California: 1906-1910. Cloth cover over boards, measuring 12 x 9.25 inches. Some rubbing and wear to binding exterior. Internally with some toning and soiling. Bookplate of E.M. Sheater to front endpaper. Comprised of 18 fully handwritten pages, 8 original drawings and paintings, and 57 mounted and annotated pieces of ephemera relating to art exhibits, school and social events, musicals and plays.
In 1935, Ethel Shearer would become one of the featured artists at the opening of the San Francisco Museum of Art as well as at the Oakland Art Gallery one year later. And she would become a prominent member in the Society of San Francisco Women Artists. This commonplace book was compiled in her youth, when Shearer was an aspiring artist working on her craft from the ages of 13 to 17. A fascinating glimpse into the educational and social events that inspired her work, this scrapbook shows a young woman curious about the nature and the people around her. Valuing her education and her friends, the young Ethel saves invitations and favors from various parties with her friends, as well as mounting her report cards across the years. Her main focus, however, is on drama and art. Alongside material from local drama performances, as well as larger civic performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream or Peter Pan, Ethel consistently writes brief reviews of what she enjoyed and what components of the performance were well done. She finds visual inspiration all around her and includes a range of art pieces, from birds and flowers, to local miners at work, to a self-portrait in her cotillion dress. In 1908, alongside a small painting, she notes, "Sketching a poppy field. Had an audience of two cowboys and a dog. We brought lettuce sandwiches and salted almonds along." Later that same year, she mounts a drawing of a child with the annotation "St. Nicholas Ad Competition, August 15. Sept 15 '08 Announcement $3 2nd Prize" and includes the Judges' letter notifying her of the award and encouraging her continued endeavors. Though she would later base her career in painting landscapes, this youthful scrapbook captures the process through which Shearer developed her own aesthetic eye and tastes, and provides a glimpse into the early formation of an artist.
SFMA Inaugural Catalogue. Hughes' Artists in California, 1786-1940. Very Good (Item #2296)