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Koeppel Barn, Old World Wisconsin, 8×10

Okay, I’ve been busy making some modifications — read “improvements” — to my house lately, resulting in not that much plein air painting, but I did drive down to Old World Wisconsin in Eagle to reconnoiter about a month ago.  I’d been there numerous times when my daughter was young, but it was a pleasure to return after years…..I formed the plan to come down and paint AND I FOLLOWED THROUGH!

First let me say, the color in the above photograph is skewed  towards the magenta.  When I paint soil, it isn’t pure Terracotta, especially when I’m painting Wisconsin soil.  The painting is better than the photograph of it, but this is just a Blog.  One of these days I will become interested enough in photography to accurately reproduce the colors in a painting.  (Actually, it could come down to replacing equipment.  I used to take pictures with a Rebel XTi, but am now using a little point-and-shoot I bought for my trip to Santorini and Crete.  I’m finding it tends towards overexposure.)

Anyway, I rigged this Plein Air Wagon out of an old golf club caddy, rubber bungee cords and old 5 gallon paint buckets.  I had to carry my easel, wet panel carrier and pallette over my shoulder and under my arm, but I could walk quite a distance with this rig.

Plein Air Wagon

Plein Air Wagon

In the end, I used only the lower bucket, fastened with a bungee cord.  I couldn’t stabilize the upper bucket.  I’m still working on the problem.  You can see it next to me on location below with one bucket only.  Notice that the handle of the caddy isn’t

Plein Air Painting Koeppel Farm

Plein Air Painting Koeppel Farm

pointing straight up.  The first day, I had the handle straight up, making the bucket almost horizontal when I pulled it.  Almost all the mineral spirits in my solvent container leaked out.  I changed the angle of the handle.

I stayed overnight with my sister-in-law, Barb, and returned the next day.

Actually, the painting above as well as the picture of me painting are both from the second day.  The first day was very hot and I neglected to bring a compass to clue me in as to which way the sun would go.  I set up in front of the Danish Pedersen Farm, thinking the shadows would lengthen towards my location,….but they didn’t.  I stood and painted in the hot sun with perspiration trickling down my face….And I hate that…!

Pedersen Danish Farm, 1890s, 8x10

Pedersen Danish Farm, 1890s, 8×10

So, I’m giving myself credit for persevering.  It’s a new future for me, involving discomfort.  I’m forcing myself to embrace it!

Lilac Time

Lilac Time

From May 13 to May 15, I took a Plein Air Workshop from Mary Pettis in Taylor’s Falls, MN.  I’d noticed Mary’s paintings for several years in Art Collector magazine and googled her to see more.  When I found out she lived in Taylor’s Falls, a river town on one of the routes between here and my hometown, Aitkin, I looked to see whether she ever taught workshops and she did!  I signed up for her mailing list right away.

I’ve tried Plein Air painting a couple of times in the past,  with discouraging results, but know it to be an absolutely necessary step in my development as a painter, … if there’s going to be a development, that is.

Cindy McDonnell

Cindy McDonnell

In the week before the Workshop, I was cramming Richard Schmid’s Alla Prima, buying wet panel cases and getting acquainted with some different pigments, like Transparent Red Oxide, which is actually a brown.  Mary, on right above is encouraging and gives excellent instruction, so I highly recommend taking a workshop.  She’s completely charming and virtually every other student in the class began their introduction with, “I love Mary!”  I will probably take another, after some practice.

Mary, on right below is encouraging and gives excellent instruction, so I highly recommend taking a workshop.  She’s completely charming and virtually every other student in the class began their introduction with, “I love Mary!”  I will probably take another, after some practice.  The topmost painting in this blog entry is the painting I started on our first afternoon out.  We usually went out around 1:00 and quit around 4:00 to regroup in her studio.  It took me a lot longer than the others to select a site.  I tramped around feeling utterly clueless and disorganized supply-and-equipment-wise.  Eventually I settled, wearing a full length, Lands’ End Down Chalet Coat of Mary’s in order not to freeze.  The temperature was in the forties.

The painting didn’t look like it does now — I finished it last week from the lilacs in my own yard and painted the cedar and honeysuckle from memory. It didn’t look as bad as I’d thought it might on the day though, so I was encouraged.  One of the big differences, besides the changing light and complexity of nature, in plein air painting is using big brushes, plenty of paint and

Laurie Kania, Doug Berg, Mary Pettis

Laurie Kania, Doug Berg, Mary Pettis

trying to create a picture “alla prima,” in other words, in one session.  I was helped in completing this picture in that it was relatively dry underneath now, so I didn’t have to apply paint so thickly in order not to disturb the underpainting.  The second picture down is from Day Two.  I was helped at the end by Mary, so I don’t take full credit for it.  The artist in the clearing is Cindy McDonnell.  We traded paintings at the end of our Workshop and I made out like a bandit.  She gave me a framed flower painting on silk.

Mary’s studio is full of paintings of her past work, which she keeps on display because she learned a certain lesson on this one or that one.  Walking in gave me the same rush as looking at Russian landscapes — Mary models herself after the Russians — and excited not only my desire to develop her skill, but, I’m sorry to say, a very materialistic desire to own all the paintings myself.

Doug Berg, Mary Pettis, Matt Kania, Joyce Staley

Doug Berg, Mary Pettis, Matt Kania, Joyce Staley

 

As I continue to read The Yellow House by Martin Gayford, I continue to discover fascinating details about these two great post-Impressionist painters.  I’ve already commented about the way they portrayed themselves as literary characters in self-portraits — Van Gogh, in particular, was an avid reader — but now I’ve found that they sartorialized themselves in imitation of their heroes.

Van Gogh was a great admirer of a Marseillais painter named Adolph Monticelli.  He outfitted himself in conscious imitation of his hero, “with an enormous yellow hat, a black velvet jacket, white trousers, yellow gloves, a bamboo cane and with a grand southern air,” and so appeared to the public in Arles, where he and Gauguin were living.

Self portrait by Adolph Monticelli

A Fete in a Garden

Monticelli had been influenced by the Barbizon School in his youth, but one notices immediately in his paintings the same subjects as Watteau, i.e. courtlife and pastoral luxury, and Delacroix, i.e. orientalist scenes.  Van Gogh’s interests were more in keeping with the Barbizon painters in that he portrayed the lives of peasants.  One can see the same outlining of objects and figures and the thick paint strokes in Monticelli’s work and Van Gogh’s.

Gauguin liked to dress like a Breton sailor, though he was now living in the south of France.  Many of his figures are symbolic and drawn from his own imagination, so he kept adding Bretonnes to his Provencal scenes.  He loved their traditional costumes.  Just before arriving at the Yellow House Van Gogh had acquired in Arles, Gauguin painted A Vision after the Sermon:

Theo Van Gogh has sold a painting of Gauguin’s called Breton Girls in a Ring, which gave the artists something to live on for a while:

I think these conceits are typical of the creative mind.  They weren’t put on as cosplay.  They were assumed as self-expression.  Costuming creates a persona; it is a step on the path of self-realization.  How could persons with such inner drive to express their ideas visually, often without remuneration, NOT express themselves in their personal style as well?

1-IMG_3265-001Bass Strike at Cox Hollow, Oil on Canvas, 12×16, $500 USD

This painting is set in Governor Dodge State Park in Dodgeville, WI, the scene of much Bass and Bluegill fishing.  I was going for that vintage 1920s and 30s feel, harkening back to the magazine covers I’ve loved from Outdoor Life and Field and Stream.  It is available to purchase at the Left Bank Art Gallery in McGregor, IA.

Next month I’m going to attend a Plein Air Painting Workshop taught by Mary Pettis, whose work I’ve admired for the last several years.  I’ve been watching her Website for my next opportunity to take a workshop.  For some time now I’ve wanted to do landscapes, and my subjects have more frequently been in outdoor settings.

Landscapes set in the Midwest are more difficult, I think, than Western landscapes.  There you have the boon of distant vistas and the resulting changes in tone and coloration due to the retreating atmosphere.  (That may not be very clear, but I know what I mean.)

My favorite landscape painters, however, are not the many fabulous Western painters, but rather Russian landscape painters. Their subjects are much more like the ones I have available to me in Wisconsin.  Of course, their country is older, with older architecture and romantic dirt roads, but I take inspiration from them.  They often do intimate settings, rather than the grand spectacle of mountains and water available in the Western Unifted States.  The pastoral charm of these scenes is what I will be aiming for.

