Sources of Inspiration: Antique Folk Art Paintings

Painting by Ammi Phillips

Robin Sweeton's latest creation reminds me of a great source of information we have as doll artists in antique folk art paintings. These paintings give us clues about life in America in earlier times. In using these original sources as inspiration our own works will reflect accurately the clothing of the period. Because the paintings are often naively painted, the details of the clothing were often emphasized in these flatly painted portraits.

Some places to see antique folk art paintings are online auctions, online antique shops such as Ruby Lane and online galleries such as Encore Editions which sell prints of these old works. Here are a couple of antique paintings on Ebay right now.

Another source for images for study are the online collections of museums such as the American Folk Art Museum's collection of Early Portraits and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum Folk Art Museum's online collection. And of course there are books of these museum's collections. These are excellent sources of images for study. Here are a few books I own which have great folk art images in them

And I ought to show you the doll standing on top!

Doll by Jackie Hendricks

If you have a favorite book which has wonderful folk art paintings in it, please leave a comment. To leave a comment, click on the post title. The "Add Comment" link will be at the bottom of the post.


  1. My all time favorite is "American Folk Painting" by Mary Black and Jean Lipman published (1966) by Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. It has 86 plates in full color and 146 Illustrations in black and white. 244 pages in a hard bound book. I found it in a used book store about 8 years ago.

  2. Thanks, Judi! I may have that one, I'll have to check. :-)

  3. Hi Dixie! Another good one is called "Is He or Isn't She"....or Is She or Isn't He....can't remember off the top of my head which it is.

    Describes how to tell the differences between boys and girls, and children who were living or deceased at the time they were painted. It's an awesome book. Will try to find it to let you know official title and author.


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