Posts Tagged ‘watercolor’

Amazing Adventures in Washington D.C. Part Two: The Shrine


Our recent trip to Washington D.C was packed with special  moments.  In my last post I wrote about seeing my father’s World War Two art at the Army Art Archives.  We were also able to see some of his art at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

My father’s (Edward Reep’s) painting The Shrine is a significant work of art historically, artistically, and emotionally.  It’s painted brilliantly and my father considers it one of the two best works of art he’s ever done.  He painted it on his Guggenheim Fellowship in 1946 based on photos he took during World War II in Bologna, Italy.

About the situation, my dad has this to say in his book A Combat Artist in World War II:

In the town square of Bologna, where the city jail is located,  a collaborator had just been slain beneath the iron-barred windows of the jail, his fresh blood still visible on the brick wall below. Within minutes an Italian flag was hung on the wall, above and to the left of the blood-stain, the tricolored red, white and green presenting a startling panache of color against the ancient, dull brown bricks.  The House of Savoy emblem had been ripped away from the white central panel of the flag; pinned in its place was a stiff black ribbon of mourning.  This became a dual gesture: it signified the end of the monarchy and Fascism, and it became a memorial to those who had given their lives in the long struggle for liberation.  A derelict green table was then thrust against the bedecked wall, and placed upon it were little mementos, mostly photographs and flowers commemorating the loved ones who had perished; more photos were pinned to the flag.  The images of those who had seen service in the Italian army were adorned with delicate multicolored ribbons of red, green and white.  Lastly, an ornate filigree cross of black wrought metal was placed toward the front of the table to become the crowning touch in completing the impromptu shrine.  Today, in Bologna, a permanent shrine stands on that sacred ground.

My dad’s notes on the execution of the painting from his book are as follows:

The Shrine was executed after the war from notes and sketches during the hectic moments when we captured Bologna.  The hastily erected shrine depicted is now a permanent and more elaborate national monument in that city.  The painting relies heavily upon the contrast of transparent color glazes against impasto (thick) paint.  After initially priming the canvas, I covered it with a green ground that would peer through the multitude of brownish-red bricks.  Painting on the field of battle had to be quick and spontaneous; it was rarely studied.  Equipment was always portable and never comfortably complete.  In my postwar studio I was able to exercise care and patience, select the appropriate medium, and – of greater importance – reflect deeply upon significant issues.

This historical explanation and photo of the shrine today comes, with permission, from  Scott D. Haddow 0n flickr,


Il Sacrario dei partigiani in Piazza Nettuno, Bologna

Memorial to the partisans of WWII (1943-1945).

Bologna was one of the Italian cities most affected by the war, both for its importance in the communication/transportation system, and for its location in the rear of the Gothic Line. Between September 1943 and April 1945 the city was occupied by the Nazis. The people suffered from cold and hunger, Allied bombings and Nazi reprisals such as that of Monte Sole. Throughout this period, the courageous action of groups of anti-fascist partisans kept the people’s hopes alive.

A high toll was paid by the Bolognese: the number of civilian deaths under the bombing was 2481, while 2064 partisans were killed. On the morning of April 21 1945 Bologna was free.

Women’s groups began to lay flowers and put up pictures of their loved ones in Piazza Nettuno, on the wall where many partisans had been shot .

Thus was born the shrine of the partisans.

(translated from Italian:

From another source, here is another image of the shrine today.

I am currently speaking with the head curator of the Smithsonian because I feel my father’s painting should be on permanent display somewhere in the museum system.  My father has a couple of other works at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art that were donated by the Ford Motor Company and while they are excellent watercolors, I don’t believe they have either the artistic or historical significance to merit permanent display.  The Shrine, however, does, and I hope something can be worked out.

If anyone wishes to lend their voice to this endeavor, I contacted the director Elizabeth Broun at and she was very interested in hearing more about the history of the painting and the historical significance of the shrine.  I don’t believe she needs “cheerleading” kinds of contact, but more of historically directed opinions or artistic statements if anyone has information I don’t.  For example, what Scott D. Haddow had to say is very interesting because this was difficult to google.

Above, my husband and I look at my father’s watercolors in the Smithsonian archives.

Watercolor donated to the Smithsonian by Ford Motor Company.

All in all, it was rather amazing to have been one day at the Army Art Archives examining my father’s art and the next doing the same at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.  This trip was beginning to feel a little bit surreal, but no one was complaining!

