Monday, February 27, 2012

The Brandywine Museum.

It was the perfect day on Sunday to roam the galleries of the Brandywine River Museum.

Every once in awhile I need an immersion into the art of the Wyeth family; N.C., Andy, Jamie, and Andy's sisters Carolyn and Henriette.

Andy's father, N.C., was world famous for his colorful and usually action-packed illustrations of the classics. Here is one of my favorites, from "Last Of The Mohicans."

Not far from the museum N.C.'s studio sits on a hill in the woods. Here it is painted by Andy on a winter day.

At heart I'm a sucker for nostalgia, but I don't think it should have a dominate place in a painting.
One of the major reasons I love the works of Andrew Wyeth is because of his very  abstract compositions.
Look at these wonderful shapes.

And although he eventually rejected his earlier more colorful watercolors for seeming too "facile," look how loose and immediate this painting is.

Andy's son Jamie gets a bit too "cute" for me at times, but when he's serious, he does stunning works.

Two of Andy's sisters were also painters. This is an almost surrealistic painting by Carolyn Wyeth.

And here, a lush still life by Henriette.

To go from the sublime to...well, my sketchbook, here is a drawing of a guard, while each of us was having lunch.

Almost exactly one year ago I did this oil, while standing on the banks of the Brandywine near the museum. It was a sunny, but very cold, day.

But the most fun I had yesterday was focusing on this nasty pirate, scaling a log barricade. It's from one of N.C.'s illustrations for "Treasure Island."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Starting Sketchbook Number Fifty Five!

About two days ago I made the last entry into sketchbook number fifty-four.

On a recent trip to South Jersey, my van let me down again, so I got to ride back to Philly in the cab with another AAA guy. By the end of the trip, Joel Smith and I were friends.

Philadelphia's most famous chef, Georges Perrier, recently opened an up-scale bakery near me, called
"The Art Of Bread." A delicious place to linger over coffee, and draw.

I usually only go to Barnes and Noble to wander the book aisles, but couldn't resist all these very focused folks, just waiting to be captured by my pen.

Likewise patrons of my favorite Chinese take-out restaurant, "Shangri-La-Inn," making major decisions about dinner.

A painting of Audrey Hepburn (?) looks down on a neighbor at  nearby "Town Hall Coffee."

And a week cannot go by without having breakfast at "Hymies Deli."

Much like my van, my Dad had to have some "fine-tuning" done on the little engine that keeps him going at 99, his pace-maker. But he's out of the hospital and looking forward to spring, like the rest of us.
And I've now broken in my new sketchbook.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Date With Vincent And Myself.

As a birthday gift to myself, on Saturday I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the incredible
exhibition "Van Gogh Up Close," the late works of my hero, Vincent van Gogh.

Like me, Vincent loved painting "en Plein Air," surrounded by nature, and the opportunity to respond not only to the visual, but the sounds, the smells, and the vagaries of weather.

Most of the paintings in this exhibition are ones I've never seen as originals. Vincent's art and dedication never cease to inspire me.

The curators, Joseph J. Rishel and Jennifer A. Thompson, gathered works that offer a comprehensive overview of Vincent's interests and influences at a tumultuous time in his short life. Of particular interest to me was the inclusion of Japanese woodblock prints, collected by Vincent; images  that influenced his use of line and sense of composition.

As you can see in this incredible painting of a woodland interior. It's all about all those "verticals," including the figure, complimented by the larger, but secondary, horizontal composition. This is a big lush painting. 

The galleries were packed with reverential viewers. I knew it would just be a matter of time before the guards saw there was an artist  their midst, drawing. I explained I really was only drawing my fellow Vincent lovers, and not the art; to no avail.

I felt a bit rejected, like poor old Vincent, but at the risk of getting eee-jected, I went to another gallery, with different guards, and snuck this little rough sketch. Don't tell.

After a quick lunch, I went out into the main galleries, where it's OK to draw, and spent a few hours trying to capture the majesty of this beautiful, almost life-size image; "The Moorish Chief," by
Eduard Charlemont. When I was an art student at PCA back in the sixties, I discovered this magnificent image almost hidden behind a door, at the top of a stairwell. Happily some enlightened curator eventually moved it to its current place of prominence, for all to enjoy.
As I did on this Saturday, having a date with myself.  


Monday, February 6, 2012

Paint-Out In Wyeth Country.

Early this past Friday morning  I joined twenty-nine other landscape painters at the Chadds Ford Historical Society for the fourth annual two day "Plein-Air Paintout."

Before going out to paint each of our canvases or panels had to be stamped on the back, to make sure no one tried to slip in something they'd painted previously. This was not a "competition," but all works had to have been painted on-site during the two day event.

We'd been given a list of private farms, estates, and historical homes to which we had access to paint.
I chose a working farm with wonderful old barns and stone out-buildings, spread out over hillsides above the Bandywine Creek. I've been driving by this place for over thirty-five years.

Another artist and I arrived early, and were greeted by this yappy little doggie.

As it turned out, just one of many living on the farm.

Soon other artists arrived, outfitted for the chill morning air. This is Lee Boynton, a very talented artist.

And his subject and painting-in-progress.

By mid-day artists were everywhere.

Here's the painting I did on Friday, in oil.

And this one, about a hundred feet away, on Saturday.

By four p.m.on Saturday all of the still-wet paintings had to be in frames and ready to be hung.

For the evening's reception and show.

Painting on-site is not for every artist, but like my colleagues, I love the challenge of chasing the sun as it moves across the sky, the sound of geese high overhead, and trying to capture the variety of shapes and colors and edges and...well, the whole bit, on any given day, and in most kinds of weather.