I recently bought a Plein Air painting called Silver Day by a Russian painter named Evgeny Zhurov (Moscow) and am thrilled with it.

I’ve just seen the Van Gogh Bedrooms exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The paintings are from Van Gogh’s brief stay in a house in Arles, where he hoped to found an artist colony “of the South.”  He wrote enthusiastic letters to Paul Gauguin, inviting him to join him.  Gauguin was suffering a gastrointestinal illness of some kind which caused cramps and bleeding and was not yet able to come, but the two artists sent each other self-portraits in which they explored their identities and aspirations.

While at the Art Institute, I bought a book called The Yellow House:  Van Gogh, Gauguin and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Provence by Martin Gayford, from which I’m drawing this material.  Like many people, I’ve looked at Van Gogh and Gauguin paintings for years, not knowing much about the actual men, except that Van Gogh’s closest friend was his brother, Theo, that he only sold one painting in his life, and that Gauguin had a wife and family, but left France for years in Tahiti regardless.  These facts don’t, of course, tell the story (and I apologize if they are not even exactly true).  I was charmed by the painting “notes” at the Exhibit and bought this book to flesh out the details.

What especially charmed me was Vincent’s desire to live and work with other artists, something that I myself long to do.  He acquired the Yellow House, then set about decorating it to stimulate both himself and Gauguin whenever that superior (in Vincent’s eyes) person should arrive.  Vincent wanted to create “an Artist’s House,” one that reflected their avant garde movement. but also nurture them individually.  I can so identify!  The story behind the portraits is also a revelation.  Both artists read novels avidly.

Gauguin chose to portray himself as Jean Valjean, the hero of Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Miserables.  He even scrawled the allusion on the painting — Valjean was an outcast and a martyr — and to flesh it out and make sure his meaning wasn’t missed, wrote to Gauguin, “The face of a bandit like Jean Valjean, strong and badly dressed, who has a nobleness and gentleness hidden within.  Passionate blood suffuses the face as it does a creature in rut, and the eyes are developed by tones as red as the fire of a forge, which indicate the inspiration like molten lava which fills the soul of painters such as us.”  Like these modern painters, Valjean was poverty-stricken, victimized by society — boys threw fruit at Van Gogh in Arles, because he was so odd — but they remained devoted to their vision and pure artistically.  This purity is supposed to be conveyed by the floral wallpaper behind, as if from a young girl’s bedroom.  Gauguin’s description of a creature in rut doesn’t seem to chime in, but oh well…..

When Les Miserables was published, people around the globe apparently felt that it was their own story, including both sides of the US Civil War, so it is not so strange that Gauguin should see their creative journey paralleled in the Hugo character.

Vincent, on the other hand, portrayed himself as a Buddhist monk, drawing the idea from a best-selling novel, Madame Chrysantheme by Pierre Loti, about a French naval officer who takes a Japanese mistress and later abandons her, inspiring the opera Madame Butterfly by Puccini.  The monks are incidental characters, but as is so often the case, a reader may identify with a secondary or tertiary character, or a place, or a house.   Vincent saw himself as an acolyte, a humble associate of Gauguin’s.

The purely personal and mysterious origins of paintings fascinate me.  As one who has always identified with characters in novels and grew up illustrating my favorite (if obscure) stories, I am looking forward to continuing with the story of The Yellow House!

Mar 292016
Aino, Oil on Canvas, 14x18

Aino in flight from Vainamoinen, Oil on Canvas, 14×18

Aino is a Finnish heroine from the Kalevala, a long poem composed of ancient oral poetry that was compiled into an episodic whole by a 19th Century scholar named Elias Lonnrot.  She was promised in marriage by her brother, an egotistical young man who challenges the older, wiser and powerful bard and shaman, Vainamoinen, to a battle of wits.  He loses so badly that Vainamoinen is forced to rescue him and save his life.  For this boon  the young man Joukahainen offers him his sister.  Aino, however, does not wish to marry Vainamoinen and while fleeing him comes to a body of water.  She sees the Nakki, Finnish water sprites, playing in the water.  She enters and drowns.  Later Vainamoinen is fishing, disconsolate, and catches a salmon who taunts him, telling him she is Aino, but he will never possess her.  With that she leaps back into the water.

 

Vainamoinen

Aino by Russian artist, M.M. Mechev

 

Fishing at Cox Hollow

Fishing at Cox Hollow, 16×20 Oil on Canvas, $600 USD

I actually did this painting last October in time for Fall Art Tour, but haven’t posted it until now.  The location is Governor Dodge State Park, Wisconsin.  Last summer we canoed around the lake with friend, Logan, who was very game about climbing over rocky banks and through bushes to reach the best fishing spots.  It was a lot of fun as we maneuvered the canoe forwards and backwards, trying to find the best angles.

All Aboard!

All Aboard!

On Day Two we were scheduled to visit Lerna, the Argos Museum and the Skouras Winery.  I’d heard of Lerna with respect to Mycenaean artifacts, but didn’t know anything about it other than the name.  Mythologically Lerna was the location of the Hydra who guarded one of the entrances to the underworld, slain by Heracles as the second of his labors.  Mysteries, sacred to Demeter, were celebrated there.

There are Neolithic and Bronze Age ruins at Lerna, notably the House of Tiles, an administrative center with a fortification wall.  It is a “corridor house,” with four central rooms sided by two corridors used for storage and to let on to stairways to the upper story.  It isn’t considered to be a domestic dwelling because there was no hearth, according to Sandy, and because it was left alone after destruction, except to raise a tumulus over it and sink shaft graves into it, which suggests it had some sort of sacred significance.

The House of Tiles in Lerna

The House of Tiles in Lerna

It is thought to have some administrative function because of the number of stamp seals found here.

Diagram of the House of Tiles

Diagram of the House of Tiles

The stamp seals used within the precinct were identical to those in central Anatolia.

Stamp Seal, House of Tiles, Lerna

Stamp Seal, House of Tiles, Lerna

Stamp Seal from Lerna -- This one has a swastika in it

Stamp Seal from Lerna — This one has a swastika in it

Interestingly, Sargon of Akkad in his Geography claimed “the Land Beyond the Land of Lead” to be his.  Sandy suggested that Lerna was in this Land Beyond.  I’ve tried to find more about this Geography of Sargon, but wasn’t able to substantiate the suggestion.

There are other buildings like the House of Tiles in Messenia and  Attica.  The House was burnt around 2600.  The Tumulus was created on top of it around 2000 and the shaft graves were sunk around 1500.  It’s hard to show how interesting this site is, because there are not poetic looking remains, but one of the interesting things was the juxtaposition of a house with a Megaron and Apsidal houses from the Middle Helladic Period.  An Apsidal House is one with a semicircular wall at one end.

A Megaron is a structure built around a Great Room, featuring a central hearth, a vented clerestory and colonnade.  It is the absolute hallmark of a Mycenaean building and all the great Myceanean fortresses feature a megaron in the main building.

Prior to the Myceanean Period (1600-1200 BC roughly), apsidal houses were the typical model and afterwards they continued so.  In fact Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic churches all take their design from the Greek apsidal house.

The basic configuration of a Cathedral

Yesterday, Sandy told us that Poseidon means “lord of the earth;” don or dan meaning earth in Indo-European.  In the Iliad, the Achaeans are called Argives and Danaans interchangeably.

According to Egyptian records, the Danaia became mercenaries for Thutmose III when the new political organization, the Mycenaean, rose at Lerna and elsewhere in the Argive plain around 1500.  The Greeks must have been astounded by the sophistication of the Egyptians and the Minoans of Crete.  Greek religious ideas were borrowed from Egypt: Makaretes, the land of the dead, and the idea of the Elysian Fields, to be specific.  (I have always found it notable that the shades of the dead in the Odyssey Book Eleven are unconscious and unable to speak until they have been given blood to drink, showing that an earlier Greek idea of the soul was not of a conscious one.)  These Danaia would have been Hellene.  The former population, called Pelasgian, were probably the same kin as the Cycladic islanders.

