Posted 5 months ago
Trying to put off doing my morning workout, so posting a few paintings by a late local artist. May Jones Perkins was born 1 January 1920 in Hanover, New Hampshire. She was an artist in clay, steel, stone, wood, yarns, watercolor, oil, linocuts and acrylics. She worked as a teacher, illustrator, painter, and costume designer. For many years she taught in schools in Normal, Illinois. She held Diplome of L'Ecole A.B.C of Paris, France, a BFA from Illinois Weslyan University, M.A. from Illinois State University, and a State of Illinois Special Certificate - Art. She also studied at the New York School of Applied Design for Women, MacDowell School of Fashion, and The Art Student's League. She was the author of A survey of public school art education in six Swiss cities, 1965, Illinois State University. She was one of the most, if not the most, versatile artist I have ever known.
Her artist's statement said in part "My style varies according to the demands of the media.. watercolors run into landscapes and flowers; oils and acrylics from realistic (including portraits) to non-objective or experimental. Art, for me, is a way of communicating and sharing my love of nature with others, whether it be teaching or creating. Oriental simplicity, light, and color are very important elements of my work.
These paintings from my collection are a good example of her portrait work. Ms. Perkins was still living at the time I added these paintings to my collection, though retired. Some I obtained when she and her husband downsized when moving into assisted care. Others I obtained when she was moved from assisted care to live with family in another state and her possessions went to a consignor. May was a small spritely woman, still passionate about art into her 90s. She reminded me of a bird. She kept several large binders showing where her art was hanging in museums, collections of her patrons, etc. She passed on 21 October 2013.
"Self Portrait", May Jones Perkins, 19.5" x 16", oil on canvas, dated December 1954
"Woman in White", May Jones Perkins, 23" x 19.5", oil on canvas. I call this one "Woman in White". Mrs. Perkins did not remember if she had titled this painting when I asked about it, nor did she remember who the model was. I have this in my living room where it replaced another portrait in my collection by Kay Darville. The Darville painting is dark and seemed to suck all of the light out of the room. This painting is in the original white painted wood frame and once hung, the whole room seemed immediately brighter. This is one of my very favorite paintings.
"Cynthia sitting", May Jones Perkins, 23" x 19.5", oil on board, 1956-7. This is a painting of May Jones Perkin's daughter, Cynthia. She was a graduate of Indiana University and was the wife of an evangelist. She died of malaria in Lagos, Nigeria in 2002. She would not quite have been a teenager when this painting was done. I am especially fond of this one, too. I actually worry about what will happen to this and "Woman in White" when I am gone. Will they be appreciated as much by their next owner? Will they be separated? Sigh.
"Picture Window", May Jones Perkins, 20" x 27", oil on canvas, 1957. This is another piece that came from Mrs. Perkins downsizing efforts before moving to an assisted care retirement home. This painting is of her mother, Yvonne Jequier Jones. When I first visited her at her retirement apartment, this painting was hung in her living room above her sofa and she told me the story behind it. Being a real color junkie I like this one very much. When I first saw it, I had no idea that it would one day hang on my wall. This was painted while Yvonne was living with Richard and May Jones Perkins in her later years. This was displayed at the consignor's next to another painting by Perkins that received a lot of attention while this one was somewhat denigrated by the shop owner ("Oh, that thing!"). The other painting, obviously another favorite of Perkins as it was also a victim of her downsizing, was pleasant, colorful and impressionistic of a chair table and lamp, but I found it very conventional and lifeless compared to this painting. It did sell quickly and several offers were made for it, so it could just be my taste. I would call this painting a good example of a Mid-Century Modern style painting. While it might seem rather garish to today's tastes, it embodies the spirit of art created at that time. This is not my favorite era of painting, but the colors remind me of the colors prominent in art glass of that period. I also have a very fine pencil drawing that Yvonne did of her mother, Berthe de Pierre Jequier and two fine pencil or charcoal portraits done by Berthe of her parents. It was a shame that no one in May's family saved these from the consignor. There were several generations of female artists in this family.