Book on The Intensely Colorful Life Story of Coconut Grove Artist Annette Rawlings Is Exhibited at the L.A. Times Festival of Books
Publisher | Westwood Books Publishing
Genre | Self-Help
Born at the end of WWII into a very dysfunctional Southern family. Annette had been abandoned at birth and left in the care of her grandparents, reclaimed by her mother at age three. A neglected childhood led to her kidnapping at age 12. Forced into an arranged marriage at 16, homeless at 17. she is a self-made person. At the age of 19 she was working three jobs and going to two schools full time; the University of Miami and the New School of Fine Art. Rawlings expressed a pioneer spirit of fortitude and resilience.
On her mothers side, Williams, she was told that her great grandfather, Green Williams fought in the Civil War even though he was said to have some Cherokee blood. Annette is a DAR, Daughter of the American Revolution. On her fathers side, Rawlings, she was told by her grandmother she was related to the Pulitzer prize winner Marjorie Kennan Rawlings, who wrote The Yearling. There is only one Rawlings family that came over.
Perhaps this helps account for her creativity, ability to survive and fortitude to continue.
As a product of the 60s, artist Annette Rawlings associated with many of the actors, rock stars, writers and innovators who changed the course of American Culture. Rawlings was living in Coconut Grove, Miami. Her night time job was working at the Gas Light Coffee House. Her neighbor was Tennessee Williams, Kiel Mueller who was an actor living in the Grove, later went to Hollywood and became Kiel Martin, a TV star on Hill Street Blues, David Crosby was a regular in the Grove where he met Joni Mitchell. David later became part of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Fred Neil lived there and wrote music, played guitar and sang. Fred became famous for writing Everybodys Talking the theme song to the film Midnight Cowboy. Timothy Leary showed up one day at the Gas Light passing out sugar cubes.
Annette became caught up in a creative way that was greatly influenced by the colors and cultural atmosphere of Coconut Grove. The culmination of this activity is seen in her art. Her art reflects such experiences as spending a year in the jungles of Central America and living a year at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Viewers of her art will experience the simplicity and complexity that are portrayed in her art.
Rawlings technique appears simple but is very complex. She begins by stretching linen, securing it with copper tacks. Then making a rabbit skin glue, which is cooked in a double boiler on the stove and at a specific temperature is applied by brush to the linen. This process seals the linen and makes it ready for the oil paints, which are handmade using Renaissance techniques and color formulations. The paintings are created by using a one-inch brush, applied in a cross hatching manner. Each color has its own weight and depending on the color very thin layers, up to 5 or 7, are brushed on, according to the thickness, so the surface of the oil paint is even. Then a copal varnish is applied. Copal varnish comes from the sap of a tree, the same sap that creates amber. Annette does not use black or white in her art because she does not want the black to sink and the white to jump out. She uses Indigo for black and adds vermillion, chrome yellow, and burnt umber to white so the color doesnt jump out. She wants her colors to lie peaceful next to each other, Annette learned how to do this by studying Renaissance color formulation.
Everyone she encounted in the Grove encouraged her creativity and supported the direction in her art. Of course they always had their constructive criticisms, which helped her grow. The Grove was an artists sanctuary from the late 50s to the early 80s. The Frost Art Museum, Miami became aware of this pocket of creativity that existed in Coconut Grove and created an exhibit filled with the artists who had lived in Coconut Grove during the late 50s to the early 80s. The exhibit was titled Place and Purpose Art transformations in Coconut Grove. On view during the summer of 2021.