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Coming Up

Next on the agenda is my Gallery Talk ( they call it an Artist Talk– tomato,tamato) at the Principle Galleryon Saturday, September 15, beginning at 1 PM. This will be the 16th year I have given a talk at the gallery. It coincides with the annual Alexandria King Street Art Festival which has evolved into a pretty large showcase for many talented, working artists.

So, what could be better than a day in historic and beautiful Alexandria along with some art, good talk and more?

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Samuel Palmer

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When less than four years old I was standing with my nurse, Mary Ward, watching the shadows on the wall from branches of an elm behind which the moon had risen. I have never forgot those shadows and am often trying to paint them.

-Samuel Palmer

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I have long admired the work of the British painter Samuel Palmer (1805-1881).  He is sometimes called the British Van Gogh even though he painted much of his work much of his work before Van Gogh was even born. There’s a wonderful darkness underlying much of his work that no doubt relates to the shadows from his childhood that he mentions in the quote above. Interesting how things from our childhood that might be easily overlooked or downplayed affect us throughout our lives.

His compositions have a very unique quality, one that strives to create a sense of fullness in the view he is revealing. It is very stylized and personal, more so than most artists of the first half of the 19th century. His often condensed compositions create an air of unreality but nevertheless make sense and translate easily in the journey from the eye to the brain. This really appeals to my own sense of composition and I find myself relating easily to his work, almost sensing how he was putting his pieces together.

Many of you have probably never heard of Samuel Palmer but he certainly has had my attention and respect for some time. Here’s a short video of his work and a few more of my favorite pieces.

The Harvest Moon: Drawing for ‘A Pastoral Scene’ c.1831-2 Samuel Palmer 1805-1881 Purchased 1922 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N03699

 

You can’t force inspiration. It’s like trying to catch a butterfly with a hoop but no net. If you keep your mind open and receptive, though, one day a butterfly will land on your finger.

–Chuck Jones
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I came across the quote above from the great animator/artist Chuck Jones and it made me think of a blog post I wrote back in 2009, citing him as an influence. Nine years later, I still feel that way as strongly as ever. I still see hints of his landscapes in my own. His strong visuals, along with those of the early Max Fleischer Popeye cartoons, really imprinted on me. I thought it deserved a second run. Actually, I just wanted to show Marvin the Martian again.
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Marvin the Martian and Daffy
I have cited artists here who have been influences on my work, people who are often giants in the world of art and sometimes lesser known but equally talented artists. But sometimes you overlook the obvious, those ones who have always been right in front of you.

What's Opera DocLast night [from 2009], TCM honored the great cartoonist Chuck Jones by showing a documentary and some of his landmark cartoons starring Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck. He also did the Roadrunner/ Wile E. Coyote cartoons as well as the seminal holiday favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His work was and is a vivid part of an incredible number of people’s childhoods. His What’s Opera Doc? with Bugs and Elmer in a Wagnerian setting with a tragic ending is classic and might be the only exposure to higher culture that many viewers may get.chuck_jones-opera-set

For me, I was always so drawn to the color quality that Jones had in his cartoons as well as the way he interpreted the landscape with a form of artistic shorthand that cut out extraneous detail yet never took away from the feeling of place, unlike some of the lower quality cartoons from Hanna-Barbera in the early 60’s. Don’t get me wrong. I loved those cartoons as well but even as a kid I was really distracted by the poor quality of the landscapes that scrolled continuously behind their characters. With Chuck Jones, it always felt fresh and real, as though there was thought given to every detail in every frame. Who else could put imagery like the above scene from What’s Opera Doc? before the eyes of impressionable children? Probably only the artists from Disney can match Jones’ work at Warner Brothers, but that’s another post.

His work also treated you, as a kid, like you had intelligence. They were smart, clever and nuanced. They never talked down to you.

For a kid this was potent stuff. Scratch that- it’s just potent stuff. Period.

Paul Klee/ Color


 

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Many, many thank you’s to everyone who took time from their busy sunny summer Saturday to spend an hour with me at the West End Gallery yesterday. It was a very full house with plenty of faces I know well and quite a few that were new to me. Hopefully everyone went away satisfied with their decision to spend their time at the gallery.

I know that I am certainly glad they came. Their warmth makes me feel most welcome and their questions create the real form and content of the talk. I am always pleased at the questions they ask. Most are quite probing and require me to truly consider my answers. I know that sounds funny, that it seems obvious that every response should be considered. But there are some questions that I have been asked many times so the answers just come out reflexively. I am often asked questions at these talks that come from different angles, that require a moment to look at  what is really being asked.

Hopefully, I got to the point of what was asked.

Again, a boatload of thanks to the folks who came and to Jesse, Lin and John at the West End Gallery for being the perfect hosts.

That being said, I can say that I gave a big sigh of relief when it was over. One would think it would be easy by now, especially given the open acceptance of the audience, but for someone who works in private solitude seven days a week it is a daunting task to stand before a group of people and try to speak coherently in an open and honest way about inner things.

When these things finally end the relief is quickly replaced by a feeling of fatigue that quickly sets in. I was wiped out after yesterday’s talk. But I am somewhat refreshed this morning and can start preparing for the next one, about six weeks from now in Alexandria. But I’ll put off worrying about that for a while.

For this Sunday morning music I chose a song about things being over. It’s a version of Bob Dylan’s It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue by the group Them from way back in 1966. Featuring Van Morrison who sang lead for the group before he had his great solo career, this is a great version of the song. Give a listen and have yourself a great day.

Gallery Talk Today

No Hype. Here are the details:

Gallery Talk today.

Saturday, August 4.

1 PM.

West End Gallery.

Corning.

Art Talk and Tall Tales.

Lots of Questions and Some Answers. 

Win a Painting.

Or two.

Plenty of Giveaways.

Hope you can make it.

 

Bearden’s Soul

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Art is the soul of a people.

Romare Bearden
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Getting ready for tomorrow’s 1 PM Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery in Corning. There are a few new paintings that I am framing today to bring along  with me. I am also getting some other things together that will no doubt show up including the painting, Pipedream, that will be given away at the end of the talk.
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I’ve also been running things through my mind that I want to discuss. One thing I will try to touch on is the purpose of art. That’s where the quote above from the late American painter Romare Bearden comes in. In a very concise manner, it sums up the importance of art.
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Win This Painting! –“Pipedream”

Art, in all forms, is our soul, our collective spirit and memory. It is the expression of our values and beliefs. It completes our humanity.

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Without art, we are less human. We are without our soul.
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Okay, maybe that will be a subject. I never fully know until I am standing there, trying to look composed while my anxiety causes my mind to shoot off fireworks inside my skull. But I do know that we will talk about something and tell some stories. You know, it might very well be interesting, even fun. Plus, there are prizes! What’s not to like?
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So, if you’re in Corning tomorrow around 1 PM, stop in at the West End Gallery and join in the conversation. Maybe you’ll take something home you were not expecting.
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