The Mycenaeans adopted sea-fairing from the Cyclades. There were large, coarse (only in comparison to the Minoan pithoi), ceramic jars half buried in the ground for storage.  Potteries of the bronze age world needed to be located near a source of water and a large supply of firewood.  They weren’t to be found just anywhere, so archaeologists can often trace ceramics to a certain pottery or workshop.  There are, of course, stylistic similarities to help identify them.  Potters, however, also traveled and made pithoi from local clays, but with Cycladic designs.  These very large jars were sent by ship all over the Mediterranean world.  On the Uluburun wreck, one large pithos was filled with small, fine ceramic vases, a trade item in themselves.

The Pyramid at Helliniko

The Pyramid at Helliniko

From Lerna, we drove to an ancient pyramid that has not been successfully dated.  It may have been a watch tower; it may have been meant for sacred activities.  It’s very odd, but apparently there were a number of them in Pausanias’ day.  A Second Century AD traveler and geographer, Pausanias was told, while traveling in Argos, that it was a memorial for Argive soldiers who died in war.  That is as good an explanation as any.  Apparently, Argos sort of declined during the Geometric (1050-700 BCE) and Archaic (800-480 BCE) periods, after having been quite important in the Mycenaean.  The Argives remained neutral in both the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars.

Pyramid of Hellinikos

Pyramid of Hellinikos

Anyway, the pyramid was made with large stones and was two stories high.  Whether it tapered to a peak or had any windows, it is impossible to tell.  The depressions for the second story floor joists are clearly visible inside, cut into the stone.

Depression for Floor Joist, Pyramid at Helliniko

Depression for Floor Joist, Pyramid at Helliniko

The building stones on the interior are large and square cut, but on the outside they are sheared off to create a smooth incline on the exterior side.  There is an imitation (?) Mycenaean triangle-topped doorway on one side of the Eastern face, set back by a foot or so from the rest of the wall.   It lets onto a corridor running along the Southern interior.  At the end of the corridor is a door to enter the one room interior opening on the North side end of the corridor.  If there was a closable door, it would have been utterly dark inside, without lamps, a good place for mysteries.  It was curious.  Sandy thinks it’s a piece of archaizing from the Geometric Period, but there’s no way of knowing for sure.  Other scholar think it is Mycenaean.

Lindsay and Leslie framed in the Pyramid's doorway

Lindsay and Leslie framed in the Pyramid’s doorway

Inside the Pyramid

Inside the Pyramid

Honestly, it would make the greatest fort!

After the Pyramid, stopped to look at some old trains while Miranda organized snacks to tide us through our next stop.

1-IMG_20321-IMG_20391-IMG_4722This Train Station and these tracks date from the modern beginning of the Greek Democracy, when Nauplion was the capital.

Sandy with his constant companion, Pausanias, in his hand

Sandy with his constant companion, Pausanias, in his hand

Sandy and Leslie entering the Theatre of Argos

Sandy, Leslie and Richard I entering the Theatre of Argos

After lunch we visited the Greek Theater in Argos.  It was built to accommodate 20,000.  There was a Roman schema added in front, providing a floodable, sealed semi-circle that could accommodate mock sea battles.  Sandy stood on the speaker’s stone and read from Pausanias.  Pausanias mentioned a famous woman poet named Telesilla, whom I’ve looked up.  She’d make a great protagonist in a novel (which I of course should write…..).

She was considered to be one of the nine, great, female Lyric poets of Greece and was responsible for a metrical innovation that was named after he.  As a child, she was sickly, so she went to the Pythia to consult about her health. Pythia told her to “serve the Muses” – that would be a great motto on a family crest — and Telesilla devoted herself to poetry.  When Cleomenes, the King of Sparta, invaded the land of the Argives in 510 BC, he defeated and killed all the hoplites of Argos in the Battle of Sepeia and massacred the survivors. Thus when Cleomenes led his troops to Argos there were no warriors left to defend it.  According to Pausanias, Telesilla stationed on the wall all the slaves and all the males normally exempt from military service owing to their youth or old age. Also, she collected the arms from sanctuaries and homes, armed the women and put them in battle position.   When the Spartans appeared, they made a battle cry to scare Telesilla and the other women, but Telesilla’s army didn’t scare, stood their ground and fought valiantly. The Lacedaemonians, realizing that to destroy the women would be an invidious success while defeat would mean a shameful disaster, left the city.  Would this make a good movie, or what!

According to Pausanias at Argos there was a statue in front of the temple of Aphrodite dedicated to Telesilla. The statues depicted a woman who holds in her hand a helmet, which she is looking at and is about to place on her head and books lying at her feet (although it would equally represent Aphrodite, in her character as wife of Ares and a warlike goddess  — the books, however, seem out of place).[ The festival Hybristica or Endymatia, in which men and women exchanged clothes, also celebrated the heroism of her female compatriots.

Theatre at Argos

Theatre at Argos

We’d had only snacks thus far that day, because we were going to the Skouras Winery for a tour and tasting and lunch as well.  Our guide was thin as a rake, had long bushy hair contained in a ponytail and was a total showman; we all thought him over the top, but engagingly so.  It called forth a response and we needed to play along.

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He proudly described their latest prize winner.  We tasted two whites and two reds.  I wanted to buy the best red and have it shipped to my friend, Andrea, as a surprise, but the showman discouraged me, saying it would be too expensive — this actually turned out to be true, as I found out when I left a new and unused hair dryer at the hotel and it would have cost $140 to send to the USA.  Now that’s inflation! —  so I bought a bottle to drink and share on the trip.  I knew Olivier was going to show us his video of the Santorini and Crete Tour, so I thought I’d offer it as refreshment when we did that.

1-IMG_4814Skouras Winery

Wine Tasting and Lunch

Wine Tasting and Lunch

That night after dinner, we eschewed the nightcap and headed back to the hotel so I could type up some notes before I forgot them and to go to bed early.  I wrote a long entry about Lerna and Epidauros as an e-mail to myself, but when I went to send it, my “session had timed out” and it disappeared.  I was so annoyed.  After that, however, whenever I wanted to send myself a message about what we’d done that day, I sent notes in shorter installments.  I must say, apart from that experience, I did love having an iPad with a keyboard along with me on the trip.

 

 

Guard's Cubbie at Mycenae

Guard’s Cubbie at Mycenae

First of all, Nafplio (Nauplion):

Nafplio is the loveliest town and it’s where we arrived on the first evening of our Tour and stayed throughout.  It’s situated on a gulf, with restaurants facing the sea, narrow pedestrian streets — such a relief after noisy Athens — balconies, French doors and spectacular fortresses crowning the heights.

Arriving In Nafplio

Arriving In Nafplio

Stairway up to the Acro-nauplion

Stairway up to the Acro-nauplion

Fortification Tower of the Acro-nauplion

Fortification Tower of the Acro-nauplion

Venetian Cannon on the Acro-nauplion

Venetian Cannon on the Acro-nauplion

Street Cafes along every street in Nafplio

Street Cafes along every street in Nafplio

Second Day:  Troezen and Epidauros

We had an early morning in store, driving first to Troezen to see what had been identified to Pausanias, in his travels in the second century AD, as the Theseus Stone.  According to the legend, Aethra, Theseus’ mother, had slept with both the god and King Aigeus of Athens at the temple of Poseidon in a single night, later giving birth to the hero.  Aigeus left his sword and his sandals under a great stone with a firm command that his identity not be revealed until the day that their child could lift it and find what lay beneath.  We had a good laugh as Sandy and Jean-Pierre lifted it in charade and Olivier filmed.

The Theseus Stone

The Theseus Stone

Troezen was one of Poseidon’s earliest cult centers, which syncs perfectly with Mary Renault’s portrayal in The King Must Die.  (The city contributed ships to the Greek invasion of Asia in the Iliad.   In the 6th Century, Themistocles sent the Athenian women and children there for protection from the Persians, when they abandoned Athens to be sacked and instead defeated the Phoenician fleet at sea.  The oracle at Delphi had revealed that Athens would be protected by “wooden walls.”)

From the Stone, we walked up to a Hellenistic watchtower, identifiable by the drafted margins on its corners, on which a Byzantine top had been added.  At least that’s what I understood at the time.  Since then I’ve read that the Diateichisma Tower  was originally built in the 5th century BC, but the superstructure is medieval.  In any case, it didn’t exist in Theseus ‘ day.

