Eve After the Original Sin, Eugene Delaplanche

Eve After the Original Sin, Eugene Delaplanche

I stumbled upon an image of this beautiful sculpture on Google’s Art Project and fell in love with her. I wish I was in Paris, so I could see her up close for more fine details. Her body language is what pulled me in. She does not come across as mournful due to the knowledge of good and evil. She seems pensive, but there is also something light about her expression. In many paintings of Adam and Eve after “The Fall”, they are sobbing and embarrassed of their bodies; they cover and hide themselves from the viewer.

If she were horizontal, her body would appear to be in a fetal position- seeking comfort of some kind. The parts she hides from us our her nether regions and her lips, but it doesn’t seem to be out of shame. She seems to be soaking in the memory of her actions. Maybe it gave some pleasure to fall from grace. The way her body curves is almost mimicking the shape of the snake beside her; she is curling into herself for comfort. Maybe she is thinking about what she has done. She reminds me of child who has been caught doing something she shouldn’t have but doesn’t quite feel bad about it. Maybe she is even hopeful for the new possibilities added to her life.

In these images is it difficult to see her true expression. I recommend visiting the professional photo here. She appears as though she is thinking, “How do I get myself out of this mess?” or maybe “What am I do to with this knowledge I now have?” As an observer with “insider information” and life experiences, one brings that to the artwork one views. How does she appear to you?

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

With the cold weather setting in, I’m finding it important to focus on the (few) sunny days that we are given and focus on filling the house with fresh flowers. This collection of images contrasts the last set. It draws us inside; it reminds us of spring.

Some of these paintings are bold and full of color. They speak about the bright fulfilling patterns that flowers can bestow on us. Others are softer, reminding us of how precious life can be. They display the cycle of life from bud to full bloom, a display of how quickly time passes. The rest are the in-between- the pauses we take, the things we let go, our storms, our peace.

Because flowers are innately beautiful, it can be difficult to collect or create images of them. They hold such power; they can mean so much in a painting. We display flowers at weddings and funerals; we give and receive them as anniversary or get well gifts. They fill in the blanks for apologies or displays of affection.

Do you ever stop and look at them? Do you consider their power and meaning? The next time you’re at a museum and see a painting of flowers or you’re passing by the wild flowers that grow by fences, I hope you take the opportunity to consider them, to appreciate them for all they can add to your life. Until then, I hope this small collection has added to your life.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Portrait Scavenger Hunt

December 28, 2013

The human figure is such a powerful vessel. It is the “stuff” that contains our beings. There have been several occasions that I have sat down to share a collection of portraits, but I stop myself. Which ones do I show? How many do I share? Everything I chose seems inadequate; even a few examples may be overwhelming. In the spirit of the new year being upon us, I decided to begin sifting through the Google Art Project to find some new works I had never seen before. I had my own little portrait scavenger hunt and have picked some of my favorites.

This first one is my favorite of the grouping. The girl is so cool, so innocent, except for that red flower protruding from her mouth. This painting captures her youthful beauty, but it also tells us there is something more there. Some hardship, some knowledge beyond her years.

Adolfo Guiard, The Little Village Girl with Red Carnation 1903

Adolfo Guiard, The Little Village Girl with Red Carnation 1903

Some artists may labor to hide the true character of the model, but the inside always finds a way of showing itself.

Klimt, Blind Man 1896

Klimt, Blind Man 1896

Agda Holst, Self-Portrait 1925

Agda Holst, Self-Portrait 1925

Sometimes what we don’t see tells us the most,

Toulouse-Latrec, The Model Resting 1889

Toulouse-Latrec, The Model Resting 1889

or maybe we are only shown a particular side of someone.

Guillermo Kahlo, Self-portrait

Guillermo Kahlo, Self-portrait

Maybe it is pain or vulnerability or joy despite these things.

Nickolas Muray, Frida Kahlo Lying Down 1946

Nickolas Muray, Frida Kahlo Lying Down 1946

Alexej Jawlensky, Portrait of a Girl 1909

Alexej Jawlensky, Portrait of a Girl 1909

Portraits have the ability to shape our view of the subject. They may persuade us to love or dislike the person we see reflected on the canvas. They connect us to the existence of others; we see parts of ourselves drawn in someone else’s face. What a pleasure to share such beauty with all people, past and present.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

Spiral Woman

September 4, 2013

 

