Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Daffodils and Bartlett Pears
20 x 18 Oil on Linen

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote six magnificent suites for unaccompanied cello. They are very high on my long list of favorite pieces of music. I like them so much I have four different recordings of them; an intense, full bodied version by Mstislav Rostropovich, a lighter, livelier interpretation by the Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma, Yo-Yo Ma's correct but somewhat colorless rendition and the warm, sensitive performance of Pablo Casals. I find it fascinating to hear the different personalities even though they are all playing from the same score. I try to develop this same sense of uniqueness in my painting students. I am the composer telling them what to paint and how I want them to approach it and they are the musicians, each interpreting my instructions in their own way. This week is the annual class show for my class at the Art Students League. As we hung the show on Sunday I was delighted to see all the different versions of the same pose. Each student worked hard to get the drawing, light and shade and atmosphere, trying to understand and employ what I was teaching them, but each brought their own personality to their work. Some intense, some lively, some colorless, some warm and sensitive. A mature artist, on the other hand, often works alone and consequently there is only one version, one interpretation of his subject. I often wonder how my still life would be rendered if there were another artist in my studio painting the same subject. What would Daffodils and Bartlett Pears look like if painted by Mason or DuMond, Matisse or Cassatt, Manet or Goya or Breughel.....

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