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A Folk Art Story

By Pipka

Bauernmalerie...let's break that word down. Bauern means "peasant" or "farmer", Malerie means "painting". How easy is that? It means "folk art painting". For centuries, farmers made their furniture and painted it so they would have something decorative in their homes. The paint also had a practical purpose of preserving the wood.

I was born in Europe and returned many times to visit my grandparents in Bavaria, the land of beer, costumes and folk art everywhere; on buildings, clothing, furniture. Visiting museums, I became fascinated with the old traditional folk art. Much of the painting on furniture was images depicting farm life, weddings, or flowers. These images were stories in pictures and gave me a glimpse of how farmer families lived their lives many decades ago and into the 21st century. Much of the furniture painting I saw in museums was very primitive; stencils cut from potatoes, dipped in paint, then applied to the furniture to look like roses. Other techniques were much more sophisticated as itinerant painters would travel from farm to farm and, for room and board, paint the furniture.

I love bauernmalerei painting. It speaks to my soul, my heritage, who I am and where I come from. Soon, back home in America, I was painting primitive flowers and leaves on anything and everything I could find. My mother said I would paint anything that wasn't standing still. Those first years were such exciting times. Every morning I woke up filled with of enthusiasm and inspiration to begin the day, often painting 10-12 hours. Eventually I opened a little shop down the street and when customers would ask me to show them how to paint, we'd sit around a card table in the middle of the shop and share stories and strokes. That was the beginning of a long career, my own folk-art story. Over the years, my art became more refined, however I never lost the enthusiasm of creating something beautiful and sharing it with others.


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