Jacek Yerka: An Artist of Perspective

Jacek Yerka is a Polish artist that was born in 1952. He attended the local Fine Arts Academy in Torun, the town he grew up in. Stubbornly resisting his professors insistence to conform to the simpler, less-detailed contemporary art styles, Yerka preferred and painted in the classic, meticulous Flemish style. For him, his teachers attempt to move him away from his fascination with realism was “an attempt to stifle [his] own creative style.” He refused to fall in line; his teachers relented, recognizing his talent.

Yerka’s art often features images from his childhood, especially the surroundings of his 1950’s Polish home and his grandmother’s kitchen. He also enjoys images of odd little beasts and whimsical and fantastic landscapes.

Our Yerka puzzles feature the bright colors of his art, as well as his interesting take on perspective, balance, and contrast.

Three Seasons by Ceaco. 750 pieces. 24 x 18 inches.

Checkmate by Ceaco. 750 pieces. 24 by 18 inches.

Holiday Room by Ceaco. 750 pieces. 24 by 18 inches.

Four Seasons by Ceaco. 550 pieces. 20 by 20 inches.

Gardener’s Garden by Ceaco. 550 pieces. 20 by 20 inches.

Polish Cuisine by Ceaco. 550 pieces. 20 by 20 inches.

Artist Profile: Charles Wysocki

By far one of our best selling puzzle artists, Folk Artist Charles Wysocki is recognized across the globe and his puzzles create a feeling of nostalgia of old time Americana.

Charles Wysocki was born in 1928 in Detroit, Michigan to Polish parents. Though he had a happy childhood, his early enthusiasm was not equally shared by his father who worried about his future and tried to redirect his interests into more stable hobbies for a future income. His mother, however, fully supported his artistic tendencies.

1000 pieces Charles Wysocki Jigsaw Puzzle called Clammers at Hodge’s.

He grew up continuing his art but was drafted during the Korean War. He was stationed in Germany, and after his two year obligation he left the army and and picked up the pen again, although it wasn’t in the way he dreamed: he found a job in the Polish community of Detroit making drawings of tools and car parts for manuals and catalogs.

Eventually he attend the Art Center in Los Angeles, which he as able to do on the G.I. Bill. He majored in design and advertising illustration.

In 1959 that Wysocki formed an advertising agency called “Group West” and became a successful freelance artist for three years, serving such companies as Chrysler and General Tire. Around this time, Wysocki met his wife, Elizabeth, whom he married after six weeks of dating and whom would become a strong influence on Wysocki’s life and art. Elizabeth came from the countryside, and Wysocki would be drawn to the simplicity he found in her upbringing and he loved the wholesome values of the more rural life.

In the five years before Wysocki and Elizabeth’s first child was born, they traveled often to the New England states, of which Wysocki says “I feel the serenity of this life, and it became enhanced on our vacations to New England. We fell immediately in love with this section of our country because the pace so closely resembled our way of thinking—a love for the very small personal closeness of each other’s company and being content with ‘little’ things, happy in activities city folks might find boring.”

He credits his other influences as Rousseau, Edward Hopper, Normal Rockwell, and “of course, Grandma Moses.” While he is considered a folk artist, Wysocki wouldn’t describe himself as that, and he definitely wouldn’t describe himself as primitive. Instead, he says he “consider[s] [him]self simply a painter of early American life with a wide mixture of influences and with a love for the old-fashioned values.”

Hawkriver Hallow – 1000 piece puzzle from artist Charles Wysocki.

In the ‘60s, though Wysocki worked commercially, his heart was always for the simpler style that he felt represented himself. In his free time he worked on the Americana paintings which depict imagined places with details of the places and values familiar to him. These paintings are filled with Wysocki’s signature warmth and sentimentality. A very successful one-man show in which every single piece was sold convinced Wysocki to leave the commercial art world forever. He continued making a living off of original paintings and calendar prints, and then he worked with AMCAL to produce his images on puzzles, collector plates, serving trays, cards, magnets and more.

Wysocki continued painting until the end of his life. He died at the age of 73 in July 2002.

