Monday, February 16, 2009

Metcalf - Painting The Cold Of Winter

MetcalfIcebound Brook (1922) – private collection

“Go out and paint what you see and forget your theories.” Willard Metcalf

Here is proof positive that Metcalf practiced what he preached, and the resultant reality of ‘cold’ comes alive in his canvases. His is a quiet beauty, not overly dramatic, but one that conveys a real time and a real place.

It takes a determined soul to go out and paint in our New England winters (notice that he isn’t even wearing gloves!). But he surely has captured the deep hush of winter with the faint hope of spring yet to come.

(Amazing how beautiful snow is early in the season, but by mid-February, it has lost its charm completely and I’m ready for spring! Bring on those April showers!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cave Art - Evolution of Art? (It's Darwin Day!)

Cave Painting, Lascaux, France

Cave paintings, 30,000 years old, possibly older. When people in caves drew these beasts, modern humans had been around for around 200,000 years. Presumably, art had as well. But why? Why do we do art? Elephants and chimps wielding paint brushes notwithstanding, humans are the only species to devote time and resources doing such a thing. Is art the peacock's tail? Did women decide men who were artists were sexier, and mate with them more often? The book The Nature of Paleolithic Art, by R. Dale Guthrie gives from fascinating insights into the origins of paleolithic art. Guthrie is not only a scientist but also an artist and a hunter, and so has a background well suited to shedding light on this fascinating question.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Morisot - on Brushstrokes

MorisotA Corner of the Rose Garden (1885) – private collection

This painting is an amazing web of brush stroke wizardry. Berthe had a way of scribbling her paint on and letting the imagery emerge from this flurry of activity… and I love it! She was one gutsy painter!

Very highly regarded by her fellow impressionists, she was among the first to let the vigor of her brushstrokes carry the painting. (Be sure to click on the image to see it enlarged.) She never ‘corrected’ herself by scraping and reworking, preferring instead to let the history of her working processes remain visible layer by layer in a tapestry laid down very thickly in some areas and barely washed on in others… a true maestra of the brush – brava!!

Gail Sauter – Journal: A Painter On Painting

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Diebenkorn - Oppsosites Appeal

Richard Diebenkorn,
(1923 –1993)
Ocean Park No. 54, 1972
100 x 81 inches
Oil on canvas

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

How many paintings did Diebenkorn do in his Ocean Park series? I don't know, but I've been attracted to every one I've come across. This painting, like the others, is a complex mixture of opposites: seen and unseen, definite and hazy, rigid and flexible. Underlying the surface is a skeleton of hard, incised lines, straight and inflexible, but each of these lines have other lines corssing them, deflecting them. The lines sweem to make usggestions rather than rules. Ane the paint pays little or no attention to the rules proposed by the lines. The overlays of colors are soft, obscuring and revealing the lines at the same time. What a joy for the eyes and the mind!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Derain: on "I don't know art, but I know what I like"

DerainThe Pool of LondonThe Tate Collection

Its funny how sometimes a painting will just leap out and grab a hold of you with that indefinable something that shouts “look at me!” This painting does indeed knock me over the head!

Seeing it got me to thinking (always dangerous!)… Many times I’ve heard the expression “I don’t know art, but I know what I like…”

Hmmmmm… I wonder if we really do know what we like about art.

I’m hard pressed to say exactly what appeals to me about this painting. The colors aren’t those that usually speak to me, the composition is rather strange for my liking; the subject matter is what I see around me all the time … Wait! That’s it!

The bridge in the distance looks very much like the drawbridge that connects Kittery, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I see it every day. In fact, my house is on the right where the left-hand mast meets the shoreline. Yup - tugboats. Yup - dinghys. Yup – lobster boats… hey! Where are the lobster boats! ... Whaddya mean this is London?

Hrmmph... (maybe I don't like it so much anymore.)

Gail Sauter – Journal: A Painter On Painting