To come: more amazing connections and coincidences with the Berlin Wall.



Did you see the MOON? Plus art, cell phones, and phonographs


I’m going to save the best for last – the MOON

Cell phone update

The saga of my cell phone has  gotten ridiculous.  Time for husbands New Every Two, which really means Discount Every Two unless you want a toy phone.  I used the New Every Two as my husband has a new phone.  I got the Droid Incredible which I loved to pieces until I found out I could not put my bluetooth in my ear and say “Call ____.”  Sent back.  Credit received. Got the Blackberry Bold. What a clunker! Heavy, hard to navigate the icons – shame on them!  Sent back.  Credit received.  Decided to stick with Blackberry Curve.  Ordered the lavender one.  Started to program it but I couldn’t find the keys.  Ah – the keys were lavender too!  My current phone is a pink Blackberry Curve and the keys are not pink.  They are silver and black and I can see them without my glasses.  But lavender on lavender?  Can’t see with my glasses.  Sending it back Monday.  Down to one choice – the black Blackberry Curve.  I am waiting to order however.  Can’t take anymore of this.  And they better not charge me the $35 restocking fee for the Droid or the lavender Curve.  Now I will take deep breaths and continue this post with


I need more deep breaths.  I watered and cleaned up outside today.  There were no ants.  There are now ants swarming all over the patios and lawns and everywhere.  I must have disturbed a nest or something.  I put a call in to pest control having made a command decision to damn the frogs and hire pest control if that’s what it takes.  Seriously, I hope Adam can find a way to not made the pond toxic.  We had such a bad infestation at our old house once that we had ants coming out of switch plates, and once I found my snake Jake covered with ants!  I grabbed that snake and put him under the kitchen faucet hoping he wouldn’t have a heart attack from the sudden change of temperature.  So I’m not waiting to see ants coming out of switch plates.  I hope Adam calls back even though it’s Friday night and we haven’t hired him yet.  Let’s talk about something more pleasant that won’t raise my blood pressure, which would be

Phonographs and Memories

Do you ever wonder if things you remember about your childhood were really like that? I have fondly told the story of how I would wake up every day and put a record on my phonograph first thing – the same record every day.  My parents awoke to “The King of France had 40,000 men; they marched up the hill and then marched down again.” My phonograph was hand-cranked.  I’ve wondered lately if I made that up, however.  I didn’t.  Because in the move I looked through old photos and there I was in my bedroom with the phonograph and you can see the crank!

Nice to know I remembered that correctly.


Watercolor is hard. I did a watercolor up at the cabin and I have no idea what it is.  I was trying to replicate a journal page but it’s not quite the same.  I don’t even want to learn watercolor – phew! My dad got a lifetime achievement award from the National Watercolor Society.  They don’t give that out very much.  I so appreciate his skill as an artist – a lifetime of work.

So here’s what I did.  Miss Know Nothing trying to learn from the website  However, I don’t even think I held the brush correctly, although I did remember from time to time to try.This is my masterpiece.  It’s colorful, I can say that, and I used water, that much is true.   However, putting the water and color together is amazingly difficult. So, someone tell me what it is so I can explain it to others as if I did it on purpose.

I’m going to take out that yellow and reddish column.  Would it make any sense to all it Windows?

Now for the MOON

Oh my goodness gracious you should have seen Bakersfield’s moon last night.  My husband, who goes to sleep at 9:00, got up to use the restroom at about 11:15 and just happened to look out his window.  He came in my room and startled the heck out of me – I was doing something on the computer.  (Yes, we each have our own rooms.  It’s called snoring.) “Look at the moon,” he said.  Clouds, almost-full moon, I stuck my camera on the tripod and took 81 photos.

I’m only going to show you nine, and I don’t need to comment.  Just look.  Wish you had been here to see it in person with me.  The third one I want to title “The Mothership has Arrived.”

Goodnight, moon.

Life is OK


Finally, yesterday, last night to be specific, I made it into the studio.  I was seized with such excitement to get back to work on something!  Anything.  I just wanted to hold brushes, feel the paint.  I knew it had to be fast because tomorrow before the crack of dawn I fly to my daughter’s in Colorado.  That means no studio work for another couple of weeks.  It’s OK.

But I had to do something, anything.  I picked up my art journal – it felt so good.  I got out the watercolors, shut my eyes, and picked three tubes.  A brown, yellow and blue.  So be it.  That would be my background.   I got out my art papers and picked one blindly – it would work.  Did my senses guide my hand to colors that worked? Then I grabbed the vintage crate labels.  What did I want to use? I needed some sparkle…my glitter eye shadow.  Why not? What statement was I making?

