Friday, November 22, 2013

Atlantic Surf
36 x 36   Oil on Linen

Picasso 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 to Mount Desert Island in Maine, the home of Acadia National Park. It is a beautiful island with breathtaking views from Cadillac Mountain and a stunning rocky coastline. We spent the entire first week lying on the rocks listening to the waves crash, breathing in the ocean air and reading. Recreational multitasking you might say. The second week we got out our paint boxes and set to work. There was one afternoon that was particularly dramatic. It was a partly cloudy day; when the clouds parted there was a roaring surf, when they gathered again the sound of the waves was muffled. We were both excited. I clambered down the rocks to get close to the sea, Elizabeth liked the view from where she was and stayed up top. We both painted well but there was something very compelling about the way she had used the rocks to frame the sea. I loved that study and over the next few years thought about creating a large painting using her composition. One day I asked if I could borrow her study to do the big painting. "Borrow it?" she said laughingly “You mean steal it”.....

Friday, November 15, 2013

20 x 16   Oil on Linen

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.....