Monday, March 31, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Summer Vacation (Anders Zorn)

So I've officially moved into the 19th century realists, and these aren't really in any particular order or chronology.  And today is Anders Zorn's "Summer Vacation" watercolor piece from the early part of his career before he started getting into oils.  I love many of his oil paintings, but this watercolor is my favorite piece of his.  First of all, there is nothing about this image that reads "summer," but it's still so awesome that you really don't even care about the title after just looking at the work. 
I can't really stress how amazed I am that this is a watercolor piece.  It is a medium I have very little practice with myself, so the technical precision and detail of this picture amaze and baffle me.  I don't understand how watercolor can be manipulated in such a way that it can end up being realism.  It is a fairly large size for a watercolor piece, but still... how?  Every beautiful fold in the lady's dress, and every ripple in the water is executed with near technical perfection, and not a sign is showing, at least to the naked eye, that any contour guide lines were drawn beforehand.  Even the detail of the characteristic Swedish slant of the man's eyelids is handled wonderfully. 
The scene itself is a typical Swedish genre scene that Zorn was known for.  Of course, he was also known as a great painter of nudes in natural environments, and simple, rustic life scenes as well.  There was always an innocence in the tone of his paintings.  His nudes were beautiful, but had really no suggestion of sensuality to them.  They were often scenes of bathing, sometimes mothers with their children in open air, which was actually customary at the time.  But this watercolor is not one of his famous nudes, nor is it anything depicting high members of society such as his paintings of Swedish nobility or U.S. Presidents.  It is a simple scene between to people at a dock on the water.
Many of the paintings I have chosen for this 40 Days series have been some of the first paintings I've seen by some of the artists.  Or they were the first paintings of theirs that really stood out to me.  And for Zorn, this piece stood out above the rest of his.  Mainly because of the depiction of water.  I looked at this piece and automatically assumed it was an oil painting, and I loved it already.  But then as I was reading one of my new books on Zorn, I discovered it was a watercolor, and became even more amazed by it.  As it turns out, this piece is Sweden's most expensive painting, selling for 26 million SEK in 2010 (about $4 million).  I hear something like that, and it inspires me.  And it defines what true art really is.  Not that it has to do with money, but that a piece of paper with some color on it is so valuable both in terms of money and in terms of awe-inspiring beauty.  But that's not what it is.  Let's face it, there is a reason it is worth so much in money.  Because if all it was was a piece of paper with watercolor on it, it wouldn't be worth anything.  But it's the beauty that matters, and the beauty that makes it worth anything.  The beauty of the piece is universal.  It is something that absolutely no one can possibly look at, and with any conviction say, "This is a bad painting."  And that is art.

Summer Vacation
watercolor on paper

Saturday, March 29, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Bouguereau)

You may notice I've been doing these 40 Days of Paintings in (somewhat) chronological order starting from the Renaissance, moving into the brief Mannerism and into the Baroque.  Now we're going to fast-forward about 100 years after the late Baroque period.  The 18th century is one that I typically skip in my love for art history.  In that century, the rise of Rococo began... which, in my opinion was the ugliest art movement until the very unfortunate rise of "modern art" in the 20th century.  Anyway, the Rococo fizzled out, and we started seeing a rise in what was to be called the Neo-Classical artists in the late 18th century and early 19th century.  This included one of my favorites in art - Jacques-Louis David.  I won't be covering him in the 40 Days, but he's certainly a runner up for me, and I'll give him an honorable mention by saying my favorite painting of his is the "Coronation of Napoleon," a huge 20x32 ft. multi-figure painting that hangs in the Louvre in Paris.  Look it up, and if you're fortunate enough, go to Paris and see it.  Hopefully I'll be able to cross that item off of my bucket list one day.
Anyway, getting to the painting for today.  Out of the Neo-Classical artists came one of the greatest art movements in history - the 19th century Realists.  And the man considered to be something of a prophet or father of this movement is William-Adolfe Bouguereau.  I don't particularly worship him the way many artists of today do, but I love his work, and my favorite piece of his by far is "The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ." 
Bouguereau was a pure academic painter.  He entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1846, which was basically the Oxford of art academies.  You really didn't enroll in the academy unless you were already pretty good.  Through his training and study under Picot, Bouguereau revolutionized the art of figurative painting.  His work with the human form was executed with a life-like brilliance.  The "Flagellation" was painted later on in his career, and demonstrates his skill at its finest.
Bouguereau lived what I would call a reverse artist's life.  He was well-known and favorited by many, and was also quite prosperous during his life.  It wasn't until after his death that he fell into obscurity was nearly forgotten.  Fortunately, his legacy is alive again with the advent of the new realists of today, and I am optimistic that we are seeing the next great period of art in my lifetime that will once and for all overshadow and bury the embarrassment known as modern art.  It is not even as though we are trying to start a new movement of realism.  I see it as continuing a tradition that should have never left in the first place.

Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ
oil on canvas

Friday, March 28, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus (Guido Reni)

It has occured to me before that there are so many images of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus.  Just look at Raphael's work alone.  But we see images of Joseph with the baby Jesus not nearly as often.  There are pictures of the Holy Family all together, but still few of the father and son bonding time alone.  And that's when we turn to Guido Reni, one of the great stars of Italian Baroque.
Now, I may be wrong.  There may be plenty of images of Joseph and the child Jesus together, and I'm just not looking hard enough.  But I will say that this is certainly one of the most tender of images.  The first painting of this 40 Days series was one of Raphael's many paintings of Mary and the infant Jesus, and I chose my favorite of them all.  It is my favorite for the same reason I love this painting by Guido Reni.  It is a real father with a real infant sharing a tender, candid moment together as father and son.  Just as Raphael's was the same with a mother and her infant son.  There is no distance between them, and as with Raphael's Mary, Joseph here is completely smitten with love for this child.
So just out of curiosity, I just did a web search for images of Joseph and the baby Jesus, and there are a few.  But none of them come close to this piece as far as having a personal connection between father and son (and also not being way too cheesy and modern-looking). 
I really do feel kind of sorry for Joseph, because he just isn't talked about that much in Christian tradition, except as the guy who married Mary and raised God's Son.  But beyond that, we don't know that much about him, or how he was as a father to Jesus.  In some ways, I like to think of Joseph as the hard-working redneck type who taught Jesus how to get his hands dirty.  Joseph was a carpenter, and I definitely think he taught Jesus a thing or two about being a hard worker, to catch fish, and prepare them for meals.  And at the end of the day, I think what we see with the relationship between Joseph and Jesus is what we see in this painting - a father who loves his son.  In modern times, Joseph would be the type of father to teach Jesus to play catch, throw a football, drive a car, to treat people with respect, and also to stand up for what is right.  I'd like to think that much of the strength that helped Jesus endure his Passion was strength that his father Joseph taught him.

St. Joseph and the Infant Jesus
oil on canvas
c. 1620s

Thursday, March 27, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Cristo Crucificado (Velázquez)

I actually had a hard time deciding which painting by Velázquez to write about.  He's my favorite artist of all time, after all.  How do I choose?  I could have gone with "Las Meninas" because it is my favorite painting, but I know I've talked about it before.  I almost went with the "Coronation of the Virgin" too, which has a magnificent triangular composition, and beautiful use of color.  And there are so many others that I love, but I decided to go with "Christ on the Cross," or "Cristo Crucificado" because I see it as the essential devotional painting.  It has even inspired my own version of Christ on the Cross. 
Honestly, I could go on about Velázquez, but I have before.  I could go on about my thoughts of this painting, but I won't.  I'll just let you contemplate this image, because it is certainly what I need to do today.  He must increase, and I must decrease.

Cristo Crucificado
oil on canvas

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - The Young Beggar (Murillo)

One of the things I love about the old Spanish Masters is when they would paint people who had no power at all.  They painted the common person, and sometimes even the poorest of the poor.  It was usually done early on in their career before they had powerful people commissioning them to paint for them.  We see that with Velázquez, and we can see it here with Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's piece called "The Young Beggar." 
I remember this painting being one of the first of Murillo's that I'd ever seen, and as you can imagine I immediately became a fan of his work.  That usually happens when the first painting I see of any artist is this powerful.  I remember thinking how amazing the realism of this piece was, and my eyes were particularly drawn to the young boy's feet.  I had never seen feet drawn or painted so beautifully in any other painting before.  And the way in which Murillo has put the dirt on the bottom of the boy's feet, and painted them with the foreshortened perspective, makes them so tangible.  You could just look at them and imagine how crusted the dirt is, and how calloused the skin is.  I also love the way that Murillo depicted the boy's head as he looks down with almost a shamed or depressed look on his face, and revealing to us the top of his head where surely his malnourishment has caused patches of hair to fall out.
Again, we see the wonderful use of tenebrism, or the interplay of light and shadow (chiaroscuro) which also made the Spanish painters famous.  Murillo excelled at it, and we can see the way he exploited such great, Baroque-style lighting in his paintings.  This is not the only time Murillo painted this sort of genre scene.  Soon after this one, he painted a similar work, a bit more light-hearted, of two beggar boys eating grapes and a melon.  And again, Murillo showed off his excellent skill of tenebrism, as well as his skill for painting dirty feet.  Pretty soon, I started thinking of Murillo as being the painter of dirty feet, although he was certainly much more than that.  One of Murillo's most painted subjects came to be the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.  He painted several versions of it, and they were all quite similar.  I am blessed to have one of them close to home at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City.  But as popular as that subject was for him, Murillo's painting of this young beggar is still, in my opinion, one of his great masterpieces.

