Art Journey Challenges, Design Inspirations

Art Journey #4 :: The Dreamy World of Odilon Redon

About the Art & Artist: Odilon Redon


“My drawings inspire, and are not to be defined.

They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous realm of the undetermined.”

~ Odilon Redon


Bertrand-Jean Redon was commonly known as Odilon Redon (April 20, 1840 – July 6, 1916). His nickname was dervied from his mother’s name, Odile. He was a Symbolist painter and printmaker, born in Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France. Redon is one of the most important and original of all the Symbolist artists. Symbolists relied on dreams, emotions, ideas and feelings. They valued the artist’s reveal of their own personal truth. Redon’s work was visionary and focused on the world of his own personal dreams, imagination and fantasy.  Redon believed that art could transcend the everyday and open onto a marvelous world of the mind.

As a young child, Redon started drawing. At just 10 years old, he was awarded a drawing prize at his school. He formally studied drawing at 15, but his father insisted he switch to architecture. But he could not pass his entrance exams to the school, so he ended up back at home.

Once back in Bordeaux, he took up sculpture, etching and lithography. But another break in his artistic career came in 1870 when he joined the army to serve in the Franco-Prussian War. At the end of the war, he moved to Paris, working almost exclusively in charcoal and lithography.

In the 1890s, he began using pastel and oils, which dominated his works for the rest of his life. His works in pastel and oils have this very dream-like nature. It was like looking into a visual journal of his life filled with all the beauty and horrors you might find in your subconscious. One of his most famous works, The Smiling Spider (1887), shows a huge almost comical spider with a rotund fuzzy body and a human face, hinting at nightmares of delirium.

The three paintings chosen for the Art Journey #4 have a softer, less sinister side. Read on…

Madame Arthur Fontaine, 1901
Marie Escudier Fontaine was the wife of a wealthy Parisian industrialist and art patron. She was friends with a number of musicians like Claude Debussy, writers like André Gide, and artists like Edouard Vuillard, who twice painted her portrait. Redon created this portrait of Madame Fontaine in a very quiet, domestic state of embroidering, surrounded by sprays of florals when she and her husband came to visit them in the south of France. It is one of his finest and most finished pastels.

Bouquet of Flowers, 1900-1905
The young Redon was fascinated with Darwinian biology. His late still lifes like this one show a keen naturalist’s eye paired with a vivid imagination. He combined many types of blooms in an explosion of color and shape, much like fireworks in the sky. The vase that was used frequently in such paintings came from his ceramacist friend Marie Botkin.

Butterflies, 1910
It wasn’t until he was 60 that Redon began to use his recognizable sensuous color from paintings and pastels. Many of his late works in color were fantastical representations of nature’s smallest beauties, like flowers, seashells and butterflies.

Stay tuned: I will be back on Friday with a Launch Pad post to give you a kick start for Art Journey #4.

Our prize for Art Journey #4 will be given away from a random draw of all entries on May 5th with our prize package donated by Erin Prais-Hintz that will be perfect for use with the Art Journey #5! We hope this will encourage you to play along!


What is the Art Journey Challenge?

Every six weeks we will challenge our readers to create jewelry inspired by the featured artwork or collection of art or theme. You have until the end of the Art Journey period to share your work and then we pick one winner to receive beads and jewelry-making supplies from our sponsors that will work with our NEXT Art Journey to hopefully inspire you to continue joining the challenges. Our only rule? You must use at least one art bead in your piece!

How to Enter the Monthly Jewelry Challenge:

Create something using an art bead that fits within our monthly theme. This challenge is open to jewelry-makers, fiber artists, collage artist, etc. The art bead can be created by you or someone else. The challenge is to inspire those who use art beads and to see all the different ways art beads can be incorporated into your handiwork. An art bead must be used in your piece to qualify for the monthly challenge. Upload your photo to our photo gallery. Include a short description, who created the art beads and a link to your blog or shop, if you have one.

Deadline to enter is Saturday, June 15th.

You may upload as many entries as you like per Art Journey, as long as they follow the guidelines. (Please be patient as they are approved by one of our editors to post in the Gallery).

Click here to submit your entry.

Monthly Challenge Winners

• One prize winner will be selected at random from all pictures posted in our new gallery!
• The winner will be randomly chosen from all the qualifying entries on June 16th.
Be sure to point out all the art bead artists in your work in the description of the photos when you upload to the new gallery. Links to their website or shop are appreciated. That way we can all find new art beads to love!

What is an Art Bead?

An art bead is a bead, charm, button or finding made by an independent artist. Art beads are the vision and handiwork of an individual artist. You can read more about art beads.

***A bead that is handmade is not necessarily an art bead. Hill Tribe Silver, Kazuri ceramic beads or lampwork beads made in factories are examples of handmade beads that are not considered art beads. Beaded beads, stamped metal pendants or wire-wrapped components are not considered art beads for our challenge.***

Bead Artists

Feel free to share beads that you made inspired by our challenge in our gallery. You can enter multiple photos for each challenge. We love to promote new artists and share what you’ve created!

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