It is the fine attention to detail that sets Jean Colquhoun apart from other folk artists. Smoke curling skyward from the chimney of a colonial home, the apple-red cheeks of children peering through the window of a toymaker and the expressions on event the tiniest figures that find their way into a scene lend reminiscence to paintings, that in another time, this was what life was like.
Since 1964, Ms. Colquhoun has used oil paints to create images of life in another time. For many years, her medium was wood, on which such scenes as sleigh rides, picnics, village landscapes and whaling on the high seas were preserved.
Ms. Colquhoun has illustrated two books. Angel Baskets: A Little Story about the Shakers, won the prestigious Small Press silver medal award for the illustrations in 1989. Her second book, Christmas in Water Village, was published in 1989.
Her work has appeared commercially, too. A winter scene was chosen by Pepperidge Farm for its annual holiday cookie tin in 1988 and she has also designed a catalog cover for the outdoor recreation company, Orvis.
With her love of both art and history, Ms. Colquhoun created a line called Past Due. Combing old bookstores and mining manuscript documents, she find paper from the past – bill heads, ledger sheets, deed recordings and dance cards – and using her imagination, creates an artwork to complement the paper, which often dates back to the 1700s.
“Seeing an antique document or bill head with the writing of our ancestors creates an inspiring idea for a painting,” she said. “I feel we can be closer to our past through reading, and by seeing a painting that brings it to life.”
Ms. Colquhoun draws her inspiration from her travels through New England, visiting small villages and museums, as well as the captivating stories she heard as a child from the old timers in her life, who well remembered the simpler times.