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Archive for the ‘Painting’ Category

Wassily Kandinsky- Couple Riding 1906

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The true work of art is born from the Artist: a mysterious, enigmatic, and mystical creation. It detaches itself from him, it acquires an autonomous life, becomes a personality, an independent subject, animated with a spiritual breath, the living subject of a real existence of being.

–Wassily Kandinsky

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Leave it to the great Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) to so well describe that sense of life I am looking for in my work and about which I have often written here. When it is real, it takes on a life of its own. It still possesses the personality and psyche of the artist but grows, adding layers and dimensions that take it well beyond the reality of the artist.

These two sentences from Kandinsky hit the mark squarely — animated with a spiritual breath, the living subject of a real existence of being–and are just perfect for how I see this process.

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“I’ve spent a good part of my life painting trees. Naturally I’ve gotten pretty well acquainted with them. Excellent friends they are and, for me, the most fascinating ‘sitters’. Trees are a lot like human beings; rooted men, possessing character, ambitions and idiosyncrasies. Those who know trees see all their whims; see their struggles too; struggles with wind and weather; struggles to adjust themselves to their society. For nature will not allow them to run amuck, heedless of their neighbors; their individual propensities must conform to the cosmic laws within their own democracy. Thus there is a certain rhythm in a wood; a flow between parts, a give and take that is rigidly observed.”

–John F. Carlson, American Artist interview, 1942

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To the artist, the forest is an asylum of peace and dancing shadows.

-John F. Carlson (1875-1947)

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You may not know his name, but the Swedish born American painter John F. Carlson had a big influence on generations of modern realist painters. He wrote a book on landscape painting in 1928 that is still well regarded today and his work is included in the collections of most major museums. You probably see echoes of his work in painters you see working today.

Beyond that, I like, and agree with, his thoughts on trees and forests, those places where I spend much of my days.

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“No one, it seems to me, can really paint trees without being extremely sensitive to their rhythm and all that is going on in the woods, without indeed having considerably more than a casual acquaintance with sylvan society.”– John F. Carlson

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Take a look for yourself.

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I never really knew much about the Swiss born painter Félix Vallotton (1865-1925) but I always found myself stopping whenever I came across one of his paintings, particularly those that were in the vein of the painting above, Evening on the Loire, from 1923. I loved the way he blocked in the forms in his compositions, very much in a manner that I could identify with in my own work.

But his name didn’t bring instant recognition for me, not like the big names from his contemporaries from that incredible time of change for the art world around the turn of the last century. But looking at his work, both as a painter and a printmaker, makes me wonder why this was the case. It is most distinctive work, in many ways bolder and different than that of his peers. His print series, Intimacies, from which I show a few below, is a fascinating group that I have learned was highly influential on the paintings of Edward Hopper and the films of Alfred Hitchcock. I can easily see that connection now.

Maybe his lack of of recognition came from the fact that he didn’t seek the spotlight personally or write much on his work. Doing a quick search turned up little. No outrageous quotes or wild stories.

Well, whatever the case, perhaps we will soon know a bit more about this artist as the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a large exhibit of his work, Félix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet, opening late in October and running through the end of January in 2020. It traces his career from his association with Les Nabis, the painting group heavily influenced by Paul Gauguin and Cezanne, through his woodblock prints and his later paintings that became more like his prints, compositionally.

I am not going to go into a bio here. I just wanted to make folks just a tiny bit more aware of his work. I had a hard time stopping when I was adding images for this post. See for yourself. I know I usually see at least a few things I want to “borrow” whenever I look at it.

Félix Vallotton- The Visit 1899

Félix Vallotton- The Red Room 1898

Félix Vallotton- Interior with Couple and Screen 1898

Félix Vallotton- Interior with Woman in Red 1903

Félix Vallotton- Intimacies V: Money

Félix Vallotton- Intimacies: The Murder

Félix Vallotton- Intimacies I: The Lie

Félix Vallotton- Nuit Effet de Lune Suisse

Félix Vallotton- The Pond 1909

Félix Vallotton- Moonlight 1895

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I am tired of tears and laughter,
And men that laugh and weep ;
Of what may come hereafter
For men that sow to reap :
I am weary of days and hours,
Blown buds of barren flowers,
Desires and dreams and powers
And everything but sleep.

Algernon Charles Swinburne, The Garden of Proserpine

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This is the last painting I finished from the group of work that is coming with me on my trip to Alexandria tomorrow, when I will be at the Principle Gallery for my annual Gallery Talk. which begins at 1 PM. I call this painting, which is an 8″ by 24″ canvas, At the End of Time.

This was a trying painting for me. It just never felt right through the whole process and at several points I was ready to trash it. But there was something in it that kept me at it, something that wouldn’t let me just black it out and build anew. It wasn’t until it was 99% complete that it suddenly transformed into a living, breathing piece with its own vitality.

I went from hating this piece to a point where I haven’t been able to look away from it for the last few days.

It seems to have a message and a sense of weary finality. The words of Swinburnes The Garden of Prosperine, an excerpt of which is shown above, mesh beautifully with this image. At least, as I see it.

I am not going to fully describe how I see this now. I don’t want to taint your own impression of this painting, if I haven’t already done so by now.

Maybe if you come to the Gallery Talk tomorrow and ask me, I will tell you the personal meaning behind some of the elements in this piece. We’ll see.

But please feel free to come to the Gallery Talk tomorrow, Saturday, September 21, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. It starts at 1 PM and after about an hour which includes some talking, assorted questions and answers, a few laughs, a couple of feats of strength, a brief operatic solo and a little soft shoe, I will be giving away some stuff, including the painting Light Emanation. Plus there are some what you might call neat parting gifts and there may or may not be an additional painting awarded.

