A Woman's Touch: Selected Women Artists in California

May 26 - September 18, 2004


(above: Anna Hills (1882-1930), Fall, Orange County Park, 1918, oil on board, 14 x 18 inches)


(above: Marion K. Wachtel (1876-1954), Matilija Canyon at Sunset, watercolor on paper, 25 1/2 x 19 3/8 inches)


A Woman's Touch: Selected Women Artists in California, an exhibit at The Irvine Museum, opens May 26 and continues through September 18, 2004. Far from being limited to a dilettante role, women artists in California were important figures in the early part of the twentieth century and excelled in landscape painting, as well as portrait, figural, and still-life. Moreover, they set the standard in such diverse media as oil painting, watercolor, and sculpture. (right: Donna Schuster, (1883-1953), On the Beach, c. 1917, oil on canvas, 29 x 29 inches)

As one of the founders of the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1917, Anna A. Hills (1882-1930) played a key role in organizing and, later as its president, in charting the course of this important association. A popular art teacher, she helped guide the careers of numerous artists of the period, most notably George K. Brandriff (1890-1936). A Woman's Touch: Selected Women Artists in California, shows several works by Hills, including the small and charming outdoor sketch entitled By the Roadside Near El Toro, 1914.

One of the most popular artists whose works are often displayed at The Irvine Museum is Jessie Arms Botke (1883-1971). Her elegant and brightly colored paintings of exotic birds and plants stand out for their sheer power to dazzle the eyes of the viewer. Nationally known as one of the important American Art Deco painters, Botke's works shimmer with color, graceful line and exquisite detail, and are often times accompanied by large areas of gold leaf as part of the design.

Not all California painters were inspired by the French Impressionists. Starting in about 1914, a group of progressive artists, usually women, began to show works of strong modernist principles. Among these were Mabel Alvarez (1891-1985), Elanor Colburn (1866-1939), Meta Cressey (1882-1964), Helen Forbes (1891-1945), Donna Schuster (1883-1953) and Elsie Palmer Payne (1884-1971). Their bold use of color and line is in stark contrast to the realistic appearance of the Plein-Air paintings usually associated with this period. (left: Elanor Colburn, (1866-1939), Bathing Baby, 1930, oil on canvas, 36 x 33 inches)


Resource Library editor's note:

The Irvine Museum provided source material to Resource Library Magazine for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact The Irvine Museum directly through either this phone number or web address: 949-476-2565; http://www.irvinemuseum.org.

For further biographical information on artists mentioned in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

Also see articles and essay at: California Art History, California Artists: 19th-21st Century, California Impressionism and California Regionalism and California School of Painters. Readers may enjoy:

What Made Laguna Beach Special, an essay by Deborah Epstein Solon

Greetings from Laguna Beach: Our Town in the Early 1900s (7/25/00)

Continuity and Change: Southern California's Evolving Landscape, an essay by Sarah Vure

Notable American Women Artists from AskArt.com

In and Out of California: The Participatory Nature of Early California Art; essay by Will South (12/17/02)

In and Out of California: Travels of American Impressionists; essay by Deborah Epstein Solon (1/2/03)


Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the The Irvine Museum in Resource Library.

This page was originally published in 2004 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.


Following are examples of representational artworks created by artists, or photographs of artists, referenced in the above article or essay. Images may not be specific to this article or essay and are likely not cited in it. Images were obtained via Wikimedia Commons, which believes the images to be freely available for presentation here.  Another source readers may find helpful is Google Images.


(above: Mabel Alvarez, Photograph courtesy of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, c. 1915.  Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


(above: Elanor Ruth Colburn (1866-1939), Harlem, 1937, oil on canvas, Wolfsonian-FIU Museum. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


(above:  Donna Schuster, O'er Waiting Harp Strings, 1921, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches, Laguna Art Museum. Gift of Catherine Jackson. Image courtesy of Laguna Art Museum.)


(above: George Kennedy Brandriff, Cly Butte (Navajo for 'left') Monument Valley, Arizona, 1933, oil on canvas board, 14 x 18 inches, American Eagle Fine Arts, Benicia, California. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


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