Louise Bourgeois, Spiral Woman

Louise Bourgeois, Spiral Woman

I’ve been thinking on this post for a long time. Louise Bourgeois is a phenomenal sculptor, and I highly recommend the documentary The Spider, the Mistress, and the Tangerine. (It is available on Hulu!) There is a great view of the Spiral Woman in motion.
For me, this piece represents what it can be like to be a human. She spins, looking for a place to rest. She is holding on; she isn’t struggling. The “twist” blinds her, supports her, controls her. We have to assume that she is not bothered.
The twist makes me think of a towel. The Spiral Woman is bathing. She is being taken from the water. She is not bothered. She just spins and spins, sucked up in the twist. She doesn’t call out to us. We cannot even see her face. Is she beautiful? Would she talk to us if she could? Does she wish the twist would just suck her up completely? Or is the spinning caused by her resistance?
I love the questions that Louise’s work brings up. I love the tension and the challenge. She makes you think.

Look. Listen. Respond.
-Megan

Stealing Art

September 5, 2012

Picasso is credited with saying, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Picasso was a painter who could make someone else’s painting his own; he “picasso-fied” many classic paintings. I am always amazed at the connections you find throughout time in the art world. Soutine’s Side of Beef always sticks out in my mind as an image used for stock material. (For Julia Robert’s fans, you may remember this slide as being labeled “grotesque” in Mona Lisa Smile.)

Soutine, Side of Beef (1924-5)

Both Francis Bacon and Jenny Saville have referenced Soutine’s work in their own paintings:

Jenny Saville, Torso 2

Francis Bacon, Figure with Meat

Bacon is also referencing another artist in his work. Figure with Meat is one of several Pope portraits that Bacon painted, and it is referencing a portrait done by Diego Velazquez. (One of his most famous works is Las Meninas.)

Francis Bacon, Study of Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X

Diego Velazquez, Pope Innocent X

Most recently, I have discovered the painter Caroline Westerhout, who draws off the style of Gustav Klimt, giving new meanings to some of his paintings.

Caroline Westerhout, Judith-After the Trial

Gustav Klimt, Judith I

The connections you can find are endless because artists are always “borrowing” or “stealing” from each other to make a new idea or to reform an old one. Through this theft, art becomes more than a history lesson, it becomes a time machine for artists. We turn the dial back to see the stories of others, then return safely home and make them our own.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

 

In her paintings, Neel portrays what it is to be human. She paints the sitter’s soul on the canvas as well as his or her physical features, using a psychological and physical approach to portraiture. In many of her paintings, the subject or subjects gaze out at us. She did not censor out any pain or awkwardness that the subject may be feeling. Neel knew many of the people she painted on some personal level, so she had insight into the inner workings of each one’s life. Neel’s paintings give a glimpse of what it is to be human– wonderful, awkward, thrilling, and tormented.

Neel paints quickly. Normally, she would have between three and six sessions with a sitter; using observation and her conversation with the model to choose the most important features (both physical and psychological) of her model.

Neel was a fearless painter. She did not let being a woman hold her back from painting. She did not care about gender. What was important was that being at her easel made her happy. Painting was her life.

I need to be more fearless. I allow myself to worry over making something ugly or something that doesn’t have a “good idea” attached to it. Sometimes I forget that even those that seem to work without fear had it at times, but they continued to work through it. The images that I may consider “bad” or “ugly” are just as valid as those that I find “attractive.” It is a tough value decision to make– what is important? Telling the truth and letting things be awkward at times or lying to make something attractive? It is a balance of what it visually true, what is considered attractive and “lying” to tell the “truth.”

Making good decisions quickly is something I struggle with. I forget to look at where something is going and rush into getting it on the canvas. It is important to me (especially this semester) to slow down and make the right decisions in the beginning, not several sessions into a piece. It is importance to bring an alertness, an awareness back into my work.

I want to communicate through the model. In some of the work I have done, you see the “psyche” of the person as well as their physical appearance. This needs to be pushed further. Neel had formal training before she “made it” as an artist. She understood the importance of understanding the anatomy of a person. Being able to really see and transfer the image to the paper or canvas is an important first step. If I can understand that, my ability to portray the mind, thoughts, and mannerisms of the person I am painting will become a clearer study. (Kind of like slowing down in the fog because you know only so much information is going to be available to you at one time. It isn’t necessarily easy to drive through fog, but there are things that can be done to make it a clearer experience.)

I know that the struggle isn’t something that will go away, but I am hoping that by really taking what I can from artists that have come before me my skill will improve. This improvement will come from actually working– painting, drawing, photographing. The more time I spend observing and working towards accuracy, the easier it will become to make the decisions I need to make. By copying the masters I hope to understand their work, and find a way to use that information in my own work as well.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan