Saturday, July 25, 2020

"Drink Up"

6 x 8"
oil on panel

I have a great admiration for the artist Winslow Homer.  He was self-taught.  He was an illustrator.  His mother was a watercolor painter and was his first teacher and nurtured his artistic abilities at a young age.  His father, on the other hand, sold his hardware store when Winslow was a teenager and took off for the California gold rush - which failed - then went to Europe to raise cash for a get-rich-quick scheme that failed.

Homer took on an apprenticeship for a lithographer at the age of 19, then joined the staff of Harper's Weekly that lasted over 20 years.  He was sent to the front lines of the American Civil War to document the battle scenes and soldier life, which didn't get much attention but it sharpened his skills.  When he returned to his normal life, he concentrated on paintings of rural life, scenes of childhood and young women - gaining great popularity with his images of nostalgia and simpler times.

Homer had this thing about portraying women and now-freed black men and women in a more dignified and strong way.  He corrected the disparaging images that publications like Harper's Weekly had printed for years in that respect.  

Homer's A Temperance Meeting is a perfect example, painted in 1874, hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Their description of this work is so well written - "Homer's painting cleverly refers to the rising American temperance movement, a crusade against drinking alcohol, by depicting a stout milkmaid pausing while a farmhand drinks from her ladle. Swaying under the weight of her pail and squinting into the sun, she presents the ideal of natural womanhood. Her powerful presence, marked by broad shoulders, muscular arms, and sunburned skin, counters the farmhand's relaxed stance and shaded face, visually reversing traditional gender roles. Far from flirting, the two figures awkwardly avoid each other's gaze, modeling rural wholesomeness and rectitude."

~ Stay healthy and wear your mask.

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