Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Sunday, September 20, 2015
I never knew my grandteacher, Frank Vincent DuMond, but my teacher, Frank Mason, would talk about him and how his love of nature affected his painting. "Don't make the greens in your landscape look like arsenic" he would say, "it should look like something a cow would want to eat." He didn't want any harm to come to the cows, or to the birds. "There needs to be air between the branches of your trees so the birds can fly through them" he would tell his students. One day a student brought in a painting to be critiqued. It was a landscape with a large tree in the center and some odd black dots under the tree. "What are those dots at the bottom of your tree?" DuMond asked. "Oh," the student replied "those are the birds that couldn't fly through my tree".....
Monday, May 4, 2015
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Monday, December 29, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
...about Gulley Jimson, an artist who will do anything to keep a brush in his hand. Lying, cheating, and stealing are all acceptable behaviors for Gulley so long as they lead to a good piece of canvas to work on. The story is told from Gulley’s point of view, and we read in delightful detail about what inspires him, how he thinks about his subjects and attacks the canvas, and how he deals with friends and foes who help or hinder his efforts to paint. As the novel progresses, his ideas become grander and more complex until it becomes difficult to even find a wall big enough to hold them, and as his vision grows so does his desperation to get it down. The novel has a rather wacky plot, and those who are not artists might find Gulley an unsympathetic, reprehensible character. But to those of us who understand his passion, it is a wonderful journey of survival in a hostile world. Cary, who did some painting in his youth, does a marvelous job capturing what it is like to be an artist and astutely expresses the torment of bringing one’s vision to life on a canvas. “I didn’t know whether I’d be able to live through the night without my picture,” Gulley says. “I’m never really comfortable without a picture; and when I’ve got one on hand, life isn’t worth living”.....
Saturday, May 10, 2014
In Genesis we read that God created man in his own image and likeness. Man, therefore, by design, by nature, like God, is creative. It didn't take very long for man to start expressing that creativity as we can see from cave paintings. In addition to painting I suspect the cavemen and women also sang, and danced, and told stories. With every blank canvas or piece of paper, on every empty stage, we repeat the creation story by bringing paintings, and music, and stories and plays to life.....
Monday, March 3, 2014
Sometimes, in the heart of a Vermont winter, when the temperatures struggle to get above zero, I like to hang up a sunny landscape and meditate on the joys of summer. Breathe in warm air, breathe out cold air. Breathe in sunshine, breathe out snowstorms. Breathe in shorts and sandals, breathe out sweaters and boots. Breathe in gardening, breathe out shoveling snow. Breathe in dewy grass, breathe out icy windshields. Breathe in rustling leaves, breathe out barren branches. Breathe in long hot days, breathe out long cold nights. Breathe in warm, breathe out cold, breathe in warm, breathe out cold.....
The Painting of the Month is a special offer to my blog readers (click on the image for a larger view). This month Tinmouth Farmhouse, which retails for $2200, is being made available for $1600 (includes shipping, VT residents add 6% sales tax). To purchase this piece contact me at email@example.com. Payment is by check only please, no credit cards. If you prefer you may make 3 monthly payments. This offer is available for 30 days from the date of this post.
Friday, January 17, 2014
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
I was looking through a catalog* of Constable's paintings recently and came across the following passage, which I offer as a consolation to any artist who has ever entered a painting in a juried competition.
In 1830 the Royal Academy Council, of which Constable was a member, met to consider entries for the annual Exhibition. An eyewitness reported the following occurence:
a small landscape was brought to judgement; it was not received with favor. The first judge said "That's a poor thing"; the next muttered "It's very green"; in short, the picture had to stand the fire of animadversion from everybody but Constable, the last remark being "It's devilish bad - cross it". Constable rose, took a couple of steps in front, turned round, and faced the Council. "That picture," said he, "was painted by me. I had a notion that some of you didn't like my work, and this is a pretty convincing proof. I am very much obliged to you", making a low bow. "Dear, dear!" said the President [Martin Archer Shee]..., "how came that picture amongst the outsiders? Bring it back; it must be admitted, of course." "No! it must not" said Constable; "out it goes!" and, in spite of apology and entreaty, out it went.....
* John Constable by Conal Shields and Leslie Parris. Published by Tate Gallery Publications, 1985
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Friday, November 22, 2013
is alleged to have said "bad artists borrow, good artists steal." If
that is true then I'm a good artist. Elizabeth and I once took a two week trip
Friday, November 15, 2013
When I go to museums I generally find myself spending less time with the well known masterpieces, preferring instead to seek out the small studies and historically less significant pieces. These are often the ones created with the most artistic freedom. Commissioned works are very important to the survival of the artist but are always to some degree a collaboration of the artist and his patron. I like to see what an artist does when he is unfettered. Studies for large works are usually not expected to be seen, or exhibited, or purchased so the artist abandons any attempt at a pretty finish and instead allows the work to be pure expression. When these pieces do survive and are exhibited they are as close as you can come to having a conversation with the artist about his philosophy of art. The other works I like to spend time with are pieces that the artist does for his own amusement. Artistic caprices. Like musical capriccios they are generally upbeat, lively pieces. No great meaning or message, no adherence to rules or dogma, perhaps not even very interesting subject matter, just pure joy in being alive and being an artist.....
