Ruth Pirman was born in Jersey City on May 28, 1921. She attended schools in Brooklyn Heights, in Brightwaters, and in Florida, and earned her bachelor of fine arts degree from the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Fla., where she met her future husband, James C. McCrea.
James was born on Sept. 12, 1920, in Peoria, Ill. He attended Sewanee: the University of the South in Tennessee, and served in the merchant marine during World War II. He also taught typography at Cooper Union in New York City for a decade.
The McCreas were married on July 4, 1943.
During World War II, while James served in the merchant marine and she lived in Miami with her in-laws, Ruth supported herself painting watercolors of the Bahamas, producing more than 500 of them. The couple moved to New York City after the war and lived in Bayport from 1956 until 1980, when they bought a house in East Hampton and retired there.
In their professional lives, the McCreas worked with many of the major publishing houses in New York. They also collaborated on four children’s books that Ruth, wrote and illustrated, which were published by Atheneum Books. In 1963, the American Institute of Graphic Arts named one of them, “The King’s Procession,” one of the 50 best books of the year.
I particularly like the illustrations in this book ” The Birds “, it has such a charm about it and I love the contrast between the birds and their environment too.
More Medieval dragons, castles and celebrations in ” The Story Of Olaf “.
Among Ruth’s independent work were the covers and illustrations for dozens of cookbooks published by Peter Pauper Press, with titles ranging from “The ABC of Canapes” and “The ABC of Cheese Cookery” …
… to “Simple Continental Cookery,” “Simple Hawaiian Cookery,” “Aquavit to Zombie: Basic and Exotic Drinks,” and “Abalone to Zabaglione: Unusual and Exotic Recipes.”
In East Hampton, where she was a longtime member of the Ladies Village Improvement Society, Ruth was known as the “dollhouse lady,” her family wrote. She built and lovingly maintained a collection of elaborate dollhouses, all impeccably furnished and decorated. In years past, she often opened her historic Main Street house to visitors interested in her creations. The largest of them was called Hazard Hall, because, according to a 2011 article in The Star, “it was too hazardous to get anywhere near it because things, like the children’s chess pieces and their father’s handkerchiefs, disappeared into it.” “Every time life was too much for me, I would start another room on the house,” she told The Southampton Press in 1998. “It’s a form of escapism.”
The McCreas also collaborated on dozens of book jackets, designs, and illustrations including covers for novels by such writers as Graham Greene and Iris Murdoch. They worked together on the original oil paintings used for the cover design of the full set of Ernest Hemingway titles in the Scribner Classic series. Some featured below.
Sadly James passed away in 2013, aged 93 and Ruth in February 2016, aged 94. I love their strong graphical, quirky style and I’m certain their work has inspired many Illustrators and Graphic artists since the 1960’s too. I’m sure I’m not alone in loving their wonderful work ?
Welcome back, hello and a Happy New Year to you all for 2017. I hope this finds you all well, rested, fed and ready for the year ahead after a well needed, festive break. We were very fortunate to spend Christmas with our good friends over in Tarporley, here’s a few snaps from their beautiful home.
There’s also some great countryside trails to be found around the area. On the first of the icy days, we took a stroll along the canal.
I love seeing lines in the landscape.
Still bits of colour too, alongside shape and texture.
Most folk were tucked away in the warmth so we had these views, largely to ourselves.
I discovered this frozen puddle on the roof of one of the barges. It looks like a solar system captured in glass.
Some lazy, low afternoon sunsets.
Of course Boo enjoyed all the smells of the countryside, until her feet got too cold!
What were your best memories over the last few weeks ?
I heard that the Christmas Little Northern Contemporary Craft Fair was on a few weeks ago, so I popped along to Altrincham Town Hall to take a view.
This isn’t the Town Hall (below) by the way, just a beautiful building I spotted en route, and the lower shot was taken in the Market Hall, which hosts a variety of craft, design, vintage and food stalls, alternating the theme most weekends.
The LNCCF show was in a great location in the Town Hall, with plenty of new work to catch my eye and interest. I stopped to chat to a couple of exhibitors, the first of which was Von Allen and her amusing Heartfelt Dogs. Von says ” All dogs are individual one-offs. They are needle felted from 100% wool with glass eyes. Their clothes are selected from various vintage ranges from Paul and Sindy, Ken, Action Man, G. I. Joe, and other action dolls.”
“I’ve always been creative; my mum had me down as a Blue Peter presenter due to my ability to produce something out of nothing even when I was a kid. Those of you of my generation might remember the Blue Peter Book of Teddy Clothes with an extensive range of costumes you could make, including a pirate, a cowboy and a pilot’s outfit; I made them all. Growing up, I was a little obsessed with puppets and stop frame animation; Hector’s House, Pogles Wood, Noggin The Nog and Topo Gigio were all very real for me. ”
I spotted a few faces I was sure I’d seen running around the fields earlier that day ! Beautifully made and I’m always drawn to work that makes me smile.
The second stall I really admired, was the work of Linda Baxter from The Black Fish Press.
