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Summertime on the River Origami illustration by Linda Stephen

Summertime on the River

7” x 9” x 3”

• Juror’s Choice Award at Artworks’ 2020 exhibit “Willful Women”

This artwork was part of an exhibit honoring American women artists of the past. The curator, an art history professor, asked the chosen artists to create an artwork inspired by one from a list of 20 women artists.

I chose to focus on Mary Cassatt, an American impressionist living in Paris in the 1800s. Cassatt worked primarily in oils. She also made prints. After seeing an exhibit of Japanese woodcuts in 1890 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, she began experimenting using patterns and views similar to Japanese woodcuts.

Cassatt is best known for her bath scenes with women and babies and for her river boat scenes. I prefer creating outdoor scenes to interiors. To create my "Summertime on the River" scene, for the background, I decided to use very thin hand-dyed chigiri-e Japanese papers and to layer these to mimic the brush strokes of oil paint. For the foreground, I invented origami sculptures to create the boat, ducks and girl. The dress of the girl is folded from 1 piece of paper.

The artwork took 6 weeks to complete. I finished the final touches to the artwork - adding the reflections of sun on the water - after arriving in Michigan and a day of tubing and water watching on the Muskegon River.


Paper construction of invented origami sculptures and layered washi papers.


Inspired by Impressionist Mary Cassatt’s Summertime series – and by artist Linda Stephen’s memories of tubing and boating on rivers almost daily on hot summer days.

Summertime on the River Origami illustration by Linda Stephen

Are you interested in a collaborative artwork for your community, business or organization?

I put on workshops across the country for all ages. I specialize in designing artworks and workshops that involve all ages in creating art that celebrates a vision or a place.