Saturday, January 29, 2011
The next weekend also found me walking among the trees, but these trees were on canvasses painted by Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth and Max Slevogt. I felt a tingle of inspiration. These artists had the same desire to celebrate nature. Wait, maybe that is not quite correct. Karen Wilkin in a review in The Wall Street Journal (30 November 2010)writes: "...in the German works, French-type enthusiasm for the appearances of landscape seems charged here with a mystical desire to be 'one with nature,' a phenomenon that anyone with German friends will recognize as still current." That explains a lot!
As I took in the exhibit (actually, two: "German Impressionist Landscape Painting" and "Drawing from Nature: Landscapes by Liebermann, Corinth and Slevogt") I was besotted. This is how I want to paint! Freedom. Yet firmly grounded in the given world. Sounds like contentment...
One painting in particular grabbed my attention: Red Arbor with Dog, an earlier painting by Max Slevogt. It is a dark and moody image that draws you right in. I thought about what I could paint that would give a similar feeling and thought of the fence rows of blackberry bushes near my studio. I could have even included a dog, since little Luke often accompanies me on walks out at the lake! (But, I did not...) Below is my painting, Red Fence Row.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I had an experience on September ll, 2001 which was not as miraculous as the arrival of a child, but it likewise gave me a lasting hopeful perspective. My friend Meg and I set out early on a long-planned plein air trek. When I stopped at her house to pick her up, I turned off the radio news so we could talk. As we drove out to our beautiful destination we were delighted that it was a pitch-perfect blue sky day. All morning through the early afternoon we were nourished by a glorious peaceful setting. We had no idea of what was unfolding in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. The idyll came to an abrupt end when we stopped by an antiques shop close to our plein air scene before heading back to Lexington. The shop owner questioned whether she should be open and the radio was prominent. The word "triage" hit me and I wondered what had happened; certain that it must have happened in the Middle East. Meg and I had a hard time understanding all this information. We were totally dumb-struck. The shop owner was incredulous that we were so clueless. We went to the car and headed home in a state of disbelief (and listening to the radio). How could anyone think of flying an airplane into a skyscraper? I still don't understand that.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Is seeing beauty important enough to be a calling? I believe it is. When we see the beauty in a landscape, we are loathe to defile it. We are careful with the resources the landscape provides. We attempt to be good stewards of our home and others'. When we see beauty in other people, we acknowledge their gifts and appreciate what they bring to our culture. This appreciation nullifies prejudice and hatred. The need for justice is lessened because less injustice exists. We have a better sense of our place in the world as we are not threatened so much by creatures/people/landscapes as we are nourished by them.
This is not to suggest that this is my absolute way of being. Actually, I am irrationally invested in the opinion pages of the papers. But, I notice that when I appreciate an other's gift; when I see their beauty; it makes me feel more beautiful. When I am walking in the woods, my whole life is beautiful. This is what I want to share with others. This is my calling.