Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Checking in.



Checking in and hoping everyone is well. 

I'm working on one of the hardest reproductions I've ever done of the masterpiece by Albert Bierstadt - getting lost in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  There's a certain Zen to painting a scene so peaceful and awesome. 

Albert Bierstadt was a German-American artist, born in Prussia, moved to America at the age of 1.  He traveled westward with a U. S. land surveyor to witness the unseen, vast, mountainous landscapes and returned to New York, completing several paintings from sketches done on his trip.  He went back west for a second time, this time staying a couple of months in the Yosemite Valley - returning back home and painting his massive-scale pieces that he is well known for.

Bierstadt's images were vital to the aspirations of Americans and Europeans who were immigrating to the United States.  It showed them a world that had scarcely been seen and explored.

~ Stay healthy my friends and please stay home if you are able.  There's light at the end of this tunnel.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

"Mother Figure"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


Pablo Picasso's Mother and Child in the Art Institute of Chicago does seem to affect many visitors.  It moves them.  It's majestic. It's relatable.  It's a mother holding her child, surrounded by a serene background of sand, water and sky.  It's sweet.

Picasso painted this in 1921, the year his son Paolo was born.  In the following two years, he painted over a dozen works on the subject of mothers and children.  He had painted this theme during his Blue Period, depicting figures that were frail and in despair but this mother and child are noticeably more solid and happy - showing Picasso's general feelings of stability and sentimentality with the birth of his own child.

~ On a personal note, please take good care of yourself during these scary days.  Look out for your friends and family.  Be kind to strangers.  We'll get through this.


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

"Chain Reaction"

9 x 12"
oil on panel


The astounding fact of Rembrandt's portrait Old Man with a Chain is that he painted it at the age of 25.  It was 1631 and he was honing his skills with classic portraits and, what is widely believed, used his father as the model and dressed him in a fancy coat with a plumed hat and an ornate, gold chain with a medallion.  I'll say it again.  Rembrandt painted this at the age of 25.

From the Art Institute of Chicago.

Please click here for a larger view and purchase/contact information.


Thursday, March 5, 2020

"Valued"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


A couple of years back, I got to see one of Amy Sherald's first exhibitions in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art - recognizing immediately this was the artist who painted the official portrait of the First Lady, Michelle Obama, unveiled just a few months before. 

Amy Sherald is a young 47 years old, from Columbus, Georgia - went to Clark University in Atlanta and after a chance encounter with a street artist who encouraged her to pursue art as a career, decided to do just that.  Her signature figurative paintings are large, featuring ordinary African-American people (some she knew and some she didn't), demonstrating everyone has value.  Her skin tones are in grey tones rather than brown "so the bright colors really pop out" and she's now one of the most successful black painters of our time.  I love everything she does.  

The painting above features Amy's portrait titled She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them.  Amy's sister, a writer, often titles her paintings for her.



Sunday, February 16, 2020

"Front and Center"

8 x 10"
oil on panel
sold


My new painting features Edgar Degas' paintings Woman at Her Toilette and Dancers at the Barre with the bronze sculpture The Fourteen Year Old Dancer front and center.  

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Please click here for a larger view.


Monday, February 10, 2020

"Self Interest"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


I loved this man I spotted in the National Gallery of Art.  First glance, I assumed he was dragged to the museum but he stopped at every single painting during the five or ten minutes I watched him.  He seemed truly interested in any artist, any subject, and in any room.  He spent more time with Vincent van Gogh's work - most visitors do because they know who van Gogh is.

Vincent van Gogh painted 36 self-portraits in his short career of a mere 10 years.  Early on, he concentrated on landscapes and still life and a few portraits but after he admitted himself into the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, still painting the fields nearby and surrounding landscapes, he suffered a severe breakdown.  Many believe his demise resembled the symptoms of epilepsy, but the disease was not understood at the time.  Vincent was incapacitated for five weeks and retreated to his studio, during which he painted the Self-Portrait you see in my painting.

This self-portrait is a standout - done in a single sitting - the artist dressed in his smock holding his palette and brushes.  His face is somewhat haunting, his awareness of his gaunt, pale face is painted with stark greenish/blue tones, the brush strokes are thick with paint.  Most of all, it feels intense as if van Gogh's anxiety was portrayed so honestly.  Within a year, in 1890, the artist was dead at the age of 37.  

The astounding legacy Vincent van Gogh left, in just a decade, was about 2,100 artworks including 860 oil paintings.  A fact I still can't comprehend.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

"Dream a Dream"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


The most enthusiastic audiences for Edgar Degas' ballerinas are little girls.  Especially popular is the bronze sculpture you'll find in several art museums The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer - it's real to those young girls in a way that one-dimensional paintings are not.  It's one of those moments that art impacts a human being at an early age.

