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I have a lot going on this morning but I thought I’d share a lovely video that features the work of John Singer Sargent, focusing on his work, primarily his watercolors, painted in Venice. He visted the city a number of times in his life and held a certain fascination for it which certainly shows up in this work.

I am a fan of most of Sargent’s work but it was his work in watercolor that really hooked me.  His work is filled with light and the looseness of the painting makes it feel immediate and in the present, not as though it were painted 125 years ago. That looseness and the vibrancy of his colors give it an urgency and life. Just plain good stuff.

Take a look and enjoy the light.

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Another Sunday morning and I am ready for a little music. I was looking at some of the Nocturne paintings of James McNeill Whistler that I so much admire, like the one shown above from  1877, and thought I’d use that as the theme for this week’s music.

There are a lot of songs that use night as a theme but I settled on the classic Night Life written by Willie Nelson back in the late 1950’s. It has been covered by a lot of folks over the years, some good and some not so much. But  for me  while Willie’s version remains the truest and best of the bunch, I am partial to this performance by the great Marvin Gaye. He inserts his own special feeling into the song and the night life he creates is indeed his life. Good stuff.

Give a listen. Enjoy. Have a great day…

 

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Sometimes the horizon is defined by a wall behind which rises the noise of a disappearing train. The whole nostalgia of the infinite is revealed to us behind the geometrical precision of the square. We experience the most unforgettable movements when certain aspects of the world, whose existence we completely ignore, suddenly confront us with the revelation of mysteries lying all the time within our reach and which we cannot see because we are too short-sighted, and cannot feel because our senses are inadequately developed.  Their dead voices speak to us from nearby, but they sound like voices from another planet.

–Giorgio de Chirico

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de chirico_mysteryA turning point for me when I was first stumbling around with my own painting was when I encountered the work of Giorgio de Chirico, an Italian painter of darkly toned metaphorical works. He lived from 1888 until 1978 but was primarily known for his early work from 1909-1919 which is called his Metaphysical PeriodMetaphysics is  devoted to the exploration of what is behind visible reality without relying on measurable data. Very mystical. De Chirico’s work after 1919 became more realistic and more traditional.

His later work was less colorful, less symbolic, less powerful and way more mundane. It is definitely the work from the earlier Metaphysical period that defines him as the artist as we know him today.

I was immediately drawn to that work.  It was full of high contrast, with sharp light and dark.  The colors were bold, bright and vibrant, yet there was darknessde-chirico-the-great-tower implied in them.  The compositions were full of interesting juxtapositions of forms and perspectives.  It was a visual feast for me.

At that time in my own painting, I was still painting in a fairly traditional manner, especially with watercolors. That is to say that I was achieving light through the transparency of my paint, letting the underlying paper show through. It was pretty clean which was fine. But it wasn’t what I was looking for in my work.

Seeing de Chirico’s paintings made me realize what I wanted.  It was that underlying darkness that his work possessed. It was a grittiness, a dark dose of the reality of our existence.  I immediately began to experiment with different methods that would introduce a base of darkness that the light and color could play off.  My work began to change in short order and strides forward came much quicker as a result of simply sensing  something in de Chirico’s work that wasn’t there in my own.

Perhaps that is what is meant by metaphysical…

This post is a combination of a couple of posts from years ago. I really wanted to use his quote at the top because I often get that feeling from certain paintings, that they represent “voices from another planet,”  that they come from a point well beyond our realm of knowledge. I also wanted to include the video below that shows much of De Chirico’s metaphysical work. Take a look below.

de-chirico



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It’s a busy morning with lots to be done here in the studio. I thought I’d rerun a post form five years back about an artist whose work always grabs my eye, Eyvind Earle. I’ve added a video featuring his paintings set to a sparse piano score. Enjoy and have a great day.

I recently picked up  the second volume of The Complete Graphics of Eyvind Earle, a 9-pound behemoth of a book featuring the work of the artist who I have written about here once before. It’s an incredible book, full of spectacular imagery and pure color that I find both inspring and humbling. He had a tremendously long career, about 70 years, that began with a one-man show at the age of 14 and continued through stints as a fabled Disney artist. landscape painter, and a graphic artist known for his highly stylized greeting card design. Through it all, there was an amazing consistency and brilliance to the many pieces produced by a prolific artist in such a long career. I find myself overwhelmed by the variety and quality of his work as I go through the book which only covers a small part of work.

Just incredible.

There’s great clarity in the work of Eyvind Earle.  The compositions are often both complex in design but come across as simple, a duality that I really find appealing.  The color is bold and could be a little sharp in tone if it weren’t harmonized so masterfully within the picture plane.  He is a pure genius at handling harmony and contrast– another duality that strikes me.

I also like the fact that Earle was an unabashed landscape artist, feeling no desire to express himself  through figurative work.  He found total expression in his handling of the landscape around him, often depicting the open spaces and coastlines of California. They are not mere scenes but have emotion and a depth that goes well beyond the surface, another aspect that appeals greatly to my  desires for my own work.  In short, it’s just beautiful work and an inspiration with every look.

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I have been enjoying the films I’ve been sharing lately featuring the work of some of my favorite artists. It sometimes gives me a wider view of their body of work, giving me glimpse at lesser known pieces alongside their greatest hits while listening to music that often fits the tone of the work.

Today’s pick was an easy one for me.  It’s a lovely compilation of the work of Andrew Wyeth set to the gorgeous guitar of John Williams‘ version of British composer Stanley Myers’ Cavatina. You might recognize the song from its prominent place in the film The Deer Hunter.

Andrew Wyeth would have been 100 years old in 2017 and to mark the occasion, the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown has an exhibit opening in May that celebrates the life and work of Wyeth. It is curated by his granddaughter, Victoria Wyeth, and includes many items from his personal collection. It is on my to do list.

Anyway, enjoy this beautiful group of paintings and the music that accompanies it. I am off to work, happier for having watched this short film this morning.

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I only have time enough this morning to throw this song out for this week’s Sunday morning music. The song is At My Window Sad and Lonely with lyrics by Woody Guthrie. The band Wilco and singer Billy Bragg put music to these lyrics along with a number of other Guthrie songs in the Mermaid Avenue albums. The version below is an acoustic version from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. Nice stuff.

The image to the right is from my Outlaws series from back in 2006. This piece is called Followed. It was chosen because I think this person might be sad and lonely.

Give a listen and enjoy your Sunday…

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In the inner place where true artists create there exists a pure child.

Lawren Harris

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I was planning on throwing up a quick post with a video of some of the paintings from another favorite of mine this morning.

Quick. Easy. Done and I’m on my way to the rest of my day.

The problem is that once I start looking at the paintings of Lawren Harris time just evaporates for me. I find myself just staring at so many different pieces, taking in their colors, their harmonies, their stillnesses, and their sheer beauty, that time floats away. I find myself enthralled by his work maybe more than any artist I’ve encountered.

The video below is a group of his work set to a Barhms sonata. A few of the images are a bit fuzzy but it’s a pretty well done video and gives a good idea of the full range of Harris’ work. So while this post is short today be advised that it is one that might take up some of your time. It took a bunch of mine this morning!

But that’s not a complaint. It was my pleasure.


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