beautiful, and the art - well, it speaks for itself.

These photos are of the other side of the above room.  Even the simple windsor chair is exquisite.
The bottom pictures are of Jamie Wyeth, his wife, Phyllis, and perhaps the infamous pig of a rooster's demise.

Love the dining room, its table, and the hay bale painting above the low boy.  I think the Wyeths keep as their own, paintings that mean the most to them, and I recall reading that Jamie felt that the hay bale was as much a portrait as the ones he has done of people (or pigs for that matter).  More on the Wyeths, Pennsylvania kitchens and antiques soon.  

Now, in case you, my faithful reader, feel again I am not fulfilling the title of my blog, I offer the following kitchen photos.  They appeared in Country Living, March 2000 and hope they prove to you that I do have a direction, circuitous as it may be.

Wish we could see the other side of the island where the really things interesting things lie.  Cooking does look like it is about to happen here - maybe just tea or coffee with the cups and saucers on the table.  Not as great a kitchen as the Segreto one from my previous posting, but I was desperate to publish a room that lives up to my blog's title.  Aren't the stools from Segreto so much more interesting?  Remember though this kitchen is from 2000, and, while much of this kitchen is timeless, the stools are not.  But, you "gotta" love the rack holding the white pottery and those spring-colored flowers.

And lastly, may I offer you this promise of spring:
Till next time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Back to the Present

Just in case you may be tiring of the trip through my past again, here are some images of kitchens I love today.  I am an avid reader of blogs, and these kitchens have appeared on some of my favorites.  The kitchens are very different but also contain common elements.

So many things I love about this kitchen: the black La Cornue stove, the awesome set of knives to the left of it, the utensils in crocks to the right of it, the Staub pot on the rear burner, favorite spices near at hand on the back of the stove, favorite cookbooks on a nearby shelf.  Best of all, wonderful still life paintings atop the hood vent.  I could live in this kitchen.

Now a simpler looking kitchen that seems very Belgian and may have been saved from Belgian Pearls, one of my most favorite blogs.  While the stove cannot be seen, I love the cabinets, countertops and clean look, yet still leaving you with a feeling that cooking will soon occur.

Again, I like the clean look of this kitchen and included it because it has the same tolix chairs that I have in my kitchen.  In my opinion, the room appears a bit large, and the cook appears to be dashing about.  And all those dishes on the racks look wonderful, but I fear they need washing before use.
Still, there is something that made me save this image.  Could be the presence of veggies on the table.

This kitchen is the creation of Axel Pairon.  He and his mother are two Belgian designers about whom I can never read enough.  Love the openness, the beams, the weathered posts and table.  Now, I am a real lover of beiges and browns, but the tangerine color of these chairs looks great here.

Again, a very Belgian-looking kitchen with lots of vegetables visible under the island.  The desk on the left is something I wish I could fit in my own kitchen, but no such luck.  My kitchen table must double as my desk.  Great wooden bowl, one of my passions, rests in the foreground.

I cannot remember where I saw this kitchen, but I know I saved it because of the black island.  My kitchen cabinets, built by my husband, are stained a mellow pine color.  I often think of painting them black, but paint would be forever.  What if I hate it in my kitchen - difficult to go back to stain after paint.  My designer daughter-in-law thinks it would look great, but I'm too scared to try it so keep looking at other kitchens whose owners are braver than I.

A kitchen by Steven Gambrel that has cabinets the color of mine which makes me second guess myself on the black thing.  How much do you love that fireplace right next to the kitchen table!  So cozy.  I'm into cozy.

This kitchen is from the movie It's Complicated.  Never could figure out why Meryl Streep wanted a new kitchen when this one looks great and when so many wonderful meals happened around that table.  Notice again the touch of orange.  At the risk of offending a reader, I would get rid of the fabric under the counter on the left.  I hate (sorry to be so opinionated) fabric instead of doors.  It alway looks messy, and I know it is going to suffer when cooks' hands reach inside.  Bad kitchen idea.

