By Connie Goldin, LMFT
What does a children’s book written long ago have to do with my friend Maureen’s rooster and chicken paintings? The answer is “folk art.” Both The Egg Tree and Maureen’s colorful paintings below feature roosters (and one hen named “Henrietta”) created in this exuberant American art tradition. Traditionally, “folk art” is described as simplistic artwork of indigenous people for decorative uses, that is different from “fine art.” Wouldn’t Pablo Picasso be amused if his fantastic roosters were described by this definition!
This past month, Mom to Madre received a large book donation that has brand new editions of very old books. I found an interesting book with a rooster on the front in a stack I hadn’t looked through, and it leaped out at me. The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous was first published in 1950. It’s a perfect Easter story about an Amish family preparing for their Easter Egg hunt and a little girl who finds the best eggs of all. The amazing Easter Eggs depicted in the book are an inspiration to egg decorators of all ages.
The Egg Tree won a Caldecott Medal for it’s beautiful illustrations, and features the folk art of the Amish Community in Pennsylvania. Children will find the life of the Amish family interesting. Much of the Amish lifestyle still exists as it was in 1950. I love the art from the Pennsylvania Dutch region. The beautiful colors and designs suit me to a tea.
My friend and Mom to Madre Board member, Maureen Blackhall, is a teacher, nature guide, tutor, quilter and trained artist. She creates art in different mediums but loves oil painting, which she discovered later in life. Having been an artist and painter since she was a child, her artwork has depth, and expresses Maureen’s appreciation of beauty. A teacher for many years, Maureen can simplify her paintings to help children see how to paint a subject. One year, we hosted a Family Literacy Party with “chickens” as our theme. One child summed it up: “Do we have to paint chickens?” Of course not! But Maureen led the way for those brave young artists who wanted to paint them.
I think Maureen’s fabulous fowl look like Pennsylvania Dutch folk art– colorful, whimsical and full of joy.
Mom to Madre’s “Amish-Style” Eggs