The Young Beggar
oil on canvas
c. 1645

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Agnus Dei (Zurburán)

As I mentioned yesterday, there are two overarching themes in the history of Spanish art, and often they work together in a single piece.  Those two themes are God and death.  Francisco de Zurburán does this often in his paintings.  Sometimes even in a still life, we will see allegories that point us to a much bigger message than what we can see on the surface. 
In this painting, "Agnus Dei," we see how Zurburán has beautifully depicted an image that was surely inspired by Isaiah 53:7 - "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth.  He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."
The Scripture passage foreshadows the Passion of Jesus Christ very vividly, and Zurburán has done something very interesting with it by giving us a literal image of a lamb tied up to be slaughtered.  Now, Zurburán has done images of Christ crucified, and we've seen the brutal depictions of saints being martyred in Ribera's paintings, so I think Zurburán was trying something different with this painting that perhaps had not been done yet. 
What is particularly true about our culture today is that we've sadly become desensitized to images of death or harm towards humanity.  Of course I could go on and on about how movies, tv shows, video games, and certain sports are all about this violence.  Not to say I am holier than thou, I am simply stating what is true (By the way, The Walking Dead is one of my favorite shows).  And there is so much of it that we've become desensitized by it.  But... if you get an image of an innocent animal being harmed or killed, then everyone loses their mind over it.  Even though we eat them everyday, for some reason we can't stand to see cows, chickens, pigs, or ducks being killed.  I'm not as sensitive about animals that I would eat, but Heaven forbid if I ever see a dog being hurt or killed, I will start a riot.  Especially if that dog is a little puppy. 
See what I did there?  I think Zurburán wanted to do the same in his "Agnus Dei."  By giving an image of an innocent and harmless animal, and a young one at that, Zurburán is giving us a feeling of sympathy for this young animal as it is about to go to its death.  I think he knows that we are more sensitive toward baby animals than we are to our fellow man.  So maybe if he paints the Son of God as an allegory - in the form of a young lamb going to slaughter, we will have softer hearts for the way in which Christ went to death for us.  Now, whether any of this is what Zurburán had in mind when he painted this, I have no idea.  But this is definitely how I read this painting in today's culture.  We sadly live in a world that not only doesn't care about harm or death toward humanity, but one that has especially lost feeling toward the harm and death of Jesus Christ, and cares even less about His resurrection.  So maybe this painting says that we have to remind ourselves that as harmless and innocent as this little lamb is, Christ was even more so.

Agnus Dei
oil on canvas
c. 1635-40

Monday, March 24, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew (Jusepe de Ribera)

I am excited about today's painting, and actually a lot of this week I'll be covering some of my favorite paintings of the Spanish Baroque.  When it comes to Spanish painting, there are two words that immediately come to mind - God and death.  Both are very traditional concepts in Spanish art because of one particular event in Spanish history - the Inquisition. 
Jusepe de Ribera was a painter of many things, mostly religious subjects.  And he did a particularly dark series of paintings of the Martyrdoms of the Saints.  Ribera settled in Naples early on in his career, where the Caravaggesque style was quite prominent in the painters of the day.  Ribera exploited the technique in his own work quite a bit, and it added an element of darkness to his subjects.  However, it was also a much looser handling of painting than the typical Caravaggesque artist, which gave Ribera's work an added edge.
I love how real Ribera's martyrs are.  One particular painting of his gives that sense of realism and graphic violent agony like I haven't seen in other paintings of the time.  Many of Ribera's martyr paintings show the anguish of the torture just as it's about to happen, but his "Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew" is right as it is happening.  St. Bartholomew was executed by being skinned alive and crucified.  The painting depicts the agonizing torture as the executioner proceeds to carve the flesh off of his arm, revealing the muscles.  All the while, St. Bartholomew is fully conscious of the torture happening to him.  As the viewer, I am drawn back and forth from the bloody arm to the face of the saint.
Both Ribera and Velázquez had this awesome way of showing the humanity of their figures.  They never seemed to have blank, lifeless gazes on their faces in whatever setting they were in.  What makes Ribera's paintings of the martyrs, particularly this one, so compelling is that we can see the pain on their faces.  We can almost feel the pain ourselves of the flesh being cut and peeled off of our arm, but at the same time it is completely beyond our imagination.  After all, I quiver at the thought of a papercut, so there is no way I can know the pain of flesh being ripped off of me.  But the painting makes it so real and tangible, and so graphic that we can't help but cringe.  We also can't help but to feel pity and sorrow as we look upon the face of Bartholomew.  And I think that this painting is yet another that accomplishes what it was meant to do.  All of these religious pieces that we see were meant to be aids to devotion.  We were meant to look at the pain and horror of the gory execution, and to also look upon the face of the saint.  We were meant to be reminded by this and other paintings like it that these people were saints for a reason.  They went to their own death for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We were all worth the life of God's Son, who gave it for us.  In turn, the martyrs understood that their own lives were worth giving up for the Gospel.  It is a sobering thought, and one that forces us to do our own soul-searching.  Not all of us will be called to give our life for the Gospel, thank goodness.  But would we be willing?  What are we willing to give up for the sake of Christ?

Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew
oil on canvas
c. 1624-30

Saturday, March 22, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - The Milkmaid (Vermeer)

As you may notice, many of the paintings I've chosen for this 40-Day series are these vast, multi-figure paintings, but today I'm slowing things down a bit.  It is a lazy Saturday afterall.  Nearly all of the figurative paintings that I do myself are single-figure paintings.  I love the quiet simplicity of them, and Vermeer's "Milkmaid" is one of my inspirations in that sense.  We see in this painting a very simple scene of domestic life in 17th century Delft.  As far as the stereotypical markers of Baroque painting, this piece contains none of them.  There aren't any overly dramatic figures floating and flying around with drapery flowing perfectly cloud-like around them.  There is no elaborate architecture depicted, and the lighting is perfectly natural.  The colors are quite toned down as well.  Everything looks natural and normal.
I actually love this type of genre painting - the depiction of the common life of common people.  I can imagine paintings such as this one being an inspiration for later 19th century works of the same theme.  Servants at work, common folk sitting at a table, or having a drink in a tavern.  The depiction of real life was something rare and difficult to pull of when your commissions came from the rich and powerful members of society. 
In my own work, this type of scene is exactly what I like going for.  Not that I couldn't do a large multifigure painting filled with activity and noise, but it's really the quiet, introverted and contemplative figures that appeal to me since it's such a reflection of my own personality.  I enjoy looking at paintings that make me wonder what the figure is thinking in that moment.  "The Milkmaid" is one of those paintings.  I also love how the still life in the piece gives us something tangible to contemplate.  What does the milk and the bread taste like?  What does the room smell like? 
So often we see paintings, particularly from the Renaissance and Baroque that show these very elaborate scenes that are usually too celestial and ethereal-looking for us to be close enough to.  We can't picture ourselves in those scenes, and we have no concept of what the environment feels like with angels and putti flying around us, and divine light shining in our faces that is brighter than the sun, and yet doesn't blind us.  It's beautiful and we enjoy looking at these pieces, but their subjects are so other-worldly and beyond our understanding as common people in (name your town).  "The Milkmaid" is an example of the type of painting that allows common people to have conversations about the piece.  We are able to look at the milkmaid herself and say things like, "She reminds me of..." or "Hey, remember that waitress we had at that one restaurant?  Doesn't she look just like her?"  We can look at the still life in the painting and say that we had pieces of pottery, or a basket that looked just like that.  Some of the best art does that.  It gives us a moment to slow down and to stop thinking about the stresses of life, and the problems of the world that are too big for us to solve... just so we can look at a picture and be reminded of something simple.

The Milkmaid
oil on canvas
c. 1658

Friday, March 21, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Massacre of the Innocents (Peter Paul Rubens)

Peter Paul Rubens is one of my favorite painters of all time, and he did some spectacular works including "Samson and Delilah" and the "Raising of the Cross" altarpiece.  Those were two of the first works by Rubens that I had seen images of, and I became a fan immediately.  Rubens knew the modeling of the human figure the way that Titian did, and knew lighting and color the way Caravaggio did.  Of course, one of the things that Rubens was known for was his use of what we would today call "plus-size" or curvy models in his paintings.  They became known as "Rubenesque" figures, and were the ideal type for painting in the nude.  Although, I wonder why they weren't referred to as "Titianesque" because Titian used the same types of figures in his paintings as well.  Rubens was even likely inspired by Titian's work. 
But even though I love Rubens' nudes, his "Samson and Delilah," and certainly his "Raising of the Cross," there is one painting that I have come to know about just recently within the past year that is perhaps his most disturbingly gripping work in my opinion, and that is his "Massacre of the Innocents" from 1611-12.  He did a later version in around 1637 near the end of his life, but I don't think it is nearly as powerful.  It's almost a little too beautiful and too Baroque, if that makes sense.  There is something about the darkness of the earlier version that the later one lacks that appropriately sets the mood for the scene unfolding.  What, after all, could be more dark and disturbing than King Herod the Great ordering the murder of young toddlers and infants?  The later version, at first glance, kind of appears to be a choreographed dance, and if you didn't look for more than a few seconds, you probably wouldn't realize something horrible was happening in the picture.  Perhaps the raised spears would give it away, but is that really the first thing you see?  In Rubens' early version, there is no mistaking that something evil is happening.  The look of horror on the faces, and the bodies of the young children are front and center in the foreground for everyone to see.  The most unsettling part is the figure to the right of the composition about to throw one of the babies to the ground, as the helpless mother watches.
In 2002, "The Massacre of the Innocents" became one of the world's most expensive privately purchased paintings.  It was one of the rarest events for an old master painting to be sold at auction, and it just happened to set a record at Sotheby's for £49.5 million, or by today's standards in American dollars, $81.8 million.  It was purchased by Kenneth Thomson, a Canadian businessman and art collector, and was eventually donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

Massacre of the Innocents
oil on canvas

Thursday, March 20, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Self Portrait with Beret and Upturned Collar (Rembrandt van Rijn)

