The past Monday was spent visiting the National Gallery in Ottawa with long time friends Wilf and Mary Eagle... viewing the long-awaited exhibition of more than forty works by Vincent Van Gogh, along with large number of etchings, drawings, rare photographs and Japanese prints. This premier exhibition will only make this one Canadian stop on its North American tour.
There is of little doubt that it will be the last opportunity during my life time to view these works collectively, since they are on loan for this single occasion from a number of important world gallery and private collections. Deb (also a huge Vincent fan).. and I decided to take a break away from the Gallery in the company of these special friends to immerse ourselves in this smorgasbord of joy and paint. This decision will remain a highlight for this entire summer... for us all.
The two guest curators of the exhibition, Cornelia Hormburg and Annabelle Kienle together pulled off a coup... using the placement of galleries containing Van Gogh's paintings intermittently placed alongside galleries which housed the innovations in the Arts of his time in photography, etching, Japanese print making and Impressionism. Each of these.. in their own way fuelled Van Gogh's relentless search for new ideas and techniques and served as catalysts of change in his constantly morphing painting style interests and process.
This clever use of proximity was the underpinning strength for the exhibition in which the monumental paintings such his "Sun Flowers" and "Irises'... for which he is best known were noticeably absent. This fact however, has no negative influence in how the exhibition has been received by its thousands of viewers since opening in early May. Like us... Vincent's legion of followers continue to be enthralled and captivated by the brilliance his paintings and genius.
I returned home... afire with renewed excitement to paint as a result of this up close encounter. After seeing his spontaneous ease in applying pigment and his... at times manic yet intoxicating use of brushwork, a clearer goal for one's own work can be felt. It echoes Vincent's own feelings a age 27years... as revealed in a singular section in a letter to his beloved brother Theo in June of 1880:
"I feel a raison d'etre! I know that I could be quite a different man!
... There's something within me."
His totally alla prima approach to painting is a valuable lesson for all of us who vale outdoor painting. I certainly will pay greater heed than I have in the past to maintaining fluidity and fearlessness in my painting style. I feel after seeing this exhibition as he did. There is something more.. within "Me!"
Yesterday, I had the unusual pleasure for me... of getting together to paint with seven up state New Yorkers at the invitation of my painting friend... fellow artist and "once upon a time long ago" grade seven student Phillip Chadwick to paint with this group at his new home located on Singleton Lake, just one half our north of Rockport. I arrived around 9:30am and got the grand tour by Phil around 'Paradise".. while we awaited the arrival of the other painters.
By 10:00 all members were present and we each set to work finding and setting up[ quickly at our first location. Mine was right at his front door facing on to the lake and looking out from a darkened bay past point. Lots of structure... great depth of space and great colour in all three parts of this landscape so I quickly jumped into action. I had considered begging off earlier in the morning due to a very painful back, but decided to make an effort to show up and to gauge my feelings as the day wore on. After the two hour session required to complete the painting posted today,I soon realized the folly of pressing my luck further. So iI reluctantly packed up my gear... said my hasty goodbyes an headed straight back to Rockport to my chaise.. my ice packs and a quiet afternoon cooling out. I visited my chiro this \morning to get treatment under way and feel much better already!
NO further gardening or weeding(the culprits responsible for my back's complaint)... until further notice! Here is the 16X20 inch oil sketch completed in about two hours entitled; "A Summer Symphony on Singleton Lake" I had thought about titling it "Summer's Back!" HA HA!!! Hope that you enjoy it!
"A Summer Symphony on Singleton Lake"- oil sketch on canvas16x20 inches
A view of the site and easel set up on Singleton Lake
Good Painting to ALL!!