Thursday, April 27, 2006
Yes, it seems I have been very plugged into horse works of late. I guess I am finally tapping into a wealth of reference material gathered over the last three years. This will be the fifth work in the last two months with horses as the subject. Normally, I will have to say that I don't often do back to back works with the same subject matter, but horses somehow have managed to flip that pattern on its side. This though, will be the last work in the horse-y sense for a bit.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Things are getting a bit stormy now! Spent an interesting afternoon on the Mall in DC with a friend in from Cincinnati yesterday. We attended the Cezanne exhibition at the National Gallery, in addition to visiting several of the Smithsonian Museums, and there will be more here, on Cezanne, in the next few days.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Some diversions today as I spend a bit of time looking through reference material for the big 'bridge' project to come. I have photographed many interesting bridges and structural elements of bridges over the last couple of years and beginning in June, I shall tackle in earnest, works for the 2008 museum exhibition.
So, here are a few interesting shots that have been inspiring me this afternoon. How they will be used, if they will be used .... all questions that are up in the air right now.
But suffice it to say, I have much here, to get my creative energies flowing.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
A detail of the work currently on the board.
Taking a break from prep for the June gallery show to get this work, my piece for jury for this year's Martime International, underway. Reference gathered a couple years ago on the Maine coast and reminding me as I work, of just how great a time I had up that way. Think I will have to go back up there again one of these days!
Monday, April 10, 2006
Yesterday afternoon, I enjoyed a concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the second in a series of three special concerts they are doing in conjunction with the wonderful Baltimore Museum of Art. This series revolves around making the distinct connection between music and art in very specific periods and times. How appropriate this concert should come a week after my musical digressions about Mahler and others, last week! Yesterday's concert centered on the works of Monet and several others of the Impressionist painters and their airy and ethereal take on the way that natural light and atmosphere play against objects. The first of the series back in January focused on Picasso and the music of De Falla, Stravinsky and the glorious Joaquin Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez featuring the masterful playing of Manuel Barrueco. Debussy and Ravel featured strongly in yesterday's programming and their works complimented totally the paintings of Monet and Cezanne.
The Debussy work, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, played first on the program, was a fitting, tranquil and softly soothing connector to the art works of Monet with gentle tonalities floating through the air, corresponding to the light wisps of paint projected on a screen above the orchestra. It truly was, for those who had never thought about such connections before, an eye opening experience, I have no doubt. It was just one more way of reinforcing all that I have felt about music and art and the connection that occurs, for me at any rate, between the two.
In remarks written in the orchestra's program guide for the first program in the series back in January, Jeremy Rothman, the orchestra's Artistic Administrator noted that music can be 'a vehicle for exploring other disciplines, such as art, science, history and societal issues.' I could not agree more. Back when I was teaching, it was exciting for me to join with our music teacher in formulating structured lessons that combined art, music, the written word and other aspects of educational knowledge, so our students could see the connections and perhaps, accept basic understanding and learning without knowing they were doing it! It was apparent that the students were excited about it all as well. It is very unfortunate that in so many cases and so many school districts strapped for funding and supplies and knowledgeable teachers, that the 'Arts' have suffered, languished and been tossed aside as being groundless for a good education. It is no wonder that many of our cultural institutions now suffer also, from the lack of community support, to the fact that many younger people have no concept of the need to have the arts included in their lives.
Listening to the music yesterday, gave me an opportunity to think on the drive back home, just how important it is to touch and feel and see and hear and smell and experience things on a first hand, face to face, personal basis. Seeing a reproduction of one of these magnificent Monet works in a book, no matter how good the color capture, is just not the same as standing before it in person, in a museum or gallery and being able to allow yourself to move into it, get lost in it, feel it .... experience the smallest detail, the nuances of color contrast and brush work that in the case of Impressionist works is so important. I feel you just can not go through life claiming to know and feel by simply looking at pictures in a magazine or book and to never really know the thrill of seeing something 'in the flesh.'
Though I have that huge library of music on disc that I mentioned last week, at my daily disposal while at work in the studio, to be able to go to a live concert, as I did yesterday and will do again next month for the last of the three concerts in this discussed series (Matisse and his cohorts), is an experience that can not be matched. To stand behind an artist, painting out in the field or on a sidewalk, and see how their fingers move the brush, dab the paint, make the connection between what they see and what they are painting, the way they edit and adjust and modify and capture and create on the spot, to my mind anyway, makes the enjoyment of the finished work that much more special. To go to a museum and spend an hour or an afternoon, looking and exploring and experiencing first hand, can only, to my way of thinking, enhance life. We really need to be able to stop and take time to make those connections between art and music and drama and the written word that so truly reflect what is going on all around us at any given point in time. The arts, as history has shown, do mirror what is best and worst about society and I feel we all should find some way, if even the smallest of ways, to avail ourselves and take advantage of the surprising inspirations and untrod paths that exposure to the arts can bring us.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Monday, April 03, 2006
Make hay while the sun shines! Well, the sun is shinning right now, though most of Maryland is under a tornado watch till midnight, the radio tells me. Tough out there in the midwest where all those twisters have been touching down. Guess I will be keeping an ear out as I work a bit longer this afternoon. Anyway, here is this afternoon's work, so far. An interesting gathering!