Linda says ” My interest in lino block printed textiles began back in the 1980s while studying for a History of Design degree at the then Manchester Polytechnic, where I came across textiles designs by 20th century artists and sculptors like Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth who, in the 1930s, had designed and printed lino block fabrics for their own use, some of which were later produced commercially. Researching and reproducing these textiles was a great way of learning and understanding the design disciplines and printing techniques involved.
Now retired from art and design teaching, I have started designing and printing again, returning to my favourite printing method. “
I also wanted to catch up with a friend I had made a few years ago when exhibiting previously with LNCCF, Jeweller Heather Fox. Heather was selling her Jewellery and new range of unique christmas decorations at the fair this year… aren’t they great !
I had long been inspired by a ring I bought for my partner back in the early 90’s, from a Jeweller in the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, who’s name I don’t remember and has since moved. (If anyone knows this designer’s name, please let me know).
It’s a fun silver ring called “Anteater, Two Lizards and a Fish” and I decided that I wanted to create something similar for myself, using my own drawings and the skills of a Jeweller who’s work I liked. I had a chat with Heather about my idea, and the collaboration was accepted. Heather had already created work which involved layering silver upon silver, and had a sense of humour (with her ‘Chris Moose’ below) that I could also relate to. I’m excited to see what happens.
Of course I will be using some of my illustrations as a starting point…. watch this space for more news !!!
I also couldn’t help but buy one of these lovely glass birds by maker Heather Gillespie. It will sing loudly from the tree this year : ) Lovely skies we are getting lately too. How are your Chrismas plans going so far ?
As this is my last blog post for 2016, there’s just one last thing to say…..
Happy Holidays Everyone! Let’s all catch up again in a couple of weeks… bye for now.
I wanted to start today by sharing my latest commission with you. I had a similar illustration (but with foxes on) at the Sale Arts Trail Bazaar last weekend, and someone requested a version with cats and so the rest (as they say) is history. If anyone else would like an individual commission, just let me know. craig @ fishink.co.uk and I’ll see what I can do, thank you.
I can’t resist a trip to the beautiful Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Everything about it appeals to an artists eye, soul and heart. Plenty from St Judes artists to keep me smiling too lol. Lovely new ceramics from Angie Lewin and bags from Emily Sutton.
Stolen grassy glimpses of nature from ceramist Karen Howarth.
Excited ceramic birds on the work of Anna Lambert.
I’ve never made it to Y.S.P with Boo (my dog) before, so it was as much a treat for me as it was for her. Although I’m still not sure all the driving went down so well with her ! Does anyone else have a dog that seems to completely hate being in the car ? Ah well, she made up for the journey by her excitement at seeing the grounds. I’ve never visited the YSP Chapel before either.
Boo got quite a few admiring comments, as did the coat I had made for her recently.
The grounds looked amazing on this frosty, yet sunny day. Wonderful colours.
Boo.. a natural poseur!
I’m pretty certain that Henry Moore would have loved to see his work in this setting.
Even Boo appreciated it.
I couldn’t resist making a few new purchases of my own. A lovely new calendar and mug from
and a ceramic tile from
Both available from the YSP shop. Early Christmas presents for me, and just what I wanted too! lol
It was five years ago that I first talked about the work of Angela Harding. Her work was more painterly back then, and since, an illustrative, defined and more distinct style has blossomed. I went to Yorkshire Sculpture Park this week to view her current exhibition “Flights of Memory”, which is on until Feb 26th next year. Just look at the display in the foyer.
Here’s Angela working in her studio, what an inspiring view !
As usual with photographing works of art behind glass, the lighting and reflections obscure the work slightly, so apologies for this. I’m certain, however, that you can still appreciate the beauty in Angela’s work.
There’s a whole alphabet of birds to choose from.
I love the aerial perspective of this Curlew flying over the town.
I took a few close ups so that you can see the detail for yourselves… wow!
The snowy scenes below are also available here as advent calendars, what a great idea.
I’m always excited to see how other artists work, their tools of the trade, how they use their sketchbooks etc. So lovely to view this display case, full of woodblocks and cutting tools.
Oooo and sketchbooks too !
Of course with Angela owning dogs of her own, I knew a few Whippets or Lurchers wouldn’t be too far away : )
So many designs I admired, such an obvious love for nature and their simplistic colourations, all work so well for me.
As soon as I got home, I went onto Angela’s website and purchased these two keepsakes. Now I can think about her every time I wash up lol.
Do visit and see Angela’s wonderful exhibition, on until Feb 26th next year.
Part two from Yorkshire Sculpture Park next Monday.
By a strange twist of fate last night, I ended up going to see the new film from Harry Potter author J.K Rowling , called ‘Fantastic Beasts and where to find them”.
Played by the lead actor Eddie Redmayne and based on a character called Newt Scamander (who is mentioned in the first of the Potter films), it’s a story of magical mischief set some 70 years before Harry Potter even started reading his school books. The year is 1926, and Newt has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident, were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.
Stunning visuals and creative creatures.
Dark arts magic and mayhem too.
Amazing to see what CGI can achieve these days, and some stunning New York visuals from all perspectives of the city. There is said to be a further four films coming our way in the next few years about Newt! Great to loose myself in a little Christmas magic for a couple of hours.
There’s more info in this review from the Guardian newspaper here.