The Original Adult Coloring Book: Theorem Painting

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Adult coloring books are dominating the bestseller lists. This isn’t surprising when you consider that there’s a long tradition of American women coloring inside the lines.

Stencils first caught on in the colonies as an inexpensive way to simulate carpet on bare floors and add color and pattern to plaster walls. Late eighteenth and early nineteenth century finishing schools, academies that taught middle and upper class young women the feminine “accomplishments,” included drawing and painting in their curricula.

Students learned to draft by copying from books of engravings.  Stencil paintings became popular as a way to introduce younger students to color and composition but quickly grew into an art form of their own. The preferred surface for stencil painting was fine paper or velvet.

 

 

A copy for sale from Bow Windows of London.

A copy for sale from Bow Windows of London.

 

Instruction books — bestsellers in their day — abounded. In 1805 J.W. Alston published Hints to Young Practitioners in the Study of Landscape Painting… Intended to Show the Different Stages of the Neutral Tint… to which are Added, Instructions in the Art of Painting on Velvet.

Next came Matthew Finn’s 1830 Theoremetical System of Painting, or Modern Plan, fully explained in Six Lessons; and Illustrated with Eight Engravings, by which a child of tender years can be taught the sublime art in one week. To which are added, The Theory and Practice of the Old School, in the introduction of Landscape and Figure Painting; with many valuable receipts on the subject. This longwinded title gave us the shorthand we use today: theorem painting. The Historical Society of Early American Decoration offers reprints.

Stencils made their way into memorial art as well and resulted in extraordinary compositions:

 

 

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There are even contemporary artists making theorem paintings today. If you want to try your hand at theorem painting, Jean Hanson sells kits, books, and supplies. And if you’re feeling adventurous enough to stencil your walls, Yankee Stencil has you covered.

 
 

The Best Brews in the Witch City, Salem, Massachusetts, this October

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Early Americans put back the equivalent of about eight drinks a day. They enjoyed rum, cider, madeira, port and brandy combined in some truly tasty recipes you can still make today, and they especially loved beer. 

If you’re looking for a pint during your visit to Salem, you’re in luck. These spots offer an impressive selection of craft and micro brewed beers, ales, stouts, and even local cider.

Salem Beer Works 278 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970 (978) 745-2337

IMG_3094This outpost of Boston Beer Works brews its beer on the premises. Check out the brew kettles on your left as you walk in. They offer tasting “flights” of four beers each chosen by the brewer–or you can select your own. They come in adorable tiny glasses perfect for sampling. The pumpkin beer is a seasonal favorite and comes in a spiced-sugar-rimmed glass. There’s a Salem Pale Ale, a Witch City Red, Bunker Hill Blueberry (often with berries floating in your glass) and even a small selection of gluten free beers and ciders on tap.

 

Scratch Kitchen 245 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970 (978) 741-2442

Scratch’s selection of local Massachusetts beers can’t be beat, and this is your best choice if there are children in your party. The atmosphere is family friendly and the bacon dusted popcorn is always a hit. They smoke much of their meat in house, so fans of bacon and brisket should check these dishes out. Their hours vary seasonally, so definitely call ahead.

Gulu Gulu 247 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970 (978) 740-8882

Their menu reads like an encyclopedia of well-chosen New England beers and they’ve got a respectable list of imports as well. If the food reminds you of the “creative cooking” of your favorite local semi-vegetarian spot in college, that’s probably because Salem is a college town and Gulu Gulu is a student favorite for their late night hours.

Far From the Tree 108 Jackson St, Salem, MA 01970 (978) 224-2904

Local cider served in their brand new tasting room. Food is bring your own or order from local restaurants. The Rind cider–flavored with orange ride and coriander–is a stand out.

Steve’s Quality Liquors 36 Margin Street, Salem, MA 01970 (978)744-4220

IMG_3219For an amazing selection of beer to take back to your hotel check out Steve’s Quality Liquors, part of the local family owned super market that’s served downtown Salem for more than 80 years. They carry lots of hard to find specialties including 17th century themed selections from Mystic Brewery like Spectral Evidence and Day of Doom.