this delicate painting will endure

On the shelf in my studio in Bloomsbury are four postcards of paintings that I love: The Blue Rigi, Sunrise by J.M.W. Turner; Stonehenge, a watercolour by John Constable; Self-Portrait by Rembrandt, dated 1658; and The Convalescent by Gwen John.

Just one look at this reproduction of Gwen John’s painting and my breathing becomes easier. The whole composition is a symphony in grey. She must have mixed the colours on her palette first—Payne’s Grey, Prussian Blue, Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Brown Ochre, Rose Madder, Flake White—then all the other colours would be dipped in this combination so that every form is united in grey: the dark blue of the girl’s dress, the thrush-egg blue of the cushion behind her back and the tablecloth, the rose pink of the cup and saucer echoing the delicate pink of her fingernails and lips, the teapot like a shiny chestnut. The wall behind her is flecked with mustard-coloured dots placed randomly and precisely, as marks in nature always are, like the speckles on an egg. The painting is as fragile and robust as an egg—the structure of the composition holds everything in place; this delicate painting will endure.

Gwen John instructs the model to loosen her hair and part it in the middle. She wants the model to resemble her. Before Gwen starts the painting, she positions herself in the wicker chair and tells her model that she must sit in exactly the same pose. Gwen lowers her eyes and holds a small piece of paper in her hands. She is completely still, and her stillness pervades the space around her. The room becomes silent. The model now copies Gwen; she looks down at her hands, and she doesn’t look up until she has heard that Gwen approves.

—  Celia Paul, Letters to Gwen John (New York Review of Books, April 26, 2022)

Then and Now

Pascal Campion’s “9/11: Then and Now.” In his cover for the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Pascal Campion depicts two people, likely too young to have experienced the day firsthand, sharing a moment of comfort and consolation on the rebuilt site of the World Trade Center. “Emotions can often be difficult to express in words,” Campion said. “But I’m a visual artist and, in my chosen medium, emotions can transcend words.” Behind the couple, the memorial reflecting pools, the footprints of the old Twin Towers; the wing-like silhouette of the Oculus, Santiago Calatrava’s gleaming shopping-mall-cum-transportation hub; and the illuminated office towers that make up the present-day skyline. Life has gone on. And yet, almost two decades later, the surroundings remain imbued with the memory of the events that took place on that day and by the absence of what was. (The New Yorker, September 13, 2021)

T.G.I.F.



Notes:

  • Photo 1: The Robin Red Breast via Discovery.
  • Image 2: Artist Constructs Cube Animals. Aditya aryanto, an artist from indonesia, has imagined a surreal series of animals that take on a quirky, cubic form.

Cézanne could not draw…

Visitors to “Cézanne Drawing” at the Museum of Modern Art may be astonished to learn that critics once complained that the late 19th-century French artist could not draw. With about 280 graphite, ink and gouache drawings and watercolors—over a third of them from private collectors—and a handful of related oil paintings, the staggeringly beautiful show proves otherwise. Organized by Jodi Hauptman, senior curator at MoMA, and associate curator Samantha Friedman, it also argues convincingly that Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), a foundational painter of modern art, produced his most radical work on paper.

The exhibition, arranged in broad, thematic terms, opens with loose study sheets and pages from the artist’s sketchbooks. Cézanne drew almost daily over the course of his career, using standard studio materials, and produced more than 2,000 extant works on paper. Though they rarely served as straightforward preparations for his oil paintings, his drawings pull us directly into his potent creative orbit…

After a dark year of building walls between ourselves and the world, “Cézanne Drawing” invites us to discover at an exhilaratingly intimate range the luminous genius of an artist whose work remains as rewarding as it is demanding.

— Mary Tompkins Lewis, from “‘Cézanne Drawing’ Review: Radical With a Pencil” (wsj.com, June 21, 2021)


Notes: 1) Paul Cezanne ‘Still Life with Cut Watermelon’ (c. 1900), 2) Cézanne’s ‘Coat on a Chair’ (1890-92).

World Re-opening…


Art by Gürbüz Doğan Ekşioğl, (from Istanbul, Turkey). Françoise Mouly: “When coronavirus quarantines were announced, more than a year ago, artists began sending in sketches about our new, locked-in reality. One of those sketches, from Gürbüz Doğan Ekşioğlu, who is based in Istanbul, looked far ahead, imagining the thrill and poignancy of a world reopening. Today, the pandemic is far from over, but many countries are finally exhaling, and it seemed apt to publish Ekşioğlu’s image.”

