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May 31 / Gemma Insinna

Clothing and Art – The Vintage Village

Artists have traditionally staged a subject for a painting, whether it was a person or model, as the case may be, in the dress or with the props that tell a story of some sort.
Caravaggio comes to mind immediately, with his elaborate scenes, painted using as his models grocer’s delivery boys dressed as Bacchus, or a street friend dressed as Mary Magdaline.
And as we progress forward in time , we see portraits done by John Singer Sargent of women in fabulous ballgowns and men in tuxedos and top hats. Certainly not your everyday dress by any means…
I think the point and the fun is in being remembered by future generations with your most elegant foot forward!
I collect vintage clothing, and early on I had started taking photos of some of my most unusual the dresses.
I decided to do the above self portrait painting of me, wearing one of these victorian outfits. Dressing up is fun in itself, but if you can do something even more with the photograph, it’s even better!
I’d love to do more paintings with staged dress up , and in fact I did several portraits of friends dressed up in various Victorian outfits, including children, because I had some turn of the century children’s straw hats which are perfect portrait props!
I just wanted to share this aspect of vintage collecting, and what it has meant to me in relation to my painting!
Thanks for reading this!
Gemma Insinna

Tags: Art, Caravaggio, clothing, Gemma Insinna, John Singer Sargent, paintings, Sargent, , vintage

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May 21 / Gemma Insinna

Ordinary Everyday Scenes, Extroardinary Paintings

The simple things of ordinary life have always been captured in art throughout history.
Even on the walls inside the tombs in ancient Egypt, or the ruins of Pompeii, there are everyday scenes, glorifying these moments for posterity. They give us a glimpse of what the customs were, the food, the clothes, and the activities.
The most remarkable ones are those depicting a simple everyday scene .

In the above painting by Michael Insinna, the figures are doing nothing but talking on a street corner, in front of an ordinary apartment building in New York. Yet it is a wonderful look back in time, and in mood.  A recollection that came through to us today, an ordinary street scene .

This particular scene is from the 1950’s , but you can still see pretty much the same thing going on in every city everywhere.

Robert Henri was one of the teachers at the turn of the century that brought out the importance of drawing the everyday scenes and people that his students saw throughout the day.

His followers at the Art Students League in New York continued in this tradition, and Michael was part of that in the 1940’s and 1950’s,  studying with Henri’s disciple, Robert Brackman.
He told them of the importance of keeping a note pad always handy for capturing a particularly picturesque place or moment, to then go back to and develop a painting later.

This is what was developing in New York, from the 1900’s on through the 1920’s and then on through the 1950’s. Early on it became known as the Ash Can School, because they were accused of painting the most banal of subjects.

Edward Hopper was another artist that really captured those plain and simple places, and figures, doing nothing but living a moment captured and sketched. He filled books and books with his notes, even with details on the color and the light! You can see some of his art and info here on Artsy.

Of course Leonardo Da Vinci also noted to his assistants many times the importance of drawing everywhere, and he himself filled many notebooks, called codexes, and kept a leatherbound pad of paper on a chain on his belt when he went about the towns and cities searching for just the right face for his paintings. Or simply to draw figures doing some everyday chore.

I myself had the good fortune to capture with my 35mm camera four men talking on the street in the Bowery, in Manhattan. It was back in the early 1980’s.
In the midst of a very animated conversation, I passed by them in a cab and snapped the photo. The interesting thing I think is that one guy is looking right at me as I whizzed by in that split second.

The resulting painting is below.

Ordinary street life, with the benefit of the camera, I think is easier than a note pad , but Robert Henri and daVinci did very well without it!

Thanks for reading this,


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May 9 / Gemma Insinna

Learning the ropes

I’d like to tell everyone who is interested in learning about internet marketing some of my most recent experiences, in hopes that this can encourage those who would like to learn more about working online, to take some of the steps I did!

I have been learning how to utilize the internet for sales of my artwork and recently I have been also selling vintage clothing, jewelery and accessories, not just your usual internet stuff…

Once I photographed the vintage stuff, I posted them on 2 different sites;


and Vintage Network

All of my know-how ( so far) I owe to the fact that almost 4 months ago I joined an internet marketing community called 12Second Commute.

It is truly a community, because I have been learning how to use their software tools to build my home marketing business , and I can definately say that I have taken full advantage of their online interactive conferences and skype chats to ask questions and follow their instructions and advice .

For example, I learned about the Capture Page Creator tool, and went and made a capture page for 2 separate projects of mine, and began posting the links on my Face Book and Twitter. It was easy, and fun too!

This one is about my watercolors  I do from your favorite photo

I started blogging to get the word out about 12sc, because I signed on as an affiliate, marketing their system, which practically markets itself once you take a look and see how it builds around the tools and the info to guide you on your way!