Ok, as you can see this kitchen is from Segreto Finishes.  It is my new most favorite.  I love so many things about it.  Again, a black La Cornue stove, oils and vinegar nearby, that great window over the sink, the mellow color of the cabinets, island and ceiling, and those industrial-restoration-hardware- looking stools.  The lighting, the glass-doored refrigerator, the shelving with the copper pots - all great.
Haven't figured out why the ladder is next to the refrigerator, but there must be a good reason and I love it.  Have saved this image as my screen saver just so it can be savored and studied every time I open the computer.  Love, love it, but next time it's back to the past to see another Wyeth-esque home.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Wyeth Influence Continues

Because this blog is my chronological journey, I must spend more time here on this talented family.  After discovering Andrew Wyeth's home seen in my previous post, I was always on the outlook for more information on the family and their art.  I searched libraries, bookstores and magazine articles.  I traveled to Pennsylvania and Maine to see Wyeth paintings. You see, I so admired their love of fine antiques and their artistic talents that my taste became influenced by theirs.  So, bear with me while I revisit the information I found which affects my later design aesthetic.

The above image is Ann Wyeth McCoy's, Andrew's sister, dining room.  The old, beautiful paneling found by her husband and installed here, the oriental rugs, the antique table and chairs, even the forsythia on the bench speak volumes about what Ann McCoy loves.  The painting on the wall is one of her father's, N. C. Wyeth from Treasure Island.

The text on the page above describes what we are seeing in this article from 1998's The World of Interiors.

Here we see Ann McCoy, sadly now deceased, at the piano.  She composed her first symphony at sixteen - another Wyeth talent exemplified.

Again, a room filled with fine antiques.  Her camel back sofa and the one in Andrew Wyeth's home 
from the previous post inspired the one in my living room today.

Do all women love china??  I think so.  The corner cupboard in my dining room, not nearly as old and as beautiful as this cupboard (cleverly hidden in the dining rooms's paneling), also holds a collection of blue chalk ware. My china is not antique chalk ware but is dear to me as this was to Ann McCoy.  (Sorry about the black stripe at the bottom.  Still trying to figure out all the fine points of blogging.  Be patient please.)

If you enlarged the text about the cupboard photo, you read that this is a playhouse in Maine which holds Mrs. McCoy's collection of antique dolls.  I saw some of these dolls when they were on display at the Brandywine River Museum.  They, like this tiny house, were very sweet.  The little house speaks to me - it is in the woods, it is spring, and there are daffodils.

Here is one of N. C. Wyeth's paintings - this one of his wife in the kitchen.  See, I have not forgotten the title of my blog and its direction.  A picture of this painting and the recipe which follows are both
contained in For the Pot, Recipes from Brandywine River Museum.

Nathaniel Wyeth is one of Andrew Wyeth's brothers, so the above recipe is his wife's.  As I remain on task covering the Wyeth's in this chapter of my blog so the bigger task of "kitchens I have loved" as an entire blog is evolving.  Bear with me as I continue on my path.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wyeth Influence

Andrew Wyeth paintings have always captivated me.  Seeing them online, in art books, or as prints is one thing but seeing them in the Brandywine River Museum takes your breath away.  If you've never visited this museum, you will love it.  Here is just a small sampling of his work.

It seems that what Wyeth paintings do not portray is as important as what they do.  What has happened to the house in the first image?  Who lived there?  What is Helga thinking in the second image, and what house is that fence a part of?  I love his choice of subject matter and, as an amateur painter, am in awe of his talent.

Then, "what to my wondering eyes did appear" in the February 1975 issue of American Home?!  This:

Now, this changes my whole design aesthetic.  Nothing can be busy, everything must be antique and all antiques must be period ones.  My husband used to say, "Billie, everything old is not gold."  But look at this next picture.  It is gold.

The corner cupboard is wonderful, and his artwork over the camelback sofa so something only Wyeth could execute.  The hooked rug is a treasure.

Notice the fireplaces in these bedrooms, the corner chair in the top picture, the great, old bowl in the bottom picture, the Wyeth originals hanging everywhere and the hooked rugs in both.  God, I love these Wyeth rooms.  (The only thing missing from this article was pictures of the Andrew and Betsy Wyeth's kitchen.)  No matter how much my decorating aesthetic has changed, my love for this home never will.  It inspired my family's visiting the Brandywine area often, and it inspired my search for more (which will follow).

Since this blog is also about cooking, I thought it might be time insert a recipe and, since this posting is about Andrew Wyeth, I included a Wyeth painting.   Both are from For the Pot, Recipes from Brandywine River Museum.  I make this rhubarb pie recipe every spring.

Sorry for the smudges.  I have used this recipe lots.  Beautiful images from Mrs. John McCoy's home (Andrew Wyeth's sister and Brandywine resident) to come.