The 'magic' of Mahler indeed! In my humble opinion anyway, his music is truly magical. Gustav Mahler is the man many 'love to hate' and I feel his musical genius has been missed by many, as a result.
And so I shall digress a bit from my usual postings of pencil scratchings and talk a bit about music and how it occupies great territory in my studio and life. Having enjoyed the concert on Saturday evening, I thought much yesterday afternoon while at work, about how music plays a major roll in my daily routine and how it is ever present in the studio when I am working. Almost embarrassing to admit, with my CD collection now approaching 2900 discs (don't ask!), you would think, as many of my friends do, that I could start my own radio station (yes, if the art career goes down the tubes at some point, maybe I will do just that!). But as many artists will attest to, we must have music playing while at work.
Inspiration, as has been talked about before by me and others of my artistic friends, comes in many forms; a musical moment or melody being not the least of them. Consider the beauty and intensely evocative music that paralleled the Impressionist period of painting, with Debussy, Ravel and other great composers of that era, melding their musical notes with the feathery dabs of paint of their contemporaries. And then too, the works of mid 20th Century American composers such as Copland, Ives, Schuman and Harris, to name but a few, whose music reflected completely, the amazing array of variation of artistic movements that were taking place in the late 40's, 50's and early 60's. I just have to see the splashes of color and texture of a Pollack painting to have the strains of a piece by one of these American individualist composers come to mind.
And so, muisc plays constantly while I am at work, whether it be my favorite local classical radio station, a disc of Ella or Sarah or Frank or kd or Rosey or Billie or Lena or Tony or Art or Harry Connick ...... or maybe the Rachmaninoff 2nd Symphony (how could anyone not be carried away by jolts of intense inspiration listening to that music!). I guess the vast majority of my library consists of well over 2600 classical discs by the likes of John Adams, Prokofiev, Bach, Ravel, Sibelius, Chopin, Brahms, Schubert, Beethoven, Haydn, Copland, Britten, Gershwin and Liszt. But there are many lesser knowns too, who occupy coveted space on my CD shelves, maybe lesser known to those who do not spend as much time as I, scanning for recent releases of interesting and obscure pieces of music and exploring the range of works by a composer recently 'discovered' by me through hearing a short work on the radio perhaps .... but none the less of equal weight in my estimation, to those listed previously. Composers like Tubin, Alwyn, Rautavaara, Picker, Bliss, Dyson, Bax, Howells, Martucci, Reger, Suk and Toch, whose musical output of emotion and intensely personal and individual writing has become so inspiring to me. And is there really, anything more moving than the music in the last act of Puccini's 'Turandot'?
Then there is Gustav Mahler! I guess I heard his first symphony, 'The Titan' as it has been dubbed, maybe thirty five or more years ago? That hearing was, as they say, a stunning experience for me, both as an artist and simply as a human being, as there was much intensity going on in my life at that time anyway and the music seemed to 'fit right in' so to speak. I think I played that record over and over and over again in the first weeks after buying it until I could almost hum the complete first movement on my own! I guess true 'Mahlerians' would say that was a good, if less than completely indicative, introduction to Mahler's work and all these years later I would agree. It was a nice, somewhat subtle way of becoming acquainted with Mahler.
In the succeeding years of adding to my understanding and appreciation for Mahler, I became even more entangled in his musical output, seeking out different orchestras and conductor's 'takes' on a particular symphony or song cycle. It is hard for me to put into words exactly what listening to Mahler does for me ... to me, but his music never fails to speak to me, spark my energy, set my mind to thinking and raise my creative juices. With such an array of choice in music to listen to as I work, I can honestly say that easily half the time of working on a given piece, Mahler is the choice. His rhythms and melodies haunt me and there are times when I find them emerging in my head when driving or reading or eating or simply moving through my day and out of the studio, not even focused on work. Yes, many other composers' music does that to me as well, but none so strongly or so often or so surprisingly at times, as Mahler.
And so I say to those who are among the many who 'love to hate' Mahler, let yourself go! Give his intensely personal look at the world a chance, as you would in seeing a new artist's work, and maybe, just maybe, you will also find his work will spark something within you, move you to experiences you never pondered and possibly help you to see the world in some new light.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
After a morning that broke with ominous looking skies and threatening, broiling, slate gray clouds billowing in from the west, I headed into DC after meeting up with a friend, to be part of 'Cherry Blossom Weekend'. With the skies showing signs of storms and a sprinkle or two falling from those gray clouds while traveling downtown on the Metro, we arrived to find skies clearing over Washington and eventually, after a walk down the National Mall along with thousands of other 'tourists' in town for the Festival, the ring of pale pink and cherry blossom white gleamed in the rapidly sunning up sky near the Jefferson Memorial. There seemed to be as many people walking the shore as there were blossoms on the trees, so after some photography to capture 'the moment' and a brief walk around, a walk back across town and lunch, my time of playing hooky from the studio just about came to an end. An evening concert at the University of Maryland, featuring the Symphony Orchestra magnificently performing the Mahler 9th, oh what a spectacular piece of music that be . . . 'play time' finally ended as I headed home around midnight with thoughts of the extra hours that would need to be worked in the studio today, to catch up! Play time is good and much needed every so often, but alas, the looming June show in Annapolis will make for a long work day today! I wouldn't have it any other way.