Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vancouver BC with Beth

A glorious visit to Vancouver BC with Beth, my oldest friend. We drew near the waterfront on a glorious afternoon in the clear, warm light: Burrard Inlet, ships, cranes, boxcars, and the sail-like structures of the convention center. We began our visit with Dutch paintings and drawings at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Beth used colored pencils on drawings she had made two weeks earlier; I visited and discovered. Here is my drawing of Rembrandt's loving painting of his son Titus, age 19, dressed as a monk.

Titus was the only one of Rembrandt's children to survive infancy. I see so, so much tenderness in Rembrandt's strokes of paint.

I copied a lovely 1653 drawing of girl by Leendert van den Cooghen. Never heard of him. The small drawing in black and red chalk, brush and black ink was so beautiful.

The first day, my sketches were not very satisfying, but after I drew in the museum, my sight got clearer.

Later we enjoyed some wine and more drawing, followed by a leisurely dinner, at sidewalk tables. Beth drew me, I drew the Gastown Steam Clock, which tooted the quarter-hour for us as the beautiful afternoon turned to dusk.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Aphrodite Gets Around

Watching a documentary in which Rosamund Bernier talks about "The Matisse I Knew" and then "The Matisse Nobody Knew" I caught a glimpse of a 1919 Matisse painting that includes a familiar torso!

In hunting it down on-line last night, I found that the Matisse painting lives in Sao Paulo now. I also found this Chirico, called "The Uncertainty of the Poet" (Tate, London).

According to the Tate website: "The identity of the classical sculpture depicted in 'The Uncertainty of the Poet' has not been firmly established. It appears to be an Aphrodite-type cast which had its origins in the practices of nineteenth century academic art rather than in any Greek or Roman prototype.... Roland Penrose (1900-84), an English artist and critic who lived in France in the late 1920s and early 1930s ... purchased a similar plaster cast in 1935. He brought it home to England and used it in his construction 'The Last Voyage of Captain Cook', 1938.... In conversation with Richard Francis of the Tate Gallery in 1984 Penrose said of this cast, 'it was well known in Paris. It was on sale in lots of shops round Montparnasse. Always that size'. Freely available in Paris, this cast featured in works by other artists. It appears in a painting by Henri Matisse, 'Plaster Torso and Bouquet', 1919 (Museu de Arte de São Paulo). Max Ernst [also] transformed the front and back views of the cast."

The Tate also has Penrose's sculpture, "The Last Voyage of Captain Cook."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Incomplete Venus

Week 4 of my cast drawing class: I continued the block-in but after a while I couldn't resist beginning to indicate the shadow lines. Fascinating to follow with great attention and understand how minute changes suggest the rounded form.

I was looking forward to completing the drawing a week later but instead we practiced shading on a sphere. The one on the left was done with soft charcoal; I have a hard time having a light enough touch! The one on the right was done next, with harder charcoal, and it was easier to make many light marks, letting layers accrete with more subtle transitions. Three hours to draw these! Brain cells busily reforming....

"Slow Looking"

In the New York Times, an article by art critic Michael Kimmelman is headlined At the Louvre, Many Stop to Stop to Snap but Few Stay to Focus. However, he notes, "Artists fortunately remind us that there’s in fact no single, correct way to look at any work of art, save for with an open mind and patience" and he goes on to say:
Recently, I bought a couple of sketchbooks to draw with my 10-year-old in St. Peter’s and elsewhere around Rome, just for the fun of it, not because we’re any good, but to help us look more slowly and carefully at what we found.... Slow looking, like slow cooking, may yet become the new radical chic."