M Medeiros Big Eyed Child Portrait Art

 

An Overview of this website

Originally I began this website because I wanted to discover more about a beloved art print.  I could not find any information on the artist for years, although I knew the artist's name because my print was signed.  So in the summer of 2009, I gathered information about the artist and started this website.  I found there were many others who were also emotionally attached to art pieces by Mederios.  I researched the descriptions of their images and began creating a catalog for the artists work.  I now have many of her works for my own personal enjoyment and still find new images.

Other notable or similar "Big Eyed Waif" artist of the 60's and 70's whose prints sold at Woolworth's across America are Kroger and Keane.  Kroger sold commercial works well before this movement and Keane sold prints after this movement.  But I didn't discover that until later.  I ended up detailing names of Big Eyed artists in alphabetical order with an image of their work to do comparisons.  You can find that information on the "Other Big Eyed Artists" page. 

This website is a reflection of hours of research, creating order in chaos and a love for sharing information with others.

M Medeiros 1960's Californian Child Portrait Artist

Myrle Medeiros was an artist in the 1960's whose lithograph prints sold in Woolworths from 1962 to 1975.  She participated in the kitch big-eyed waif art of the time, doing child portraiture as sets (boy and girl), using typical props of the time.   

Myrle was born on 09/20/1912 in Santa Ana, California and died 01/14/1981 at the age of 68.  I have an image of her original work which is signed "Medeiros 80", so she was creating works until that time.  She lived on Roscomare Rd, Los Angeles, California 90077 in 1958.  This street is nestled between the infamous Mulholland Dr, W Sunset Blvd,  N Beverly Glen Blvd and the San Diego Freeway.  This area was referred to as "Roscomare Valley".  Very near is the University of California Los Angeles, Stone Canyon Reservoir and the Bell Air Country Club.  She used her neighbors and family as models for her work.  A picture of her home can be found on "Forums" page.

This is an excerpt from an art brochure

She was interested in art for as long as she can remember.  Throughout her school years she majored in art, and studied commercial art at the Frank Wiggins School.  She followed this with studies at the Los Angeles' Art Center, and then at Chouinard. For ten years she was a designer of fine women's shoes for a leading manufactuer. In 1954 she decided to take art up seriously, and began with lessons under Harold Stephenson, then with Andrea Day and Keith Finch (of the Otis Art School) in portraiture.  She also took courses in drawing at Pierce College at Northridge.

Pepperdine College, the California Art Club and Olsen

Myrle's first exhibition was at Pepperdine College which used to be in Los Angeles, much closer to Roscomare Valley.  As a result of the Watts Riot in 1965, Pepperdine officially relocated to Malibu in 1971. Medeiros child portraits were in the impressionist style of the California Art Club which was founded in 1909 by the original California Impressionists.  Today that club is dedicated to traditional landscapes instead of portraits. Portraiture art of the time follows a well known book by Herbert Vincent Olsen "Painting Children in Watercolor" which was published in 1958.  Of course many classic painters created child portraits in order to make a living and these become loved and classic works, such as Renoir's "Girl with a Watering Can" or Cassatt's "The Bath".  

Merle seemed to follow in the  footsteps of other commercial artists of the time like Charlotte Becker, Maud Tollsey Fangel, or Florence Kroger.  Their work sold as prints for the main purpose to hang in your child's nursery.  This is why so many of these works hold a special place in our hearts, because they were our first official pieces of art. 

Whether or not Merle's original paintings were viewed in exhibition and then selected by printers or if the artist submitted work for consideration, I do not know.  Merle's work is mainly associated with printers D.A.C. (Donald Art Company Incorporated) or A.A.K. (Arthur A. Kaplan Company) who were making lithographs for distribution to Woolworth's at the time of the Big Eye art movement.  I have a list of other printers on the "Forums" page.  This big-eye art interest has revitalized in the recent era.  In essence five and dimes across the globe were successful  in offering "art "for hanging in the buyers homes.  Art for the nursery was particularly popular.