You will have to come to find out. I am not saying for sure.

Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Seriously, hope you can make it. I advise you to get there early to beat the crowd, claim a seat and enter the drawing. We can fill the time with a little pre-Talk chat, if you like.

 

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To all my friends without distinction I am ready to display my opulence: come one, come all; and whosoever likes to take a share is welcome to the wealth that lies within my soul.

–Antisthenes
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This new painting is headed to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria with me this coming Saturday, September 21, for my annual Gallery Talk there, which begins at 1 PM.  This is my 17th Gallery Talk at the Principle and it has turned into a neat little event, one that has me engaging in a usually lively talk, giving away some gifts ( including at least one painting–see yesterday’s blog!) and unveiling a smaller group of new paintings.

This is one of those new paintings, a 20″ by 40″ canvas called True Opulence.

I hesitated in using the word opulence for this piece because I don’t see it as celebrating those things we most often associate with wealth and luxury. Not money or gold or diamonds or fancy car and clothes. No, it is more in the vein of the words at the top from the Greek philosopher Antisthenes.

It is a celebration of our ability to feel opulence in the world around us and within ourselves.

In the lushness of a field. In the richness in the colors of the flowers. In the clarity of a clean bright sky. In the graceful roll of a distant hill. In the beauty of a tree reaching outward. In our ability to experience these things and feel ourselves connected to the whole of it all.

That is the real opulence in this world.

True Opulence.

Funny how adding the word true changes the meaning of opulence. But it does. It makes the other opulence seem almost false, as though it is a mere replication of that which is available to all.

I hope you can come out this Saturday to the Principle Gallery to see True Opulence and the other new pieces. You might even win a painting or take home some swag. Your odds are pretty good! It starts at 1 PM so get there a bit early to grab a seat.

 

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GC Myers-Guided By BeautyOne of those days that start out on the wrong foot, sleeping late on what promises to be a hectic, busy day when I want to get up early. Maybe I needed the extra hour or so of sleep. I don’t know except that it didn’t refresh me in any way and I find myself instantly filled with the anxiety that has been plaguing me in recent days. It’s that teeth grinding, headache inducing kind of tension that ends up in a knotty sharp edged ball in the gut.

It brings me quicker to frustration and anger at the slightest perceived provocation. I know it’s this way and I fight it but it’s a powerful beast, this ugly anxiousness. Please excuse me if you see me on the road today and for some unknown reason I appear to be swearing loudly and making obscene gestures.

This sounds more like a diary entry than a blog post. Sorry. I don’t want to bore you with my own particular brand of craziness. I have mine and many of you, no doubt, have your own. And these are certainly times that test our ability to remain on an even keel, even for the most sturdy willed of us.

My work helps me. It draws me into it and stills my mind. Or maybe it activates parts of it that have been bitch-slapped into submission by my anxiety? I don’t know for sure. I find that the times when I am most anxious occur when I have a  inner desperate need to express myself and too many things pulling at me, keeping me from doing so.

That sure is how it feels in this instance.

But time has taught me this will pass if I hold on, if I visualize a calmer time ahead that I can set as a point on my horizon to navigate towards.

Maybe that’s the purpose of this new painting, Guided By Beauty. Maybe it’s that point, that destination on the horizon.

It does calm me greatly.

And I needed that now.

This piece is heading to the Principle Gallery for my annual Gallery Talk this coming Saturday, September 21, beginning at 1 PM. I will be announcing the painting that will be given away at the Talk tomorrow so come back please. It’s gonna be a peach! Plus, as always, there will be plenty of other surprises. So, if you are so inclined, make a point of getting to the Principle Gallery next Saturday.

My choice for this Sunday morning music is a song from one of my favorites, Neko Case. It’s Deep Red Bells.

Have a good Sunday and if you see me on the highway, please forgive me.

 

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Truth is the daughter of time.

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights

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This is a new painting, a 24″ by 24″ canvas, that will be going with me when I give my annual Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria next Saturday, September 21. There will be more details on the Gallery Talk, including the revealing of the painting that will be given away at the talk, in the coming days. However, this painting will not be the prize for the Talk.

I call this piece, Daughter of Time. It is taken from the old proverb Truth is the daughter of time. It first appeared in a commonplace book, a collection of general knowledge and literature, put together in the late 2nd century AD by Aulus Gellius. It basically means that Truth will at some point give birth to truth, that time reveals all eventually.

Sir Francis Bacon, sometime around the late 16th/ early 17th century, added an anti-1984 twist to the phrase: Time is the daughter of time, not of authority. Bacon’s slightly amended version certainly has relevance in these times and should be a warning to those who think they can bury Truth or make her bend to their will.

Eventually, Time will always find and release its daughter, Truth.

Always.

This is a painting that has captured my attention here in the studio over the past couple of weeks. The rhythmic nature of the sky and the eye-like feel of the moon make it seem like a living being to me. Or at least, bands of surging energies. The female figure in the boat has a posture of strength and undeniability which is in line with what imagines– or hopes– for Truth.

It feels like a strong piece to me with a quality that appeals to me, that being that it works both on abstract and realistic levels.

Hope you come out to see it. As I said, more details on the Gallery Talk next Saturday will be coming n the next day or two. It should be a good one.

Finally, thanks to the folks who came out to the Art Talk at the Octagon Gallery this past Thursday. It was small group which made for a more intimate conversation, one that lasted quite a bit longer than my normal Gallery Talks. Thanks to all for the great questions and for taking the time. It was most appreciated.

Have a good Saturday.

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