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 "Bowl of Zinnias"
Clementine Hunter's First Oil Painting

The Secret Paintings of Clementine Hunter - Part 2

Blythe Rand's Association With Alberta Kinsey, Cammie Henry,
Francois Mignon, Clementine Hunter, and Melrose Plantation

The noted Louisiana artist, Alberta Kinsey, and Blythe White Rand, Whitfield Jack, Jr.'s grandmother, were long-time friends who shared an ardent love of flowers -- one as a painter, the other as a gardener. They often spent time at Melrose, as documented below by numerous passages in Francois Mignon's book, 'Plantation Memo'. It was on one of these mutual visits that a unique set of circumstances arose which would set the stage for the painting of Clementine Hunter's historic first work.

Autographed copy of "Plantation Memo"
given to Mr. Jack
Francis Mignon's autograph on the
book's frontispiece
Classic photo of
Francois Mignon
taken in 1955

References to Blythe Rand and Alberta Kinsey
in Francois Mignon's "Plantation Memo":
"Painters of distinction took their favorite vantage for their compositions, painters such as Alberta Kinsey...who came to Melrose to paint magnolias...like nobody before or since...And then here were the creators of floral wonders and masters of that art: Caroline Dormon, Blythe White Rand...and many others in their botanical hierarchy." Page 3.
(In describing an old cloth-covered punkah -- a rope-operated swinging panel that acted as sort of a ceiling fan...) "A decade or so ago, when its calico material had been shredded by its battles with the breezes, Blythe White Rand of Alexandria, a skilled innovator at restoration, stretched heavy Lowells across the open spaces...and the old punkah was adequately refurbished for another century of service." Page 14.
"Then, too, although well along in years when she (Clementine) first undertook expressing herself on canvas, she had the good fortune to come into contact with people who recognized her unique talent, people like James Register, Carolyn Ramsey, Ora Williams, Helen Baldwin, Eleanor Worsley, Blythe Rand, and many others, all of whom in their several ways gave confidence to the artist." Page 128.
"To the west of the big house, she (Mrs. Cammie) next focused her attention on developing a garden of native Louisiana iris. Spurred on by the enthusiasm and often in the company of such friends as Caroline Dormon of Briarwood, Blythe White Rand of Alexandria,...and others, she would invade the flowering bogs of South Louisiana, collecting specimens of rare beauty...to such a point that Melrose Plantation iris gardens became celebrated in horticultural circles across the country." Pages 199-200.
"...then came this past season when broken legs emerged as the order of the day. There was Blythe White Rand of Alexandria, with a leg break...followed by Caroline Dormon..with a smashed kneecap...and...Sara Jones with a broken hip. I must confess that these three pieces of bad news about devoted friends impelled me to rush to my typewriter to dissuade an 81 year old grandmother from going ahead with her intention to take up figure skating and revert to tatting instead." Page 277.

Go to The Secret Paintings of Clementine Hunter - Part 3 
In Part 3 Whitfield Jack, Jr. describes the get-together in which a copper pitcher, a bunch of zinnias, and a handful of partially-used tubes of oil paint began the career of a remarkable artist. Present were Clementine Hunter,
Alberta Kinsey, and Blythe White Rand

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Vignettes of Melrose by Whitfield Jack, Jr.
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