New month means new artist! I think I finally came up with a good clue over on Instagram this time... not Ron and Hermione but instead her best friends are Peter and Benjamin. Who is this month's artist?
Yep, September's artist is Beatrix Potter. I'll be reading this book. The year of creative habits book club chose to read this too. I'll also be reading the whole Peter Rabbit series along with a couple others I've picked up from the library. I'll share the titles when I they all come in.
Helen Beatrix Potter was born July 28, 1866 to Rupert and Helen Potter. Rupert was a lawyer who had a passion for photography. He married Helen in 1863. Both were from wealthy families and they lived comfortably in London.
Just before Beatrix was born, the Potters moved to Bolton Gardens in Kensington. Beatrix was 6 when her brother Bertram was born. The Potter children spent the winters on the 3rd floor of the house and summers in Pertshire. The children were kept isolated: no playmates, only family and a few adult friends. Instead they adopted all kinds of little creatures as pets and companions. Beatrix observed and examined, drew and painted the natural world.
Beatrix was educated by three governesses. Her parents encouraged her art, took her to galleries and exhibitions, and had a tutor teach her oil painting, which she didn't like because she was told to copy master paintings.
Fascinated by geology, Beatrix Potter studied fossils and painted them with startling accuracy. In the 1880's she became intrigued with fungi and began an intense study of mycology. Perthshire naturalist Charles McIntosh became her mentor and Beatrix began to study how fungi reproduced.
Between 1892 and 1898 she produced over 450 fungi and microscopy drawings and watercolors. In 1897 she wrote an academic paper on the reproduction of gill fungi and submitted it along with her illustrations. Her science was dismissed mostly because she was female. She wrote to a young cousin "I have been drawing funguses very hard, I think someday they will be put in to a book but it will be a very dull one to read." Fifty-nine illustrations make up the fungi volume of Wayside & Woodland, published in 1967, more than 20 years after her death.
She wrote to a young cousin "I have been drawing funguses very hard, I think someday they will be put in to a book but it will be a very dull one to read." Fifty-nine illustrations make up the fungi volume of Wayside & Woodland, published in 1967, more than 20 years after her death.
Above left is one of my very favorite photos of Beatrix holding her pet mouse, Xarifa. This is the only photo I've found of Beatrix with short hair. She'd recently had rheumatic fever and had her long hair cut short. Beatrix had a menagerie of pets and took careful care of them, even taking them with her on summer holiday. The photo above right is Beatrix with the real Benjamin Bunny on a leash.
From 1881-1897, Beatrix kept a coded journal; it was a simple substitution code, probably to keep her mother from reading it.
I ended up going with young Beatrix for my portrait this week. This one is based on a photograph of her at age 26. I don't think she's very recognizable in this portrait or in either of my sketches. Maybe that's because I only really recognize artists as their "old" self. I think of Beatrix in the hat with the cane. I think painting each artist as both young and old might be an interesting challenge.