An art historian wrote an interesting article for Vanity Fair and claimed Degas was "a bona fide misogynist".  He apparently took pleasure in watching his dancer/models contort in agony and even referred to them as his "little monkey girls".  Degas never married, known to be anti-Semitic - a result from the Dreyfus Affair when a French military officer, who was Jewish, was wrongfully accused of treason.  He blamed his family's business difficulties on Jewish competitors and grew more and more resentful. His bitter prejudice cost him many friends and certainly the respect of his more-tolerant Parisian artists friends and peers.

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, a little girl is mesmerized while viewing Dega's Dancers Practicing at the Barre, with the sculpture The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer next to her.



Thursday, January 30, 2020

"A Day at the Office"

9 x 12"
oil on panel
sold


The Montgomery Museum of Art in Alabama, make no mistake, has treasured works of art.  My personal favorite is the striking New York Office by the great Edward Hopper.

Hopper painted this masterpiece at the age of 80, four years short of his death.  The painting is quintessential Hopper - an urban scene, a lone figure and a business office with the viewer or voyeur essentially unnoticed by the woman at her desk in the window.  Hopper featured women working in offices frequently, perhaps showing his admiration for who really runs the show.

Please click here for a larger view.



Saturday, January 25, 2020

Out of the Blue


An astonishing thing happened to me this week.

Out of the blue, I got an email from a woman who explained she had inherited a painting that had been in her family most of her life.  Her words "When I was a kid, I never thought about what I wanted to inherit from my parents when they passed away … except for this piece!  It was the one thing I would fight for, I thought."

She did her research online looking for information on the artist Lee Jurick and couldn't find anything, but did find my name then read that my mom was an artist and "Viola!", the mystery was solved.  The magic of the internet. 




This was a meaningful gift to me - to see a tangible reminder of part of my mom's creative soul and it happened to be on the anniversary of my mom's passing 38 years ago.

The painting shows my mom's love for color and especially painting in the Cubism style.  She loved Picasso and Braque.  She really loved all styles of art.  She did pen and ink drawings of life around her in Thailand, then scenery in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  She did linoleum and wood prints and mono-prints, which is when I learned all about printmaking as a young girl.  She even sculpted.  She belonged to the Doylestown Art League during our time in Pennsylvania, where this painting changed hands to the parents of this wonderful woman, who took the time, found me and wrote me an email that made my day.  My week.  My year.

I'm lucky to have a dozen or so pieces of my mom's work.  This has encouraged me to photograph all of what I have and create a devoted page on my website - I'll let you know when that's published.

Good things happen when you least expect it.  Thank you Kris.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

"Rest in Peace"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


I imagine chefs, who prepared elaborate dishes in their restaurant's kitchens all day, sometimes go home hungry and the last thing they want to do is spend their time off whipping up something as elaborate.  I imagine they kick off their shoes and wing it. Maybe a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup.

Today I opted for grilled cheese.  First staining a white panel with a rosy/lipstick red - then, without sketching anything out, just paint.  It's liberating.  It's necessary.

Part of my mindset this morning was to work with the paint much like one of my favorite artist, Jennifer McChristian.  Her paintings have life.  She shows constraint in overworking edges, using the rosy base color peeking through the colors she loads on top. 

From the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a woman rests in a sunlit area.




Saturday, January 18, 2020

"Feast Your Eyes"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


There are some artists who don't have much in the way of biographies, especially those who practiced their craft in the early 1800's.  Henri Lehmann is one of those artists.

Henri Lehmann was a German-born French painter and at the age of 17, Lehmann's father sent him to Paris to study under the well-known classical painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.  The portrait in my painting, The Girl, could very well be mistaken for an Ingres piece.  Very precise, classical pose, elaborate garb.  In fact, this painting shares the same room in the National Gallery of Art with his tutor Ingres.

Lehmann went on to teach at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Paris and taught notable artists such as George Seurat and Pierre Bonnard and you'll find many works of art in museums by those and other alumni.



Monday, January 13, 2020

"Casual Acquaintance"

9 x 12"
oil on panel
sold


The High Museum has this stunning portrait, Miss Bessie (Miss Elizabeth Newton) by a seldom-recognized painter, Albert Herter.  It has the trademarks of John Singer Sargent - the flush ear and fingertips - and James Whistler - the arrangement of tones and tints of whites, both artists and acquaintances of Albert.

Albert Herter took off running as an artist at the young age of 19, winning awards in Expositions in Atlanta, Nashville and Buffalo then at the Paris Salon in 1890 - most of his work being portraiture.  He created cover illustrations for Ladies' Home Journal and a number of books including posters of the Red Cross and YMCA in the early 1900's.  He painted murals in private homes, the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, the Supreme Court Building in Hartford, the State Capital of Wisconsin and the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC.  He was sought after and hugely successful.