Tower of Diateichisma or "Palace of Theseus"

Tower of Diateichisma or “Palace of Theseus”

We continued on along a mountain path to reach the Devil’s (daimon’s) Bridge over a narrow gorge, an ancient construction and one of the last remaining intact bridges in Greece.

Continuing on from the Diateichisma Tower

Continuing on from the Diateichisma Tower

Mountain path leading to the Devil's BridgeSandy said it was exactly the sort of place that the Greeks would have believed inhabited by a local spirit or daimon.

The Devil's Bridge, Troezen

The Devil’s Bridge, Troezen

There is a small aqueduct running along one side of the bridge.  The path we were on leads along the stream to a town on the other side of the mountain.   I could imagine Theseus traveling towards his fateful meeting with Gerkyon and afterwards hunting bandits along just such a path.  I imagine it’s the reason The King Must Die was on our Tour reading list.  I’m glad I’d just reread it.  (Geneia had read The Last of the Wine instead – she’s read The King Must Die before – according to my instructions, so she had a feel for Classical Athens.)  Interestingly, Troezen’s deity, Poseidon, predates Zeus, and his name means Lord of the Earth in Indo-European.  In The King Must Die,Mary Renault makes much of the sky god that is displacing the older, earth-mother religion of mainland Greece, and portrays Crete as a stronghold of the old religion.  The novel was written in 1958, and  there is much material to consider in understanding the religion of Bronze Age Greece, many threads, but the greater antiquity of an earth-shaker, perhaps chthonic (within the earth) god is interesting.

From Troezen we stopped for a seaside lunch next to a large bay.  We were served fresh cucumber, tomato, feta, onion and lettuce salad, fresh steamed broccoli, green beans with lemon and grilled Dorada fish, all with the most luscious Tzaziki Sauce, full of garlic and dill, I’ve ever tasted.  It was all local and terrific.

Dorada for Lunch

Dorada for Lunch

It began to rain when we reached Epidauros and we walked up to the theater in a sprinkle.  It held off long enough for us to have a thorough look at it and climb to the top.

The Theatre at Epidauros

The Theatre at Epidauros

Theatre at Epidauros

To demonstrate the acoustics, we were invited to declaim something from the center stone.  The Brits and Belgians had no trouble quoting Shakespeare and Jean-Paul began to recite the Iliad in Greek.  He recited about three lines and I would have loved to pick up exactly where he left off — that would have been so cool — but by the time it was my turn, I had to recite all seven of my lines in order to remember any of them.  (My obscure party trick finally came in handy.)  A number of our party had seen Greek plays performed live in this theatre.  (How handy it is to live in Britain or some other European country!  The USA is a very long way away.)  They are a very well-traveled lot.  I learned over lunch that Jeremy and Linda are Sibelius fans and had just spent a week at a Sibelius Festival in Lahti, Finland, where a new concert hall has so perfected the acoustics; they heard parts of his music which they’d never heard before.

I can’t make sense of the map we were given now,  but will relate the order in which we saw things in the compound of Asklepios.  First of all we were shown a hotel, which was composed of a square of adjacent rooms, where visitors could stay in Roman times.  Then there is a Greek bath house, where cold water was used for their ablutions.  The Romans later built another luxury model for themselves, as they didn’t appreciate the Spartan values of their originators.

Odeon, Epidauros

Odeon, Epidauros

After that we walked past the very large Temple of Asklepios wherein a Roman Odeon was added in the center.  (Sandy challenged us to each write an Ode to be recited at the end of the tour.)  There was a Tholos under reconstruction.  (I like reconstruction, because it helps the imagination, makes sense of the remains and it appears to me, protects them as well.)  The Tholos was built between 360 and 300 BC.  It was the center of the chthonic (underworld) mystery cult of Asklepios, once a Homeric hero and later a god.  Sculptures there were credited to the Argive architect and sculptor, Polykleitos, who is also credited with the magnificent theater.

There was a building, the Enkoimeterion, a dormatory where patients who had come to the Temple of Asklepios could stay while they waited to be healed.

Descending into the Enkometerion, Epidauros

Descending into the Enkometerion, Epidauros

I knew I have seen a painting in the style of Tadema of suppliants sleeping in the Temple, waiting to receive a dream from the god with a course of treatment.  It turns out that it is by Waterhouse and I saw it in Montreal!

A Sick Child Brought to the Temple of Aescapulius, John Waterhouse 1877

Sandy told us about how the Greeks had discovered the meridians of the body along which Chinese Acupuncture is practiced.  Hippocrates of Kos had asserted that the blood vessels ran along these meridians.

The Greek approach to healing:  First they had to confess what moral wrong had brought on the illness.  Once that was cleared up, they became partners in their own cure.  There seem to have been any number of sacred (white) snakes about the precinct (Greek name, Ophis), who might come out and lick a wound, for example, but be remembered in the dream as a handsome young man who performed the act, then spoke to the sufferer, giving them advice.  These snakes were shipped all over the Mediterranean for use at other Asklepions.  One is wrapped around the symbolic Staff of Asklepios to this day the symbol of medicine. We made it to the Museum before it began to rain again.  There were many statues of Hygiena, Asklepios’ daughter, Athena and Asklepios himself.  The thing I liked most were the Roman rain gutters, which were formed of terracotta acanthus leaves, punctuated with lion’s heads through which water spouted.

Terracotta Rain Gutters, Epidauros

Terracotta Rain Gutters, Epidauros

All the terracotta pieces were elegantly painted with designs in black, white and red.   As soon as we reentered the coach, it began to pour in earnest.  Incidentally, Asklepios is not a Greek name.  Sandy said there was some discussion on the part of etymologists that the name might come from “assili-peha,” a Hittite word meaning”well-being.”  I enjoyed that connection.

The Mycenaean Bridge at Kazarma

The Mycenaean Bridge at Kazarma

On the bus ride home we passed a Mycenaean Bridge.  The bridge belonged in Mycenaean times to a highway between the two cities, which formed part of a wider military road network.  The structure is 72 ft long, 18.4 ft wide at the base and 13 ft high. The width of the roadway atop is about 8 ft.  The sophisticated layout of the bridge and the road indicate that they were specifically constructed for use by chariots.   Built ca. 1300–1190 BCE, the bridge is still used by the local populace.  Imagine!  It is certainly over three thousand years old.

Mycenaean Chariot Road

Mycenaean Chariot Road

This archaeology business really takes it out of young people

This archaeology business really takes it out of young people

Miranda took us for a short walk to show us the city-center of Nauplion, Syntagma (Constitution) Square, but we didn’t continue because of the weather.  Nauplion was the first capital of independent Greece.  More about that tomorrow.  There is a Venetian building, now the Archaeological Museum, but I don’t know its original purpose.

Nafplio

Restaurant in Nafplio

Restaurant in Nafplio

The Archaeological Museum, Nafplio, Venetian Structure

The Archaeological Museum, Nafplio, Venetian Structure

In the evening I visited with Dominique.  I found out she hosts concerts for 100 people in her salon.  Her daughter plays the harp, I think, and is marrying a man who plays the Turkish lute.  Their honeymoon plans involve gypsying around Europe with a horse and caravan!

We left dinner last night following Bernard and Lindsay out to find a cocktail.  Bernard had noticed a restaurant/bar, where he was sure he could find a good Manhattan, which we repaired to.  There was loud music playing inside, but we situated ourselves outside around the corner, where we could hear ourselves think.  I ordered a Manhattan, Lindsay a G & T, Geneia a Tequila Sunrise, Jean-Paul a Famous Grouse and John, a Napoleon brandy.  (John is 89 years old and gamely visiting all the sites with us, walking up hills and clambering over rocks in spite of being bent over.  I can’t imagine my mother doing the same on her own at his age.  Something to aspire to.)    Later we were joined by Olivier and Dominique.  We ended up talking about the upcoming last season of Downton Abbey with interest all around.  What fun!  It just goes to show you how the BBC brings people together!

 

 

 

David Strawn GalleryThe David Strawn Gallery, Jacksonville, IL

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Last weekend, my friend Josephine and I drove down to Jacksonville, IL for a very special event at the David Strawn Gallery.

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Louise Bone, Curator and Collector

I heard about Nellie Knopf for years through our friend, Jenny Norris Peterson, because her mother was a devoted collector of this Jacksonville artist.  Louise had graduated from MacMurray College, where Nellie had taught.  Although she never met her, she was fascinated. .