Saturday, October 26, 2013
are liars. Botticelli was a liar. So was Renoir. Poussin, El Greco, Corregio,
Gainsborough and Eakins were liars. The little Dutchmen, the
early '90s, when we were still living in
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Sometimes, like Appassionata in the previous post, my work is inspired by a specific piece of music. More often, however, I hear what a painting sounds like while I am working on it. Not as a finished piece of music but snippets of rhythm or cadence, harmony or dissonance. In the process of painting these peonies I became aware of what the tempo of the piece should be. Artists usually paint flowers in the early stages of development in a soft, flattering light with little or no shadow to express their innocent, gentle, delicate nature. Flowers in full bloom are often depicted in a more dramatic light or a more colorful setting, using livelier brushwork to set off their magnificent array of petals. I was ready to follow that familiar pattern but as I was cutting these peonies I began to feel that they wanted to be presented in a less dramatic fashion. As I set up the arrangement in my studio I could see that it was rich and full yet I heard it not as an allegro or presto tempo but as a lovely slow movement. The brushwork was lively but not showy, the color was intense but not loud, the mood was calm, tranquil, almost meditative. It had become an adagio for peonies.....
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
I heard a program on the radio recently discussing Beethoven's Piano Sonata #23 in F Minor, Op. 57, the one we now know as the "Appassionata" sonata. The host of the program talked about the historical background of the piece and the way different artists have played it using recordings to illustrate his points. It was fascinating to hear a variety of artists playing the same passage. As I listened to each unique version of the opening of the first movement I thought about how I might play that passage on my canvas. The piece opens with a quiet, somewhat menacing, theme played pianissimo, then explodes with a sudden outburst. Some pianists exploited this contrast to the hilt playing nearly silent passages followed by ones that were wildly frantic. Others tried hard to find a way to make the transition without having a heart attack. It is a fabulous piece of music that can make your heart leap and break at the same time. So now the question was could I create a painting with ominous silences and violent outbursts in the same piece? I had some peonies that were about to bloom so I decided to experiment with them. They were budding, pure white festiva maxima peonies, fabulously showy when they in full bloom but achingly beautiful as they begin to open. Piano, piano I thought. Then I set them against a deep red velvet drapery creating a dramatic contrast. Forte, forte. The white theme returns in the drapery, this time less gentle, not played quite so softly. A rich dark frame is the final passage in my sonata. Breathtaking beauty in a rich, dynamic setting. Passion, drama, serenity. Interesting. Now on to the second movement.....
Sunday, September 1, 2013
The canvas is an empty space. It is the task of the artist to fill that void with light and form and atmosphere, with wisdom and challenge, with thunderous noise and breathtaking silence, with the glory of heaven and the horrors of hell, and with all the infinite variety and nuance of the human condition. The goal is to create works of art that are able to reach out of the canvas and touch the viewer, to move them in a profound way.....
Friday, August 23, 2013
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Our artistic instincts are developed from a very young age. Not long after we are able to control our fingers a crayon is inserted in our little fists and a piece of paper is placed in front of us. We are encouraged to make whatever marks we like and thus commit our first creative act. A broad smile comes across our face as we see the color recorded on the paper and the joy of creativity becomes a part of us. Mommy's applause let's us know that this joyful act has society's approval. After many happy efforts we budding artist have a desire to advance our drawings. Those joyful scribbles soon become harsher and angrier as frustration sets in. Then mommy demonstrates how to make a circle for a head and dots for eyes and the ever fascinating stick figure. Joy returns as the creative juices are set free. With time we learn to draw everything that is around us, house and family, grass and trees, even sun and rain. Then our imagination kicks in and we create fantastic drawings of monsters and dragons, princesses and pirates. We are well on our way to becoming artists, free and uninhibited, joyful and enchanted. At some point in this process some well meaning person notices our pleasure at creativity and offers us a coloring book. We use our well practiced scribbling technique to fill the page with color, blue hair, green faces, purple hands and sleeves, red, yellow and orange for the dress, shoes and legs and background. The lines of the preprinted drawings are often treated as mere suggestions of boundaries. We are then taught to keep our color within the lines and our artistic freedom meets its first test. Some of us agree and learn to control our color while others reject this attempt to inhibit their creativity. Our artistic philosophy begins to take shape. For those of us who continue to explore this avenue of creativity the coloring book experience is repeated over and over again. We are told that if we adopt this or that technique, or manipulate our pencils or brushes this or that way it will produce this or that effect. We are told that if we do this our work will be considered tasteful and if we do that it will be distasteful. As we accept or reject each suggestion, each lesson, we form our artistic philosophy. No two artists will make the same decisions, and the more we learn, the more we accept or reject, the more unique we become. Every time an artists puts a pencil to paper, or a brush to canvas, he must decide if he will paint within the lines or ignore the boundaries.....