Over his entire career, Rembrandt van Rijn painted/drew/printed close to 100 self-portraits.  They started at the beginning of his career when he was just 20 years old, and he continued until the year of his death in 1669.  Rembrandt's self-portraits are a fascinating collection of works because they show us 2 things - The progression of the maturity of his style as well as his maturity in age.  In all, from what we have available, we know he did at least 85 or so.  So with that many self-portraits to choose from, why did I choose this one?
Well to put it plainly, it is my favorite of his.  This painting was done in the later years of his life in 1659, just a decade before his death.  To me, this is the best that Rembrandt ever painted if we want to talk about the essential "Rembrandt style."  This is where we see him using principles of abstraction to create realism... something I'll talk about later with Velázquez as well.  In his older age, we see Rembrandt using the thick impasto technique to create the illusion of old, wrinkled skin on his face.  The technique appears harsh, and quite honestly messy when looking at it close up.  But it is executed with deliberate precision.  Every color used serves a purpose, as does its texture.
And what purpose is that?  In the case of this portrait, we see an old man whose face is weathered with sadness and grief by personal tragedy.  We see a lonesome man who lost his wife and 3 of his 4 children.  Later on, he would lose his 4th child and his second wife.  We see a financially broken man who declared bankruptcy a few years before this portrait was painted.  Sadly, things would not turn around for him. 
But I think we see one other thing in this portrait.  We see a man, an artist, determined to live out the rest of his life willing to follow the call of his life - to be a painter.  In spite of all the hardships he faced, Rembrandt never stopped doing what he loved to do.  Even in the year of his death, he was still painting, and painting self-portraits.  I think Rembrandt gives us an example to strive towards as artists.  Some of us truly feel called by God to do this, and others simply love to do it.  Whatever the case, Rembrandt was living proof that nothing can stand in the way of a determined artist.

Self-Portrait with Beret and Upturned Collar
oil on canvas

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Glorification of St. Ignatius (Andrea Pozzo)

Today, I give you the most remarkable ceiling painting of the Baroque age, and certainly among the top 5 ceilings in the whole history of Western Art, period.  The "Glorification of St. Ignatius," also known as "Allegory of the Jesuits' Missionary Work" was painted by Andrea "Padre" Pozzo in 1691-94, pretty late in the Baroque period. 
So, where to begin with this... Well, Pozzo was a master of illusion, and this fresco demonstrates that spectacular trompe l'oeil effect of making the ceiling vanish so that we're looking at infinite sky above.  For those of you out there wondering who invented the effect of creating a 3-dimensional illusion by skewing the image so that the illusion works at a certain angle (like the famous contemporary street drawings and paintings that seem to create a hole in the ground), Andrea Pozzo was one of the first to master this technique.  He wasn't the earliest to use the technique, however (see Hans Holbein's "The Ambassadors, 1533).  In some places where Pozzo's work is housed, there are permanent markers set in the flooring that are indications of where to stand to get the best view of the illusion.
The St. Ignatius fresco is located in the Sant'Ignazio in Rome, and it shows various representations of the continents where Jesuit missionaries had taken the Gospel.  And in the center, reminiscent of Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" in the Sistine Chapel, there is St. Ignatius receiving a divine beam of light from Christ.  And speaking of Michelangelo's ceiling, if you look closely you can make out certain poses of the figures that may, or may not, have been borrowed from that series of frescos.  That'll be up to you to judge, but I can kind of see it.
Everything about Pozzo's work here is considered the epitome of Baroque painting.  There's no question of its grand scale and the seeming endless floating and flying figures that seem to disappear in the aerial perspective of a celestial sky.  But also the architecture that Pozzo has depicted in the painting.  While working on this fresco, Pozzo began work on writing and publishing his ideas on art called "Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum."  In it, he explains his technique of using illusion to create a sense of space and perspective, made famous in this fresco.

Glorification of St. Ignatius

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Self Portrait as a Lute Player (Artemisia Gentileschi)

The truth of the matter is, if you were a woman in the 17th century wanting to be in the ranks as an artist with the likes of Caravaggio, you had to be pretty strong and pretty good at painting.  One artist was able to do that, and her name was Artemisia.  She clearly had a lot of inspiration from her contemporaries, especially Caravaggio.  If you didn't already know her work, you wouldn't think it was executed by a woman simply by looking.  Many of her paintings portray darkness, both in appearance and in subject matter.  It could very easily be mistaken for Caravaggio or Tintoretto.  Of course, she was also influenced and taught by her own father Orazio Gentileschi, also influenced by Caravaggio later on in his career.  Artemisia's depiction of "Judith Beheading Holofernes" is a near copy, at least in composition, of Caravaggio's version.  Artemisia certainly did not sugar-coat that painting or make it appear less graphic.  She knew that if she wanted to be great, it was an uphill battle and she had to pull out all the stops.
Artemisia was particularly drawn to the story of Judith, and any other story that involved a female protagonist coming out of adversity in some way.  Perhaps she saw herself in these stories somehow, as a woman trying to become something great in a time and place where it wasn't exactly something easy to do.
So this brings me to her "Self Portrait as a Lute Player."  For one thing, I do love the execution and the handling of the material in this painting.  It is great as usual for Artemisia.  But I also love the way this painting embodies everything I've talked about with her story.  It wasn't enough for her to just be a good painter, but as a woman she had to be assertive as well.  At one point in her life, she was raped, and yet it did not stop her.  So when I look at this self-portrait, I see the tenderness of a woman as she plays the lute, as well as the sensuality of her dress (another quality frequently seen in her work).  But then I also see the assertive look on her face.  This is the look of a woman who is determined to be something great, and even to rise above some of the men in her work.  So when I think of Artemisia's story, I look at this painting as the quintessential self-portrait because it portrays everything that she was.

