Monday, February 17, 2014

Presidents' Day

Presidents' Day is always a winter surprise. 
It's one of those holidays without fanfare.
This year the extra day is needed for shoveling snow.
Peconic Bay has a frozen apron of ice and snow.
Thank you gentlemen.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Treasure Island Sketchbooks

We opened our sketchbooks to the beauty of Treasure Island and Goff Cove in Laguna Beach this past December. It all seems a beautiful dream as I sit here in the Northeast watching yet another blizzard outside my window.  Its a joy to look through the photos now and think of my husband Hugh and I painting outside in the warm California sun.
Hugh Gallagher sketchbook
We both used watercolor kits from Winsor Newton. Hugh also used a little pocket set of colored pencils, one of those "grab and go" items you see at the check-out in art stores.  Hugh's sketchbook is made by Moleskine, mine is a Hand Book.
Gail Gallagher sketchbook
Hugh Gallagher sketchbook
Hugh Gallagher sketchbook
Gail Gallagher sketchbook
Hugh Gallagher sketchbook

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Downton Abbey Style in Southampton 1900 - 1920


The Southampton Historical Museum has a large collection of vintage women's gowns that were donated by the doyennes of High Society that spent summers in the Southampton Summer Colony. The popularity of Downton Abbey has created an opportune time to put these gowns on display along with other artifacts from the community of that gilded age before the Great Depression.
"When the Long Island Rail Road was extended to Southampton in 1870 bringing an influx of summer visitors seeking a quiet and wholesome rural refuge from the heat and turmoil of city life, that is exactly what they found. In the decades that followed, the very name Southampton came to connote a world of debutantes, yachts, magnates and mansions."  -Southampton Historical Museum
On October 9, 1915 Frances "Tanty" Breese married Lawrence McKeever Miller in the Music Room of "The Orchard," the Breese family home on Hill Street that is today the Whitefield condominiums. On that same day, her brother Robert and Beatrice Claflin were married at St. Andrew's Dune Church. The double wedding and the joint reception that followed at The Orchard had society buzzing in Southampton, New York and beyond. The light from huge candles cast a medieval glow over the elaborate Music Room as "Tanty", a former tomboy who would one day abandon conventional married life for a creative career, approached the altar on the arm of her father, James Lawrence Breese. - Southampton Historical Museum
Frances "Tanty" Breese, 1915
"And now I walked down the aisle on Papa's arm. I wore a long white satin gown and a rose point court train. The lace, a gift from my godfather, J.Kennedy Tod, was said to have belonged to the Empress Eugenie of France. My grandmother Breese's point d'esprit veil was draped over my head, and I carried Madonna lilies." - "More about "Tanty" Volume 2 of an autobiography by Frances Miller

The Orchard
photo from Houses of the Hamptons
by Gary Lawrance and Anne Surchin
In 1895, wealth financier James Breese bought the property on Hill Street and commissioned the master architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White, to design a Colonial Revival Home that was modeled after George Washington's Mount Vernon. The result, a seemingly simple Colonial home, but with its ocean views, sweeping gardens, and 35 rooms it was anything but simple. - From "Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930" by Gary Lawrance and Anne Surchin.
The Orchard photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston
from the Library of Congress here
The Music Room at The Orchard
photo from here
Students of the William Merritt Chase Summer School of Art
photo from here
"Seasonal residents arriving in Southampton for the summer in the early years of the 19th century often brought with them ten or more servants and trunks laden with ball gowns, "sportswear" (ladies' bloomers for bicycling, scarlet blazers for golfers), china, crystal and all the necessities for high-style entertaining." - Southampton Historical Museum

I can picture Lady Grantham visiting her American mother's summer home in Long Island. Possible Season Five? Are you listening Mr. Fellowes?
photo of Elizabeth McGovern and Laura Carmichael property of Downton Abbey
Historical photos courtesy of the Southampton Historical Museum unless otherwise noted.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Plein Air El Moro

The beach trailers were still in place when we painted here with Mike Obermeyer in 2004. Not long afterwards, the trailers were torn down and the pristine beach of El Moro Cove became the public's treasure, part of Crystal Cove State Park. We were recently able to go back.
El Morro by Michael Obermeyer
Oil on Canvas 12" x 16" 2004
El Morro Beach Camp in Laguna Beach 1930s
image from here
The beach campground dated back to the 1920s on land owned by the Irvine Company. In 1979 the Irvine Company sold a large parcel of land which included the beach camp to the State of California. A summary of what happened next is recounted in Surfer Magazine here.
1948 Photo Courtesy Laguna Historical Society here
El Moro Beach and Canyon “Tyron’s Camp” (a cafĂ©, auto camp, and tent camp- ground) opened during the 1920s along the beach and inland at El Moro canyon. In the late 1950s the complex evolved into a seasonal trailer destination known as “El Morro Beach Trailer Park.” Later, about 300 permanent manufactured homes replaced seasonal beach trailers in this area. After resident tenants’ leases expired in 2005, the trailers were removed in order to develop a public campground and day-use facility. Info: here.
The Moro public campground has 60 tent and RV sites with parking for 200 day users, beach front comfort facilities and a pedestrian tunnel under the Pacific Coast Highway. Reservations for the camping spots can be made online via Reserve America here.
Our second day of painting this past December was on the beach at El Moro Cove. So beautiful, but my first feeling was one of slight panic. Pale sand, sparkling water, bright sunlight bouncing off of everything. Everything was light! I didn't know where to begin. Michael Obermeyer had painted this scene dozens of times. He calmly brought me back to the basics. "Block in the dark shapes with a big brush." As I squinted into the glaring sun, the darker contrast of the boulders on the sand in front of me became my starting point. 
We began painting. Walkers and joggers stopped by to say hello and comment on what we were doing. One man called us "the trinity" thinking it was amusing to see three painters at one time.
Mostly we just squinted into the sun and did our best to interpret the beauty of a warm December day at the beach in southern California.
My view.
After painting, we circled back to Mike's studio.
Mike Obermeyer's beautiful work.
Hugh and Mike
Our three interpretations:
by Hugh Gallagher 9" x 12"
by Gail Gallagher 8" x 10"
El Moro Cove by Michael Obermeyer 8" x 10"

I've used both spellings here for El Morro/Moro.
Descriptions of the trailer park always seem to be spelled "Morro".
Crystal Cove State Park lists the area as "Moro".
Well then.
Another great painting adventure.
In the El Moro parking lot.
Plenty of space.
A good place to try out the new bike with Dad.
Love the reindeer antlers on her handle bars.