Elizabeth Forbes

Elizabeth A. Forbes

Armand Cabrera

Elizabeth Armstrong was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1859. Her father encouraged her artistic abilities. He died of a stroke after sending Elizabeth and her mother (as chaperone) to school in England. Elizabeth returned to Canada in 1878. Elizabeth and her mother soon moved to New York where Elizabeth enrolled in the Art Students League. Elizabeth stayed at the League for three years, studying with William Merritt Chase. Chase was a strong proponent of painting from life and encouraged his students to do the same. Chase directed Elizabeth to continue her studies in Munich, where Chase had been trained. In Munich, Elizabeth confronted many difficult barriers. Being a woman and Canadian-born, she suffered much discrimination. After only five months of study, Elizabeth chose to return to Canada to escape the prejudice.

In 1882, Elizabeth persuaded her mother to move again. This time they traveled to Pont Avon, Brittany. There she participated in an active and lively art colony dedicated to outdoor study. In 1885, Elizabeth and her mother continued on to Newlyn. By this time, an uncle in London helped to establish a market for Elizabeth’s watercolors and etchings. It was in Newlyn where she met her future husband, the painter, Stanhope Forbes. They married in 1889. At that time, Stanhope was considered the leader of the Newlyn style.

Elizabeth was extremely hard-working and prolific; her marriage did little to change her habits. She showed her work at the Grosvenor Gallery in London as well as at the Royal Academy and the Society of British Artists. She won a Gold Medal in 1893 at the Chicago Exhibition. She also raised a son, taught classes, wrote poetry and edited The Paperchase, a magazine produced for the Newlyn artists. Elizabeth’s sensitive paintings of children were recognized for their fine draughtsmanship and color.

Elizabeth owned a movable studio on wheels. She would take this studio to locations and paint her models at the scene. Tragically, Elizabeth died in 1912 at the age of 53.

Stanhope Forbes and the Newlyn SchoolCarolyn Fox
David and Charles Publishers

The Good Simple Life: Artists Colonies in America and Europe
Michael Jacobs
Phaidon Press


It becomes a duel a l’outrance between artist and model, till at last, with the conviction that inextinguishable hatred has been kindled in those childish breasts the painter…returns on his road. But the children keep no grudges; the same rows of smiling eyes watch for my coming the next day and the duel begins anew…~Elizabeth Forbes talking about using children as models.

Theodore Robinson

Theodore Robinson

Armand Cabrera

Theodore Robinson was born in Wisconsin in 1852. At his mother’s encouragement, he enrolled in the Chicago Academy of Fine Art. His schooling was cut short by chronic asthma, which was aggravated by Chicago’s cold weather. Robinson returned home until he could save enough money for his education. In 1874, he enrolled in the National Academy of Design in New York City.

In 1875, Robinson, a teacher and other students at the academy formed “The Art Students League of New York”. Robinson split his studies between the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design. In 1876, Robinson traveled to Paris to study with Carolus Duran. For reasons that are not clear, Robinson found Duran’s teaching unsatisfactory.

Robinson began to study with Jean Leon Gerome, a popular teacher of American students. Gerome was the foremost proponent of the Academic style. Gerome’s classes focused on accurately portraying the figure. An excellent student, Robinson was honored by having a portrait accepted into the annual Paris Salon. Robinson took some time off from his studies to join his friends in Grez, a small village outside the forest of Fontainebleau. In Grez, the students painted from life. It was here that Robinson became fascinated with the Impressionist idea of recording modern experience painted from life.

Robinson returned to New York in 1879. A few years later, he took a job teaching and creating mural projects for a decorating company. In 1884, Robinson traveled to Giverny. He met Monet and forged a friendship that lasted the rest of his life. For the rest of his life, Robinson split his time between Europe and America.

In France, Robinson began melding his formal training with the new ideas of Impressionism. He developed his own, personal style of Impressionism. In 1890, he was awarded the Web Prize at the Society of American Artists Show for his painting, “Winter Landscape”. It was the first Impressionist painting to ever receive the award.
Robinson refined his technique over the next few years, garnering acclaim and awards in America. Tragically, at only 43 years of age, Robinson died after succumbing to his plaguing asthma.

Theodore Robinson
Michael Owen, D. Scott Atkinson, Brian Paul Clamp
Owen Gallery Exhibition Catalogue

Cos Cob Art ColonySusan Larkin
Yale University Press

In Monet’s Light: Theodore Robinson in Giverny
Sona Johnston
Baltimore Museum of Art

Although the possibilities are very great for the moderns (impressionists) they must draw without ceasing…and with the brilliancy and light of real outdoors-combine with austerity, the sobriety that has always characterized good painting.
-Theodore Robinson

Marion Kavanaugh Wachtel

Marion Kavanagh Wachtel

Armand Cabrera

Marion Kavanagh was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1876. Her mother was an artist who encouraged Marion to pursue an artistic career. Marion studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and then with William Merritt Chase in New York. Chase was a proponent of outdoor painting and instilled in his students the importance of working from life. Marion returned to the Art Institute in Chicago to teach for several years before heading out west to study for a short time with William Keith in San Francisco.

When Marion decided to travel to Southern California in 1903, Keith advised Marion to look up Elmer Wachtel, a landscape painter whom Keith admired. When Marion arrived in Los Angeles she took Keith’s advice. Wachtel and Marion were married in Chicago in 1904. Once she was married, Marion began signing her paintings “Marion Kavanagh Wachtel”. She held solo shows of her work and also exhibited with her husband. Her watercolors were popular and she regularly exhibited in group shows on the east and west coasts. To avoid competing with her husband, Marion chose to paint only in watercolor until Elmer’s death.

