|"Southwest Memories", oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches|
Today, we celebrate and give thanks for our many blessings and good fortune. When President Lincoln first made his Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863, 149 years ago, our nation was in the midst of the Civil War. Certainly, it was a brilliant suggestion to be grateful, and perhaps to heal, when our country was in the throes of national sorrow.
Today, we once again find ourselves divided. Some states, like the one where I live, Louisiana, have thousands of people who have signed petitions to secede from our country. No one group owns the label of patriot, but seceding from the union is the antithesis of patriotism. If we really love our country, then we also love our countrymen despite the many skin colors, gender preferences, and different religions to which we are born. Perhaps, today, gratitude again is the antidote to the relentless sniping and distrust that separates us and keeps us in stagnation, rather than moving forward for the perfection of the union. May we all come together and solve the problems that confront us. Happy thanksgiving to all.
Flag Over Jackson Square, watercolor, 12 x 9 inches
I'm sorry to report that David Levine, master watercolorist and political caricaturist without peer, passed away on December 29, 2009. Check out David Levine Art for more info. Memorials are posted online at D.Levine Dot Commie . Remarkably ego-less, with a penetrating gaze that seemed to look through you, Dave Levine was not only a profoundly inspiring artist with an extraordinary wit, but will also be remembered as a generous and empathetic human being.
Labels: David Levine
"Cranberry Glass and Blue Cup", oil, 10 x 8 inches
As a practicing, professional artist, I often think about what actions encourage productivity versus what actions tamp down and limit creativity. There is no end to self-help improvement advice offered to artists, replete with templates for writing an artist statement, connecting with collectors, blogging, designing a web page, entering shows, publishing Giclee prints and even step by step sales instructions on how to respond at a show when someone says "I love your work". It's easy to get lost in the details.
When I first began this journey, I frequently visited the National Gallery of Art, not far from the Capitol, in Washington, D.C. There I saw a small Chardin still life of a few rabbits, a simple composition so quietly powerful that I still feel the sensation in my gut remembering that first encounter. The painting drew me in, captivating my sight. Nothing else existed in that moment. I again had a similar sensation while copying the Juan de Pareja, by Velasquez, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Truly, I felt that the painting was alive; I could have sworn that I saw Juan take a breath. Three years ago, while in a doctor's waiting room, again I was able to completely dive into a painting, this time a reproduction of a Winslow Homer watercolor. For a brief moment, I was able to transcend all the worries and problems attendant with caring for an ill, elderly loved one, and completely see a world through Homer's eyes.
No doubt, creating fine art remains a great mystery. Somehow, art happens. Is there something in the artist's intention that dictates the final product? Does entering a show help one to create great art? Does winning an award help one to create great art? Looking into the writings of some great ones like Degas or Vuillard might offer insight. New post, next year....