Posts Tagged ‘painting’

Marc Chagall’s paintings contain beautiful colors of love and a joyful floating lightness of being

January 17, 2019

Homage to Chagall

homage to chagallAs a young man in my early 30s living back home in Montreal, I remember watching a stunningly beautiful film on Canadian television called, Homage to Chagall: The Colours of Love.

It’s a 1977 Canadian documentary film about artist Marc Chagall directed by Harry Rasky of Toronto. This inspiring film was nominated for an Academy Award in 1978 for Best Documentary Feature. The Directors Guild of America awarded Rasky with Outstanding Direction of a Documentary.

Synopsis: Imaginatively utilizing over 300 mosaics, stained-glass windows, murals and paintings, plus an in-depth interview with the famous Russian artist himself, Homage to Chagall is both a tribute to and a celebration of a life of intense productivity that encompassed everything from primitive mysticism to cubist intellectuality.

Sherway Academy Arts & Sciences recently posted the Chagall Documentary on YouTube for students to learn about this great artist. Read their description of his artistic bio included there. It concludes with this quote by Pablo Picasso from the 1950s: “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.”

The Colors of Love

This short YouTube video on Marc Chagall is a beautiful slideshow of his colorful paintings of love with an equally beautiful soundtrack, Serenade to Spring, Songs From A Secret Garden. Click on Show More to read a short biography posted there after a quote by Chagall that sums up his philosophy of life and painting: “In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of LOVE.”

“In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of LOVE.”

Art History’s Greatest Love Story

Sotheby’s was going to auction off one of Marc Chagall’s paintings, Les Amoureux (The Lovers), which depicts Bella and Marc mid-embrace, masterfully capturing “the beauty of life.” Simon Shaw, co-head of Impressionist and Modern Art Worldwide for Sotheby’s, interviewed Chagall’s granddaughter, Bella Meyer, who recalled vivid memories of the artist speaking about his love and muse, Bella Chagall. She said she never saw her grandmother, who had died before she was born.

When the painting was made in 1928, it was bought and kept by one family, and never shown to the public until this recent auction. Shaw says, “It’s very hard not to feel happy in front of this picture. It’s a work that exudes peace and happiness.”

Bella responds, “Peace, as you said, it’s most important.” For her, the painting is “a very tender yet forceful kind of celebration for the essence of life, the beauty of life.” Enjoy this informative video with closeups of the painting, Art History’s Greatest Love Story: Marc & Bella Chagall.

The image on the DVD cover at the top of this post is of Chagall’s 1915 painting, L’Anniversaire, also mentioned in the Sotheby’s video.

Creating from the heart, not the head

For a comprehensive biography of the artist, see Marc Chagall, which includes an animated slide show. A quote shown there describing how he worked as an artist says it all: “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works. If from the head, almost nothing.” — Marc Chagall.

I know what he means. I had an experience of creating intuitively from feelings instead of mentally from thoughts during a first art class. Surprised, I wrote a poem about the creative awakening called ArtWords.

“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works. If from the head, almost nothing.” — Marc Chagall

The Fiddler

homage to chagall-kultur dvdChagall’s painting of The Fiddler was also used on the film’s DVD covers.  My grandmother loved that painting because it reminded her of her earlier years growing up in Russia. She was a creative person who liked to cook, crochet, and paint.

I asked an artist friend if he would outline a copy of it on a canvas for her to fill in. I brought him to meet her first and they hit it off. When he offered to sketch the painting for her, she was delighted. She did a wonderful job of reproducing it. Unfortunately, after she died, by the time we went to her apartment, a new tenant was already living there, and the painting was gone.

Failing eyesight or spiritual insight: a poet’s interpretation of a master artist’s vision

July 30, 2016

A previous post dealt with poets and artists who were Touched With Fire and created unusually beautiful works of art. Their poems and paintings were thought to be fueled by madness rather than a uniquely creative gift, possibly combined with a type of manic-depression.

Claude Monet "Water Lilies" (1906) Art Institute of Chicago (photo by Ryerson)

Claude Monet “Water Lilies” (1906) The Art Institute of Chicago
(Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection)

Here is a different twist on another kind of perceived abnormality. This poem’s title, Monet Refuses the Operation, leads the reader to believe that  Oscar-Claude Monet, founder of French Impressionism, was in need of an eye operation because of the way he painted.

