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264[aloha-donblanding] Re: The Fire

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  • Keith Emmons
    Feb 3, 2000
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      TJ brings up some good questions. I'm also curious about Blanding's
      Vernon Kilns association. That is an area (like many others) that I
      haven't even looked into yet. I imagine, Cadia, you would be a wealth
      of information on this topic. You mentioned he designed his lines while
      in Carmel. How many different designs did he create, and how many years
      did they produce them? I just bought my first Vernon Kilns Blanding
      design (a small plate for my mother) and I can't wait to receive it!

      You also pondered, TJ, about DB's methodology in regards to verse and
      illustration. Here is the page of text from the front of his book
      'Today is Here' which goes a long way in explaining this:

      Don Blanding "versifies his illustrations rather than illustrates
      his verses" according to his own method of doing a book. He gets his
      working title for a volume, "Vagabonds House," "Drifter's Gold," "Today
      Is Here," etc., and then plans the framework through his
      black-and-white illustrations and head-pieces, all relating to various
      slants of the general subject of the book.
      He works with brush and ink rather than pen and ink. He learned his
      brush technique from Ching-Chong the Candle Maker of Honolulu when as a
      young artist in Hawaii he watched fascinated as that wizard of color
      made exotic flowers bloom and strange birds flit and flutter on the
      painted candles of Chinese ceremonial.
      All the time that Blanding is working on the intricate detail of his
      illustrations he is shaping the poems which are to accompany the
      drawings. Sometimes a poem does not come through, then he blithely puts
      in the illustration with the notation "not illustrating anything, just
      a drawing I wanted to do."
      The flowing curves so characteristic of his work were established in
      his consciousness by watching the wavering aspiring lines of smoke
      rising from sticks of Chinese temple joss in the quiet gray light
      before shrines, and the fluid patterns of water in mountain streams and
      prairie creeks of the Wichita Mountains near Lawton, Oklahoma, where he
      was reared.

      Tom, I've also wondered about his paintings. What have happened to his
      portraits of society women in his early Honolulu days. The painting on
      the cover of 'Fioretta' must be an example of these works... but where
      are they now? Some of the illustrations in 'Flowers of the Rainbow'
      look like they were paintings that were reproduced in black-and-white.
      Too bad they didn't print them in full-color. Also, The piece from
      'Hula Moons' with Earl Challenger is quite nice, but how much of it is
      DB's artistry, and how much is Challengers?
      I wonder if the wall paintings that DB did for the Putnams in Rye, New
      York, and then in Florida still exist? Or how about the painted screens
      from his NYC days? Might there be one sitting in a dusty attic of some
      old victorian house in Connecticutt... or Vermont?

      I think about these things often... Keith
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