Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pansies and Asparagus
18 x 20   Oil on Linen

I recently wrote a reading list called On my Bookshelf for the Art Students League's online journal Linea. There are books on drawing and painting and technique as well as monographs on some of my favorite artists. The final book is a novel, The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary
 ...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”.....

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