Born in Chicago, Knopf studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under John Vanderpoel and Frederick Freer, graduating in 1900. That same year she joined the faculty of the Illinois Women’s College at Jacksonville (now MacMurray College.) She received her doctorate from the College in 1935, and continued to teach there until 1943. From 1910 to 1917 Knopf spent summers studying with Charles Woodbury in Ogunguit, Maine. She also studied with Birger Sandzen at the Broadmoor Academy.

Knopf began making summer painting trips in the West in 1921. She used two sabbaticals in 1923-1924 and 1941-1942 to visit California, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Texas and Colorado. She went to Glacier National Park during the summers of 1925 and 1926, and in later years traveled to Mexico. After retiring, Knopf moved to Lansing, Michigan and later to Eaton Rapids, Michigan.

Knopf primarily painted landscape views in oil, working in a modernist style with loose brush work. She exhibited her paintings extensively including such venues as the Corcoran Gallery, National Academy of Design, Kansas City Museum of Art, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. In 1987 MacMurray College held a major retrospective of Knopf’s work.

Louise entertained the crowd with anecdotes from her years of hunting Knopfs in antique shops and approaching private persons who had inherited, her nerve-wracking moments and greatest triumphs.  She was not the only collector whose paintings were being exhibited, of course, but only two of them regaled us with stories of the hunt.  We were also entertained by John Beeskow.

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With only rare exception I did not photograph the names of the paintings or their contributors, since there were crowds of people at the exhibit and I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone.  From the bio provided at the beginning of this entry, one can guess at the locals, based upon her travels.  1-20150912_190939

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By and large her paintings of Maine are among her earliest.  I particularly like the way they are painted.  Later paintings show the influences of painters like Cezanne — at least to my eyes.

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This painting of junked cars was a particular favorite of mine, probably because of the subject matter.  No one junks cars like this after all, so it has the vintage feel of its time.  I would buy it in a second, if I could afford it.

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Jennie’s Favorite

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My Favorite

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We were served wine when we walked through the door and a violinist began to play Ashkolan Farewell underneath this Civil War era style painting.  I don’t know whether it was actually from that area; it may have been painted posthumously from a photograph, but it was evocative nonetheless.  1-20150912_194145

Louise and Chet Bone own another painting Nellie did of this subject.  She painted flowers in the wintertime.  Her florals are among the paintings I like best.  At MacMurray, Nellie lived in the dormitory with the women students and ate in the cafeteria in order to conserve money for summer travels.

View from her dormitory window

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Me, with my eyes closed, Jenny and JosephineArtist and Organizer Tabby Ivy and Jenny

Artist and Organizer, Tabby Ivy, and Jenny

Meeting Tabby was one of the pleasures of this excursion.  Tabby met Louise when she was organizing an exhibit of women who had painted Glacier National Park, past and present, for the Hockaday Museum in Kalispell, MT, and made the trip to Illinois to enjoy friendship and art.

Tabby Ivy and MeTabby Ivy and Me

Jacksonville, which is only an hour from Springfield and less than that from Salem, where Lincoln practiced law, is rich in Lincoln associations.  It is full of beautiful nineteenth century houses.  There is a walking and driving tour.  It is well worth the visit and I intend to return when I have more time.

The Wanderer, Oil on Canvas, 20x24

The Wanderer, Oil on Canvas, 20×24

Earlier in the spring, when I brought the boat up to our cabin, I asked my friend, Sandy, to model my Finnish folk costume.  She modeled near the stone wall that Neal Peterson located for me on Knapp Road and by this marshy, woodland lake.  This image of a lonely figure walking near water reminded me of The Wanderer by Jamie Wyeth, after which this painting is named:

I have wanted a Finnish folk costume for years, but couldn’t afford to buy one.  When I was in Finland in 2000, a Southern Ostrobothnian costume cost over $2000!  This year we had our International Family Reunion for the descendents of Antti and Tilda Olli and I decided I’d try to put something together.  I found the skirt on E-Bay — I think it’s the very one I tried on at Vuorelma Oy in 2000 — and it was in my size!  That was all I could find though.  I decided I’d go ahead and have the rest of the costume made for me.  Deb, at Deb’s Fashions to Fit in Platteville, WI, made me a vest.  I happened to have the Emerald Green apron required from an Austrian Dirndl I’ve grown out of.  For a blouse, I bought a Bunad Blouse from Open House Imports in Mount Horeb, WI.  Geneia’s costume was harder, because the vertically striped, wool skirts worn in Finnish costumes proved impossible to find.  There weren’t any ready-made on E-Bay for her, so I started shopping on Etsy.  What I finally found was wool fabric woven in Latvia for folk -costumes there.  I chose it because the Livonians, who wore this patterned wool, are a Finnic people and speak a related language.  Deb sewed Geneia’s skirt, patterned after mine.  We altered an Austrian vest, making it tie down the front, added my grandmother Selma’s apron and another Bunad Blouse.  Kalevala Koru jewelry completed our outfits.

Our Finnish Costumes

Our Finnish Costumes at the Olli Family Renuion

Sauna Girl

Sauna Girl, Oil on Canvas, 8×10

I did these paintings earlier in the spring, but hadn’t blogged them, because my connecting cable to upload pictures from my SLR to the computer stopped working, and it’s taken me this long to get a new cord.  I had pix on my camera, but they weren’t really high enough resolution.

Afternoon Sauna

Afternoon Sauna, Oil on Canvas, 9×12

For those of you who don’t follow Rosewind Studio on Facebook, where I’d posted these before, we had an absolute hoot taking pictures.  The snow was melting, so we had to work fast.  My daughter was out there trying to stand in the snow, first lifting one foot and rubbing it vigorously on her calf, then the other, while the pugs kept trying to get in the picture and we kept laughing, because it was broad daylight and we were just out in our yard.  (We live on the edge of town, so the view South is fields and woods, as in the paintings.)  She had a swimsuit on under the beach towel, by the way.  Sauna Girl is for sale at the McGregor Marquette (Iowa) Art Center and Afternoon Sauna is for sale at Phoebe’s Nest in Mineral Point (Wisconsin).

Little Cottonwood Canyon Trail

Little Cottonwood Canyon Trail

After our Lands’ End Fit Event in St. Petersburg, FL, we took an early morning flight directly to Salt Lake City for a one day Event at Waterford School in Sandy, a south side community.  I had had no sleep whatsoever after our late night eating and walking around hopping St. Petersburg, where there is plenty of night life, so my eyes felt like gravel.  We were arriving in Utah on a Saturday, however, and we weren’t setting up until Sunday evening, so I was determined not to waste a minute.  I asked a very helpful young man at the front desk of our Sandy Hampton,  “Where could I find the closest mountain hike to the hotel?” and subsequently drove ten minutes to be in the mountains and another ten minutes to a roadside parking space.  There was no signage, so I didn’t actually know whether I’d reached my destination, but it didn’t seem to matter.  I stepped out of my car and down a decline between trees to paradise.  Ahhhhh……..

Little Cottonwood Canyon Creek

Little Cottonwood Canyon Creek

The air was filled with that indescribably delicious scent of water molecules being pulverized on stones and the whoosh of a rushing current.  All stresses and tiredness fell away.  “Why do I live in Wisconsin?” I wondered.  I walked along this creek back and forth for about an hour.

Donut Falls Trail

Donut Falls Trail with (from left to right) Nadine, Kelli and Chris

The next morning I was joined for another opportunistic hike by three of my coworkers from St. Petersburg.  We were looking for a longer hike, so again, the very nice young man at the front desk made another recommendation.  We drove up another watershed gorge, Big Cottonwood Canyon, to Donut Falls Trail.  Donut Falls cascades through a hole into a cave below.  We found when we got there, however, that to reach it one must walk along a precipitous embankment on either side and it is impossible not to get one’s feet wet.  That doesn’t sound like much of a problem and if I’d had my Gortex lined hiking boots on, I wouldn’t have hesitated, but I was wearing tennis shoes, the only walking shoes I had with me on the trip; I already had one blister and was forming another.  For bare feet, the water was numbingly frigid and the rocks were sharp, the embankment muddy and fallen logs slippery.  Falling seemed a likelihood, so I chose the better part of valor and watched as the Nadine and Kelli showed their mettle and scaling the rest of the gorge.

