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Posts Tagged ‘Video’

Have a lot on my plate this morning, a lot of things needing to be done. But I came across this video by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, the late Townes Van Zandt, and thought I would share it. It’s called Big Country Blues and the video features the photos of primarily working class Americans from the great Richard Avedon.

It’s a compelling video, given this time in this country. I watched it twice this morning just to fully take in the imagery and Townes’ music never lets me down. I wish he were around just to hear his take on these times. He could write some sad songs, after all.

Give it a look and a listen.

 

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Mesmerized

I was looking for an image to pair with the music I want to share today  and thought this old piece might work since I’ve been showing a lot of older unseen work lately. It’s a watercolor piece from 1995 or 1996 that I never felt secure enough about to show, one with a guitar dominating the front of the picture plane and a dark character propped in the doorway.

There are a few things wrong with this piece, most notably the way the fretboard  just ends at the body of the guitar. And the dark character is just, well… a little strange. He’s either smoking a cigarette or has been recently on fire–which might explain his charred appearance– and is still smoldering.

But even with these obvious flaws, for some reason I still find myself looking fondly at this piece and liking it. Still not sure about showing it to anybody but liking it, nonetheless.

The music I wanted this to accompany is from Australian fingerstyle guitarist Alan Gogoll who is being hailed for his technique that creates bell-like harmonic tones. I came across a couple of his videos and was drawn in by the way the filming focused on his hands. I am fascinated by watching the hands of musicians when they play and his technique has a grace and poetry in the movement of his hands.

He also has a series of short Instagram videos and one very long Youtube video in which the camera is inside the guitar facing out through the sound hole. You see his fingers picking and the vibration patterns of the strings as each string is plucked. Called Stringscapes, they are pretty mesmerizing.

I am showing a short song called Mulberry Mouse first, followed by the Stringscapes video. As I said, this video is long, coming in at 28 minutes. But it is worth at least taking a look for a minute or two. Or longer. Actually, while I was writing this I took a look and about four minutes passed. I said they were mesmerizing.

You can see more on Alan Gogoll’s website by clicking here.


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Several years ago I wrote about a spectacular illuminated book called Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. It was a Book of Hours created for a French Duke in the 15th century filled with prayers, calendars, timetables and the like. It also included some of the most extraordinary paintings that illustrated the text, including twelve pages that showed each month in proper seasonal context. I came across the film below that focuses on these beautiful pages, showing them in some detail.

After hitting the start arrow on the video below, you have to click on the link to go to YouTube to watch the video at the request of its creator.  But it’s well worth a look to start out your week on such a calm and lovely note.

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Limbourg Brothers- Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry FebruaryOne of the great pleasures in being fairly ignorant is the thrill that comes from stumbling across something that is absolutely spectacular without any knowledge of its existence beforehand.  Of course, the flip side of this experience is the depressing realization that sets in when you realize how little you really know.  I know this from experience.

The other day,  while searching for images of medieval snow scenes for the previous post, I also came across a beautiful image taken from a 15th century illuminated manuscript called the Tres Riches Heures.  It was a gorgeous winter scene, very Dutch looking, with a astronomical chart with beautiful blue lapis bands arching across the top of the page.   I was immediately taken in by the image.

Limbourg Brothers- Anatomical Man- Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry FebruaryDoing some quick research I discovered that this image was but one of over 130 painted images in the Tres Riches Heures, many of which were done by a trio of Dutch siblings, the Limbourg Brothers, between 1412 and 1416 for the French Duke du Berry.  The Tres Riches Heures is a book of hours which consists of prayers and devotional exercises along with  timetables for specific prayers and calendars for feast days and other days of note in the liturgical year, along with some customized additions.  This particular book of hours was the most spectacular ever produced.

Of course, something this incredible never comes easily.  The Limbourg Brothers, unfortunately, all died within the year of 1416, most likely from the plague, leaving the Tres Riches Heures incomplete.  It was worked on for many years by an unknown intermediate painter, most likely a court painter for French king Charles VII, who had attained the unfinished group work in the years after the Limbourgs died.  Finally, between 1485 and 1490, the work was completed by artist Jean Colombe.

Limbourg Brothers- Hell- Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry FebruaryToday, this considered arguably the most valuable book in the world– a book filled with 130 beautiful Dutch paintings, a book that took nearly eighty years to complete.

As I say, I was thrilled to come across it, having no prior knowledge of it or the magnificent work of the Limbourg Brothers or Jean Colombe.  But then I was a bit taken aback by the realization that I had such a gap in my knowledge, especially of a work of such grandeur.  But, that’s the way it goes.  You trudge forward, a blind squirrel periodically stumbling across a nut.

Now I know…

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I’ve been revisiting a lot of very old work lately here in the studio, taking little walk down memory lane. Some of the memories  are pleasant enough with “oh, yeah, I remember that” coming up periodically in my mind. Some are  cringeworthy, making me glad I moved past that time. Some please me greatly and some make me smile. Such is the case with this  little piece done in 1994.

Called Rockin’ Billy, it was done quickly in crayons. It’s rough-edged and kind of crude but has movement. I think I was listening to a bunch of old rockabilly at the time. Johnny Burnette, Warren Smith, Jerry Lee Lewis, that kind of stuff– rough-edged and a little crude with some real movement.