But Nobel laureate Lisel Mueller gives us a different take on what may have been clinically diagnosed as failing eyesight due to cataracts, for the growth of a more profound spiritual vision—a ripened appreciation of nature, and a deeper more unified understanding of life.

Monet Refuses the Operation
By Lisel Mueller

Doctor, you say that there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

Source: Second Language (Louisiana State University Press, 1996)

The cataracts did cloud Monet’s vision, and hindered his perception, but he had reached a level of mastery that allowed him to paint with his heart. In the words of The Little Prince, “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Later in life, Monet had discovered a different way of seeing and created a new way of painting. Another poet, William Stafford, wrote about youth and the mature artist in You and Art. The poem describes, in his own unique way, this spiritual transformation that takes place later in life.

You and Art
By William Stafford

Your exact errors make a music
that nobody hears.
Your straying feet find the great dance,
walking alone.
And you live on a world where stumbling
always leads home.

Year after year fits over your face—
when there was youth, your talent
was youth;
later, you find your way by touch
where moss redeems the stone;

and you discover where music begins
before it makes any sound,
far in the mountains where canyons go
still as the always-falling, ever-new flakes of snow.

The ending of another poem by William Stafford reminds me of an expansion to infinity and the “blue vapor without end” in Something That Happens Right Now.

Here is a collection of some of Monet’s paintings.

Enjoy another beautiful poem by Lisel Mueller in this post: Lisel Mueller’s poetry offers us Hope.

BLUE: a translucent painting by Bill Teeple at ICON Gallery on Fairfield’s 1st Fridays Art Walk

August 7, 2015

image

It’s Fairfield’s 1st Fridays Art Walk and tonight I’m at ICON Gallery talking with owner/curator Bill Teeple about the creative process, painting, poetry, and consciousness. I’m moved by one of his new images on the wall in the smaller gallery/studio upstairs. It’s deeply blue and draws me in like a magnet.

Bill tells me it’s made of multiple layers of acrylic paint, like a glaze. It’s translucent; it glows in your awareness. Tiny white specks look like stars in the night sky. Bill says it’s the paper, meant to be part of the painting.

Click on the blue image to enlarge it and you’ll see them. Enlarge it again and stare into the BLUE, and like the Hubble telescope, you’ll discover a world that previously was not visible.

The simplicity and minimalism of the piece inspires me to write a haiku. I do, and share it with Bill who says, “That’s it!”

BLUE: A Translucent Painting by Bill Teeple

Ten Layers of Blue
Look at it looking at you
Aglow between two

image

I can’t help myself when it comes to rearranging words in lines and their meanings. Here is a second version of the haiku.

BLUE: A Translucent Painting by Bill Teeple

Ten Layers of Blue
Looking at it look at you
A glow between two

Here’s a related poem about the mystery of the creative process: Sometimes Poetry Happens.

Canadian artist Greg Thatcher goes to Painswick every summer to paint its famous yew trees

August 23, 2012

Stroud News and Journal, 4:00pm Tuesday 7th August 2012 in News Canadian artist travels to Painswick every year to paint its famous yew trees by Hayley Mortimer, Reporter

A CANADIAN artist has travelled to Painswick to paint its famous yew trees.

Greg Thatcher, 63, who lives in Iowa, has been painting the trees at St Mary’s Church for more than 20 years and works on location from June to August every year.

The yew trees were planted in the Middle Ages and Mr Thatcher says they form the most beautiful yew tree avenues in the world.

He first saw them in a travel brochure while working in Lancashire in 1991.

At first, he worked from photographs but after visiting the churchyard he was inspired by the different shapes and intricate details.

Mr Thatcher said: “I have been drawn to them. I just keep seeing deeper and deeper levels of where I can start. It is an ongoing relationship.

“The process is very stimulating and nourishing to my creativity and imagination.

“Even after 20 years I am still finding more angles and more information to work with.

“I love Painswick and enjoy coming back each year. My trips have been pivotal to my career. It has given me access to a unique and inspiring landscape.”

Mr Thatcher spends between six and eight hours a day working on the drawings and many take more than 350 hours to complete.

He and his wife stay a mile away from the churchyard so Mr Thatcher can cycle to and from the site every day.