The Path to Donut Falls, Wasatch National Forest

Nadine and Kelli are up there somewhere.

Nadine and Kelli descending on left, Donut Falls

Nadine and Kelli descending on left, Donut Falls

Donut Falls Trail

Donut Falls Trail, from lower downstream

Kelli on the Donut Falls Trail

Kelli on the Donut Falls Trail

Nadine above Donut FallsNadine above Donut Falls

Little Donut Falls Trail

Little Donut Falls Trail

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and got back just after noon, so the next stop for me (of course) was The Museum of Fine Art on the Utah University Campus.

Preparations for Dinner, James T. Harwood, 1890

Preparations for Dinner, James T. Harwood, 1890

It’s fitting that I should begin with a painting by an artist from Utah, who studied in France, eventually being accepted to exhibit in the Paris Salon in 1892.

Forest Hill (Booneville, Missouri), George Caleb Bingham

Forest Hill (Booneville, Missouri), George Caleb Bingham

Along the Hudson, Thomas Doughty, 1852

Along the Hudson, Thomas Doughty, 1852

Silvery Night -- Ralph Albert Blakelock, late 19th Century

Silvery Night — Ralph Albert Blakelock, late 19th Century

Pastoral Landscape with Fisherman, Thomas Cole, c. 1826

Pastoral Landscape with Fisherman, Thomas Cole, c. 1826

Portrait of Mrs. Colin Hunter, John Singer Sargent, 1896

Portrait of Mrs. Colin Hunter, John Singer Sargent, 1896

The subject of the painting is Isabella Rattray Young.  She was a pianist who married a British marine artist who belonged to the Royal Academie,…I mean Academy.  I have to remember which country he was in.

Connecticut Scene, Julian Alden Weir, ca. 1910

Connecticut Scene, Julian Alden Weir, ca. 1910

I’d buy this painting, if I just happened to run across it, and it wasn’t in a museum, and I could afford it.

Michigan Boulevard, Winter, Guy Carleton Wiggins, 1924

Michigan Boulevard, Winter, Guy Carleton Wiggins, 1924

Portrait of Maude Adams as L'Aiglon, John White Alexander, ca. 1905

Portrait of Maude Adams as L’Aiglon, John White Alexander, ca. 1905

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I had this photograph of Maude Adams as L’Aiglon (The Eaglet), the son of Napoleon, taped to my mirror for years during college.  I think I clipped it out of a Life magazine about great American women.  I thought hers such a beautiful androgynous face — she also played Peter Pan — and I wished I could look like her.

The Kivas at Hano, Carl Oscar Borg, ca 1920s

The Kivas at Hano, Carl Oscar Borg, ca 1920s

Red Mesa, Monument Valley, Utah, Edgar Alwin Payne, ca 1935

Red Mesa, Monument Valley, Utah, Edgar Alwin Payne, ca 1935

Private Car, LaConte Stewart, 1937

Private Car, LaConte Stewart, 1937

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Battle of the Bulls, Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert, ca. 1946

Battle of the Bulls, Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert, ca. 1946

Minerva Teichert attended the Arts Student League in New York City, where she studied under the powerful personality of Robert Henri.  Henri urged his students to forget about European movements and to create a new American style of art.  His students were urged to explore social realist themes of the city, especially scenes of laborers and industry.  Teichert absorbed his technique, but chose to paint themes that were familiar to her from  her life in the West.  When she left New York, Robert Henri said, “George Bellows, John Sloan and Minerva Kohlhepp — these are my bets…this girl from Utah you’re going to hear from.”

The Great White Throne, Zion National Park, LaConte Stewart, 1927

The Great White Throne, Zion National Park, LaConte Stewart, 1927

A View of Leiden, Pieter Cosyn (attributed), Dutch, 1630-after 1667

A View of Leiden, Pieter Cosyn (attributed), Dutch, 1630-after 1667

Merry Company -- Dirck Hals, 1623

Merry Company — Dirck Hals, 1623

Portrait of Francois Duquesnoy, by an imitator of Sir Antony van Dyck, Flemish

Portrait of Francois Duquesnoy, by an imitator of Sir Antony van Dyck, Flemish

Portrait of Francois Duquesnoy Detail

Portrait of Francois Duquesnoy Detail

I had to text this painting to my daughter because, I mean, have you ever seen such a French look?!  It’s so “hunh, hunh, hunh (all growly), ma jolie fille, come up to my apartement.  Come see my satyr carvings?  (What?)  Oh, my hair is tousled…?”

Breton Soldier by Thomas Hovenden, 1880

Breton Soldier by Thomas Hovenden, 1880

I’ve just come back from a business trip to St Petersburg, Florida, in which Lands’ End, Inc. held a School Uniform Fit Event for St Petersburg Catholic Highschool.  As always, when I’m in a city for any length of time, I take advantage of any free time to hit the local Art Museum(s).  St Petersburg is rich in that it has not one, but three:  a Chihuly Museum, Salvatore Dali Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, which held the greatest interest for me and was conveniently open when I had a spare hour.

Detail, Breton Soldier by Thomas Hovenden

I have to admit, I have a crush on this guy.  The artist is Thomas Hovenden, an Irish-American, who was hired by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts after they’d fired Thomas Eakins — just imagine! — because he insisted on his students learning to paint from the nude.  Hovenden was, to me, a worthy choice.  The brushstrokes are so luscious, rendering detail with such painterliness.  And as for the model, why do Frenchmen always seem to have the best hair?   Not that I wouldn’t recommend a different barber…..

City Window Series:  Still Life with Fruit by Leon Kroll, 1920

City Window Series: Still Life with Fruit by Leon Kroll, 1920

A still life with fruit always brings Cezanne’s paintings to mind, but I like Kroll’s more realistic style and love the feeling it gives one to view an interesting cityscape out the window, especially when one is warm and cozy inside.  Kroll was no doubt aware of Cezanne, as he completed his art studies in Paris.

afe Madrid (Mr and Mrs Chester Dale) by Guy Pene DuBois, 1926

Cafe Madrid (Mr and Mrs Chester Dale) by Guy Pene DuBois, 1926

Heart Ranch, Barber County Kansas, John Steuart Curry, 1929

Heart Ranch, Barber County Kansas, John Steuart Curry, 1929

The Curry Farm, John Steuart Curry, 1930

The Curry Farm, John Steuart Curry, 1930

I like the Regionalist paints of John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton.  Regionalism not only portrayed the Great Plains world in which they’d grown up, an area that had been neglected in art; it expressed dissatisfaction with the centralization of manufacturing that had occurred following the Industrial Revolution and touted independence and agrarian values in art.  Curry depicted families surviving natural disaster, man versus nature.  The Dust Bowl Years on the Great Plains had created great suffering due to complete crop failure and lack of job opportunities.  Curry did not produce propagandist paintings like Diego Rivera; he chose to express the endurance and pleasures of the common man, making the inextinguishable human spirit his inspiration.

 
Portrait of Paul Robeson by Randall Davey, ca. 1920-1925

Portrait of Paul Robeson by Randall Davey, ca. 1920-1925

Portrait of Fletcher Martin with a German Pistol, George Bellow, 1943

Portrait of Fletcher Martin with a German Pistol, George Bellow, 1943

There was too much of a glare on this painting to photograph it straight on.  The contrast between the military helmet and the civilian clothes make me wonder whether Fletcher Martin is dressed for a reconnaissance mission or is a saboteur.

Cliff Dwellers' Country, John Sloan, 1925

Cliff Dwellers’ Country, John Sloan, 1925

Contemplation by Jacques-Emile Blanche, 1883

Contemplation by Jacques-Emile Blanche, 1883

This painting by Jacques-Emile Blanche is reminiscent of Edouard Manet and is perhaps of a model both artists painted.  He also painted portraits of Henry James, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.   (Click on the name to see the portrait.)

Portrait of Paul Gauguin c. 1900, by Georges-Daniel de Montfried

Portrait of Paul Gauguin c. 1900, by Georges-Daniel de Montfried

1-IMG_1173I thought this write-up of the relationship between Monfried and Gauguin was so interesting, I wanted to quote it in full.

Woman Reading by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1891

Woman Reading by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1891

Still Life with Peonies by Henri LeBasque

Still Life with Peonies by Henri LeBasque

I would buy this little painting any day of the week.  I love the loose, effortless-looking brush strokes.