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

T.G.I.F. Nope. Mr. Bingo.

Nope, Mr Bingo (via thisisn’thappiness)

Lightly Child, Lightly.

I have also, I think, learnt what it is to love: being capable, not of ‘exaggerated’ initiatives, of always going one better, but of being thoughtful in relation to others, respecting their desires, their rhythms, never demanding things but learning to receive and to accept every gift as a surprise, and being capable, in a wholly unassuming way, of giving and of surprising the other person without the least coercion. To sum up, it is a question simply of freedom. Why did Cézanne paint the Montagne Saint-Victoire at every available moment? Because the light of each moment is a gift.

So, despite its dramas, life can still be beautiful. I am sixty-seven, and though it will soon be over, I feel younger now than I have ever done, never having had any youth since no one loved me for myself.

Yes, the future lasts a long time.

Louis Althusser, The Future Lasts Forever: A Memoir


Notes:

  • Painting: “Paul Cézanne: La Montagne Sainte-Victoire” via Culturium
  • Quote via “Alive on All Channels
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly Child, Lightly.

“There are two different ways of looking at the world. You can walk on the path, or you can walk through the hedge. And I think that’s the beauty of art, that it just makes you step aside, off the normal way of walking or looking…”

There’s this wonderful sort of tension in the wind — that moment when you’re held there suspended is a very beautiful moment … a moment of clarity in a very chaotic situation. … It’s like a shaft of light that penetrates.

—  Andy Goldsworthy, from “Leaning Into the Wind” (1987)


Notes:

  • Andy Goldsworthy (born 26 July 1956) is a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist who produces site-specific sculptures and land art situated in natural and urban settings. He lives and works in Scotland.
  • Quotes via The Hammock Papers.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

T.G.I.G.F.


Notes:

Saturday Morning

Windowsills evenly welcome
both heat and cold.
Radiators speak or fall silent as they must.

Doors are not equivocal
floorboards do not hesitate or startle.
Impatience does not stir the curtains,
a bed is neither irritable nor rapacious.

Whatever disquiet we sense in a room
we have brought there.

And so I instruct my ribs each morning,
pointing to hinge and plaster and wood —

You are matter, as they are.
See how perfectly it can be done.
Hold, one day more, what is asked.

~ Jane Hirshfield, from “A Room” from “The Lives of the Heart: Poems

 


Painting, Poul Anker Bech (Danish, 1942-2009), “Sun Dreams”, 1973 via Huariqueje

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

As I sit alone with these words, I think about how brave he was in so many ways, and how brave he was to go into that studio every day with his demons and his angels, and labor to put them on canvas. Nulla dia sine linea, No day without a line, is the motto at the Art Students League, from Pliny the Elder, derived from the Greek painter Apelles. The devotions.

— Elizabeth Alexander, “The Light of the World: A Memoir.


Elizabeth Alexander was married to Ficre Ghebreyesus from 1997 until he died unexpectedly in 2012 days after his 50th birthday. Her memoir, “The Light of the World” is a story of her loss and her love.  The painting above was Ficre Ghebreyesus’ Middle Passage Figures with Solitary Boats (c. 2002–2007) (detail). Acrylic on canvas. 24 x 30 inches; 26.5 x 32.5 x 2 inches.

Walking. Swallowed up by Stegner…

172 mornings.

Today, 5:50 a.m., that’s 173.

Home to Cove Island Park, and back. Five mile loop.

Wallace Stegner (via Audible) has been keeping me company. The Spectactor Bird. Angle of Repose. Crossing to Safety. Remembering Laughter. All the Little Live Things.

And now, Stegner’s Recapitulation.

“Remembered habit created remembered reality. His needle ran in a groove.” (WS-R)

173 consecutive mornings. ~1,700,000 steps. I’d say that’s a groove.

As my feet pat the shoulder of the road, helicopters come whirling down from the red maples, illuminated against the street lamps. My mind lets go of the narration, I stop, and I watch, in silence. A warm gust of wind sends another troop of helicopters whirring down on me. Raining helicopters!

“That intense obsessed involvement, and then absence, silence.” (WS-R)

And then back to Stegner…and Recapitulation.