But I am pretty sure that this piece was a direct result of Billy Lee Riley and his distinct guitar playing, especially in a couple of my faves from that time, Flying Saucer Rock and Roll and Red Hot. Every time I stumble across this piece I have to break out the rockabilly for at least a few songs and that’s how it is on this Sunday morning. Here are those two songs from Billy Lee Riley.

Oh, what the hell, let me throw in Johnny Burnette’s Rock Billy Boogie. I can see Rockin’ Billy dancing across the stage now. Hope this helps you have your own rockin’ good time today.


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Don’t have much to say this morning and I’m fumbling around the internet looking for something that sparks my imagination. I did come across the painting above from F.H. Varley (1881-1969) who was part of the famed Canadian Group of Seven painters, a highly influential gathering of landscape painters in the 1920’s and 30’s.

This piece is called Untitled (Mist and Sunset) and is from around 1930. It’s a bit looser than most of Varley’s other work, which I will highlight here at some point, but the expressiveness of it really spoke to me. Something very right about this piece, at least for me. Those bits of light in the center, which might be ( or not be) sunlight on the caps of waves, give the piece an ethereal feel that gives me pause this morning.

It reminds me that I wanted to mention the passing of Tom Petty the other day which was somewhat overlooked on another bad and black news day. I had been following and listening to Petty since the 70’s with Breakdown still being a personal favorite. Some of his songs have become part of the soundtrack of my life and hearing them sparks personal memories and times long past. He was always rock solid and it seemed like everything he released never let you down.

It all felt honest and part of who he was as an artist and a person. All you can ask…

Here’s his You Don’t Know How It Feels. I guess that is the basis for all art — making people know how you feel– from his music to the Varley painting above.

Good travels to you, Tom…

 

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I often stumble across the work of Alfred Kubin, an Austrian printmaker/illustrator/writer who lived from 1877 until 1959.  It’s hard to look away from his imagery as much as it sometimes may make you wish to do so. His work is often associated with the Symbolist  and Expressionist movements but it has an oddness that is distinctly its own.

Macabre and creepy may also describe it.

But it has an appeal that makes the imagery seem as though it is from a dream, familiar yet odd and distant, making you want to know the what and why of what you are seeing. As though it has some personal relevance and meaning for you.

There is not a large amount of info in his bio and his work is yet to claim universal acclaim. He lived his life in Austria, lived through both World Wars and during the second, even though his work was labeled degenerate art by the Nazi regime, was allowed to continue making art in the small 12th century castle that was his home for the last 50+ years of his life.

He also wrote a few things including a book, The Other Side, which seems to be the literary equivalent of his visual work. It is considered dark and prophetic, as it was written in 1909, of the coming World War and turmoil that would embroil Europe. It was said to be greatly admired by writer Franz Kafka, whose own work the book is often compared. I can see that comparison just in the visual images.

But like many from the past, Alfred Kubin is an artist you may not know. Nor may you like seeing his work. But it is compelling in many ways and I think you will want to at least take a look. Here’s a video of his work along with some of his images. Judge for yourself.
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NC Wyeth Again

I am busy this morning but it’s never too hectic to ignore taking a look at the work of NC Wyeth. Below is a post from back in 2009 that I have updated with a few more images and a nice video of Wyeth’s painting. Just great stuff…

NC Wyeth The Giant NC Wyeth , who lived from 1882 until 1945, was the father of Andrew Wyeth and head of the artistic Wyeth family. He was also the preeminent illustrator of the early 20th century, illustrating some of the great books of the time.

Throughout his life, he wanted to be known not as an illustrator but as an easel painter, a fine artist.  There seemed to be this fine distinction that because an illustrator brought the scenes and ideas of others’ stories to life that they were somehow below the work of those who painted solely their own ideas.  I never understood that concept because it was still Wyeth who composed the paintings and created the colors and brushstrokes that distinguished the work.  Wasn’t this very much the same as many Renaissance artists who painted many of their great works for the Church?  Are they not considered fine artists?

NC Wyeth- Rip Van WinkleI’ve always been attracted to the work of NC Wyeth having seen it innumerable times in print.  There was a real dynamic quality, punch, in his paintings.  However, it wasn’t until I saw his work in person that I truly appreciated how beautiful his work truly was.

He treated many of his illustrations as fine paintings, with glorious paint appplication that created beautiful surfaces within the painting.  His colors were complex, hardly ever a pure single color.  His blues often had glazes of red, his whites tinged with yellows.  All of his colors had an  earthy base that gave them a dark edge and weight. His compositions were bold and inventive, highly contrasting and dramatic to best illustrate many of the adventure stories on which he worked.  In person, many of these paintings are even more stunning than on the printed page.

His non-illustrative work was much more mundane, less dramatic but well executed.  His real spark seemed to be from the stories he was bringing to life.  The Arthurian legends, the Leatherstocking tales of Cooper, the pirates of Robert Louis Stevenson–  all seemed fresh and new in his paintings.  Unlike many artists, I think being freed from having to create a narrative of his own actually gave him the opportunity to fully exploit all the knowledge of technique and composition he held.  As though having the decision of what to paint taken from his hands allowed that energy that would be expended to be used on making the painting stronger.  Whatever the case, whether you choose to call it fine art or illustration, the resulting work was memorable and deserves a nod.  It continues to inspire to this very day.



NC Wyeth Blind PewNC Wyeth
NC Wyeth

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