I went on to blog about my art, and my parents art,

and have continued to progress daily toward my goal of marketing diverse products and creations online. Whenever I get stuck or need advice as to how best to proceed , I can post a question in the 12sc skype chat and someone will always respond, or I can contact my sponsor or directly contact customer support and receive help very fast, usually from Darryl Graham the owner !

Even this Posterous blog is a direct result of yet another conference class!

I will continue to tie things together here and make announcements and posts !

Thanks for reading this!

All the best,

Gemma Insinna

for more info:

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Apr 20 / Gemma Insinna

Two Points of View for the Same Subject

Michael’s Sunny Stilllife

Cappi’s Afternoon Stillife

This is just an interesting observation that I have had the opportunity
to observe, with my parent’s art;
Michael and Cappi Insinna, 2 artists, who happen to be my parents,
happened upon the same still life, (with my old Easter hat) which had been
set up for my mother’s art students, as a practice subject.
This was sometime in the 1960’s I think.
It had been set up for awhile, as the students continued their work over
several weeks, because the classes met twice weekly.
My mother did her painting most likely in the afternoon, after class and
a less busy time frame for her.
My father, Michael, most likely got to it with the saturday or sunday
morning sun streaming in upon it, and did a whole other take on color and
Cappi’s is more somber and more realisticly figurative, while Michael’s
is bright and sketchy.
They certainly reflect the two different times of day, but also the
probable moods and state of mind of each painter, as every painting ever
done always does reflect.
I thought it was nice to be able to see such different approaches to the
same subject, and wanted to share this with you…
the paintings are both together in a private collection, which is
something I am very happy about. I like the idea that they started out so
long ago together, and are still so!
Thanks for reading this,
for more on Cappi’s and Michaels work, please contact me
All the best,

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Apr 16 / Gemma Insinna

Michael Insinna, his life and works

“If you are to be an artist, you must first learn to draw and draw expressively.You must do this before you can paint. Only then will you be able to make yourself, your aims, and your thoughts fully understood”.
This is what Michael would tell his students at the Famous Artists School , in Westport Ct. in the 1960’s ,where he was one of the “Famous artist’s” stable of instructors.
Born in Passaic New Jersey, he was only a boy when he realized he wanted to be a painter and spent his entire life in the persuit and realization of that dream. He had his heart set on attending one of the most famous fine old art schools in the eastern USA, Cooper Union, in New York City. He was overjoyed when he’d been accepted, but almost immediately he had to face a serious problem. His family was in straitened circumstances, and he had to do his share to keep it afloat economically.
At night he attended classes at Cooper Union, and by day worked at a soda fountain, as a clerk, or  did any job he could find.
“Getting my art education was a struggle”, he used to reminisce, ” I had to fight for it all the way!”
Finally he developed his skill to such a degree that he was awarded a scolarship at the Art Student’s League, Here he studied with Robert Brackman, the noted portrait painter, among many other famous artists.
But the United States was already embroiled in WWII, and Michael was called into the army. When his military duties allowed, he worked at his art, and with the end of the war, he was able to resume his studies at the Art Students League. Brackmans teaching again brought enrichment; Michael learned much, too, from William Zorach, the famed sculptor, and Ivan Olinsky, the portraitist. He was already selling portraits.
A good artist can make a good teacher. After completeing his formal art training, Michael was offered a teaching job with the Franklin School of Professional Arts, in New York City.
He taught anatomy, drawing, and painting-and every spare moment, he painted!
He went on to the Museum of  Natural History , where he worked as an artist for the paleontology dept., where he studied and drew fossils–dinosaurs, fish, and other ancient life forms–which were used in museum publications- and he did illustrations for Natural History Magazine. He illustrated the popular book, Dinosaur Hunt, by George Whitaker and Joan Meyers
Soon his work was being exhibited at the National Achademy of Design, The Carnegie International Show in Pittsburg, PA, by personal invitation from Homer Gaudens. And also at various shows and galleries in New York and New Jersey.
I would like to take this opportunity to show and share some of Michael’s work with the world.
I feel his art and his paintings were very indicative of the New York art scene of the 1940’s and also the whole Art Students League approach to art.
He followed in the footsteps of Robert Henri, and drew his inspiration from the everyday scenes, and from portraiture of all kinds.
He drew and painted scenes from the city streets, and then went on to paint the wonderful and colorful scenes and people of Mexico, which continued to be a source of inspiration all of his life.
For more on Michael, his wonderful works, and a short video of photographs of the artist and his life, see his Squidoo Lens here,
For info on Michael’s paintings that are available for purchase, please contact me.
Thanks for reading this,

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