Mr Thatcher teaches art and art history to children aged 13 to 17 in a small school in Iowa.

He has a bachelor of fine art from the University of Victoria and a masters in painting and drawing from the University of Saskatchewan.

A series of drawings of the yew trees has been exhibited in the United States, Canada, England and France and his work hangs in corporate and private collections across the world.

For more information go to www.gregthatchergallery.com.

You can see photos of Greg, the trees, and his drawings in the online article bit.ly/Rg2k25, and in a pdf of Inspiration found under the boughs.

ArtWords—poem about a creative awakening

January 7, 2012

Ever tried painting? I mean the creative kind, not just painting the walls of your apartment. During my last year (1998), living in Vancouver, BC, Canada, one of my friends gave me the gift of an art class with Anita Nairne, an intuitive artist and teacher. She had been studying with Anita and I was impressed with the transformation in her artwork. At the time Anita was promoting her classes as Paint with your Angels. I found her website and she now calls her Intuitive Painting workshops & classes Creative Awakening.

Painting From The Inside Out

Anita is like a midwife to your artistic instincts. It was an unforgettable experience. She gave me a large white gessoed piece of thick art paper stock, brushes, and acrylic paints, and told me to just cover it with paint, anyway I liked. Without realizing what was happening, I found myself freely, intuitively brushing blotches of paint all over the paper. I was having fun. At one point she took the paper and put it up on the wall under lights and asked me what I saw. She would outline those shapes with chalk, or erase them, depending on what I thought was there. Much to my surprise, the edges of those blotches looked like facial profiles. She returned the artwork and showed me how to accentuate and bring out the faces. At one point, I realized I was ‘painting’ a sort of visual biography of my life, ‘recognizing’ some of the people I had loved, and who had loved me, or at least attempts at loving.

Feelings Not Thoughts

During this process my active thinking mind was not involved—a rare occurrence for someone who’s used to working with words all the time to express himself. I was now creating from a deeper, quieter, more intuitive place within me. I was painting from my heart. I was painting feelings, and they were telling me something! That realization blew my mind. Automatically the words started to form in my mind to describe what had just happened. Below is a poem from that experience.

ArtWords

The artwork informs
The canvas reveals
The mind then knows
What the heart feels

The faces in the painting
The pictures of my life
Where love was a saviour
Where love caused much strife

This process uncovers
Those parts of our lives
To show us the truth
To make us more wise

It’s possible to know
It’s possible to forgive
I’ll never forget you
As long as I live

© Ken Chawkin

I returned for two more classes. I was taking a new direction in my life and was getting ready to leave town in a few months to join the Purusha group in North Carolina. During my last class, I guess that sense of impending movement and transformation, the anticipated travel and making a new beginning, was trying to express itself on paper. I ended up painting a brightly colored phoenix bird at the top, flying eastward. Prophetic!

Here is a related poem featured in a film about verbal vs visual creativity: A poem in a movie inviting you to be who you are.

Egrets Painting and Poem

October 10, 2009

Egrets in Morning Light by Australian artist Gareth Jones–Roberts*

Translated

on the edge of space
two egrets in morning light
woken from a dream

—haiku by Ken Chawkin
Spring, 2001, Melbourne, Australia

*Photo of painting used by permission from the artist (1935–2013)
(Click painting to enlarge it.)

During a 3-month stay in Melbourne, Australia, I was fortunate to have met the artist through a mutual friend, his physician, and mine at the time, Dr. Graham Brown. Gareth’s painting was hanging on Graham’s office wall. I asked him who the artist was and he told me it was one of his patients. He gave it to him in exchange for learning Transcendental Meditation. Graham was also a TM Teacher. I was so taken by the painting that I wrote this haiku and shared it with him. One day, Graham asked me if I would like to come along to visit Gareth and share the haiku with him. I jumped at the chance and met Gareth, his wife and their son. Lovely people! He showed me around his studio and I shared the haiku with him. He liked it very much. I shared more poems with him. We hit it off and we stayed in touch over the years. He was a special soul!

This poem was published in two poetry books: The Dryland Fish, An Anthology of Contemporary Iowa Poets (2003), contained in 13 Ways to Write Haiku: A Poet’s Dozen; and in This Enduring Gift — A Flowering of Fairfield Poetry (2010), included in Five Haiku.


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