Albert married Adele, a fellow artist he met in Paris, had three children, moved back to New York, where he eventually founded a tapestry and textile firm.  Two of Albert's children went on to be artists, one served as governor of Massachusetts and later as U.S. Secretary of State under Eisenhower.  His wife was a founding member of New York City's Cosmopolitan Club and was known as one of the northeast's 'society' portrait painters.

Please click here for a larger view.


Monday, January 6, 2020

"Autumn"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


The very wise art historian Sister Wendy once explained Mark Rothko's work as the natural world around us.  This painting, Untitled, 1952, reminds me of autumn tones - Indian summer skies, leaves of browns/reds/golds.

Painting Rothko's colors is my way of practicing the mixing of paints, perhaps discovering tones I may have neglected in my own work.  Kinda like adding different spices or herbs to a recipe.  It's good exercise.




Friday, January 3, 2020

"Lie Before"

9 x 12" 
oil on panel


When I saw this painting Supine Woman by Wayne Thiebaud, in person, in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art,  I read more about it as soon as I got home.  There had to be more to this and I was right.

The definition of  'supine' can mean "lying on one's back" or "mentally or morally lethargic" so I suspected Mr. Thiebaud meant the first.  His model was his daughter Twinka  (don't you love her name?) and it was 1963.  Consider the time, women were oppressed in society and the workplace so the 'lying down' posture with open legs and a white dress, brown shoes and a clinched fist does make a profound statement.

Wayne Thiebaud will be 100 years old this November and he still creates amazing work.  There are few artists who have had such a profound impact on my life as an artist - the way I see, the way I handle paint and the exploration of many subjects.  Consider him a National treasure as I do.

Please click here for a larger view and purchase/contact information.


Thursday, December 12, 2019

"Ponytails" (study)

12 x 3-3/8"
oil on panel
sold


The tall, thin, vertical format lends itself to certain compositions but the wide, thin, horizontal format is perfect for moments like this one.

Three young women viewing two of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings - on the left, Cow's Skull with Calico Roses, center is one of my personal favorites, Black Cross, New Mexico and on the right, Arthur Dove's Silver Sun, 1929.  From the Art Institute of Chicago.

A little closer detail....












Tuesday, December 10, 2019

"Back to Nature" (study)

4 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


Another study with a taller, slimmer format - which I really like, to center on the figure with a backdrop of color.  

The painting featured is Irises by Claude Monet, a nearly 7 x 7' treasure acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1956.



Thursday, December 5, 2019

"Soft Approach" (study)

4 x 10"
oil on panel
sold


I've been working on elongated compositions that are either vertical or horizontal and this was intended to be a much looser study for a larger panel - but I got carried away with details.  

Who can blame me, the featured painting is the fabulous Paris Street, Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte.  The painting is the star of the Art Institute of Chicago.  It measures nearly 10' wide by 7' tall and that doesn't even include the frame.  Caillebotte's masterpiece dominated the widely popular Impressionist exhibition of 1877 in Paris, largely organized by the artist himself.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Sunday, November 24, 2019

"The Man in Black"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


When I was in high school some 40 years ago, I was obsessed with figure drawing.  I'd cut school, take the train to downtown Chicago, with sketchbooks and pens in hand, and spend mornings in the Amtrak lounge in Union Station then afternoons at the Art Institute of Chicago.  I drew hundreds of people sitting, eating, standing or lounging until I had to head back home.  

So if anyone wonders where this subject matter of painting people looking at art - I started it years ago.  And sometimes, like with this new painting, it's all about the people.  I credit my mom, an artist herself, with the great pastime, people watching.  

This gentleman caught my eye immediately.  His tall, slender figure was striking.  Especially clad in all black and topped with his handsome felt hat.  I live for figures like his.  

Although minor here, the artwork the man in black is viewing is a relief sculpture of Alexander the Great, done in 1485 by the artist Andrea del Verrocchio, in the National Gallery of Art in DC.



Sunday, November 17, 2019

"Authority Figure"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


This image is one I've wanted to paint for a long time and getting my feet wet with my recently-painted Envoy,  I took what I learned and went ahead with it.

A view from above, in the Reagan National Airport, a gentleman of authority walks thru the sunlit floor.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

"Yesterday's News"

  

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


If you're familiar with Paul Cezanne's paintings, you think of landscapes and still lifes, like the small painting hanging on the wall behind the man's chair.  So it may surprise some, and myself included, this painting the gentleman is viewing is by Cezanne.

The painting The Artist's Father, Reading "L'Evenement" hangs in our National Gallery of Art in DC, and it is a personal favorite of mine.  I love any image of someone reading a newspaper, something you see less and less of these days.  More interesting is the story behind Cezanne's portrayal of his father, Louis-Auguste, a banker, who pushed his son to follow his career in financing and banking, but much to his dismay, Paul wanted to study art and painting, something his father considered grossly impractical.  The result was an emotionally charged relationship which lasted a lifetime.

