Friday, August 28, 2015


One of the most successful female American artists of the Depression era was Doris Lee -- the featured artist for August in my Woman Artist Series.  Painter, illustrator, and designer -- Doris Lee became famous for her Depression-era murals and depictions of everyday life.


Here are 10 things to know about Doris Lee, along with photos of her paintings and images of the artist . . . 

1.  Born Doris Elizabeth Emrick in Aledo, Illinois, in 1905, Lee graduated in 1927 from Rockford College, where she majored in art and philosophy.  Lee described her upbringing as that of an "outdoorsy gentlewoman" and attended Ferry Hall School, an upscale prep school for girls, nearby in Lake Forest, Illinois, from 1920-22. 

Johnnie Appleseed

 The fourth of six daughters, Lee grew up in an extended family that included her grandmothers and great-grandmothers, her cousins, and her aunts and uncles.  Lee remembered how her extended family nurtured her interest in art.  "They were always making things -- painting pictures, carving frames, quilting, building furniture, and nursing a great variety of plants and flowers."  

The Sewing Circle

Though Lee was exposed to and always interested in art, she was encouraged by her father to obtain a general education.  But, after receiving her degree in philosophy from Rockford College, she returned to her true passion of art.

2.  After her graduation from Rockford, at the age of 22, Doris Emrick married Russell Lee -- a chemical engineer who later became a noted photographer with the Farm Security Administration.  During their honeymoon year abroad, Lee studied painting in Paris and Munich.  

Dance Rehearsal

Following the couple's return to the US, she continued her studies.  She enrolled in the Kansas City Art Institute in 1929, to study painting under the American Impressionist, Ernest Lawson.  

While in San Francisco the following year, Lee trained under Arnold Blanch at the California School of Fine Arts.  (Blanch would later become her second husband.)

In the 1930's, Lee's career developed and she began to exhibit at prestigious institutions.  The couple led a happy life that was filled with their passion for art and painting.  She maintained a New York studio on East 14th Street.  In 1931, at the suggestion of their mutual friend Arnold Blanch, the Lees relocated to Woodstock, New York, to live in the Maverick Art Colony.

3.  Lee's career took off in 1935, when her painting, Thanksgiving, won the Logan Prize, in the annual show at the Art Institute of Chicago.   This was her earliest major career achievement.

Her bustling scene of women preparing a Thanksgiving feast became the object of national headlines when it was first exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute, and won the prestigious prize.  The award also brought controversial attention.  Josephine Logan, the donor of the prize, condemned the work's broad, exaggerated style.  

Thanksgiving, 1935

While Logan, and other critics, found the painting's subject provincial and cartoon-like, it was hugely popular with the public.  The themes of Thanksgiving, rural customs, and family life, which Lee painted in a deliberately folksy manner, had great appeal to a country still in the midst of the Depression.  Thanksgiving has been recognized as one of the most popular nostalgic views of this American ritual since that time. 

4.  During the 1930's, Lee was commissioned to create several murals by the U. S. Treasury Department.  In 1937, Lee painted two murals in the General Post Office in Washington, DC, and another in the Post Office in Summerville, Georgia.

This was an impressive accomplishment for a young woman, struggling for acceptance in the male-dominated art world of that time.

Georgia Countryside, 1939, in Summerville, GA

These murals were part of the Great Depression Relief Program.  Lee painted four murals for that project -- two for each federal post office selected.  Georgia Countryside is in the post office of Summerville, Georgia.  This was a very realistic painting that captured both black and white people of Georgia, out in a field, tending to their crops.

General Store & Post Office, 1938

Lee's paintings for the Washington, DC post office -- General Store & Post Office and Country Post   -- were also very realistic and captured the feel of rural mail delivery in America.

Country Post, 1938

5.  While Russell Lee was on his cross-country travels, the couple's marriage dissolved and Doris fell in love with artist and teacher Arnold Blanch, the couple's long-time friend.  In 1938, the Lees divorced, and Blanch got divorced from his wife, in order to be with Lee.  In 1939, the two married.

Arnold Blanch and Doris Lee

After her marriage to Blanch, the couple spent summers in Woodstock, and in the winters, took trips through Florida, ending in Key West.  For many years, they lived and worked in Woodstock, NY, and for awhile, Lee maintained a studio in New York City, as well.  Together, Lee and Branch devoted many years to teaching at colleges and universities around the nation.

Cherries in the Sun (Siesta), 1941

6.  Although Lee had her roots in Illinois and spent her last years in Florida, she had a special connection with the Hudson River Valley -- most importantly, the Maverick Art Colony in Woodstock, NY.  The scenery and environment of the colony nurtured her creativity.  Without the help of the many other artists and the artistic environment that existed in Woodstock, Lee probably would not have achieved the same level of success that she did in the 1930's and 40's.

The Widow

The Maverick Art Colony attracted painters, sculptors, writers, and musicians.  Hervey White, one of its founders, established the Maverick Press in 1910, in order to help himself and other writers get their works published.  A lithograph press for artists was also installed soon after.  Over the years, the Maverick Colony produced many well-known and accomplished artists, including Doris Lee.

Lee made her permanent home in Woodstock, in 1931, and established herself as a leader and a vital part of that important artist's colony, and a frequent host to other artists.  In the early 1930's, Lee entered the Woodstock Artists Association shows and was able to showcase her work.  Her paintings were met with great success. 

The Blacksmith Shop

7.  During the 1930's and 40's, Lee reached her peak of popularity with works published in magazines, the murals in the federal post offices, and paintings displayed in the nation's most renowned museums.  In that time, Lee produced many works, of all different styles.  Winter in the Catskills, inspired by her life in the Hudson River Valley, is in the collection of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.  This and Country Wedding are both lithographs, which she created for the Associated American Artists.

Winter in the Catskills, 1936, used in this Maxwell House ad

Lee regularly exhibited in New York at museums and galleries, and was artist-in-residence at many 
art schools.  She taught at Michigan State University and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and she also worked as a magazine and book illustrator. 

Country Wedding

Her paintings of rural America were included in prestigious exhibitions and acquired for museum collections. Lee's paintings were exhibited in the first Whitney Biennial Exhibition in 1932.   In 1937, the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired her painting Catastrophe for its permanent collection -- an additional boost to the artist's fame and prestige.  The 1930's ended with a flourish when Lee was invited to exhibit in the 1939 New York World's Fair and the San Francisco Exposition.

Spring in the Country, used in this Maxwell House ad

The 30's marked the beginning of a long and productive career for Lee.  Her work included paintings, murals, lithographic prints, illustrations.  Throughout her career, Lee's popular and appealing work appeared on greeting cards, calendars, menus, pottery, and fabric design.  Lee's work from this period concerned life in rural America.  She portrayed the simple joys of American life in touching, nostalgic, and sometimes fanciful ways.  

8.  Throughout her career, Doris Lee sought to portray everyday, contemporary American life in a style that was easily understandable to her viewers.  Lee is most well-known for her ability to capture the small, ordinary elements of life in her paintings, with amazing detail and sincerity.  Lee has been acknowledged as "a recorder of rural life, who had an obsession with detail".

Her 1930's work was executed in a style that accepted traditional principles of form, volume, depth, and color.  Lee's work is both intimate and charming, because of her sophisticated, yet innocent, touch.  Lee's style developed through a unique fusing of Regionalism (1930s), folk art (1940s), and abstraction (1950s).

Schoolyard Maypole Dance, 1946

Lee was painting at a very difficult time in American history, when the country was suffering from the Great Depression, and then was fighting in World War II.  By painting the simple things in life that meant a lot to people -- like family and special occasions -- Lee was able to refocus people's minds.  She was able to use the Great Depression as a source of inspiration.

As Lee became interested in folk art in the 1940's, as well as Chinese art and poetry, she began to reduce forms to the two dimensions and ignore accepted principles of depth, perspective, and realism.  American folk art became an important source of inspiration in Lee's paintings. Her simple, flat paintings portrayed individual figures, gardens, seasonal landscapes, and women and children on the beach.

As an early collector of folk and Pre-Columbian art, Lee found the simplified forms and flattened decoration of these arts helpful, in her pursuit of combining abstraction and realism.  Her 1950's work offers an even more reduced composition of bold forms, as seen in her Vine Series.  The work became even more stylized -- more concerned with pure form and color.

9.  Doris Lee was a well-traveled woman, who had gained immense popularity around the world.  During the late 1940s and early 50s, Lee undertook several commissions for Life magazine, including travel articles and illustrations that took her to such far-off locales as North Africa, Cuba, and Mexico.

Trips to Hollywood in the winter months of 1944 and 1945, for Life, resulted in a series of paintings for two movies:  Oklahoma, and The Harvey Girls.  

The Surrey with the Fringe on Top

Grumman's Chinese Theater, 1945.
She was also commissioned by Life to portray the city of Hollywood in art. The Dayton Art Institute in Ohio is now home to Grauman's Chinese Theater, 1945. 

This painting was completed at the height of Lee's popularity, and was one of her last works painted in a realistic manner -- before moving into more abstract paintings in the late 1940s.

10.  In 1968, Lee was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.  But, over the next 15 years, she continued to produce art, although her health steadily declined.

She died on June 16, 1983, in Clearwater, Florida, at the age of 78.  

One year after her death, the Woodstock Art Association mounted a retrospective exhibition of Lee's work.  Lee stands out as one of the most successful female painters from the Woodstock art colony.  

Doris Lee has retained a unique position in American art, as her work is accessible and evokes highly personal responses from her viewers.  Painting during the Great Depression of the 1930s and WWII, in the 1940s, Lee aimed to lift her viewers' hearts and minds to a better world, by reminding them of life's simple pleasures.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Upcoming 2-Day Watercolor Workshop in Ohio -- October 8 & 9, 2015

Another two-day workshop is planned for October in Ohio -- and once again, we will be at the beautiful Wolf Creek Winery, in Norton, Ohio.

I hope to see some familiar faces, as well as a few new ones! 

Please comment below, if you are interested in attending this fun workshop -- or if you have any questions about it.  Or, you can send me an e-mail ( or

Monday, August 3, 2015

Upcoming 10TH ANNUAL Four-Day Workshop in Durango - SEPTEMBER 18 - 21, 2015

I'm excited to announce my upcoming Four-Day Watercolor Workshop -- September 18-21.  This will be my 10th Annual Workshop in Durango, at my home/studio.

If you are interested in attending, or have some questions -- please contact me here on the blog, or e-mail me at

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Three of my newest paintings are matted, framed, and ready to hang in Columbine Gallery, in Loveland, Colorado.  

Bouquet with Roses & Grapes, 20s24 watercolor by Pat Howard

Wading Egret in the Arno River, 20 x 28 watercolor by Pat Howard

Rainy Day at the Piazza San Michelle (Lucca, Italia), 20 x 26, watercolor by Pat Howard

I delivered them to the gallery last week, in time for their upcoming show, that I am honored to be a part of, on August 7-9 . . . 

Columbine Gallery will be partnering with the Artist Ambassadors Against Poaching for "A Weekend for Elephants", in conjunction with their Annual Columbine Gallery/National Sculptors Guild Show.

Artist Ambassadors Against Poaching are nine highly acclaimed international artists working to bring awareness to the ongoing poaching crisis in Africa. These nine artists have pledged themselves to helping AWT’s efforts in saving the African Elephant through their art and donations, speaking engagements, museum exhibitions and gallery sales. They work to spread the word about the harm of poaching and to raise funds for African Wildlife Trust. Proceeds from the sale of their artwork will go to benefit the Ivory Orphans’ Sanctuary, Tanzania’s first official refuge for elephant calves orphaned due to poaching.

I'm not part of this group, but I admire what they're doing and look forward to being part of this weekend.  I've also chosen one of my pieces at the gallery that, if sold, 10% of the proceeds (5% from the artist and 5% from the Gallery) will be donated to The Ivory Orphans Sanctuary. 

African Poppy, 12x12, watercolor on board by Pat Howard

A Weekend for Elephants

A Fine Art Show and Sale 
The Tanzanian Ivory Orphans’ Sanctuary

Sponsored by 
the African Wildlife Trust
Columbine Gallery

in conjunction with

August 7th – 9th 2015

2683 North Taft Avenue

Loveland, Colorado
Shop the Show


I'll be heading back to Loveland next week for the artist reception on Saturday, August 8, from 5-8 pm, and I plan on painting "African Wildflowers" in the Sculpture Garden, on Saturday and Sunday, too.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

WOMEN ARTISTS: Tamara de Lempicka

High Summer (on left); Portrait of Romana de la Salle (on right)

Of all the Art Deco artists of the 20th century, certainly one of the most memorable and glamorous was Tamara De Lempicka -- the featured artist for July, in my Woman Artist Series.


Here are 10 things to know about Tamara De Lempicka, along with photos of her paintings and images of her:

1.  In 1929, Lempicka painted her iconic work, Auto-Portrait (Tamara in the Green Bugatti), for the cover of the German fashion magazine Die Dame.   The painting became famous overnight -- and Tamara with it.  The image has become symbolic of the freedom and decadence associated with the Roaring Twenties in Paris, and is generally considered to epitomize the jazz-age woman. 