Turned out it was a simple statement – life is OK.

P.S. I added lots of photos to my ETSY store, SusanReepPhotoArt!  And new ones coming soon on

Painting World War II: The California Style Watercolor Artists


Wow.  It was so worth it to drive down to Oceanside for the opening of the WWII art show at the Oceanside Museum.  It’s a long drive from Bako – five hours in traffic, which we had, but as with most events, the payoff is not always where you expect it.

The Oceanside Museum of Art is lovely.  All year and on all floors of the museum they are exhibiting art related to World War II.  Glen Knowles curated this show of California watercolorists who painted WWII, either at home from the perspective of the home front, or as my father did, on the battlefield.  Knowles teaches at Antelope Valley College and he has invented something that may be of interest to you artists out there.  Check it out on the link – it’s the Colorwheel Palette.

We arrived at the museum and it was packed – SO MANY PEOPLE!  Wow.

Of all the artists whose work appeared in the show, my dad is the only one still alive.  That made me the object of some interest and many questions about if he was going to be coming to see the exhibit.  Sadly, my dad can barely made it across town, let alone a five-hour car ride away.


I told the story of this painting in a post a couple of days ago.  It focuses more on the soldiers themselves that many of the paintings and really captures the gritty feel of men in trenches.  I’ll tell another story now that I recounted several times at the opening.  It arose when talking about memories and if they became embellished as time went on.  In the case of my father, I know everything he said was as it was.  He would not talk about the war until he wrote a book called A Combat Artist in World War II. I think that is the case for most vets – they don’t want to talk about it.  Then the PBS documentary was made, They Drew Fire, about war artists in which my dad was featured.

In it, my dad recounts how the underground theater in Anzio was bombed, killing many soldiers, but dad was too scared to come out of his fox hole.  To atone for what he saw as his cowardice, in a subsequent battle, one of his fellow soldiers was hit.  Dad ran out into the battlefield to retrieve him while his commander yelled for him to stay under cover.  Dad didn’t listen to the commander, retrieved the wounded soldier, put him in the back of a jeep, and sat with him as they headed off to the medics.  Dad said that at one point in the drive he looked at the soldier and said, “He’s dead.” The soldier responded, “The hell I am.”

That man’s son watched the documentary, tracked my dad down, and said that the soldier dad saved was his father.  The son said that his father told that story using almost the exact same words that my dad used right down to “He’s dead” and “the hell I am.” The son thanked my dad for saving his, saying that he wouldn’t have been born if it weren’t for my dad.

I knew then that the stories my dad told, and probably all other soldiers, were as they happened with no embellishment.  There was no need to embellish war.

War is hell, World War II was as bad as they come, and Anzio and Monte Cassino were the most hellish of battles in that war.  The fact that my father, that any man or woman then or now, fights a war and returns to live a “normal” life is the biggest act of courage I can imagine.

It seems sacrilegious to stand next to a painting depicting something so terrible – and smile.

Someone points a camera and we smile.  But I’m happy that I could loan this painting, that the exhibit exists, and that the viewers can remember and honor all the men and women who served so heroically.

Afterwards, we set out for dinner, found a great Italian restaurant, had a wonderful meal, but before leaving I decided to order a limoncello – our new favorite liqueur after discovering it in Sorrento, Italy in 2007.  (I linked to my travel journal of Italy, but for some reason wordpress would not let me insert photos so if interested you’ll have to go to my web page to see pics.)  As we got up to leave the restaurant, we sat down again with Glen, his wife, and an art collector that loves my father’s work.  Here’s where those unexpected payoffs come in – this gentleman made a wonderful offer to bring this show to Bakersfield after it closes in Oceanside in October.  When we go home I’ll talk to our museum or others if the museum’s schedule is too locked in.

Tomorrow – The Flower Fields and the San Diego Botanical Gardens.  It was a two-martini day.

Where The Wild Things Are – AEDM #23


What’ll we do without AEDM?  Almost an impossible challenge, yet it’s pushed me farther than I would ever push myself.

So today I experimented with watercolor and collage in my journal.  I might add that before AEDM I didn’t have a journal, so this is rather fun!  Without further ado, here it is.  Where the Wild Things Are.

journal 003

Until tomorrow…