The clues are in the painting - Cezanne used a palette knife with expressive, bold strokes of paint. You can almost feel the frustration.  He included his own painting on the wall and the newspaper L'Evenement refers to the writer Emile Zola, a friend of Cezanne's who encouraged him to pursue his study of art in Paris and later became the art critic for that very paper.  Paul's father notably read the news and financial section exclusively.


- a thanks to Stefan Draschan for permission to use part of his photo for reference.


Thursday, November 7, 2019

"Caught"

12 x 3-7/8"
oil on panel
sold


Since I've been back to painting, my last three - a museum scene, shadows on a tiled floor and this fish - all have something in common.  They've all required intense concentration.  Intentionally to get me focused again.  That helps me get back to work.

Brett cleaned up and sharpened my palette knives for this new piece.  Palette knife painting is freakin' hard.  It takes the ultimate self-control.  It kinda drives me nuts, but practicing is a good thing.  A fish has texture and I thought this subject would be perfect for this exercise.  And frankly, second to dogs, I love painting fish.

Here's a close-up.




Tuesday, November 5, 2019

"Envoy"

6 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


No paintings to feature here but you can argue that architecture is a form of art.  It can produce atmosphere and ambience, it's a variety of form and function and light can transform the space that results in temporary patterns - like on this floor in a terminal of Reagan National in Washington DC. I stood on the balcony above this floor and obsessed at the shadows from people and the skylights above.  I could have photographed there all afternoon.  

No art history today but here's a brief history of this airport.  It was built on a site once known as Gravelly Point, where Captain John Alexander built his home in 1746. His son donated most of the land named after his father and now known as Alexandria.  In the early 20th century, Washington DC had a seriously inadequate airport located near the present site of the Pentagon - obstructed by a smokestack, electrical wires and just one runway that intersected with a busy street with a guard directing traffic between takeoffs and landings and cars.  That's nuts.

In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt was so tired of Congress dragging its feet on a selection of a new site to build an airport, he announced it would be located on mudflats on a bend of the Potomac at Gravelly Point. The new facility was opened for business in 1941 with Pan American Airlines christening the National Airport. The following years, more hangars, more terminals and air cargo buildings went up - the Metrorail connected in 1977, a parking garage opened in 1991 (better late than never) and in 1998, President Bill Clinton signed into law the bill that changed the name to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, commonly referred to as Reagan National.

So there, you learned something new today.  Why title it Envoy?  It's not unusual to spot U.S. Senators or Representatives, or familiar reporters and national news faces in Reagan National. And I like the word 'envoy'.




Sunday, November 3, 2019

"All in the Family"

3-3/4 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


Lucky me, I got to visit the National Gallery of Art in DC last weekend - the same weekend the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros were in town for the World Series.  At a minimum of $1,000 a ticket, I could only opt for an afternoon at a free art museum but hey, it was great being there again.

If you breeze through the galleries, sometimes you'll miss out on the fun facts of a painting - like Francois-Hubert Drouais's Family Portrait, notably dated April 1, 1756.  You may guess it's Christmas Day because of the gifts and decorations in the scene but no, it was April Fool's Day as we know it now.  Before the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1582, the medieval calendar marked New Year's Day as March 25th, the vernal equinox - and the 1st of April marked the beginning of spring.  Many people would, and still do, celebrate by exchanging springtime gifts on that day - this informal family portrait showing the little girl giving flowers to her mother, the husband reading a poem to his wife as she points to the daughter as a symbolic gift to her husband. Very sweet.



Monday, October 14, 2019

"Intoxicating'

8 x 10"
oil on panel
sold


I've said this before and I'll say it again, the most perfect painting ever created is John Singer Sargent's Fumee d'Amber Gris (Smoke of Ambergris) which hangs in the Clark Museum in Boston - painted in 1880 and inspired by Sargent's trip to North Africa.

The painting depicts a woman creating a tent with her veil, catching the smoke and fumes from the smoldering ambergris in the silver censer.  Known and used for its unique aroma, ambergris was used in some religious rituals, also thought to have aphrodisiac qualities and be a safeguard from evil spirits.  Sargent's painting is a combination of Moroccan objects and customs he observed while in Tangier and Terouan.

In 1887, in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Henry James wrote, 'I know not who this stately Mohammedan may be, nor in what mysterious domestic or religious rite she may be engaged; but in her plastered arcade, which shines in the Eastern light, she is beautiful and memorable.  The picture is exquisite, a radiant effect of white upon white, of similar but discriminated tones.'

You ask what is Ambergris?  A fascinating write-up about Sargent's painting and a deep dive into exactly what this mysterious element is can be found here.


Please click here for a larger view.

~ thanks to Stefan Draschan for his photo reference.