Posts from the ‘Landscape Painting’ Category
November 25, 2016
Hello out there…
It has now been about two years since I last posted, and I am sorry about that. But not too sorry, because I have very gladly cherished the time I have spent with my daughter.
Was I craving to paint this whole time? Yes. But I also know the kind of painter that I am, and it doesn’t seem to function so well when I have a very limited amount of time and space to paint. I need a block of time, not just half an hour’s here and there. While painting, I can devour hours as if they are minutes, and I don’t feel like painting if I don’t have that block of time, not to mention the contemplative time afterwards. So if I knew that I had only an hour to set up and paint, I usually opted not to, as I had this strong feeling that I would only feel terribly frustrated. I tried a couple of times, and it made me feel that I would never paint again. Plus, I thought, painting just seems so silly compared to being a mamma.
So I picked up knitting needles and tried to satisfy my creative impulses in yarn in the short spurts of free time I could find. I think I have now knitted about 50 sweaters and a couple dozen scarves, hats, shawls, cowls, with a very large blanket in the works. I can now do lace, cables, fair isle, intarsia, slip stitches, top down, bottom up, contiguous sleeves, steeks, write patterns, pretty much you-name-it. It has been very therapeutic, exciting, and inspiring.
But oil painting is so very different. And sooner or later I was going to need to start again. And I have, just at a different pace, maybe getting a block of time once a week. And my material this time around is my backyard of Napoli, an urban masterpiece of mess. I can’t go over it, and I can’t go under it – just have to go through it, as the children’s book goes. So I am including a few images of works in progress as I stumble and trip my way through this forest of Napoli. I am feeling very rusty, which I think is pretty evident in these sketches, but I somehow feel that I am veering in an interesting direction. Only time can tell if I will persist on this quest or climb back under the covers and hide.
“Thanks, but I’ve got my own soap.”
Though relatively unknown today in the art school and painters circles, Fausto Pirandello (1899-1975) is one of my most favorite modern artists, and one I dutifully try to find every time I am in Italy. Pirandello’s approach into different layers of reality, while also focusing on the mundane behind closed doors, strikes deep chords in me. I also appreciate immensely his very original motifs and compositions, as well as his ongoing explorations of the figure and bathers. Son of the dramatist Luigi Pirandello, he trained with the sculptor Sigismondo Lipinsky between 1919 and 1920, before turning to painting. His early work was influenced by Armando Spadini and Felice Carena, colleagues of his, as well as by Gauguin, Kokoschka and van Gogh.
After a four year experience in Paris, where he mingled with some of the more important Italian-Parigian artists of the 1920s and 30s, Pirandello returned to Rome in 1931 and was welcomed into the Roman School, distinguishing himself by his originality and solitary research. Pirandello’s painting was oriented towards a realism of daily life, including the grimy and gritty, and expressing himself through dense painting. His intellectual vision translated the naturalistic facts, even those most brutal, in a sort of magical or poetic realism with archaic and metaphysical tones, adding spatial concerns stemming from cubism, tonalism and expressionistic painting, such as in La Scala, depicting a woman ascending and descending a staircase in a brothel, or in Pioggia D’Oro, with a foreshortened female figure falling out of a domestic scene.
During the 1950s, Pirandello develops his style further, reabsorbing cubist suggestions from Braque and Picasso, and living through the difficult phase afflicting Italian painting at that time, the split between realism and neocubism. Through expressionistic deformations, he comes up with new solutions that sit between abstraction and figuration, with paintings that refer strongly towards a cubist synthesis in the tiling of colors and in compositions which slowly lose their narrative.
Pirandello exhibited widely during his career, including the Venice Biennale and the Rome Quadriennali, along with solo exhibitions at the Galleria della Cometa, Galleria del Secolo, and Galleria di Roma. After the war, he held a solo exhibition at the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York in 1955, and the solo show “Nuova Pesa” (New Weight) in Rome in 1968.
On a recent trip to the US, I had the enormous privilege to meet and talk at length with the artist Dean Fisher. An accomplished artist and gifted teacher based in Connecticut, Fisher recently put together “Pathways to Landscapes,” an extensive exhibition of landscape paintings by 25 contemporary artists at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. As a survey of this nature and size is so rare today, I recommend that you run over to visit it before it closes on Saturday, March 26.
Fisher received the request to curate an exhibition after being awarded the Best in Show at the 33rd Annual Juried Show of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. The artists he selected for inclusion – Robert Bauer, Frank Bruckmann, Hollis Dunlap, Nicholas Evans Cato, Eileen Eder, Dean Fisher, Josh Gaetjen, Christopher Gallego, Israel Hershberg, Diana Horowitz, Alex Kanevsky, Constance LaPalombara, Claire Maury-Curran, William Meddick, Lawrence Morelli, Artie Mihalopolous, Lenny Moskowitz, William Nathans, Josephine S. Robinson, Stuart Shils, E.M. Saniga, Jesus Villareal, Justin Weist, Brian Wendler and Jordan Wolfson – represent his consideration of some of the most cherished paintings available for collecting today: “If I were a collector, these are the works I would own.” Special lending arrangements were made with several galleries such as DFN Gallery, Forum Gallery, Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects and Marlborough Gallery in New York, as well as with the artists to bring such an extensive exhibition to the public, including two or three representative works per artist. For those who cannot travel to Connecticut to see the exhibition, the following slideshow of photos provided by Fisher will offer a good peek.
