To Ellen

This blog is made to the honor of my grandmother Ellen Elisabeth Thomsen who was a modern woman .
She was born in Randers in Denmark 1895 and died in Copenhagen 1976.
She had long salmon red hair down to her hips. It was braided and put up with lots of hairpins to make it look short.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

They all had red hair


Winslow Homer

This watercolor so elegantly painted, only using cadmium red,
black and Prussian blue .

Antoine Auguste Ernest Herbert
Baroness Eleonore d'Uckermann 

Albert Herther

Albert Herther again , I like him very much, his color perspective defines depth
this time he did it with a distance between colors in different materials.
 This time period  loved velvet, the background has typical English wall covering
which in wealthy families houses were  made from  heavy silk brocades .
England still use wall covering . In Denmark we hardly ever use it.
Notice the woman  wears Japanese embroidered silk over her inner shoulder.
The 1910  and 20 ties loved Japanese textiles.

William Strang

This woman resembles my grandmother in her Youth. 
This is one of the few female portraits that Strang painted, he seems to have preferred  men.


My grandmother took her grandchildren to Lemvig in North Jutland by the Lime fjord.
We staid in a small hut out in the sand dunes. Swimming all day long or searching for fossils on the beach.
"If one wake up very early it is possible to find Amber between  the sea plants!" she told us.
 "They wash up on the beach."
 We never found anything, but red quartz which shone like amber. But I came home with 15 kilo of fossils and the whole face full of freckles.

Note the Japanese Sun umbrella.

Wladyslav Ludwig Slewinski
Look at this wonderful polish painters art at

My grandmother slept every afternoon. 
She lied on the bed covered with a crochet patchwork blanket that she had made by herself.
I was ordered to sleep in the green sofa, could of cause never fall asleep in the middle of the day. 
And instead  sat in one of the tall windows and wrote car numbers  on an a paper. Thousands of numbers, sometimes the same number came back and then I got enormously  happy.
Else there was nothing to do, but looking  at the dust dancing in the sun rays. I would draw and daydream.
Ellen had no cat like this woman above, but she a small blue Parakeet . She had many actually , they flew out of the windows eventually ,one after the other .For the ease they all were named Nalle. When she slept I let the bird out in the rooms. It sat on my head and made cute small sounds. She fed the bird with a piece of bread, that she held between her teeth. 
She said this is the way the mother bird feed them until they are half grown.

This was the way all her birds looked.
They could  talk, because she bought only young males
and patiently taught them the same words over and over again.They sat on her finger or
on the old black telephone and copied all she said. All her birds could laugh like her, a hoarse laugh
from all the Cigars that she smoked. It sounded exactly like an old grass clipper,
when You pulled it back over the grass and the blades would spin.
The memories of my grandmother Ellen's laughter still warms my heart.

Artist name
comes later

This picture I brought only because of the flowers the woman is unfortunately not red haired
My grandmother had no plants, she was not fond of them. And I do not remember any flowers in vases on her tables. The violets on this picture remind me of my childhood . Every season had it's wild flowers, and as a little girl I knew when and where each wild plant blossomed in a diameter of kilometers from our house.
I would pick flowers to my mother every day. Some times I had to go fare to find them. 
 I always left some flowers standing so the plant would look nice 
and not feel lonely,  ripped from all it's beauty.
Have returned to the place where they all grew in my childhood and You can still find the same  flowers.
But they look small and sad and do not have the enormous attraction on me like so long ago.
Violets were loved for their exquisite smell and their wonderful color. But they are tiny, much smaller than on this picture. Each flower would have only a 3 cm  long stem, so it was possible to pick only very tiny straws. In Copenhagen in the early 60 ties a woman would sell violets on the main street Strøget. The flowers she sold were much bigger, than what I could find  in nature and they didn't have hardly any smell. We called her "Violdamen" the Violet lady. My grandmother would put a coin in my hand , so I could buy from her. Coming from the countryside with only small wildflowers, Copenhagen seemed like Paradise. Specially Tivoli with it's thousands if Tulips who all  blossomed in spring. Also the garden of the old widowed Queen with her fine roses left me some of my most wonderful memories.
I think this love for flowers came from lack of colors in those days.In the fifties and early 60 ties clothes were black , brown, dark green , Bordeaux or dark marine blue.  Orange,s purple pink and red or yellow were not in fashion. If the home who were equally dark colored should look nice a big straw of flowers would lite up the heavy atmosphere.
My  3 sons all inherited this eye for flower colors and smells. From their earliest years they would come home every day bringing me a straw , that they picket from hedges on their way from kinder garden and later from School and even now when they come home from the Army and University.
When someone have a birthday we wake up the person with a flower straw, a candle on a tray of sweets and gifts and all of us sing Happy birthday.Well it has nothing to do with red haired women, but this sweet tradition I think came from Ellen.

Gustave Klimt I think

This is a wonderful portrait , the expression  is so controlled,and match  the puritan clothes.
It is actually good to see a red haired woman who is not pictured as
a temptress.


This fine portrait kept in very few tones catch my eye
because my grandmother was an expert in matching different
silk brocades for the slippers she made.I used to play
with all the small leftovers. She used different kinds of
Chinese brocades.This playing with different patches and their
color combinations still trigger a lust and I can't pass a
show of textiles without buying long 10 cm broad pieces that I never saw anything of.

Alexandre de Riquer

This painter is very similar to Khnopff' in his choice of facial qualities for his models.
The long chin, slim lips and tendency to under bite


Albert Anker
Swiss painter born 1831 in Ins  died 1910. He studied in Paris.

This picture is very sweet, because of the innocence of those children
but I am disturbed by the size of the head of the red haired girl.
I would have made it a bit smaller  or the hand and arm more chubby.
The proportions or position seems wrong and jump out. But the expressions
in their faces are excellent described.

Look at the concentrated pale face of the little girls . Those of us who know how to
knit remember the first times and how hard the masks would be, because
we pulled the wool too strong and how we would sweat from the efforts off  pulling
the string trough the too tiny holes.In my childhood a girl ought to know all
the different types of Handwork. Those were the nicest lessons in School.

And a nice postcard with the devil dressed as Monk,
is she the muse of wine? Or is she just the temptation?
This time swing between  showing red haired
women as flirting tempests or  as pious virgins.
The holy Maria is often pictured as red haired.
I love the dress on this drawing, it reminds of the tail of a Peacock,
the simple drawing of folds in pink turn the material into Velvet.

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