15 Best Autumn Themed Puzzle

Autumn is back and it’s the best time of the year for puzzles! The days are shorter, colder, and prettier, and it’s the perfect setting for curling up by the window and putting together your fall-themed puzzles with your families. Things feel timeless in the fall, and here are some puzzles that will help evoke the nostalgic feelings that come with this time of year, featuring those bright leaves you love, pumpkins and even Halloween scenes.

Autumn Market – Cobble Hill

1000 pieces. Finished size: 19.25” x 26.625”. $15.99.

 Blue Jay and Friends – Cobble Hill

1000 pieces. Finished size: 26.625" x 19.25". $15.99.

 Pumpkin Patch – Buffalo Games by Artists Persis Clayton Weirs & Lesley Harrison

1000 pieces . Finished size: 20" x 27". $14.99.

 Little Farmers Market – Sunsout by artist David Rottinghaus

1000 pieces . Finished size: 27" x 20". $14.99.

 A Bridge to Unity – Sunsout by artist Dave Barnhouse

1000 pieces . Finished size: 16" x 34". $14.99.

Continue reading this post

Artist Profile: Annie Lee

My Cup Runneth Over – a 550 piece puzzle from artist Annie Lee.

Annie Lee is an artist that describes herself as painting scenes of every day life, saying, “I try to paint things that people can identify with.” Art commentators have called her distinct style “Black Americana.” She paints two-dimensional figures and incorporates elements of humor, satire, and realism in her work. Notably, she does not paint faces on her figures because, she says, “You don’t need to see a face to understand emotion. I try to make the movement of the body express the emotion,” she says.

Lee was born in Alabama where she and her brother grew up being taught to cook, wash, clean, and sew together. She began painting at the age of ten and her talent was immediately apparent: she began winning contests and even secured several free semesters of lessons at an art institute. In high school she continued honing her artistic talent and cheered for her high school football team on the cheerleading squad. She turned down a scholarship to Northwestern so she could marry and have a family, saying, “At the time, it wasn’t a hard decision to make.”

Lee ended up in Chicago and did not return to painting until she was 40 years old, after she had lost two husbands to cancer and had raised two children. While working at a railroad company by day, Lee began to take art classes at night. After eight years, she earned a master’s degree from Loyola University and recalls the experience saying, “The best thing I ever did for myself. It reopened my mind.”

Lee’s passion for painting stayed intense. Because she was painting so much, she developed tendinitis and spinal problems while the acrylic paints she used cause other illness from the fumes. But she never stopped. Instead, in 1986—a year after her successful first gallery show in which her paintings sold out in the first four hours—Lee made the transition from painting’s being hobby to a full-time job. She left the railroad permanently while on leave after her son died in December in an automobile accident. “Now that my son was gone, I didn’t need such financial resources,” she said.

The risk paid off. Lee has since opened her own shop; had her art featured in numerous shows and movies, including Bill Cosby’s “A Different World,” Eddie Murphy’s “Coming to America,” and ER; and she has considerably recognition in the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Japan.

She currently lives in Las Vegas where she continues to paint in the open air where it helps her health.

Lee is just one of many wonderful artists featured in our African American Art Collection.

Hattie’s Delight is a really popular puzzle by Annie Lee. 500 pieces, made by Sunsout.

Happy 150th Birthday, Gustav Klimt

It was Gustav Klimt’s birthday on Sunday. The art nouveau icon was born on July 14, 1862 and died Feb. 6, 1918. Klimt’s work remains as some of the most expensive on the art market. In celebration of his birthday, Vienna’s museums offered an exhibit called “Klimt: Up Close and Personal” – where his artwork was given a new light – not just beautiful reproductions of his most famous golden work “The Kiss,” but also showing off the “worst of the worst” – some 100+ objects sent from around the world that Klimt’s work has been reproduced on – from toilet-seat covers, bejeweled eggs with rotating figured from “The Kiss” and Elvis music – to pictures of tattoos.

We think Gustav Klimt Jigsaw Puzzles are a much classier way to honor the intricate artwork of this great, late, artist. After all, only some of the highest quality puzzle brands have reproduced his work – Heye, Piatnik and Pomegranate to name a few of our favorites. Below, see some of the artwork that is available on jigsaw puzzles from Gustav Klimt. Puzzles are a great way to enjoy your favorite artwork time and time again because they can either be glued and framed to form a wonderful piece of wall decoration – or disassembled and put back together over the years.