Dean Fisher is a contemporary classically oriented realist painter and has shown at Hirschl & Adler Gallery and Tatistcheff Gallery in New York. A highly respected teacher and exquisite painter of stillife, landscapes and the nude, he is a guild artist and instructor of painting at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, Connecticut and conducts workshops in Italy during the summer, including the new landscape painting program at the Certosa di Pontignano from August 27 – September 3, 2011, with details of the course yet to be announced.
To view works of the selected artists in the exhibition, websites have been provided here when available:
Nicholas Evans Cato
Josephine S. Robinson
This painting is in about stage eight, with a ton of work to go, measuring 90 x 90 cm. My cat Visa is that grey thing that keeps showing up, and she is bound to show up a few more times, if I don’t edit her out!
These two window paintings I hesitatingly call “memory” paintings. I wake up often in the middle of the night, and on my way to the kitchen I pass by my studio door, where the window looks out on the building facing mine, lit up by some bizarre pink light.
This one needs some serious work on the background, for I do see that horrible size of the door and wall treatment. Part of the problem is where I decided I needed to put the mirror: resting inside the ledge of the window, against a wire screen, difficult to ever get at the same angle twice – the wind one time knocked it over, but thankfully it did not break. So much is to be added yet and changed, but I found the size of the portrait a good challenge, with the panel measuring a total 40 x 60 cm.
“Female Tree,” oil on linen, 11 x 14 in
From April 30 to May13, I had the great privilege of introducing the fabulous artist Sangram Majumdar to Israel, during his visit as the guest artist for the Jerusalem Landscape Painting Marathon. After countless correspondence, I was absolutely delighted to discover that he is even more pleasant and inspiring than I had guessed, and completely down to earth. Upon his arrival we set to work hanging a beautiful exhibition of his paintings and drawings. I was also able to watch him give a fabulous painting demonstration where he flicks paint around with palette knives at supersonic speed, and – in talking to him at length – to discover that we have very similar approaches in painting. I realised that it has been over 2 years since I have been able to talk about art and motifs with a painter, and so I immensely appreciated all the time we spent together.
One of the things we have in common is that we are mostly indoor painters who tend to like chaos, mundane messes and flashes of color. And when we go outdoors to paint, which is a very good thing to do despite preferences for the indoor studio, we stay away from pretty plein-air scenes like hills, sky, clouds, pretty farmhouse, etc. His demonstration painting subject, in fact, was of a pile of rocks, sticks and ashes, even though the setting was large, grassy and full of trees. We also both like subjects which seem a little too difficult, as it then becomes a process of trying to pin down abstract elements within a labyrinth of unrecognizable shapes.
“Ein Gedi Pool,” oil on linen, 11 x 15 in
When we went to the Ein Gedi spa at the Dead Sea, we hiked with our painting gear in 90 degree weather in the hopes of finding something paintable on the weekend, away from Jerusalem. I had never been to the park, so I was not ready for the tourists, mini waterfalls, rocky cliffs and foliage. In the end we found shade under a tree, me painting the above pool looking down and Sangram painting the cliff wall in front of us. We talked about art, swapped some colors and painted for about an hour and a half before a park guide gave us a warning to pack up before closing time. Even though I didn’t really have time to push the painting further, I was happy about the viewpoint and some of the color mixtures I was able to get correct.
“Nachla’ot Stairs” oil on linen, 8 x 14 cm
Back in Jerusalem, I was able to join the Marathon for a few afternoons, choosing a staircase in the Nachla’ot neighborhood, a study of a boulder, and a composition which included what was, marvelously to me, trees the shade of a deep pink. Part of the painting experience is in realising, as you are working, what colors things actually are. And to discover deep pink trees is one of the little eye-opening delights in painting from life. Though the painting is not finished, I appreciate it for the personal moment, and I consider it an always useful exercise of the eyes and brain.
“Pink Trees,” oil on linen, 9 x 13 in
Since Sangram’s departure, I have been looking at the paintings, and though they might not satisfy or need further work, I appreciate them for the experience they provided. Back at home without the 5 hour travel time and problems of transporting wet paintings, I can squeeze a little more painting time into my day, but I am thankful for the practice outdoors as preparation for the upcoming 6 weeks I will spend in Tuscany this summer. Mostly, I am very thankful to have met a new artist friend. The process of painting can be extremely hard, abstract, and at times, feel like a dead end which can question your own merit, so it’s nice to make new friends which can immediately understand.