In the catalog of lithograph prints below, I note whether it is signed and titled.  Merle signed her work M. Medeiros or just Medeiros in later work.  On the "Other Images" page, I show images of some of her original oils or charcoals where her signature and style can be seen.  The titles for her works can often be found under a lithograph print frame or stamped on the back.  The type of print varies but mostly textured canvas and some very heavy card stock.  Most prints came framed but some sold without a frame.  The images are waist up or full profile and size varies but mainly 10X12 to 10X18. 

CATALOG OF LITHOGRAPH WORK

Boobsy Girl - signed and titled

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This is a piece titled Boobsy Girl signed M. Medeiros.  Size 10' x 18", it is framed in print (white border) and then framed in a white and gold distressed wood.  The back states STYLE # V4004 Manufactured By Bassons, Perth Amboy, N.J.

I bought this item in a garage sale when I was in elementary school with my own money. In the 70's it attracted my interest because the little girl reminded me of myself as my hair was very auburn. 

See the kitty's markings that depict the slant of the eyes?  In many of the big-eyed works, the prop is important.  A cat, a dog, a toy.  I try to note those in this catalog.  In this image, the eyes are not at all big.  It is the kitsch art of the time that makes this image part of the big-eye movement.  It's the colors, impressionist background, and detail in the eyes I especially like.  I do not consider this kitsch art at all, but as it was part of the movement, with five and dime distribution, it is considered that type of piece.  One thing that Medeiros did is place a shadow in the ground below the standing figure.

By the way, there was a series of books popular in the 50's called the Bobbsey Twins.  I have always been intrigued what Boobsy meant.  Boopsie is a nickname. 

Not Guilty - signed and titled

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This work is titled Not Guilty and depicts a boy with a Sling Shot (the prop).  The frame (gold/white), the light coloring around image, the colors and the shadow are similar to the Boobsy Girl above so to me they are a pair.  But, the Jacky Boy lithograph described below often comes as a set with Boobsy Girl.  I once found a lithograph print of Jacky Boy and Boobsy Girl side by side uncut which clearly indicates the pair, and often people have both Jacky and Boobsy together. 

This boy has that Hawaiian look.  Since we know that Medeiros used real children as models, I'd love to discover the name of this model.  Many Medeiros are found living in Hawaii in the late 50's so I have wondered if this is her son possibly?  He is seen in her other works.   There is no pet - but the slingshot either replaces one or speaks of one. 

The image is definitely more big-eyed! The little boy's proportions are off.  Can you see the shadow from his stance?  I have looked at these images so much I notice her depictions of hands and feet. 

On an auction I saw an image of identical framed prints with this and the one below.  The idea was that you could match to your own children, so two boys, one boy one girl.

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Jacky Boy - signed and titled

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This is the Jacky boy lithograph image that is in one piece with a Boobsy girl image.  For this lithograph, there is a copyright insignia in front of:  Arthur A. Kaplan Co., Inc. N. Y.C. No. AK515. It measures 12" x 10".

I bought an image like this that is framed in darker wood with gold accent.  The image I have does not have the bordered print frame around it.

I love the little dog!  That is why this image may have been selected to be paired with the girl because of the classic theme of boy/girl; cat/dog.  In the "Salute" work below, Merle does a depiction of John Jr.  

Also do you notice a hat theme? Beret here, bucket above, and flowered sun hat first.  Hands are hidden in pocket so viewer is not distracted by imperfection.

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Salute - signed and titled

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This is a Medeiros titled "Salute."  The frame is wooden and this measures 10 x 18 from the outside of the frame to the outside of the frame.  The actual print is 9 x 17. 

This image depicts John Kennedy (lil JohnJohn) at his father's funeral which took place in November of 1963.  The work titled "Little Sister" (of Caroline Kennedy) below matches it.  This lithograph is of higher quality than some of the others I own and the colors are particularly vivid. 

Big eyes.  Shadow.  Prop not needed as it would not match the image of John saluting that American's were so familiar with.  In a way the salute is a prop.  The background in this one and the one below is realistic and not as abstract as the others.  The hands are much better.  Because of the known time frame of the subject matter, this is probably a later or more mature work for Merle.

