Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sketchbook Tree and Degas

The above drawing from my sketchbook is what I would like to achieve more often.  Light in the shadows.  The media is hard charcoal pencil and fingers.  I did this one a couple days before Christmas.

I have been looking at and reading a lot about Degas lately (besides Cezanne).  Degas started the switch to pastel in the mid-late 1870's, and used predominantly all pastel from the 1880's on.  "...[H]e took full advantage of the different ways of handling pastel, sometimes drawing with the sticks, at other times creating tonal areas with a stump or with his fingers; often he worked with pastel and water, either wetting the stick or working the powdery pigment with brush and water to create fluid passages of color ...With pastel he was able to apply color in a linear manner, not so much to delineate form as to model it...the late pastels have a tonal substructure drawn by Degas the draftsman beneath their brilliant surfaces finished by Degas the colorist." (from Degas, Jean Sutherland Boggs.  The words above are by Gary Tinterow).

Best Portrayal of a Place Nomination

The above painting, Classon at Pacific,  has been nominated for The Making a Mark Prize for Best Portrayal of a Place 2012.   Please visit Katherine Tyrrell's fabulous art blog to learn more and vote at this link. There are other nominations and categories of beautiful paintings.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Another Fourth and Last Cezanne

This drawing works better because there is more variety in the shapes.   Will do a pastel next.

Last excerpt from the Cezanne biography: "According to technical studies of his work, he used more cobalt blue in his landscapes after his father's death, in 1886, when he became financially secure."

Nelson House and Everything Cezanne

A 12 x 24 oil of the Nelson House with a view across the Delaware River at Washington's Crossing.

Another excerpt from the Cezanne biography: "Out sur le motif he mused on the fundamental.  'All that we see dissipates and disappears, does it not? Nature is always the same, but nothing remains of what we see of it.  It is our art that must convey the sense of permanence, capture the elements in all their changing forms.  It should give us a taste of the eternal.  What lies beneath?  Perhaps nothing.  Perhaps everything.  Everything, you understand?'"

Brooklyn Cubist and Flying Cezannes

Still not sure about this one.  Too many same size cubes.  Though I do like the truck, and the hole in the sidewalk is intriguing.

From the magnificent Cezanne biography: "[Cezanne] received Vollard very cordially in Aix [after the 1895 exhibition at Vollards]..., attended by his son, now effectively his agent, who was deputed to rescue a still life from a cherry tree, after Cezanne had thrown the canvas out the window.  ('Son, we must get down the Apples.  I shall try and get on with that study!')  This sounds far-fetched, but his sister Marie's gardener, Auguste Blanc, remembered canvases in the olive trees in the grounds of his last studio, left for seasons on end before being harvested by the artist."

Saturday, December 22, 2012


It maybe a waste of time, but I reworked the above a bit, and may do another.  I also started the pastel version.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fourth and Union

An 11x14 drawing.  Next I will try a pastel version.

More from the Cezanne biography:
'Renoir was an acute observer.  He note Cezanne's immense pride, matched by his deep humility; his intense focus on the task at hand, and his corresponding lack of interest in the work he had already made--an indifference bordering on the careless, which led him to shed paintings whenever they had served their purpose, casting them off like old clothes.  He appreciated what baffled the slower Monet: the "half-serious, half-joking" quality of Cezanne's talk.  All of this was well illustrated in his story of Cezanne complaining about a wealthy member of the Aixois bourgeoisie, who had a picture by Besnard in his living room--"ce pompier qui prend feu," a play on pompier, a fireman or a piece of hack work, each in its own way catching fire--and who also had the temerity to stand next to Cezanne at vespers and sing out of tune.  Renoir, amused, reminded him that all Christians are brothers.  "After all, both of you will be together in heaven for eternity." "No," came the swift retort.  "In heaven they know very well that I am Cezanne!"  Then he added: "I am not even capable of working out the volumes properly.  I am nothing."'

Blasted Tree and More Cezanne

This drawing, made late this afternoon, is from my sketchbook.  I was wandering through the woods looking at the tremendous damage left by hurricane Sandy.

I highly recommend the book, Cezanne: A Life by Alex Danchev.   It's a fun book to read.  Danchev does a great job showing the character of Cezanne with anecdotes and describing the how Cezanne relates to his time, acquaintances and friends.  Here's another excerpt regarding Cezanne's sister Marie: "At her death, in 1921, she possessed one painting, a study of Mont Sainte-Victoire.  Late in life, when a visitor made bold to remark on how few Cezannes she had, she replied: 'Oh! Monsieur, I have that Sainte-Victoire because my brother forced me to take it, and so as not to upset him!  I never understood and I still don't understand anything about my brother's painting!  And he used to say to me: Marie, I tell you I'm the greatest painter alive!'"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fall Canal and Cezanne's Trees

A remembrance of what the canal looked like a couple weeks ago.  9x12 pastel.

Apropos of the previous post, I came across the following from the new biography of Cezanne by Alex Danchev.  Zola after moving to Paris wrote to Cezanne in Aix, "'Here...there is no ancient pine, no fresh spring from which to replenish the old bottle, no Cezanne with the expansive imagination and the cheerful and racy conversation!'  This little elegy was prompted by the memory of a favorite tree, evoked by Cezanne, who sensory experience of trees approached that of people.  'For him a tree is a growing thing, and can only live where it is; each tree has its appointed site.  And the tree which he shows as so firmly rooted is not simply an essential type; it is individualized, with a history of its own, unlike any other's.'"  The last quote is from Paul Valery.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Locked Up Tree in Brooklyn

A 9x12 oil.  This tree is going nowhere.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Brooklyn Street

My fingerprints are all over this one, a 9x12 charcoal and black and white pastel drawing.  I would like to draw with the sureness of a Zen master, but alas, I teeter and totter with hesitations, as I stumble across the paper.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Canal Path

Another 9x12 accumulation of pastel marks that appears like the canal path approaching the Grant Street bridge on a sunny morning.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Grand Army Plaza

A 9x12 pastel of Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn in the late afternoon.  An attempt at a controlled accumulation of pastel marks.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Drawing

In the last few days I have only had enough time to walk about with my sketchpad and pencil.  Above is one 9x12 drawing.