The Art of Dorothy Cannon
The quick tour: 31 selected works
An introduction to Dorothy's oils, watercolors, temperas, and drawings, which together account for almost all her output, with a few samples of the rest of her work
This introduction is on a single long page; scroll through it to see it all.
Dorothy's oil paintings are her most "serious" works. She painted in oils at every stage of her life and almost always had an oil painting in the works.
The oils include landscapes, still lifes, figure studies, portraits, and miscellaneous scenes like this one. Children are frequent subjects.
Many oil landscapes depict the southwest deserts, where she took many generations of students on painting expeditions.
Dorothy painted with considerable formality of composition and color. Almost all her paintings show a clear "color wheel", with warm-colored elements set against a cool-colored ground, or (more rarely) the reverse...
... although there are exceptions.
The oils range in size from tiny (6" x 9") to wall-size, but many are in the size range of this one, at 26" x 38". This one is on stretched canvas; many are on posterboard, masonite, or canvas board.
Dorothy produced many figure studies, drawings as well as paintings, often embellished with scenic elements
Almost all of Dorothy's art is whimsical and humorous
The legacy collection includes over 150 oils; all will eventually be displayed on this site.
Dorothy painted many more watercolors than oils, with many of the same subject categories.
The watercolors are generally smaller than the oils. This still life, about 10" x 14", is a typical size.
This 18" x 24" watercolor is another typical size. Only a few watercolors are larger.
Many watercolors, like the two above, are low in color saturation, but there are many exceptions
The Desert Watercolors
This painting, and the two below, are examples of a large group of landscapes featuring locations in and near Juniper Hills, CA, where Dorothy owned and loved and painted high-desert land for more than 50 years.
These two paintings and many others show Devil's Punchbowl, near Juniper Hills
Dorothy also painted many watercolor landscapes of the Sierras...
... and the southwest deserts.
This site already has over 300 watercolors. More remain to be processed.
Dorothy's "tempera" paintings - acrylics and other media, neither watercolors nor oils - are mostly on 18" x 24" paper that is brittle and fragile, with edge and corner damage. This painting is a rare exception, because she mounted it to a backing of heavier paper. (Many of the temperas have now been stabilized by mounting to foam core)
This painting is signed, unusual among the temperas. Overall, Dorothy signed about 10% of her work, but only nine of the 142 temperas on the site. The exhibit includes a link to all the signed works.
This damage to this painting is typical of the temperas, but so is the vibrancy and saturation of the colors. In most cases the images are substantially intact.
Dorothy often used her paintings as examples for her students. Many tempera paintings have pushpin holes.
The temperas include expansive landscapes...
... whimsical creatures ...
... and many beautiful still lifes.
The vases in the floral still lifes often include exquisitely detailed reflections, an interesting subtopic by themselves.
The site has almost 150 temperas.
Dorothy was never without several sketch pads of different sizes and was constantly sketching.
She made remarkable pen and ink drawings for most of her life. This portrait of her sister Kathryn Hosler dates from the early 1940s..
... as does this drawing
This still life was made in the 1970s.
Dorothy produced many thousand sketches...
... and many fully-developed drawings, like this one in colored pencil.
Carousel horses appear in many paintings and drawings, from various Los Angeles locations, including Griffith Park and the Santa Monica Pier. For a time she owned her own carousel horse.
Her drawings are often humorous
She also produced many fully-developed pencil drawings...
The Legacy Collection includes thousands of drawings and sketches. This site already includes more than 150 drawings and will eventually include a representative sample of the total.
After a painting session, Dorothy often embellished her paper palette slips with pen and ink, creating fantastic scenes. This site has dozens, listed as "Palette art".
This whimsical drawing is developed like a palette slip embellishment. Many of Dorothy's paintings have hidden faces.
Dorothy made prints using copper etchings, woodblocks, silk screen, and other techniques. She embellished this etching with watercolor. The fruitwood frame is by Julius Milstein, a painter, framer, and long-term friend of Dorothy's who framed many of the works she cared most about. Most of the works in his frames were sold; you can view the surviving examples under "Frames by Julius Milstein".
Macular degeneration cost Dorothy her central vision in the last decade of her life. She had to abandon line drawings, but continued to host her long-term figure study group weekly, and to produce beautiful work, such as this oil painting. Among the ceramics from her 1997 exhibit are several additional examples of her work in this part of her life.
The best way to begin looking at Dorothy's art is by going through the brief tours of selected works accessible from the main page.
Proceed to the exhibit
Please tell your art-aware friends about this site!