Artist Bio: Eric Dowdle

Eric Dowdle is a very popular artist for puzzles. So popular, in fact, that he has his own puzzle company: Dowdle Folk Art. We carry Dowdle Folk Art puzzles that feature images of some very recognizable towns in Dowdle’s very recognizable hand. Charming and colorful, these renditions are some of the most well-liked puzzles around!

dowdle folk art, new york city, statue of liberty, america

Statue of Liberty. 500 pieces. Finished size: 16″ x 20″.

Dowdle was born into a family of twelve children (ten boys and two girls) in the Western United States. His family focused on old fashioned values that he thinks are reflective in his art—those values of hard work and  devotion to God and country.

jerusalem, religious puzzles, folk art religious

Jerusalem. 500 pieces. Finished size: 16″ x 20″.

texas, travel, landmarks

Galveston, TX. 500 pieces. Finished size: 16″ x 20″.

Eventually the family lived in Boston, Massachusetts where Dowdle said he developed his fascination with folk art. His unique style has been applied to cities all around the country and world from Boise, Idaho New York, New York to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

new york city, central park, christmas puzzles, winter

Central Park. 500 pieces. Finished size: 16″ x 20″.

No matter the city, Dowdle applies the same unique style that somehow manages to cncompass an “essence” of what people feel about their home. It’s a sort of magical quality that makes everywhere beautiful and homey, no matter how big or small.

hong kong

Hong Kong. 500 pieces. Finished size: 16″ x 20″.

oregon puzzles, northwest jigsaw

Portland, OR. 500 pieces. Finished size: 16″ x 20″.

Dowdle’s first gallery was in the Cottonwood mall in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now his work has been featured all over the country in different galleries and historical pageants. Currently Dowdle, his wife, and five children reside in Lindon, Utah. To date, he says his most flattering award is the one he received at the 1997 Latter Day Saints Church Art Competition.

paris puzzles, france

Paris. 500 pieces. Finished size: 16″ x 20″.

Dowdle also loves to illustrate stadiums and fields of some of your favorite sports teams, from Wrigley Field to the Boise State Broncos football stadium. Check out more Dowdle Folk Art puzzles for puzzles of zoos, ballon festivals, more!

 

Artist Profile: Jim Daly

In our last post, we featured a puzzle with the artwork of Jim Daly. Barbara’s comment that she loved the puzzle of the little boy taking a bath inspired me to look up what other Jim Daly art we have. Turns out, there’s quite a few! Some of them I’d even saved to my wishlist without realizing that they were from the same artist.

If you like art that “shows life as good, honest, wholesome and clean, full of hope and inspiration,” then Jim Daly’s art is for you. He says that if he can attract people to these kinds of principles then “I feel as if I’ve said something in my art.”

jim daly art, children puzzles, people theme puzzles, cats

A Quick Sniff by SunsOut. 500 pieces.

Jim Daly’s images feature a lot of children. Of them he says, “In a sense my paintings are just me reliving my own childhood and my own life experiences, or maybe the way I would have liked it to be. I’m really moved by the memories of days gone by. Sometimes I think the memories are better than the reality. I love to paint children. There’s an innocence they have that I never get tired of trying to put on canvas.”

Childhood Friends by SunsOut. 1000 pieces.

Daly knew he wanted to be an artist even when he was a young boy. He was born in Oklahoma but moved to Los Angeles at an early age in the years right after WWII. Of his childhood, Daly remembers that he was always drawing—and his mom was always encouraging.

“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing. My Mom was always telling me what a great artist I was. She would make so much out of my drawings that I believed her. She made [my brother] Clayne and I think we were great.”

Back to the Barn by SunsOut. 1000 pieces.

“My paintings are just a reflection of my boyhood,” Daly says. “We rode our bikes, played baseball in vacant lots, and shot marbles, all the things kids do, and there was always a dog following us around.”

Pep Talk by SunsOut. 500 pieces.

Before becoming an artist, Daly dropped out of school to join the army, then while stationed in Panama in the infantry division, he joined the boxing team. He considered becoming a professional boxer, but went to art school instead.

Just a Cowboy Buckeroo by SunsOut. 550 pieces.

He married and had four children, but tragically lost his youngest at the age of six years old. After he divorced his first wife, he married his second wife, Carol. They have been together for 33 years. She teaches at the University of Oregon.

Just Hanging Around by SunsOut. 500 pieces.

Daly finds that his work and art is always evolving.

“Art for me is a continuous search,” he says. “When I was young and starting out as an artist I wanted to learn everything I could. I wanted to know exactly what I was doing but every time I finished a painting it never met up to my expectations and I felt like a failure. As time went by it didn’t get any easier and I still didn’t understand what I was doing. When I heard the joke, ‘By the time I found out I had no talent it was to late; I was already famous’ it scared the heck out of me. Then one day I was watching TV and I happened to catch Allan Alda giving the commencement speech at his daughter’s graduation and he said a sentence that changed my life: ‘CREATIVITY IS NEVER QUITE KNOWING WHAT YOU’RE DOING.’ I then realized that it’s not desirable to know exactly what I’m doing and I’ve never looked back.”

To learn more about Jim Daly, check out his website’s autobiography section. And remember that all the Jim Daly puzzles are offered by SunsOut and right now we are running a special where you can buy 3 SunsOut puzzles and get one FREE!

 

Artist Profile: Edward Gorey

I was looking through our collection of Halloween puzzles when I spotted an Edward Gorey puzzle we have:

Dracula puzzle by artist Edward Gorey

Dracula in Dr. Seward’s Library, by Edward Gorey. 500 pieces – Finished size: 24″ x 18″.

I love Edward Gorey. His and Tim Burton’s melancholy, macabre works have always fascinated me. My favorite movie of all time is Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, and I was always thrilled it was appropriate to watch during two holiday seasons.

Gorey is famous for his alphabet poem with pen-and-ink illustrations, described as a list of “incredible ways to die.” My favorite is probably “B, for Basil, assaulted by bears.”

I’m drawn to those people who look at things a little differently, and Gorey is one of them.

Here are a collection of my favorite quotes from this great artist:

“I really think I write about everyday life. I don’t think I’m quite as odd as others say I am. Life is intrinsically, well, boring and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open up. Of course, it almost never does; that’s what makes it so boring.”

Edward Gorey Puzzle

The untitled, gleefully chaotic work reproduced in this puzzle might be seen as Gorey’s celebration of the theater, which brought him great pleasure and inspiration. 1000 piece puzzle.

“My mission in life is to make everybody as uneasy as possible. I think we should all be as uneasy as possible, because that’s what the world is like.”

“Explaining something makes it go away, so to speak; what’s important is left after you have explained everything else.”

“I don’t think anything might have been. What is, is.”

Edward Gorey died in April of 2000. He is missed, but his charm and peculiar humor lives on his art. As he said about himself: “To take my work seriously would be the height of folly.” So, if you like his unique take on life and his wonderful drawings, check out the Gorey puzzles we have displayed above.

 

EDWARD GOREY: SEVENTEEN CATS Puzzle

Seventeen Cats on the Front Steps of 82 Maple Street, by Edward Gorey. This 300 piece jigsaw puzzle with extra large pieces, measures 18″ x 24″.

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.

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.