Little Sister - signed and titled

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This is titled "Little Sister" and is described as being an image of Caroline Kennedy.  It is 10" x 18" framed and matches the quality of the one above although mine is a bit damaged.  There is a famous photograph of Caroline Kennedy sucking her fingers.  In that photograph, President John Kennedy is holding Caroline as he returns from a plane ride.  Merle must have chosen that more famous image to memorialize the first family and added the flowers as a prop to being in the funeral theme.  Also this photographed image as a model would make Caroline much younger for the art piece so she matches Salute above.  The proportions on this piece are very good.   The high socks and the shoes remind me of the Boobsy Girl image.

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Sugar Bon - signed and titled

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This work is titled Sugar Bon and can be found numbered #620.  This little girl with black hair pulled up and a red ribbon tied around it and holding a black and white cat also with a red ribbon around neck. She has dark brown hair flowing in the breeze with a pink ribbon holding it back, the big blue eyes, pink cheeks and lips.  Size 16 x20

For this particular image the back is marked International Gallery Prints Or Arthur A. Kaplan Co.,Inc, NYC Litho.No.K-1.  Someone else's work back reads: Fine Prints by Gellman No.129 "Sugar Bun" by Medeiros.  Also 17 X14 with plastic white frame:Copyright A.A.K N.Y. C42 Published for Soroka Sales Inc. PGH. PA Litho in USA.

These images can be found as greeting cards,as 8 X 10 prints and small framed prints (if you look hard enough on ebay or etsy).

Tom Sawyer - signed and titled

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This work is titled Tom Sawyer and can be found numbered #607.  It depicts a little boy wearing a cap and a blue shirt holding a little dog. Size 16 x20

For this particular image the back is marked International Gallery Prints or the back reads Fine Prints by Gellman" No.132 "Tom Sawyer" by Medeiros

I have also found this image paired with the one above as greeting cards.  They came in framed pieces too (shown later on this page).

Themes of dog, cat; girl, boy; hats.  This time waist up and profile reminiscent.

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Huck Finn - signed and titled

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This image is titled Huck Finn and there is a duck in the boys pocket.  It depicts an auburn hair boy with cap, jacket and small duck in his pocket area of jacket. 

Themes are Huck Finn (this), Tom Sawyer (above) and Becky Thatcher (below image or Sugar Bun?).  Later on this page in works that are described that I have yet to find a piece is discussed which is of two boys on raft going down a stream.  Because of these images I someday hope to find that piece.

This appears to be the same boy model as Tom or "Not Guilty".  What do you think?  ?  Note the Cap is forward instead of back but it's the same hat.

Honey Bun or Golden Mums - signed

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This image is from a deck of playing cards.

I am unsure of the title, but I have matched it up with a description of a titled work named Honey Bun which can be found numbered 502 and is described as a red haired girl with a green ribbon in her hair.

Note the ribbon like Sugar Bon.  Also is it Sugar Bon and Honey Bun or Sugar and Honey Bun?

Auburn hair with a ribbon green and yellow with a down glaze look at a bouquet of flowers in front of her face which is also a waist up large picture of beautiful facial features of brown slightly stanted eyes and both are framed with white frames with gilded gold.

Farmer Boy - signed and titled

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This work titled Farmer Boy can be found numbered 5902 sometimes as 5902b.  The work depicts a little boy in overalls, a hat with a feather in the front and a red hankie in his back pocket.  Also described as a little boy in a blue jumper and a red rag hanging out of his back pocket.

For this particular image the back stamp reads International Gallery Prints B111950-1969 (1969 the date) and sized 12 x 24 inches.  I own this print in two types, one framed (typical size) and one unframed on heavy card stock and large.

Although we see this image paired with the girl and duck, there was a description found of an image of a boy with a duck that may be the pair.  This Farmer Boy image could "go along" with other works described as farmer type.

Note the  black hair and big blue eyes but model seems familiar.


This one comes unframed as well.  I have seen this image in almost all the framed types.

Unknown Ducks - signed and untitled

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This work of the girl is shown in a pair with boy above title Farmer boy.  This work can be found numbered #5902 or 5902a and depicts a girl in blond pigtails standing by herself with hands in her dress and a duck pecking at her shoes to untie them.

This image comes unframed.  I have one framed without printed matting.  The frame on mine is metal and much less quality.  The pairing seems obvious as they are scenes of a farm but since she has a duck, the Huck Finn could be a set.  Her dress is very square dance and note the blue ribbons in her hair.

The model for this one is similar to those below and combined with comments from known neighbors can be identified.



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Swingtime - signed and titled

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This work is titled Swingtime and depicts a little girl in a blue dress with an orange shirt on a swing. She has blondish brown hair and blue eyes.

The child model for this work was probably LC or her sister who are discussed below under the Models heading.  This image seems to "go along" with the He Loves Me image. 

The change in perspective is interesting - it's diagonal. This is a very great work of Merle's, I love it, and the colors are distinctive.  Note the lack of scenery and pet - but the swing is the prop.

Note the shoes and socks closely matching those below in He Loves Me, and remind me of Boobsy Girl and Little Sister.

He Loves Me - signed and titled

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This work is titled He Loves Me and can be found numbered #7088b.   This work depicts a little girl sitting on a rail highback chair her hair is blond with a blue bow in it.  She has on a blue dress with a light pink collar around it and blue socks. She has blue eyes and she is holding a white daisy while sitting in a chair

The child model was probably LC or her sister who are discussed late on this page.  There are other works where a chair is used.  There is not pet, but the flower is the prop.

The date on the back of the painting I own is 1969. It has no frame and it is printed on heavy cardboard.

Mischief Maker - signed and titled

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This work is titled Mischief Maker and can be found numbered 7088a.  The boy sitting in the wooden chair has his legs crossed and is wearing a reddish cap.  He has on a long sleeve sweater, red socks, blue jeans and black shoes.

He could be paired with the image He Love Me above as the cross legs and chair tie the two.  The proportions are off, the eyes are large and adorable.

Unknown title - signed

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The title of this work is unknown.  The work depicts a little girl with black curly hair wearing fishnet stockings and black buckle shoes with a coral and blue top and a coral shirt.  She holds a little white puppy and stands in front of some flowers.

The shoes are so pilgrim like.  This little dog is white.  This image seems more big-eyed than the others.

Note the frame is dark but all is applied to a particle board - making it very durable.  Marked "A.A.K., N.Y.  B4   Published for Soroka Sales Inc., PGH., PA. LITHO, USA" along the bottom.


Unknown title - signed

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This work is marked # ST-715 and though nicely framed it is not titled.  The print is by the Arthur A. Kaplan Co, and it measures 9 X 18.  This one is the most expensive prints I have purchased on auction but was still comparable to framed vintage lithographs on the market. 

There is no prop, but to me the necklace speaks volumes.  For those of us who grew up in the 70's, this image is reflective of Michael Jackson in his early childhood.  It's very 70's but very tasteful.  The frame has burgundy faux crushed velvet lining! When I came across this after Michael's passing, I about passed out! Love it.

The background is more abstract, which strangely does not match the flowers in the image above, to which it seems logically paired.  There is an original portraiture work by Merle of her African American friend.  I wonder if the model was a son?

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Melody in Pink - titled and signed

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Thank you so much to a website visitor who sent me an image of this print.  It is 10 times as lovely as the description!


Melody in PinkHer dress of pink/white with the sash around her waist flowing in the breeze, as she holds a small bouquet of pink flowers.  There is a little girl with brown hair tied up on her head with a ribbon, and a ribbon around her waist.   She carries a basket of white daisies, in which she is walking in a field of them

Harmony in Yellow - titled and signed

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Strawberry blond haired girl in a yellow dress looking down at a basket of flowers she has clutched in her delicate hands.

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Tender Years - titled and signed

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This lithograph measures 14 1/2" x 10 1/2" with frame and 12" x 8" for the print itself. The label on the back is from Turner Mfg. Co.  Signed Medeiros.

It's a double chair and legs are crossed. The proportions are nice.  The corner of the room is depicted in shadows nicely.  It is not particularly big eyed.  I believe this style of work were sold as nursery prints in the 70's once the big-eye movement was over.

I had been collecting images of works for some time before I stumbled on this.  I had seen a description of the work on an art forum and from the description I was suspicious.  I had not seen a portraiture by Merle where two models where used.  Painting two portraits on one painting is difficult, especially if both of the subjects are to look like the models.  So to attempt this work definitely means the artist was growing in skill and maturity.

Since this work does exist, I will now seek the other double portrait described below titled By the Fireside.

Untitled

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Two children in a field with a terrier

Feathered Friend

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Parrot #2683wtg c4904-13x36 Lambert L-1   Christi says "i have a medeiros painting a bought at a yard sale,and it is of a boy and girl holding a parrot and i wanted to know about the painter, and the value of the painting "

Other discussed or known child portrait works include:

By the Fireside - brown haired, brown eyed girl in red sitting by the fireplace with a dalmatian. 
paired with same girl red sleeper sitting by fireplace holding a dalmatian
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isms says "i have a painting of two boys on raft going down a stream one has a straw hat and red lumber jack shirt and bare foot.and other has on a blue check shirt and red band around his neck and bare foot."

If you have an image of any of these prints, please feel free to contact me so I can include it. jodimode@gmail
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By the way, there is an award winning artist by the name of Betty Ann Medeiros from Western Connecticut who produces watercolors.  Her works can be browsed and purchased at http://web.mac.com/bettyannmedeiros/Site/Welcome.html.

Models for her work

Of the artist little Billy Brown says "I lived right next door at 2014 Roscomere Road with my brother Dickie. We moved away in the late 1950. Mom posed for a couple of Merle('s)."

Of  the artist Dick Brown says "We lived next door to the Medeiros family for a few years in the early 1950's. My mother has a charcoal picture Mrs. Frank Medeiros did as practice. We have a least a dozen of her prints including the two that are good look a likes of Caroline and John-John. I have a newspaper article announcing her first exhibition is Roscomare Valley's Mrs. Myrle (Frank) Medeiros at Pepperdine College. Rosccomare Road is the street that we lived on outside of Los Angelos, California that we lived on. Mom is 84 and still pretty sharp yet so if she can answer a questions."

Of the artist from LC "In the early 60's, my family lived next to them on Roscomere Road in LA.  My sister and I posed for a number of the paintings including Mischief Maker and He Loves Me."

And finally jdog days "Merle Medeiros is the painter and was my great aunt. I grew up visiting her and remember playing with the dogs in many of your prints."
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In the 1990's, I bought a matching set of occasional tables and canvas framed art pieces to decorate my living room and dining room (very discounted).  Each frame and canvas can be separated, and some art had stickers on the back.  The works of Medeiros are similar to these.   Thus the term kitsch art, selling at the five and dime.

According to wikipedia "Kitsch is a German word denoting art that is considered an inferior, tasteless copy of an extant style of art or a worthless imitation of art of recognized value.  The concept is associated with the deliberate use of elements that may be thought of cultural icons while making cheap (economical?) mass-produced objects that are unoriginal. Kitsch also refers to the types of art that are aesthetically deficient (whether or not being sentimental, glamorous, theatrical, or creative) and that make creative gestures which merely imitate the superficial appearances of art through repeated conventions and formulae. Excessive sentimentality is often associated with the term." To each his own.

Original Child portrait

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This is an original work Myrle created for a family member.  It is interesting to compare her original works to those created into lithographs.  Please see the "Other images" page for more like it.

Vibrant colors, impressionist.

Ballerina

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Framed and signed print of a young woman overlooking or remembering a young ballerina.  Size 16 X 20 with the frame,  mat and enclosed in glass unlike those above. 

Softer colors and multiple perspectives.

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http://antiquesandthearts.com/forumresponse

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Thank you to the antiquesandthearts forums and it's particants for information concerning the artist and her work.  Also thank you to the Big Eye Art - Vintage and Retro group from Flickr!  Ebay and Etsy sellers also contributed images and detail.