Laundresses on the Shore of the La Touques by Eugene Louis Boudin, 1883

Laundresses on the Shore of the La Touques by Eugene Louis Boudin, 1883

Boudin famously convinced Claude Monet to begin painting “en plein-air,” that is, outdoors.  I have always thought him a better painter than Monet. Again, I thought the Museum notes for this painting worth sharing, just because he was so influential.  Though he paints more loosely, his work is significantly more realistic than the Impressionsists, so he is associated in my mind with CharlesFrancois Daubigny, who also painted rivers and lakes and is perhaps my favorite landscape artist.

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Springtime in Giverny, Afternoon by Claude Monet, 1885

Springtime in Giverny, Afternoon by Claude Monet, 1885

Houses of Parliament, Effect of Fog, London by Claude Monet, 1904

Houses of Parliament, Effect of Fog, London by Claude Monet, 1904

The Schie near Rotterdam by Johan Barthold Jongkind, c. 1867

The Schie near Rotterdam by Johan Barthold Jongkind, c. 1867

Claude Monet called Jongkind, a Dutch painter, “his real teacher,” “to whom I owe the crucial training of my eye.”

The Road to the Villiage of Vertheuil, Snow by Claude Monet, 1879

The Road to the Villiage of Vertheuil, Snow by Claude Monet, 1879

To the left of the road is the house where Monet lived, and just above it is La Tourelles (The Turret), his landlord’s house.

Reading by Berthe Morison, 1888

Reading by Berthe Morison, 1888

Berthe Morisot exhibited in the first Impressionist Art Exhibit ever held, along with the other pioneers of Impressionism, Monet, Degas etc.  She married Edouard Manet’s brother, Eugene, and unlike many women painters of the time, notably Mary Cassatt, who never married, managed to be both a mother and married woman AND a constantly productive artist.  She only missed one Impressionist show, the year her daughter was born.

Three Bathers near a Wooded Point by Camille Corot, ca. 1865-1870

Three Bathers near a Wooded Point by Camille Corot, ca. 1865-1870

Again, the museum notes are worth reading.  Corot is hard to pin down with respect to any movement in art.  A Corot painting always looks exactly like a Corot painting.  That dark gray, olive green is always present, as well as the airiness of his trees and subdued blue of the sky is a hallmark, but Corot is in a class by himself.

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Shepherd and his Flock by Charles Jacque, c. 1850

Shepherd and his Flock by Charles Jacque, c. 1850

Charle Jacque was a friend of Jean-Francois Millet, and followed him to the village of Barbizon and the Forest of Fontainebleu, where they painted simple and humble subjects instead of  the Greek Myths, religious subjects and Classical dramas favored by the Academy.  I think it is gorgeous.   It’s much like the landscape of Wisconsin.

Julia Foster Ward by Jules-Joseph Lebebvre, 1880

Julia Foster Ward by Jules-Joseph Lebebvre, 1880

This is likely a postpartum painting commissioned after Julia’s death.  The crown of Morning Glories may symbolize the transience of life, especially for one who blooms only briefly as a young woman.

A Man with Two Loaves of Bread by Jean-Francois Rafaelli, 1879

A Man with Two Loaves of Bread by Jean-Francois Rafaelli, 1879

This painting was perhaps inspired by Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  It’s hero, Jean Valjean, is imprisoned for years for stealing bread to feed his sister’s children.  Rafaelli studied with the academic painter, Jean-Leon Gerome, but became associated and exhibited with the Impressionsists by virtue of his subject matter.

 

The Choice Rug by Addison Thomas Millar, 1890

The Choice Rug by Addison Thomas Millar, 1890

Orientalism refers to the painted portrayal of a romanticized view of North Africa and the Near East, areas that Europeans were interested in colonizing in the 19th Century.  Orientalist paintings are always among the ones I like best in any museum.  They are rich in color, not stiff with indiscernible brushstrokes, nor disappointingly meager in realistic detail.

A Louis XV Interior by Walter Gay, 1915,

A Louis XV Interior by Walter Gay, 1915,

I included the Museum notes about this painting, because my love for paintings and love for interior decorating, collectible porcelain and antiques goes hand in hand.  I can easily identify using my own home and those of my friends as subjects.

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The "Home Sweet Home Cottage', Soutth Hampton, Long Island by Childe Hassam,1916

The “Home Sweet Home Cottage’, Soutth Hampton, Long Island by Childe Hassam,1916

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Landscape with Woman Carrying Washing Towards the River by Thomas Worthington Whittredge, c. 1880s

Landscape with Woman Carrying Washing Towards the River by Thomas Worthington Whittredge, c. 1880s

Florida Landscape (St Johns River) by Thomas Moran, 1877

Florida Landscape (St Johns River) by Thomas Moran, 1877

One of the greatest landscape artists of all time, along with Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt, Moran was instrumental in persuading Congress to establish Yellowstone National Park due to his stunning portrayals of its landscape.  This painting was inspired on a trip to St. Augustine with his wife, Mary Nimmo Moran, who was a first-rate etcher and landscape painter in her own right.  Here is an example of her work:

What a well matched couple!

Early Moonrise Florida by George Inness, 1893

Early Moonrise Florida by George Inness, 1893

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Capri and Mount Solaro by Theordore Robinson, 1890

Capri and Mount Solaro by Theordore Robinson, 1890

Venetian Landscape BY John Henry Twachtman, 1878

Venetian Landscape BY John Henry Twachtman, 1878

Evening in Giverny by John Leslie Breck, c. 1891

Evening in Giverny by John Leslie Breck, c. 1891

This moonlit painting of the village of Giverny is the antithesis of the scene we associate with that name, but I suppose the village may have been fairly stark.  Monet’s gardens were a bower of watery loveliness away from the workaday world.

Evening in Grez, France by William Anderson Coffin, c. 1881-1882

Evening in Grez, France by William Anderson Coffin, c. 1881-1882

The French village of Grez-sur-Loing became an artists’ colony south of the forest of Fontainebleau.  Grez attracted artists and writers in the latter half of the 19th century, Camille Corot being one of the first who painted there.  During the 1870s and 1880s, other notables at Grez included author Robert Louis Stevenson, composer Frederick Delius, and painters like John Singer Sargent, Theodore Robinson and Willard Metcalf.

St Petersburg Catholic Highschool Fit Event

St Petersburg Catholic Highschool Fit Event:  From left to right, Kelli, Anna, Sarah, Nadine, Me, Debra, Chris and Ford

With Nadine and Chris at the Historic Vinoy Hotel in St Petersburg

With Nadine and Chris at the Historic Vinoy Hotel in St Petersburg

Lakeside Sauna

Rabbit Lake Sauna

Saunas are ubiquitous in Finland and just about the same in Aitkin, MN and Crystal Falls, MI, where I grew up.  Most weren’t as romantically located as this one, a modern day example at a second home.  My family were by and large farmers and saunas were workaday baths, situated somewhere on the property, but generally not picturesquely next to a lake.  I’m very interested in painting saunas right now.  I’ve wanted to have one at my home for years — opportunities to take a sauna at the homes of my relatives have become increasingly less frequent,  because, well, they’re in Minnesota — and I’ve just figured out how I might do it.  So, this is my first sauna painting.  Our family tradition was to visit for sauna on a Saturday nights.  Coffee would be served.  The men would go right away for the hottest of the steam, while the women laid coffee, pulla (cardamom-flavored, sweet bread) and cookies on the table.  Then, the women would go, from the oldest to the youngest.  Most saunas in my youth had electricity, but they didn’t have running water.  The stoves were fed with wood.  There would be multiple milk cans in the dressing room.  We would fill our pails before entering the steam room, wetting our washcloths in the cool water and laying them over our faces so we could breathe.  When it came time to wash, we’d ladle water out of the hot water reservoir next to the stones on top of the stove and mix it with the cool water in our pails, then scrub up, dumping the pail over our heads to rinse off.  Sometimes we’d have to fill more than one pail, of course.  We’d come back to the kitchen tables, pink faced, with towels wrapped around our heads and talk for hours.  It’s a very good memory.

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Jupiter and Io, Corregio

Treasures from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna are at the Minneapolis Institute of Art until May 10th.  In addition, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the MIA, a Vermeer — one of only 34 in the world —  is on view for free until May 3rd.