“Listen to those cottonwoods talking..Doesn’t that sound tell you, as much as any single signal in your life, who you are? Doesn’t it smell of sage and rabbit brush and shad scale? Doesn’t it have the feel of wet red ditch-bank sand in it, and the stir of a thunderstorm coming up over one of the little Mormon towns down in the plateaus? Just now, for a half second, it drowned me in associations and sensations. It brought back whole two people I used to love. When cottonwoods have been rattling at you all through your childhood, they mean home. I could have spent fifty years listening to the shamal thresh the palms in the date gardens of Hofuf, and never felt anything but out of place. But one puff of wind through those trees in the gully is enough to tell me, not that I have come home, but that I never left. Having let it surge through his head like the wind through the branches, he takes it back.” (WS-R)

And then, the aha moment.

My mind swimming in Stegner’s words for weeks.

Why so uninspired to write DK?

Try to follow behind that!

Forgettaboutit.


Notes:

  • WS-R = Wallace Stegner, Recapitulation (Penguin Books, November 1, 1997)
  • Photo: DK, Weed Ave, Stamford, CT. October 24, 2020. 6:26 am. 61° F.  Wind gusts: up to 13 mph.

Evolution


Cover of The New Yorker Sept 21, 2020 issue by Artist Chris Ware: “I live in the quiet, relatively diverse, and leafy “village” of Oak Park, literally across the street from Chicago, and all summer long I’ve seen neighborhood almost-but-not-quite get-togethers, not unlike what I drew here…I think vastly more people still try to get along in America than not. Our cities aren’t exclusively anarchic blast zones, and the suburbs aren’t all xenophobic cloisters. Yet, now, the weather is cooling, and we’re all heading back inside to await the results of what will surely be the most contested election of our lifetimes. The real fear is what may result: not a democracy or a republic but something that somehow stifles both.”

Miniature Worlds

Tatsuya Tanaka is a master of turning everyday objects into miniature worlds that seem larger than life. He’s been doing it daily for almost a decade, and in the midst of the COVID pandemic, he’s started to integrate some all-too-familiar objects into his work. See more here: Photographer Turns Masks And Toilet Paper Into Intricate Miniature Worlds (3 Quarks Daily)

“Our Lily”, “Arum Lily” and “Lily, Derailed”….

Saboyemichele: with “Our Lily” and “Arum Lily”. “The images above appeared in Lilliput Pocket Omnibus 1937/38 which was a humorous publication produced by Stefan Lorant, a photojournalist, author, and filmmaker. The magazine was known for Lorant’s juxtapositions of images for political or aesthetic effects. The left photo of the dancer was taken by Dr. Krohn from Praha (Prague). The photo on the right was taken by Felix Man. The synergy between these two pictures is visually stunning!

In search of DK’s Lily:

  • 1 hour searching on web to determine what type of lily the Arum Lily was.
  • 1 hour of searching through local garden shops after identifying lily type. (Full Disclosure: Co-Pilot Susan owned this.)
  • $10.50 worth of Calla Lilies.
  • 1.5 hours of photographing bought lilies over 2 days (and trying to get them to stand upright while taking shot. 100+ Lily shots.)
  • 5 minutes to set up this blog post, and 3 seconds to realize that I had misidentified the Lily species. (What type of lily is Arum Lily?)
  • The Lily Journey: Priceless.

 

somos la luz

mural

“Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada spray painted a 27,000 s.f. giant mural as a public memorial dedicated to a doctor who died from COVID-19. Each life is important, unique and incalculable, especially during the global pandemic, and the work memorializes essential workers. The mural is titled ‘somos la luz’ – translated as ‘we are light.’” (Read more @ Design Boom)

Lightly Child, Lightly

The Mekas image had a caption, drawn from 2007’s To New York with Love. YOU LOOK AT THE SUN. THEN YOU RETURN HOME AND YOU CAN’T WORK, YOU’RE IMPREGNATE WITH ALL THAT LIGHT. We’re so often told that art can’t really change anything. But I think it can. It shapes our ethical landscapes; it opens us to the interior lives of others. It is a training ground for possibility. It makes plain inequalities, and it offers other ways of living. Don’t you want it, to be impregnate with all that light? And what will happen if you are?

Olivia LaingFunny Weather: Art in an Emergency ( W. W. Norton & Company; May 12, 2020)


Notes:

  • Image Source
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly Child, Lightly

I stood there speechless for a long while,

then I entered it.

Such is art.

John BergerConfabulations

 


Notes:

  • Art: “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes VermeerDate Created: c. 1665, Physical Dimensions: 44.5 x 38.1 cm
  • Quote via soracities
  • Post inspired by: The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.” ~ Mark Rothko, from “ Conversations with Artists” by by Selden Rodman (Author) (Capricorn Books, 1961
  • Mentalfloss.com – Researchers Discover New Details In Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring (May 2020)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
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