Marion’s watercolors have a unique pastel color sense and atmospheric quality, separating her from most of the other painters of that time. Her diverse oeuvre includes portraits, California Coastal scenes, the Sierras and Sonoran desert. She was a founding member of the California Watercolor Society and was active in the Pasadena Society of Artists and the Academy of Western Painters as well as the New York Watercolor Club.

After Elmer Wachtel’s death in 1929, Marion took a hiatus from painting for a few years. When she picked up a brush again in 1931, it was in oils. Her oils show the same mastery her watercolors demonstrate with atmosphere and color. Marion died in Pasadena in 1954.

All Things Bright and Beautiful California Impressionist paintings from the Irvine Museum.
Irvine Museum

Plein Air Painters of California the SouthlandRuth Westphal

Maynard Dixon

Maynard Dixon

Armand Cabrera

Lafayette Maynard Dixon Was born in 1875 in Fresno CA. He began drawing at age seven and was encouraged by his mother and grandfather to develop his talent. Growing up on his grandfathers ranch Maynard had plenty of subject matter for his art. At sixteen his father died and the family soon moved to Alameda CA where Maynard enrolled in the San Francisco School of Design across the bay to study under Arthur Mathews. His time at the school was short though. Maynard who was used to working from life felt stifled in the classroom working from castes and after a few months he quit school.

He became acquainted with Raymond Yelland who helped Dixon with oils and watercolors. Maynard acknowledged Yelland as the only worthwhile professional help he received as an artist.
In 1893 Maynard made many sketching trips in California and moved to San Francisco to pursue a career in Illustration. He began working for the Overland Monthly and the Morning Call. It was in the pages of these magazines where Maynard sharpened his picture making skills. In 1899 He accepted the position of Art Director for William Randolph Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner. In 1900 Maynard began to feel the strain of constant deadlines and began taking trips to the rest of the western states around California. His travels throughout the Southwest solidified his connection to the Native American culture that had intrigued him his whole life. It was during this time he adopted the symbol of the thunderbird replacing his signature with this icon.

In 1905 he married Lillian West they had one child. Displaced by the great quake and fire of 1906 in San Francisco Maynard lost almost everything he owned. He headed to New York with his family to work for Harpers and other National magazines but the big city was not for him by 1912 he was back in San Francisco.

Maynard gave up illustration to pursue easel painting and mural work. He divorced his first wife in 1920 and Married Dorothea Lange a successful photographer, they had two children.

When the depression hit in 1929 Maynard worked on murals for the WPA in 1935 he divorced again and married artist Edith Hamlin in 1937.
Maynard had always suffered from asthma and rheumatism and as his health deteriorated he moved to Tucson to help his illness. He and his new wife split their time between Tucson Mount Carmel Utah. Maynard Dixon died in Tucson in 1946 at the age of 71.



Desert Dreams: The Art and Life of Maynard DixonDonald J. Hagerty
Peregrine Smith Books

Maynard Dixon Artist of the West
Wesley Burnside
Brigham Young University Press

Quote My object has always been to get as close to the real thing as possible- people animals and country. The melodramatic Wild West idea is not for me the big possibility. The more lasting qualities are in the quiet and more broadly human aspects of Western life.
-Maynard Dixon

Harriet Randall Lumis

Harriet Randall Lumis


Armand Cabrera

Harriet Randall was born on May 29, 1870, in Salem Connecticut. After the Civil War, Salem was a small and prosperous farming community. Harriet attended school and showed an interest in the various arts, including music, drawing and dance.

In 1892, at the age of 22, Harriet married Fred Lumis, a 29 year old architect. The couple moved to Springfield, Connecticut. It was here Harriet pursued formal art education. The couple enrolled in the Evening Free Hand Drawing School through the Springfield public education system. Harriet continued her instruction with Leonard Ochtman.

In 1910, Fred Lumis was appointed City Building Commissioner in Springfield. The new position allowed the Lumis’s to buy a house and build Harriet a studio. She became active in many regional art clubs and entered her work in numerous exhibitions.

At the age of 50, Harriet enrolled in the Breckenridge School of Art and studied there for three years. Under Hugh Breckenridge, Harriet’s work became less restrictive and more colorful—adopting a more impressionistic style. Her work employed broken color and vigorous brushwork.

In 1937, her husband died after an operation at the age of 76. Harriet was left with no income except her painting sales which were not enough to provide for her. Teaching became her best solution. Harriet held classes outdoors and at her studio for the rest of her life.

An outspoken opponent of the new painting styles predominant at the time, Harriet never chased the trends of Modernism. In 1949, with a group of like-minded artists, she formed the Academic Artists Association. The purpose of the group was to “encourage the showing of realistic works of art in local museums and promote the interests of artists who work in a realistic manner”.

The last years of her life, Harriet continued to paint and teach, spending much of the time in her formal gardens that surrounded her studio. She died in 1953 at the age of 82.


Harriet Randall Lumis 1870-1953
An American impressionist

Richard Love
Exhibition Catalog 1977

I like to get the color notes and form in one sitting… I have an occasional picture that has been completed in one sitting under especially favorable circumstances, but more often than not there are days of study and repeated trips to the scene.~Harriet Lumis