Tamara in the Green Bugatti

This self-portrait displays de Lempicka, as a vamp in a green Bugatti, asserting herself and pushing forward through the frame.  The New York Times called her the "steely-eyed goddess of the Machine Age".

2.  She was born Tamara Maria Gorska of in turn-of-the-century Warsaw, Poland, in 1898, into a wealthy and prominent family.  When her parents divorced in 1912, her wealthy grandmother spoiled her with clothes and travel.

By age 14, she was attending school in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Tamara vacationed in St. Petersburg with her Aunt Stephanie and her millionaire banker uncle.  

Young Lady with Gloves

3.  In 1914, soon after Russia and Germany declared war, she fell in love with the handsome lawyer and well-known ladies' man, Tadeusz Lempicki.  Two years later they were married in fashionable St. Petersburg.  Her new husband had no money of his own, so her banker uncle provided the dowry.  

In 1917, during the Russian Revolution, Tadeusz was arrested in the dead of the night by the Bolsheviks. Tamara searched the prisons for him, and after several weeks, using her good looks to charm and gain favors from the necessary officials, she secured his release.

The couple traveled to Copenhagen, then to London, and finally to Paris -- and that is where the story of Tamara De Lempicka's fantastic life really begins.

Saint-Moritz, 1929

4.  In 1920, their daughter, Kizette, was born.  Obsessed with her work and her social life, Lempicka neglected her husband (who refused to work), and rarely saw her daughter.  When Kizette was not away at boarding school, in France or England, the girl was often with her grandmother, Malvina.  When Lempicka told her mother and daughter that she wouldn't be returning from America for Christmas, in 1929, Malvina was so angry that she burned Lempicka's enormous collection of designer hats.

Kizette may have been neglected, but she was also immortalized.  Lempicka painted her only child repeatedly, leaving a striking portrait series:  Kizette in Pink, 1926; Kizette on the Balcony, 1927; Kizette Sleeping, 1934; Portrait of Baroness Kizette, 1954.  In other paintings, the women depicted tended to resemble Kizette.

In 1927, her painting Kizette on the Balcony won first prize at the Exposition Internationale des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux.

Kizette on the Balcony

Kizette in Pink

It's said that Lempicka pretended for years that her daughter was her sister, so she could fib about her own age.

5.  Tamara arrived in Paris in 1918, in difficult circumstances.  She was only twenty, and her husband had no position.  In Paris, the Lempickas lived for awhile from the sale of family jewels.  Tadeusz was unwilling or unable to find suitable work, which added to the domestic strain.  But, she had lost none of her remarkable energy.  She decided to continue the art studies she had interrupted in St. Petersburg.  Tamara studied art, and worked day and night.

Tamara first studied at the Academie Ranson with French Post-Impressionist painter, Maurice Denis -- who stressed the importance of graphic art and design within painting.  Andre Lhote, another mentor for Lempicka, had the most significant influence upon her Art Deco style.  Lempicka discovered everything she needed for her art in Paris -- Italian masterpieces in the Louvre, Modernism, Art Deco, and ritzy fashion.  

These were the years, between the 1920's and 1930's, of Lempicka's greatest success.  This is when she produced her most critically praised and notorious works.  The Museum of Nantes acquired her Kizette in Pink, and a number of rich collectors commissioned portraits.  She exhibited in the major salons from 1923, and American museums started buying her work in the early 1930's.
For her first major show, in Milan, Italy in 1925, Lempicka painted 28 new works in six months.  This solo exhibition established her reputation as a portraitist of smart society.

She became a well-known, much sought-after portrait painter with a distinctive Art Deco style.  She painted the portraits of the rich, the elite, and the famous, in a style that made her both famous and commercially successful.

Le Reve, 1927

Sharing Secrets

6.  Lempicka's distinctive and bold artistic style developed quickly, influenced by what Andre Lhote referred to as "soft cubism".  Her highly stylized portraits and erotic nudes epitomized the cool yet sensual side of the Art Deco movement.  In Paris, Art Deco was the dominant art form of the 1920-1920 period.  Lempicka's technique was novel, clean, precise, and elegant.

The 1920's was a period of both social and economic transition in Paris and beyond, and this revealed itself in the work of de Lempicka and her contemporaries.  Whether she was an Art Deco artist, a Neoclassicist, or post-Cubist, de Lempicka ultimately struck a chord with a cosmopolitan public that found its own image reflected within her work.  

