Recorders and Keepers

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Portrait of Emily Edwards
Untitled (Bishop Hallam)
miniature portraits, detail in painting, painting miniatures, display of miniatures, wearing miniature artwork, viewing miniature artwork, commissioning a work of art, capturing a portrait likeness, making memories of people, art of miniature painting, miniature painters,5 centimeter paintings, value of miniature paintings, Hilda Stewart, Emily Edward's portrait, Bishop Hallam's portrait,water colour, ivory, commissions

The two examples of Stewart’s work presented here give us an idea of the attention to detail and the craftsmanship required to produce miniature portraits such as these. Because of their size – usually no more than five centimeters at their widest point – you might expect miniature portraits like this to be attached to a necklace and worn around the neck. Because of their delicacy and value, that likely did not happen often, however. At an exhibition at the Mendel Art Gallery in 1990 almost 100 of Stewart’s miniatures were displayed in glass-topped wooden showcases. Special chairs were provided to enable visitors to view the works.

Bishop William Hallam was ordained as Bishop of Saskatoon in the Anglican Church of Canada in 1931. Stewart’s miniature  portraitA work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people, or an animal. Portraits usually show what a person looks like as well as revealing something about the subject's personality. Portraits can be made of any sculptural material or in any two-dimensional medium. Portraiture is the field of portrait making and portraits in general. Portrait is a term that may also refer simply to a vertically-oriented rectangle, just as a horizontally-oriented one may be said to be oriented the landscape way. (  of him is an example of the use of art to record the likeness of an important person in the community. The  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  of the other miniature presented here, Emily Edwards, is more difficult to identify. It is likely that the work was a  commissionA contract between an artist and an individual. The artist agrees to create an image or design for the individual for a predetermined price.  from another family member or Edwards' husband. Commissions were an important source of income for miniature painters, as they are for many artists. Again, the desire to capture and keep the likeness of a loved one appears to be a near-universal human need, which the visual arts help to satisfy. However, with so many alternative ways to capture images and memories now available to everyone, the art of miniature  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (  appears to have faded.

additional resources On Hilda Stewart
Duration: 2:13 min
Size: 9925kb
Things to Think About
  • Hilda Stewart was fortunate to be born into a middle-class, artistic family where she could pursue her profession, at a time when women were asserting their right to equality. And yet, she still had to overcome adversity in order to continue practising her profession. Is she the kind of person you would like to learn more about?
Online Activity
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Our understanding of objects and our relationship to them changes when the  scaleThe proportion between two sets of dimensions.  of the object changes. In other words, we experience the same object differently depending on its size.

Change the scale of the chair in the room below by moving the slide from left to right. How would you describe each change in scale? Is there one scale that seems "more correct"? Why do you think this is?

Studio Activity
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Before the era of the camera, miniature portraits were often given as jewellery and used as personal mementos. They were carried as a reminder of a loved one.

Create a  digitalA system of representing images or objects through numbers. These numbers can then be re-interpreted by another digital system to generate light and sound.  miniature self-portrait for a locket.

  • Download the image into a photo-editing program.
  • Place the photograph inside the locket.
  • Present the locket to someone you care about.

Alternatively, you can also place a transparency on top of the image, then, while looking carefully at the image, make a tiny painted reproduction of what you see, either in colour, or in a range of grays to black-and-white (challenging yourself to read the  colourProduced by light of various wavelengths, and when light strikes an object and reflects back to the eyes. Colour is an element of art with three properties: (1) hue or tint, the colour name, e.g., red, yellow, blue, etc.: (2) intensity, the purity and strength of a colour, e.g., bright red or dull red; and (3) value, the lightness or darkness of a colour. When the spectrum is organized as a color wheel, the colours are divided into groups called primary, secondary and intermediate (or tertiary) colours; analogous and complementary, and also as warm and cool colours. Colours can be objectively described as saturated, clear, cool, warm, deep, subdued, grayed, tawny, mat, glossy, monochrome, multicolored, particolored, variegated, or polychromed. Some words used to describe colours are more subjective (subject to personal opinion or taste), such as: exciting, sweet, saccharine, brash, garish, ugly, beautiful, cute, fashionable, pretty, and sublime. Sometimes people speak of colours when they are actually refering to pigments, what they are made of (various natural or synthetic substances), their relative permanence, etc. (  values as black-and-white/grey  scaleThe proportion between two sets of dimensions.  values).

As an alternative to a jewellery piece, paint a locket and chain with  watercolourAny paint that uses water as a solvent. Paintings done with this medium are known as watercolours. What carries the pigment in watercolour (called its medium, vehicle, or base) is gum arabic. An exception to this rule is water miscible oil paints, which employ water as their solvent, but are actually oil paints. Colours are usually applied and spread with brushes, but other tools can also used. The most common techniques for applying watercolour are called wet-on-dry and wet-on-wet, along with the dry brush techniques dry-on-dry and dry-on-wet. Colours can be removed while still wet, to various degrees by blotting. Most watercolour painting is done on paper, but other absorbent grounds can also be employed. The papers most favored by those who paint with watercolour is white, very thick, with high rag content, and has some tooth. (  on paper.

  • Present the card to someone you care about.

See the following links for tips on portrait photography

  • Portrait photography

See the following links for tips on watercolour


Author unknown. Undated typewritten manuscript in Artist File, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan.

Author unknown.  ‘Hilda Stewart R.M.S.’  The Sheaf Supplement, 1942.

Bell, Lynne.  Hilda Stewart. R,M.S.: An Essay in Retrieving History.  Exhibition catalogue, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1990.

Moy, Patricia.  Creative Miniatures: A complete guide to miniature painting.  East Roseville, New South Wales:  Simon and Schuster, 1992.

Robertson, Sheila.  ‘Miniature exhibition reflects on lost art.’  Saskatoon Star Phoenix, September 8, 1990.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning