Saturday, February 22, 2014

Silver Spoons

Silver Spoons
  oil on linen panel
 6" x 8"

"I wish I could find an event that meant as much
as simple seeing."
Theodore Roethke

Seemingly simple, devilishly elusive, the reflections on the concave surface of a spoon. That is painting in a nutshell. The joy of simply seeing the essence of what is there coupled to getting at least somewhat close to capturing it that is what keeps bringing one back.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tulip Study, Dean Taylor Drewyer

Tulip Study
  oil on panel
  10" x 8"

"A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, some fantasy. When you always make your meaning perfectly plain you end up boring people."
Edgar Degas

This study of an old paint can with some cut tulips in it was a demo for the class I'm teaching Saturday mornings. The primary question I am trying to get the painters with me to ask is, 'What is the poetry of the painting / what is this painting really about / what am I in love with?'  The next would then follow, 'What do I need to make this happen?' Of course that second question takes in all the decisions about the elements of the painting , as dictated by the answer to the first question. Perhaps a better question would be, 'How little do you need to make the poetry happen?'  I think you might be able to tell, I love that old, shiny paint can. If you look closely it is pretty simply presented and yet all else is there to help come alive. Nothing more than a little mystery, some vagueness, and some fantasy.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Waiting For The Snow,

Waiting For The Snow
  oil on linen panel
  8" x 10"

"Who speaks of art speaks of poetry.
There is no art without a poetic 
aim. There is a species of emotion
particular to painting. There is
an effect that results from a certain
arrangement of colours, of lights,
of shadows."

Edouard Vuillard

I have always loved the paintings of Edouard Vuillard - the Phillips Collection here in Washington DC, has several very nice examples and I would always make a point of examining them whenever I visited. They are enchanting or at least that's the best word I can conjure. Then to discover the quote above - the idea of poetry of painting is simply an affirmation of what I've always felt about sources of painting.

Have you ever considered the question, if you could choose - 'who, from all of human history, would you like to have a pleasant meal and conversation with?'  
My answer is often Degas, because of his reputation for sharp wit and 
so much I would like to ask him about his work.
Another would be my Dad. Since his passing I think of him almost every day and there so many things I wish, when I had the chance, I had asked him about his wonderful life. 

Another would be Abraham Lincoln - Lincoln's stories and jokes 
and wisdom would amaze.

But sometimes, Edouard Vuillard would be my choice - quiet, retiring, diffident Vuillard, whose paintings are built of a thousand careful considerations. We would most likely have to indulge in many glasses of wine and near the end of the evening, with his mother and sister and maybe his secret love, Misia in attendance, we would come to a time when the ladies leave us. Then, with our cigars lit, Vuillard and I would go into the front room and consider a painting of his. Perhaps, with a wise, fleeting smile, he would begin to reveal his approach to the poetry of his painting, to the careful arrangement 'of colours, of light, of shadow.'  That would be magic - to hear him discuss the "species of emotion 
particular to painting." A night to remember.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Self Portrait

   oil on linen panel  
 5" x 7"

"The seasons have changed
And the light
And the weather
And the hour
But it is the same land
And I begin to know the map
And to get my bearings."

Dag Hammarskjold

Painting a self portrait forces one to come to grips with the passage of time. There are days I can't move around very well, my sight is not good, my hearing about gone. It can be a bit troublesome to consider all that has gone before in one's life and the price paid - but the task of art is to provide a kind of intuition about hope and understanding - to look forward. In this way the face in the mirror is simplified to just another visual problem to be solved. The offered section of a poem found in Dag Hammarskjold's papers, written by him as he traveled as Secretary-General of the United Nations. I thought it spoke to an awareness of the artist's constant task, to try and 'get one's bearings' through the passing seasons and light and weather and the hour - and find a way  toward some small moment of clarity.