Self Portrait as a Lute Player
oil on canvas
c. 1615-17

Monday, March 17, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness (Caravaggio)

This painting is one of Kansas City's most prized possessions.  It is one of a few paintings I'll be covering in the 40 days that I have actually had the pleasure of standing before in person several times, and it is always a joy to do so.  Caravaggio painted "St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness" around 1604, and this is one of two different compositions of the subject.  The other version is a horizontal arrangement, and is located in Rome at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica.  So it is pretty serendipitous and somewhat random that Kansas City, Missouri is home to the other, and that's alright with me.  This is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's masterpiece of European art.  Unfortunately, this is the museum's only Caravaggio, but we can't complain because it is definitely one of Caravaggio's best. 
The Nelson was really my introduction to Caravaggio, and if you see this painting in person, you will understand why it's such a magnificent work of art.  It hangs in a small gallery room in the European Baroque section of the museum, and is surrounded by other works by Rubens, Van Dyck, Zurburan, and Ribera.  And yet, with all those other masters, Caravaggio's stands out from all of them with its striking chiaroscuro.  This really illustrates the genius of Caravaggio with his ability to make his work really be seen among the rest.  He does this with the chiaroscuro and by using such a limited palette of suble greens, browns, black, and the striking Italian Baroque red.
Caravaggio was among the first painters of the Baroque period, and the dramatic use of lighting in this painting gets to that.  He used this type of lighting several times in his paintings.  It is usually the first thing we notice about his work above the subject matter.  At first glance, you aren't necessarily aware that this is a religious theme because you're taken by the stark contrast of light and shadow, and the way it creates this interplay of shapes.  And there's really nothing interesting about this subject anyway.  It's just a rather ambiguous depiction of John the Baptist just sitting there.  Other than his staff, who would really know that this was supposed to be John the Baptist at all?  And for that matter, what's wrong with him?  He looks more like a depressed, angsty teenager than the man paving the way for Christ's ministry. 
Well, in spite of all that, I think the thing that Caravaggio has done here is to paint a religious subject that, because of its ambiguity, appeals to anyone because of the way that it is painted rather than the subject that has been painted.  I think it loses strength in that sense because it's the title of the painting that gives the narrative rather than the painting itself.  But there is no doubt that this is a painting with an "in-your-face" appeal, and once you see it, you can't forget it.

St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness
oil on canvas

Saturday, March 15, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - The Marriage at Cana (Veronese)

Paolo Veronese's painting "The Marriage at Cana" may very well win the prize for the largest canvas.. ever.  Actually, that would be an interesting thing to look up... What is the largest painting on canvas that exists today?  I'll have to Google that later.  Anyway, this painting is massive.  It certainly qualifies as one of the largest paintings on canvas in the world, and it currently hangs at the Louvre in Paris along with a few other enormous canvases.  This painting measures at 666 x 990 cm, or around 262 x 390 inches.  It is a vast multi-figure picture that depicts, of course, the wedding feast at Cana, where Jesus converted water into wine. 
I read that Veronese was paid 324 ducats for this painting, and was ordered to use the finest raw pigments available, including lapis lazuli for ultramarine.  And on top of that, he received free board and was promised a full barrel of wine on completion.  Not a bad commission at all, I suppose.  I was curious about how much exactly 324 ducats would be worth by today's American dollar standards.  It's hard to say, because I don't know if they were gold or silver ducats.  But if they were gold, and if my math and conversion skills are accurate, then if I had 324 ducats in my possession right now today, it would be roughly worth $55,341.75.  That's not including their value as historical pieces of currency, of which I have no idea how to determine.  Not that that's how much it was worth in 1563 when the piece was completed, but I sure would LOVE to be commissioned to paint something for 324 ducats right now.  Oh well.
The wedding feast at Cana is a very interesting story for me.  I think it has a much deeper meaning that what many see on the surface.  So many people read into this story the idea of Jesus' humanity, and that he enjoyed a party and a drink every once in a while.  I don't think this story illustrates that at all.  This story has deep parallels to the Last Supper, and Veronese gets to that with the very similar Last Supper-esque composition with Christ in the very center.  This is the beginning of a cycle from water to blood, where Christ converts water into wine, and eventually later on, the wine into his blood.  And it's those that are willing to take that step beyond the wine, and take the cup of his blood... They will be the ones to spend eternity with Christ.  And I imagine that a certain part of heaven will surely look something like the scene in this painting.

