Art in the 1960's and 70's - art blog by Janice Boling

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Early influences like black light posters influenced a generation of artists, including me.

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Kindergarten arts and crafts by Janice Boling
Construction paper, crayons, and paper were my first art supplies.

Artistic memories from the 1960's and 70's

During a spell of dreary weather, I decided to have a look in the attic. Pouring through old scrapbooks and albums, I found photos of my paintings that were sold or given away decades ago. I had forgotten all about them! I also uncovered drawings and school artwork that my mother saved while I was growing up.

Memories flooded back as I went through old papers and souvenirs. As I separated things into piles, I thought about how my life has been influenced by the visual arts. Starting with coloring books and cartoons in the late 50’s, pop art in the 60’s, and on to psychedelic art in the 70’s, graphic arts have brightened up my life immensely.

Starting out with crayons and coloring books

Like most baby boomers, my introduction into the visual art world came early with crayons and coloring books. My friends and I could color for hours without losing interest or bothering the adults.

Oh, how I loved my coloring books. I remember watching kids in kindergarten scribble and go outside the lines or just barely put down a light layer of color. They let the paper show through. Not me! I put the waxy pigment on as heavy as I could.

By the way, if you need to stock up on supplies, let me recommend Blick Art Materials. Blick carries quality products, has great customer service, and their website is easy to use.

Blick art supplies

I have been using Blick products for almost 50 years so my recommendation doesn't come lightly. Going to the Dick Blick art store was a big deal back in the day. Even though I currently purchase from their website, I still remember the days before online shopping. The smells, the sounds, and huge selection of supplies in the Blick store made the place an exciting shopping experience. It is still a great place to purchase art supplies. I am proud to promote Blick Art Supplies whenever I get the chance. Next time you need acrylics or new brushes, check them out.

My early protfolio Janice Boling's Early Portfolio


Click on my web-story above for photos of my early drawings and paintings.

Coloring books, comic books, the Funny Pages, and cartoons brought lots of color into my young life. Sitting in Daddy’s lap, reading together as we laughed about the antics of Dennis the Menace, Beetle Bailey, and the Peanuts characters, were some of the best times of my life.

Coloring and comic books weren't my only pass times. Sometimes I played with dolls, chemistry sets, building blocks, Play-Doh, and Lincoln Logs. Mid-century toys came in many categories and most were designed to teach us motor skills and develop our talents.

My mother was also an influence. A secretary who took a lot of dictation, Mom carried a pencil or pen and pad of paper in her purse at all times. If we had to wait for long at a restaurant, doctor’s office, or wherever, she let me draw. Sometimes we played tic-tac-toe, but usually I sat quietly and drew a picture.

Art - my favorite subject

Early art by Janice Boling
Young Janice hard at work, yarn fruit bowl, and string art flowers

The classroom brought a new world of crafts within my reach. Finger paints, tempera, a variety of brushes, watercolor palettes, construction paper, stencils, Elmer’s glue, and those little scissors with rounded tips brought hours of joy and contentment to my life.

I made collages, little story books, paintings, and lots of different crafts every chance I got. Creating things became very important to me and it still is today. Whether I am baking cookies or planting a herb garden, designing a website or working on a canvas, the act of creating something is satisfying to my soul. I am so glad I took up art at a young age because it gives me such enjoyment today.

Of course it is never to late to start. Purchase a few tubes of decent paint, a couple of brushes, and a canvas or two. Watch how-to videos on YouTube and soon you will be enjoying the act of creating your own piece of art.

Saturday morning cartoons were a huge influence in my life.

Cartoons influenced a generation
Looney Tunes, Walt Disney, and Hanna Barbera were my heroes.

When I first started watching cartoons, they were in black and white. I can remember getting up on Saturday mornings while my parents slept in. I turned on the TV (electronics had to warm up back then), fixed a bowl of Rice-Krispies, and sat down to enjoy the show.

I still remember when the first color cartoon was aired on ABC in 1962. The Jetson’s burst onto the Saturday morning scene with space age cars and fashions. George Jetson and his family inspired a whole generation of youngsters.

The Flintstones were next to air in color. I grew up with both space-age and caveman families in living color! Goodbye to black and white. Bright orange, neon pinks, vivid blues – bold colors, as flaunted by the famous NBC peacock logo, saturated everything from then on.