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Woman Reading a Letter, Jan Vermeer

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Detail

I never noticed the beautiful hand inside the somewhat paw-like Jupiter cloud.  That just makes it so much better, because frankly, the paw kind of creeped me out.  This is an absolutely gorgeous painting and if they’d had a poster larger than a foot by six inches, I would have bought it.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Correggio before.  No scholarly comments here.  I don’t know a thing about Correggio.

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Danae, Titian

Titian did a number of Danaes.  It’s such a great opportunity to paint a beautiful woman and it isn’t necessary to come up with any challenging postures or anything.  All that happens is that Zeus (or Jupiter to the Italians) drops a shower of golden coins on her.  With that formula, any good life-painting session could result in a painting of Danae.

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Susanna and the Elders, Tintoretto

I also don’t know anything about Tintoretto.  except that he painted so intensely that he was called Il Furioso.  Apparently it ran in the family, because his father earned such a reputation defending the city gates of Padua, that his son was tagged with the epithet Robusti too.

Infanta Maria Teresa, Velasquez

Pardon the short form of the artist’s names.  Velasquez was really named Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez.  So, enough said.

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The Crowning with Thorns, Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio

I couldn’t figure out at first exactly what the slaves were doing with the sticks, although it was probably perfectly apparent to everyone else that they were dragging at the crown in order cause the maximum amount of damage on Christ’s head.  I bought a book about Caravaggio at the Museum.  His paintings are often full of writhing subjects, engaged in (often) bloody actions, such as….

and

The thing that immediately strikes me is that in spite of knowledge of human anatomy these Renaissance artists had, it would have been impossible for Caravaggio to do these chiaroscuro lighting situations without models holding the poses for hours under dramatic lighting sources.

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Portrait of Sculptor Alessandro Vittorio, Giovanni Batista Moroni

In addition to the world’s greatest artists, the Hapsburg Exhibit has a wonderful coach, a sleigh (which was used in a royal wedding — the groom sat astride behind the seat, with his feet anchoring him on the runners),  gilded horse harnesses, a ball gown, the livery of Court officials.  It’s so much fun!  Go see it!

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Gilded Sled and harness, Kunsthistorisches Museum

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Better view of the Sled

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oil painting of pony in harness

Fetching the Pony, Oil on Canvas, 12×16

William Glackens, Portsmouth Harbor, New Hampshire (1909)

William Glackens, Portsmouth Harbor, New Hampshire (1909)

A week ago, my friend, Josephine, and I went to visit the Minnesota Marine Art Museum on the recommendation of my cousins, Jere and Cherie (see Jacques Art Center, Aitkin, MN).  We’d heard there were French Impressionists there, but there was so much more.  Besides a representative painting of just about every French Impressionist, there is large room of Hudson River School and Luminist paintings, which were my favorites, as well as Fauve and Post-Impressionistist and paintings of modern marine art masters.  The great majority of the paintings have some connection with water or the sea.  I’ve included below just a sampling of what may be seen there.  I couldn’t get images of many of my favorites, and of course, so small a format as a blog often does no justice to large paintings.  I highly recommend it.  It’s worth the drive!

Thomas Moran, Near Southhampton (1891)

Thomas Moran, Near Southhampton (1891)

William Bishop, The Battle of Trafalgar, 21st October 1805

William Bishop, The Battle of Trafalgar, 21st October 1805

In addition to this dramatic, large painting of the Battle of Trafalgar, the Museum Collection contains a long, long letter from Nelson to Lady Hamilton (see my Blog from February 7, 2013), and his onboard, shaving table, a very cunning piece of furniture with compartments for all his personal care items.  Pretty cool!

William Trost Richards, Conanicut Island, Rhode Island (1885)

William Trost Richards, Conanicut Island, Rhode Island (1885)

Jack Gray, Schooner Bluenose (1959)

Jack Gray, Schooner Bluenose (1959)

Eugene Boudin, Villerville, Rivage Maree Montante Octobre (1893)

Eugene Boudin, Villerville, Rivage Maree Montante Octobre (1893)

Camille Pissarro, Le Quai du Ponthuis, Pointoise (1876)

Camille Pissarro, Le Quai du Ponthuis, Pointoise (1876)

Pierre-August Renoir, La Fete du Pan (1879)

Pierre-August Renoir, La Fete du Pan (1879)

Jack Gray, East Ironbound Winter (1961)

Jack Gray, East Ironbound Winter (1961)

Camille Pissarro, Le Louvre, Apres-Midi (1902)

Camille Pissarro, Le Louvre, Apres-Midi (1902)

Alfred Sisley, Le Coup de Vent, Matin de Mai (1890)

Alfred Sisley, Le Coup de Vent, Matin de Mai (1890)

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Brume Matinale au Marais (1871)

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Brume Matinale au Marais (1871)

Paul Signac, Les Andelys, L'ile a Lucas (1886)

Paul Signac, Les Andelys, L’ile a Lucas (1886)

After the Museum, we had a bite to eat at the Blue Heron Coffee House, 162 W 2nd St, Winona.  Just what we needed before we got back on the road home.  It’s open until 6:00.  We’d dined out the previous evening in Eau Claire, after visiting the best antique store I’ve been to so far between Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Antique Emporium at 306 Main.  It is distinguished by being not only large, but being filled with objets d’art.  Everything has been collected by the owner, so although there’s a great selection, all the contents have a consistent quality.  Josie and I had dinner at the Bijou Bistro entirely to ourselves, since there was a blizzard in progress outside.  Everyone else just went home.  It’s at 2629 E. Clairemont Ave, Eau Claire.  We both had tenderloins with a mushroom sauce over garlic potatoes and asparagus.  It was divine!  I will now plan on having dinner in Eau Claire when I’m on the way to Minneapolis or Aitkin.

Flourless Chocolate Cake, Bijou Bistro

Flourless Chocolate Cake, Bijou Bistro

First Snow, Oil on Canvas, 16x20.

First Snow, Oil on Canvas, 16×20.

This is the painting I did for the Fall Art Tour Brochure.  It’s a little different, for those who pick up a copy of the brochure.  I’ve changed the position of the legs in the figure on the left.   She was actually striding with her left leg forward and her right foot behind.  I thought it looked a bit posed — not because it actually was — but with her smile and glance sideways and her feet so close together from the viewer’s perspective, it just struck me as a bit false looking.  I decided to change it.

When I was painting this canvas, I was sicker than a dog.  I had a sore throat, a terrible cough.  I give myself credit for persevering — I had a deadline.  As usual, the painting is better than its photographic image, but what I particularly like is the fuzzy, hazy hills in the distance.  Ah!  Beautiful Spring Green!

Burro likes coffee

Burro and Starbucks, Oil on Canvas, 8×10

This cute little burro’s name is Jennie.  She is one of the denizens of hobby farm, where my daughter exercises horses as one of her jobs.  The farm is located in the beautiful hills surrounding Spring Green, WI and is the setting for several of my paintings this year.  Besides horses, there are goats, a Pot-Bellied Pig, chickens and a French Bulldog.

A week or so ago, my daughter texted me that there was a woman plein-air painting in Mineral Point (at Pendarvis) when it was 13 degrees out.  Alas!  I so would like to do that, but have the challenge of almost zero circulation in my fingers and toes once they become cold.  Winter is really about the most scenic season for landscape paintings.  There is the high contrast between the snow and the trees, the violet and blue shadows.  Streams may have snow shoals in them, a  mist rising from the warmer water,  patches of green showing along the banks in spring. I love winter landscapes.  However, being out in cold weather for me entails vigorous exercise, as on cross-country skis or snow shoes, not standing 6 inches deep in snow with a wind blowing against my head.

I’ve thought about getting a van, not a minivan full of comfortable seats, but one with “french” doors on the end, wherein I could set up an easel and chair.  I’d be out of the wind and try to sidle the vehicle hindermost to the view.  Every now and then I could clamber behind the steering wheel and start the engine for warmth.  I do have a pickup.  I could try some tailgate painting, but it wouldn’t be as comfortable.   I’d still need a source of heat though, so I must give that additional thought.

Many great landscape artists painted in their studios from sketches and studies, using their memories and familiarity with the outdoors to inform their works.  I’m afraid that, at the moment, is my method,….until I get that “plein-air” van.  (I’ve also thought of a portable ice-fisherman’s hut.)

 

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