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CLICK
To read about Blythe Rand's oldest grandson,
Whitfield Jack, Jr. (who wrote the comments
about the paintings below) and about his
decades-long friendship with
Clementine Hunter and his personal
knowledge of these particular works.

(CLICK IMAGES IN LEFT COLUMN TO ENLARGE)

"Window-Shade Painting"
Oil on canvas shade
35" x 40"

Clementine Hunter's early paintings were done with discarded tubes of oil paint left at Melrose by the many artists who visited there. Mrs. Rand provided Clementine materials on which to paint, including this window shade. Only two window-shade paintings are known to have been done by Clementine.

Click the picture, and in the very lowest right-hand corner you will see Clementine Hunter's very first style of initials, two simple letters as shown below.
Her earliest paintings had the initials written this way.
CH
Paintings done slightly later sometimes
had the signature like this:

Once Clementine had finished a painting, meaning that she had no more room left on the medium on which she was painting, then she had no use for it and usually just gave it back to Mrs. Rand as a gift. and that was the source of this remarkable collection.
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"Milking Time" -- 1940s
Oil on canvas board

When Whitfield Jack Jr.'s grandmother, who originally owned the painting, asked Clementine why the cow had only three legs, Clementine gave her a perfectly good reason: She said that a milking stool only needed three legs, so the cow only needed three legs.

Notice that there is a cowbird sitting on top of the cow's head waiting for a passing bug. Click on the picture and you'll see that the cow is remarkable: It is able to rotate one eye up and to the right to inspect the cowbird while rotating the other eye down and to the left to supervise the milking.


These kinds of touches are what make so many of the painting's by
Clementine Hunter delightfully whimsical.

 CLICK
To read about how the "diagonals" (an art term) in this painting can lead a viewer's eyes around the painting, possibly much like Clementine Hunter's eyes traveled as she chose the order in which each image was painted.







     

 "Washday" -- c.1950s
Oil on rigid pasteboard
24" x 24"

Clementine Hunter's sense of perspective is one of
the delightful aspects of her paintings.

Here in this early oil painting, one of the figures seems to be hanging on the line along with the wash. And in the lower right, the pot of boiling lye-soap, seems to be up in the air on the end of a board like the far end of a see-saw.

While we might see the woman and the lye-pot in this odd perspective, Clementine knew the woman was on the ground and didn't need to belabor the point. And she knew the boiling pot was at the end of a path, so that was where it was in her mind, not levered up in mid air. Most people might not even recognize the path as a path.

Note that there only two men in the painting: One (lower left) at work pushing a wheelbarrow. The other (upper left) hiding out under a tree, probably to avoid working at anything.
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 "Gone Fishing" c.1950s
Oil on rigid pasteboard
23-1/2" x 15-1/2"


In this charming oil painting, Clementine Hunter depicts a day on Cane River with everybody fishing all dressed up in their Sunday best. If you look closely at the enlarged image, there are several details that are comments in themselves.

Only once is a woman instead of a man doing the fishing (shown in the boat in the upper left corner.) Note that her husband is secretively dumping a bottle of beer in the river. (Sunday guilt, perhaps?) Or maybe his wife just liked to fish. Or maybe her husband just couldn't manage to do it himself.

In the upper right corner a man is maneuvering his boat by pushing it with a pole to keep it near the river bank where the fish were. Not much work because Cane River was a non-flowing river (actually a lake, often called Cane River Lake) formed when a loop in the river was cut off from the main stream). Folks could just go "drift-fishing" as they are doing in this painting and relaxing on a hot summer day.

From the porch of the Rand family's camp,
"Happy Landing" on the bank of Cane River at Melrose Plantation in Louisiana, this was a scene that could be witnessed almost any day of the week.
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"Baptizing with Lady in Orange Dress"
c.Late 1950s -- Early 1960s
Oil on rigid pasteboard
24" x 15-1/2"


The mysterious lady in the orange dress appears from time to time in Clementine Hunter's work. Whether it is the same lady or not is unknown. But, where she appears, she invariably appears alone. No one else seems to dare to wear the same dress in the same painting!

These baptizing often took place in the backwaters of Cane River near Dr. and Mrs. Rand's fishing camp. Movies of the baptisims taken yeas ago by Dr. Rand have sadly been lost, but they were shown in the church to the delight of the parishioners, who paid for the preacher's home-made tickets as donations to the church.

Note the signature style:


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"Hoeing Corn" c.1950s
Oil on rigid pasteboard
23" x 15-1/2"


Hoeing corn is a rare subject in Clementine Hunter's paintings compared to picking cotton and picking pecans. In fact, this might possibly be the only one.

There was no commercial corn production at Melrose, but individuals might well have had a small backyard corn garden of their own, and Clementine took the idea and patterned it after her wonderful panoramic cotton-picking scenes of plantation farm life.

What the lady on the lower left is doing is anybody's guess. She could be picking corn-worm moths off the ears and putting them in a jar before they could lay corn-worm eggs. Or maybe just supervising to make sure everybody was hoeing fast and furious.



 

 


"Going to Church" c.Early 1950s
Oil on rigid pasteboard
23" x 19"


  The painting at left is unusual in that it shows churchgoers arriving on foot and and also by boat, which was the very way some people did arrive during Clementine's day.

Dr. Rand occasionally ferried a few of the local Melrose parishioners to the the church on other side of Cane River. They went, Sunday hats flapping in the wind, in his big old, all-steel, very-slow "speed" boat which created an enormous wake that sent fishermen scurrying up the bank and washed surprised snapping turtles off of their logs.

Although Clementine Hunter painted and signed the painting with her initials"CH", the inscription, "Going To Church" (or possibly "Goong To Church") was most certainly done with guidance, because her hand-writing skills were limited at this point.

But she wrote beautifully with her paintbrushes.

And never was the old saying more true:
A picture is worth a thousand words