My teenage drawings

drawings by Janice Boling
Woman and Child, Acid Man, and Futuristic Landscape by Janice Boling

Black and white had its place, and I occasionally used ink and pencil, but most of my early work was more colorful. The drawings done in my teens were influenced by everything from science fiction novels and magazine illustrations to the contemporary artists of the times.

Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Pollock were big names in the art world. I learned about them in school and from magazines and TV interviews. The cubists, surrealists, and abstract painters were always my favorites. Artists like Norman Rockwell seemed so tame in comparison.

Some people said abstract art was ugly, that a toddler could do just as good. They said it was meaningless but I disagreed. I found the style to be exhilarating and free.

Picasso and his painting
Picasso and his painting titled "Woman with a Beach ball"

Picasso's later works were of special interest to me. Who did he think he was fooling? That beach ball is not a beach ball at all. Looks more closely and tell me what you see? I say the lady had a really good razor and some fancy shaving cream.

Thank God for good mothers!

My mother gifted me professional art lessons when I turned thirteen. I headed off to the mall, purchased required supplies, and took lessons in the back of an art store from a nice, middle-aged man. I don’t remember his name, but he taught me a little color theory, how to dab paint on a canvas to get different effects, and a bit about perspective. The whole experience was very encouraging and instilled confidence in my young heart.

When artists like Andy Warhol, Peter Max, and Roy Lichtenstein came on to the scene, I admired their works. Their lifestyles were interesting, too. My dream in life was to become a jet-setter, flying around and drinking champagne with talented artists and celebrities. Let's see. I think Paul McCartney would be a good date for a day in London. Don’t you?

Alas, my life took a different direction (which was for the best). In reality, living in the deep south, the main artistic influences in my teenage life were magazine ads, Sears catalogues, billboards, black light posters, velvet paintings, album art, and rock opera movies.

Posters and record album covers were huge influences during the 70's.

1970 album covers
Rock bands showcased artwork and bold graphics on their album covers.

Album art and the posters of my generation fascinated me as a teenager and still do today. I look through our old vinyl records and am amazed at the details and imagery those artists dreamed up.

Bright shapes, shocking graphics, and creative fonts made album art stand out from other types of art. Meant to sell albums, rock album art was geared toward an audience of young rock and rollers. There is nothing dull about rock music or its artwork, and both influenced me to the max.

Teenage wasteland - where were the masterpieces?

Atlanta back in the 60's and 70's didn't have a world-class art museum. The High Museum of Art wasn't built until the 80's. Boy, was I proud of Atlanta the first time I walked through those doors!

I remember visiting the Cyclorama, a huge canvas backdrop to battle scenes from the Civil War. It seemed old, tattered, and was not very inspiring. Then there was the Natural History Museum at the Capitol Building. The taxidermy was interesting, but most of the paintings were of old politicians and dignitaries.

So where was a young artist to see good art? It was not hard to find if you looked around. Posters, album covers, movies, and TV were the masterpieces of my day! They provided enough stimulation and inspiration for a lifetime.

My friends and I had posters thumb-tacked to every wall. We camped out for concert tickets, saved our money to buy records, and went to midnight showings of the wildest movies ever made.

Rock operas
Rock operas were also a big influence.

Rock “opera” movies were huge during my formative years. The Who's Tommy , Pink Floyd's The Wall , The Beatles' Yellow Submarine , and The Rocky Horror Picture Show come to mind. All of these films worked to inspire me and several generations of young people."

Who can forget the "Pinball Wizard" in Tommy, the marching hammers in the Wall, or Ann Margret wallowing in a room full of pork and beans? Who can ignore Tim Curry dancing in fish net stockings or Peter Max’s wild artwork in Yellow Submarine? I loved it all and still do!

I am thankful to be raised in such a colorful era. Before the 1950’s, the world was mired in war. Everything was depressing gray, dark green, or muddy brown. All that dullness ended with the 60’s and I am very grateful. There will never again be a time like those of my youth, especially the 1970’s. Thank God for growing up in such colorful times!

Black light posters
Vintage black light posters were bold and colorful.

Thanks for reading my art blog. Jan.




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