The Musician, 1929

Not only did she paint portraits of modern women, she lived like one herself.  De Lempicka is a woman whose work is often inseparable with her life.  Success gave her wings, encouraging her to work and exhibit tirelessly.  She painted portraits of writers, entertainers, artists, scientists, industrialists, and many of Eastern Europe's exiled nobility.  

By now, she had found a certain signature style.  Lempicka frequently used a diagonal composition that seemed to squeeze the subject into the picture plane.  Other signature features include firm flesh, stylish hair and clothing, and vivid color accents.  

By the late twenties, art and fashion journals had carried Lempicka's fame across the Atlantic.  She was asked to come to New York to do several portraits.  Her work brought her critical acclaim, social celebrity, and considerable wealth.  During the 1930's, a de Lempicka portrait was considered the height of style in New York and Hollywood.  

The Blue Scarf

7.  In Paris during the Roaring Twenties, Tamara de Lempicka became part of the bohemian lifestyle.  Her affairs with both men and women were conducted in ways that were considered scandalous at the time.  

Tamara with Portrait of Marjorie Ferry

She revelled in her own success, enjoying high society, decadent living, and passionate love affairs.  Her art and her name have become synonymous with the hedonistic lifestyle of the Roaring Twenties and the Art Deco movement.

Her husband eventually tired of their arrangement and abandoned her in 1927.  They were divorced in 1931.

Portrait of Ira P.

8.  In 1928, one of her earliest and wealthiest patrons, the Baron Raoul Kuffner, visited her studio and commissioned her to paint his mistress.  Lempicka finished the portrait, then took the mistress' place in the Baron's life.  Her social position was cemented when she married the Baron in 1934, in Zurich.  She repaid him by convincing him to sell many of his estates in Eastern Europe and move his money to Switzerland, since she saw the coming of World War II from a long way off.

In 1939, before WW II broke out, Lempicka and Kuffner emigrated to America and settled in Beverly Hills, CA, where they leased director King Vidor's former home.  Tamara cultivated a Garboesque manner.  The Baroness would visit the Hollywood stars on their studio sets, such as Tyrone Power and Walter Pidgeon, and they would come to her studio to see her at work.  She did war relief work, and she managed to get Kizette out of Nazi-occupied Paris, via Lisbon, in 1941.

They later settled in a palatial duplex on New York's 5th Avenue, in 1943.  Lempicka took to Manhattan with glee, getting her name in all the gossip columns as the "Baroness with the Brush".

For awhile, Tamara continued to paint in her trademark style, although her range of subject matter changed to include still lives and abstracts.  But, she could not recapture her earlier success.  As her production slowed, she disappeared from the art world for nearly 20 years.

Portrait of Pierre de Montaut

9.  After Baron Kuffner's sudden death of a heart attack in 1962, she sold most of her possessions and made three around-the-world trips by ship.  Finally, Lempicka moved to Houston, Texas, to be with Kizette and her family.  There, she began her difficult and disagreeable later years.  

She continued to paint, but the advent of Abstract Expressionism and her advancing age halted her career in the 1950's and 1960's.  Somewhat forgotten, her work ignored, she stored her canvases, new and old, in an attic and a warehouse -- and, unfortunately never exhibited again.


Wide-Brimmed Hat

In 1978, she moved to the little town of Cuernavaca, Mexico, permanently, to live among an aging international set and some of the younger aristocrats.  She mourned the loss of her beauty and was cantankerous to the end.

Tamara de Lempicka died in her sleep 1980, in Cuernavaca, at the age of 81, with her daughter Kizette at her side.  Her wish to be cremated and have her ashes spread on the top of the volcano Popocatepetl was carried out.

Portrait of a Man

10.  Lempicka lived long enough for the wheel of fashion to turn a full circle.  As Art Deco and figurative painting came into favor again, she was rediscovered by the art world; and, before she died, a new generation had discovered her art and greeted it with enthusiasm.  A retrospective in 1973 drew positive reviews.

At the time of her death, her Art Deco paintings were being shown and purchased once again.

American singer and actress, Madonna, is an admirer and collector of Lempicka's work.  She has featured Tamara's paintings in her music videos, and has also used paintings by Lempicka on the sets of her world tours.  

Other notable Lempicka collectors include actor, Jack Nicholson, singer, Luther Vandross, and singer/actress, Barbra Streisand.

Lempicka's paintings at Sotheby's