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Our Favourite female artists (deceased) – part 3

This weeks’ offering is from the early twentieth century. It’s quite an eclectic selection. From the wonderful geometric designs of Clarice Cliff and Sonia Delaunay to the decidedly whimsical Cicely Mary Barker to the whimsical (in a hard-edged traumatized way, maybe fantastical is a better word), Frida Kahlo.

Clarice Cliff   Clarice is working class hero. She was a ceramic artist, whose designs typify the 1930s for me. She was from Stoke-on-Trent in England, an area with a proud history in pottery. She started working in the pottery industry at age 13. She learnt how to paint pottery freehand in the day whilst time studying art and sculpture at a local Art School in the evenings. Clarice Cliff’s fame and success in the 1930s was unprecedented, the newspapers loved her. Her work is still very popular today and you can still bid for pieces on ebay.

Cicely Mary Barker AKA the flower fairy artist. As a little girl I was mesmerised by these paintings, especially the Fushia Fairy. I would study the details again and again. She was born in Croydon, south of London and suffered from epilepsy as a child. Like Clarice, she started studying art at age 13 at an evening class at Croydon School of Art. Her earliest professional work included greeting cards and juvenile magazine illustrations. At age 17 money from this sort of work became vital in supporting her family after her father’s death. The 1920s saw a sort of “Fairy Fever” in England with The Coming of the Fairies by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, and the fairy-themed work of Australian Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. In 1923 Cicely’s Flower Fairies was published. It depicted botanically accurate drawings with the enchanting fairy images based on real children from Cicely’s sister’s nursery school.

Lyubov Popova was a Russian avant-garde artist (Cubist, Suprematist and Constructivist), painter and designer. She worked in a broad range of mediums and disciplines, including painting, relief, works on paper, and designs for the theater, textiles, and typography. I am no fan of cubism, its too intellectual for my tastes but I absolutely love her textile designs – especially the hammer and sickle print.  I think that many avant-garde paintings and designs still look fresh and exciting today. Sadly she died in her 30s, of scarlet fever in 1924 in Moscow.

Sonia Delauney  Sonia Delaunay was a from a wealthy Jewish Ukrainian family and she became as multi-disciplinary abstract artist and key figure in the Parisian avant-garde in the 1920s. Alongside her husband, Robert Delaunay, she pioneered the movement Simultanism. She was a talented painter, interior, textile, stage-set and fashion designer. She was also the first living female artist to have a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in 1964, and in 1975 was named an officer of the French Legion of Honor.


Tamara de Lempicka, was a Polish painter active in the 1920s and 1930s, who spent her working life in France and the United States. She is best-known for her polished Art-Deco portraits of aristocrats and the wealthy, and for her highly-stylized paintings of nudes. There was a resurgence of interest in her in the 1980s thanks to Madonna who used some of her images in her videos such as Vogue .

Frida Kahlo is another artist who was rediscovered and reinvented as a feminist icon in the 1980s, long after her suicide in the 1950s. She was a Mexican painter, who suffered prolonged ill-health, including polio as a child and injuries from a tram accident. Inspired by Mexican popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society. Her paintings often had strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy.

Emily Carr of British Columbia. She was a Canadian artist and writer inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. One of the first painters in Canada to adopt a Modernist and Post-Impressionist painting style, Carr did not receive widespread recognition for her work until late in her life.

Finally, I will end with a photographer whose work captured the suffering and deprivation of 1930s America during the Great Depression, Dorothea Lange. Her photographs of migrant workers were often presented with captions featuring the words of the workers themselves. I find her portraits of women and children of the Depression particularly affecting. Her first exhibition, held in 1934, established her reputation as a skilled documentary photographer. In 1940, she received the Guggenheim Fellowship.

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Our favourite female artists (part 3)

I am only including living artists in this list (my husband, pointed out that I had missed Gwen John). These are based on suggestions made to me and a few more that I have discovered on Pinterest. I have enjoyed looking up female artists and found it quite inspirational. Many of these artist work on large-scale pieces and I often lack the confidence (never mind the space) to tackle large works. Certainly, it seems that quite ordinary work can become exciting when it is over a metre in size! I was also interested in the artists who used their work as social commentary, especially the Americans. What makes female artists different from male artists? Is it a lightness of touch? Subject matter. Gone are the day when female artists contented themselves with paintings of flowers and families.

