Simply stated, Thanks for the Orchid, is the finest Joyce Ballantyne artwork to come on the market. Commissioned by Brown & Bigelow in 1955, the luminous quality of the image and the detail and texture of the brush strokes display the impact of Elvgren’s teachings and collaboration on Ballantyne, if they do not indeed betray the hand of Gil Elvgren. Ballantyne worked closely with Elvgren for the better part of a decade, and it has often been suggested that he ghost painted some of her best work.
The blonde beauty, with her clear resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, delights with a coy yet confident smile, and Ballantyne’s use of small details and bright splashes of red in the otherwise subdued color palette, make the entire scene vibrant and engaging.
The work is featured on page 102 of Charles Martignette and Louis Meisel’s seminal “The Great American Pin Up.” The painting is in excellent condition and comes framed in a fine gallery frame.
A Joyce Ballantyne Biography courtesy of Askart.com
Ballantyne was born in Norfolk, Nebraska, just after World War One. She attended Nebraska University for two years, painting murals in her spare time for department stores and movie theatres before leaving to study commercial art. After studying at the Academy of Art in Chicago for two years, she joined Kling Studios, where she painted Rand McNally road maps and illustrated a dictionary for the Cameo Press.
Ballantyne then moved on to the Stevens/Gross studio, where she stayed for more than ten years. Influenced, as much of the studio was, by Haddon Sundblom, she became part of a group of artists who were extremely close, both professionally and personally, including Gil Elvgren, Earl Gross, AI Moore, Coby Whitmore, Thornton Utz, and Al Buell. She had first met Elvgren when he was teaching at the Academy of Art and she was a student. After years of working closely together they often shared assignments if one of them became ill or if a schedule was tight.
In 1945, Ballantyne began painting, pin-ups for Brown and Bigelow, having been recommended by Elvgren. The firm introduced her to their national sales and marketing staff as “the brightest young star on the horizon of illustrative art”. Ballantyne designed a “novelty-fold” direct mail pin-up brochure for the company and eventually was given the honor of creating an Artist’s Sketch Pad twelve-page calendar.
Ballantyne’s most important pin-ups were the twelve she painted in 1954 for a calendar published by Shaw-Barton. When it was released nationally in 1955, the demand from new advertisers was so great that the company reprinted it many times. Ballantyne then went on to paint one of the most famous advertising images ever. Coppertone suntan lotion asked several illustrators to submit preliminary ideas for a special twenty-four-sheet billboard for their American and international markets. Ballantyne won the commission, and her final painting (based somewhat on an ideal of Art Frahm’s) became a national icon. Its little pig-tailed girl whose playful dog pulls at her bathing suit charmed the entire nation.
Ballantyne also did much advertising work for other national clients, including Sylvania TV, Dow Chemical, Coca-Cola, and Schlitz Beer. She painted pin-ups for the calendar companies Louis P Dow and Goes and illustrations for such magazines as Esquire and Penthouse.
The strikingly attractive Ballantyne often posed as her own model, as Zoë Mozert did. Like her friend Gil Elvgren, she preferred to work in oil on canvas that measured 30 x 24 inches (76.2 x 61 cm).