Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spring Landscape
9 x 13 Oil on Panel

The Metropolitan Museum recently rediscovered a painting by Velazquez. The painting entered the Met collection in 1949 as a Velazquez Self Portrait. The origins of the painting are unknown, it first turned up in the 18th century in a German collection. It was initially thought to be a work by Van Dyck, then Velazquez, possibly Mazo, Velazquez again, then school of, workshop of, and finally Velazquez yet again. The sitter has been unknown, a self portrait and now unknown again. It was never really lost but the attribution was downgraded twice and it was finally hidden in storage for many years. Experts, curators and historians were clueless. It's as if the painting was in the witness protection program. Perhaps it saw a restorer overclean a masterpiece and then testified against him. It was given a new identity and relocated to the Met where it might easily blend into the museum's massive collection. That seems to have worked for quite a long time, it was restored twice without being discovered, but then someone in the museum recognized the piece and handed it over to the head of the restoration department who roughed it up a bit for being a snitch before hanging it back on a wall in the museum. It has now been publicly identified as by Velazquez again but not as a self portrait and, since its recent cleaning, is considered an unfinished portrait.....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Silver and Pink
20 x 25 Oil on Linen

My students are beginning to think I am the descendant of a cyclops. I am constantly telling them to see with their third eye. Situated on the forehead above and between the two eyes, the third eye is on the meridian between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It is also known as the inner eye or the mind's eye, the eye of enlightenment, wisdom and knowledge. Your two physical eyes are not meant for painting I tell them, they are there for survival, constantly on the lookout for predators, for food, for sexual stimulation. So when we look at the model we see all the details, the eyes, the nose, the shoes, the fingernail polish. We study the gesture and attitude. We take in all these things to tell us if we are in danger or have found food or a mate. But the third eye is not interested in details, it takes in the whole of what is before it. It sees the model, the background, the room, the light and space as one. It is the eye of unity and harmony. Now there is no doubt that we want to know and express the individual characteristics of our sitter, but the sum of those details does not add up to a great painting. It is the oneness, the unity and harmony, the wisdom and enlightenment of the third eye that will turn a well painted head into an unforgettable portrait.....