The Australians 

Betty Mbitjana

Betty comes from a family group and community which has produced some of the most famous and influential Aboriginal artists. She is the daughter of famous artist Minnie Pwerle.


Jenny Sages She was a freelance writer and illustrator for Vogue Australia until the 1980s before starting full-time painting in 1985 at the age of 52.


Nalda Searles, works in fibre textiles and her has a strong connection to the Australian landscape.


Wendy Sharpe, is amazing. Her atmospheric paintings have such energy. They love her in Australia too as she one of Australia’s most awarded artists. She has been a finalist in The Sulman Prize twelve times, and The Archibald Prize six times. She has held over 59 solo exhibitions around Australia and internationally.



Bev Lee, usually works in pastel. Her portraits have a wonderful lightness about them.


Amy Sherald is based in Baltimore (where “The Wire” was set). Her work started out autobiographical in nature, but has taken on a social context ever since she moved to Baltimore.

Anna Valdez, originally trained as an archaeologist, and her still life paintings, especially the very large ones, are bursting with colour.


Toyin Odutola 

Her work explores her personal journey of having been born in Nigeria then moving and assimilating into American culture in conservative Alabama.

My final list will be of deceased female artists and it will include all the suggestions that have been made to me via this blog (as well as a few of my own).

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My favourite female artists: Part 2

My first blog focused on American contemporary female painters.  Some of these artists I admire, or just like but I don’t think they necessarily influence my work in the way that the American painters in my first list do. Again most of them are not especially famous but I thought I’d share their names and examples of their work. Apologies for the randomness of this list, its sort of in the order in which I thought of them.

Elizabeth Geiger, another American artist. I absolutely love her treatment of light in her work, with interior and exterior scenes.


Este Macleod, does a lot of designs involving plants and birds but its her still life work that I particularly enjoy for her bold use of colour. They have such presence.

Jo March, does delightful colourful landscapes.



Shani Rhys James  Her work is impressive, often very large-scale and has a powerful presence.

Shani Rhys-James (43).jpg


Zoey Frank 

is one of those artists who makes it look easy. You know it’s not easy it’s just that she’s very, very darn good.



Viv Owen is an excellent figurative/portrait artist whose work I have come across on


Finally, one more American, Hope Glangloff whose distinctively colourful portraits remind me of both the work of Lautrec and Schiele.

I’ll probably think of another 10 artists as soon as I post this. If you have any other suggestions for living female artists I love to hear about them.





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My favourite female artists: Part 1

The famous ones

I started this list as a challenge to myself really.  I began thinking about women artists and was shocked that I got as far as Tracey Enim and then my mind just went blank. I looked up a few more names on google and added a few more to the list: Jenny Saville, Yayoi Kusama, Brigette Riley and Maggi Hambling. They were important and interesting but I couldn’t honestly say they particularly influenced my work although I love the colours that Riley and Kusama use in their pieces.

I do really like the work of Rachel Whiteread who makes massive casts of the interiors of buildings and other unexpected objects like hot water bottles. She would have been part of Swansea’s UK City of Culture events in 2021.

Then I looked at my pinterest account and realised that it was jammed packed with contemporary female painters. Some I just like and others that inspire me. They are not especially famous but I thought I’d share their names and examples of their work.

The Americans 

Jennifer Pochinski 

Pochinski has a wonderful fluid style. Such energy and confidence to leave so much undefined.e0de9842bcd45ce83115f1405aaff9f2.jpg

Carole Marine 

I love her use of colour and light colour. Since October 5th, 2006, she has been creating one small painting almost every day.

Peggi Kroll Roberts

Again wonderful colours and impressionistic looseness of style that I find very appealing.

Jessica Brilli

A much tighter “stylised” form of painting but that same use of strong colours and emphasis on sunshine.


Leah Giberson

Again strong colurs, sunshine and an interest in mid-century buildings.

She also does a lot of paintings of Airstream trailers but I don’t care so much for those paintings. Although they are technically excellent, I find them less interesting as subject matter.


So, I think you can see that I am somewhat obsessed with sunshine and colour! I will also write a blog on living British female artists that I like.