Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Big Eyed Lovelies

This post requires you to know one thing about my childhood; I was gifted with two amazing sets of grandparents. Both sets influence this post. However, don't blame my dubious taste in art on them. That's all on me.

Remember how I posted that J bought me these paintings when we were in South Carolina while I was pregnant, but then I thought they were lost when we moved in here, and then J found the box? Yeah.

Photo From My Girl Thursday

And then I was flittering around Pinterest one night and saw this gallery wall, which stars my bongo drum boy?

Well, after I wrote the post I went and studied my paintings. Somehow I never noticed both were signed...with different signatures. The ballerina girl was signed MAIO, and bongo boy is signed Medeiros. The Medeiros name is interesting, but the MAIO really caught my eye.

Because I could see another painting when I looked at it. When I was eleven or so, my family, including my paternal grandparents, road-tripped to Rome, Georgia. I have absolutely no idea why. Anyway, my grandfather and I were in an antique store when I fell in love with a painting of a girl with light brown hair in a Patty Duke flip standing on a green hill, wearing what I considered a "Robin Hood" (the Errol Flynn version) outfit and wearing a quite fetch hat.

He bought it for me.

For the rest of my childhood it hung in my room. It was lost during a move. 

I realized the same artist painted my ballerina girl that painted my lost childhood painting. 

I did what any obsessive person does in 2013. I hit up google.

Image from eBay

The hairstyle is identical to the one remember, but my girl had darker hair and a different color outfit. Also, no poodle. Still, I quite like this Maio painting.

Image from eBay

Another one from MAIO's harlequin series. Another blonde girl, with a goat instead of a poodle.

Image from eBay
Very, very close to my girl, but mine was wearing her hat.

Image from eBay

My ballerina has a sister. I love the face on the blue ballerina the best, but I'm still coveting the red ballerina.

Image from eBay
Two more from the Harlequin series, a girl leaning against a wall with a parrot (!) and another playing a lute. I LOVE the haughty expression on Parrot Girl.

So during my research I quickly learned MAIO was considered a "big eyed painter".  I had no idea. Now, my parents started dragging me to antiques fair as soon as I could walk and I started frequenting thrift stores as soon as I had transportation, so I certainly know ABOUT big eyed paintings. I just never considered MAIO a big eyed painter! I tend to think of images like these:

Image From Keane Eyes Gallery
Lots of people enjoy Margaret Keane's big eyed paintings. I'm not one of them. I think there's enough sadness in the world without those demented children and their poor pets staring at me everyday.

Quickly I learned "big eyed" covered a much broader field than I was aware of. Both Medeiros and MAIO were considered "big eyed" painters.

Remember my excitement over the fact both of my paintings had W.T. Grants written on the back of them? That's because oil on board big eyed paintings were usually sold at "five and dime" variety stores like Grants, Woolworths (!), and other now-defunct chains.

Y'all, I am straight up obsessed with Woolworths (this is due to my maternal grandmother. We ate lunch at Woolworths at least twice a week during the summers when I was little) and love finding old dime store merchandise.

I feel an obsession coming on.

Image from Medeiros Online

Here's the Medeiros bongo boy with the dark haired harlequin MAIO girl, in matching frames. Just like my ballerina girl and bongo boy are in matching frames! I can't find a grown-up/teen boy by MAIO so I think the bongo boy was packaged with the MAIO girls for a his and her set.

By the way, MAIO did a whole set of big eyed kid paintings I find kind of creepy, but I love her adult/teen set of paintings. I haven't yet found the one I had as a kid. However, there are TONS of variations on the the harlequin theme that I've found, so I have faith I'll find it eventually.

(And if anyone sees it in the wild, well, you know where to find me!)

I've also determined that I already own another big eyed painting.

Mr. Owl!

Anyway, does anyone else have a strange little art obsession?


  1. I love art so much. I think everyone needs an art obsession. It makes me happy that you started art-loving from such a young age. It didn't really hit me until I was 17.

    1. You were probably doing healthier things, like playing outside!

  2. I don't have strange little art obsession...but I think I might need one after reading this post. And google is the best. what did we ever do without it?

  3. I have a weird thing for any art with a skull tucked away in it somewhere- which is probably why even my wedding invitation has one. haha.
    I like your grumpy old owl :)

    1. That's awesome, and now I know what how to make you a wedding present.

  4. If you find the piece from your childhood but it was like 2,000 bucks, would you still get it?

    I actually have a really hard time with art and lighting. It defines the space so much and it's so EASY to get it wrong.

    1. I'd be seriously tempted.

      Uh...I suck at lighting. Especially in this house, which is where light comes to die.

  5. I think you need to create a family reunion and bring all those harlequin sisters home!! :-)

  6. I recently stumbled upon a set of teen pics by Eve. I know absolutely nothing about this type of art, just that I love it and buy it when I see it. During my research on "Eve" I learned the term "big eye art" which took me running to my 9 month old daughter's room to see who the art in her room was by. It turns out I have decorated her room in art by MAIO. Im now anxious to learn more. Any ideas on what they're worth, not that im interested in parting with these pieces, just curious. Thank you

  7. Tracie - love the art and agree about the Keane big eyes. I always thought hers were just this side of creepy. :-)

    By the way, I'm almost positive that's not a goat. I really think it is a Borzoi dog, they're Russian.


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