The Marriage at Cana
oil on canvas

Friday, March 14, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - El Espolio (El Greco)

So today is the first Spanish painter that I'll be writing about.  Although technically not native to Spain, Domenikos Theotokopoulos settled in Spain for the better part of his career, and became known to his colleagues and patrons as "El Greco."  I'll admit, El Greco is not exactly one of my favorite painters.  His work is so strange and melancholy, and a lot of that has to do with the way he muted all of his colors down to a cool temperature (even the reds and yellows) and elongated the proportions of the figures.  He was a Mannerist, and it is hard to say if he could be considered one of the very last artists of the Renaissance, or one of the earliest in the Baroque.  After all, he was a contemporary of a very old-aged Michelangelo, and also of a very young Caravaggio.
But even though he's not my favorite, one of my favorite paintings is the work of El Greco - "El Espolio," or "The Disrobing of Christ."  There are a couple different versions of this subject, but this one is by far the best.  It was painted between 1577-79 and hangs in the Sacristy of the Cathedral in Toledo.  It recently underwent restoration, so now it looks even better than it did before.  The picture I've posted is the newly restored painting.
I remember the first time I saw this piece (in an image, not in life), I was in, of all places, my high school Spanish class.  More about that later when I cover another Spanish painter.  Anyway, the first thing I remember was my eye going directly to the rich redness of Christ's robe.  It is one of the most beautiful reds of a painting I've ever seen.  And this could be because of what I mentioned before about El Greco muting down his palette.  But for some reason, he kept this particular red as rich as it could be.  It sticks out like a sore thumb because everything surrounding the Christ figure is that characteristic muted coolness, and because it is placed in the very center of the canvas.  It's almost the perfect altarpiece because it actually accomplishes what it is meant to accomplish in a practical sense.  At least for me it does.  That is, it is very easy to contemplate this picture, and be in an attitude of worship. 
I mentioned before about Pontormo's work, and the way it sucks you in and doesn't let go.  This is exactly what "El Espolio" does.  If you were to see it in person, this is definitely not a painting you would look at for a few seconds and then walk right past.  This is a painting you can't help but be mesmerized by.  I think the gaze on Christ's face as he looks upward toward heaven is part of that.  In spite of what is happening and what is about to happen, the look on Christ's face is so serene and without fear, panic, or pain.  It is as though El Greco has actually captured the sound of this scene, or lack thereof.  Christ's serenity sticks out so much, that it is as though all the noise of chaos and activity surrounding him is silenced, and our eyes are fixed on Him, and Him alone.  It is a perfectly painted illustration of the Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God."  This is a painting that tells us to let the noise, chaos, and distractions of our life be silenced, and let it all fade into the background so that our eyes can be completely fixed on Christ.

El Espolio
oil on canvas

Thursday, March 13, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Resurrection (Bronzino)

Bronzino represents a very short period of art called Mannerism.  Actually, it's hardly a period at all.  I tend to think of it as a transition point between the late Renaissance into the Baroque period.  It's still considered part of the late Renaissance, but certain elements of the Baroque were already starting to show in the work of the Mannerists. 
First of all - Drama.  Lots and lots of drama.  Not only in the scene, but in the style of painting.  Here in Bronzino's "Resurrection," we can see a technique that Caravaggio would exploit to its fullest degree, called chiaroscuro.  This is the dramatic use of contrast in the light and shadow to create a heightened sense of form in the practical sense, and a sort of theatrical intensity in the aesthetic sense.  After all, we can see a light source in the upper part of the composition that seems to be shining from the background.  But there is no indication in any of the figures that this light is even shining on them.  The lighting is not realistic at all.  The figures indicate another much stronger light source that we can't see coming from the left side.  What this light source is, we can't say.  But we can say it is strong and makes the figures, particularly that of Christ in the center, stand out.
Second - Lots and lots of bodies flying and floating around everywhere.  Hardly any of these figures appear to be on solid ground of any sort.  Even if they are supposed to be, they still appear to be floating in space.  This is another thing we'll be seeing later on in the Baroque.  It is another aspect of the dramatic, theatrical qualities of the Baroque.  This is something we also started seeing in Michelangelo's later fresco of the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel, completed about a decade before this painting.  As if Michelangelo's reputation in art history wasn't already grandiose enough, it could be said that he paved the way for the Baroque by beginning this transition called Mannerism. 
One of the things that I admire about Bronzino is that he had a deep attachment to his adoptive father - none other than Jacopo Pontormo.  So of course, we know who Bronzino's teacher was.  It is said that Bronzino's religious paintings weren't particularly his strongest, and that he borrowed a lot of the figurative poses from other works - mainly Michelangelo's and Raphael's.  But what I think makes this such a great painting is that it is a glimpse of where art was headed.  This painting is an example of what future generations of artists such as Caravaggio, Velázquez, and Rembrandt would look at for their inspiration.  Mannerism was not meant to last.  Rather, it was meant to be a diamond in the rough that would eventually lead us into the next great movment of art following the epic Renaissance.

oil on canvas

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Bacchus and Ariadne (Titian)

I honestly couldn't care less about the subject of this painting, but it is one of many mythological scenes by Titian, and it depicts Ariadne in the moment she is abandoned by Theseus after she helped him escape her father's labyrinth.  Heck of a guy, right?  So from that moment on, Ariadne is deserted on this island of Naxos, where she falls in love with Bacchus, god of the grape harvest and wine.
Again, the classical narrative is interesting, but not really what I love about the painting. 
What I love about this masterpiece is the way Titian used a vast array of pigments in this one painting like there was no tomorrow.  Titian was good at that, and this painting is by far one of the best examples of the purest form of color that was on his palette.  We see the brilliant lapis lazuli in the drapery of Ariadne, right next to the equally brilliant red of vermilion.  Titian loved all the dangerous pigments, and some of which are hard to find today, but still available.  These would be the lead paints like lead-tin yellow and lead white, as well as orpiment (which can be found in the various oranges in the painting).  It is a wonder how Titian was able to even afford these pigments, and to use them so liberally in this painting.  The result certainly paid off, as "Bacchus and Ariadne" is one of Titian's most carefully and beautifully preserved paintings, and the colors are as vibrant today as they were when he painted it in th 1520s.
Titian was one of the leading figures in the High Renaissance, and the Venetian school.  As a Venetian painter, he was a colorist.  These were the artists known for their focus on the effects of paint such as light and color effects, and had less of a focus on the academic practice of drawing.  Titian was one of the only Venetian painters that Vasari wrote about in his Lives of the Artists, and Vasari touched on Titian's Venetian roots with a slight jab at him, saying that Titian would have been a great painter if only he had learned to draw.  I certainly hope Vasari was not serious about that, because this painting is a stunning example of Titian's mastery as a figurative painter in the 16th century.

Bacchus and Ariadne
oil on canvas

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - The Visitation (Jacopo Pontormo)

This has to be one of my favorite paintings of Florentine Renaissance by one of my favorite painters of that period.  Just looking at this painting puts me in a daze with its mesmerizing quality.  My eye cannot help but go directly to the central background figure that is gazing right back at me.  There is no sense of alarm or excited alertness on her face.  She seems to be looking right past the scene that is unfolding, and in a way inviting the viewer into the scene.  The scene, of course, is the moment in which the Virgin Mary visits Elisabeth, and we're told in Scripture that Elisabeth's unborn child leaps for joy inside the womb as Mary arrives.  There is an intense solidarity between the two cousins as they gaze at each other.  They seem to be feeling a sense of joy and melancholy at the same time as if they are sharing the same overarching thought that, as their pregnant bellies touch, they know that both of their children will live tragically cut-short lives.
Pontormo is one of those sadly obscure artists of the Renaissance, as most of his work as been lost or destroyed over time.  That makes this painting an even more precious and fragile artifact of Renaissance art history.  Pontormo had a way of drawing the viewer in, and I think The Visitation is a perfect example of that quality.  When I look at it, I want to keep looking at it.  I've estimated that the average person in an art museum looks at any given work for about an average of 8 seconds before moving on.  There is no way I could look at the work of Pontormo for that short amount of time.  We are invited into the scene, and so our presence as the viewer makes us active participants in the scene.  If you've ever experienced the sight of a street performer doing something amazing that you can't look away from, whether they're playing an instrument, performing magic, or dancing... That's how much I am drawn into Pontormo's work, particularly this painting.

The Visitation
oil on wood

Monday, March 10, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - The Ghent Altarpiece (Jan Van Eyck)

When I look at Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece, I see a complete mastery of the oil medium.  In a time where oils weren't even the most popular type of medium for painting, Van Eyck changed the paradigm, and it soon became the medium of choice for so many other artists, replacing the tedious medium of egg tempera.
Interestingly, it is said that the overall concept and the piece were begun by Jan's brother Hubert.  The odd sense of perspective throws certain parts off.  But Van Eyck's handling of paint always seemed to be flawless.  At one point, people were afraid of Van Eyck because of this altarpiece.  They literally thought he was some sort of magician.  With this new medium of oils, and the amazing effects that Van Eyck could achieve with it, people were astonished by what this one man could do with mere paint and wooden boards. 
Van Eyck was clearly well-practiced with egg tempera, a medium that practically forced a tedious technique because it dried almost instantly on the surface.  Van Eyck appears to have worked with oils in the same way because you can truly see every little detail - every strand of hair, every blade of grass, and every precious jewel.  A couple hundred years later, these were things that artists discovered could be depicted with mere suggestion without having to paint each part in full detail. 
The Ghent Altarpiece itself is a beautiful vision of the afterlife, where the communion of saints gathers together to enter eternal life.  It is a vision of the new creation, the new Jerusalem.  And the way in which Van Eyck has painted the perfectly symmetrical composition of this scene, where each person is positioned in such a way that the gathering points toward the center where Christ sits on his throne, suggests Van Eyck's allegory of what heavenly perfection is like.  Perhaps Van Eyck's handling of the paint suggests that as well, as if to say, "I want my painting to be perfect as eternal life in heaven is perfect."  Today, the Ghent Altarpiece is carefully on display behind bulletproof glass and under certain lighting conditions at the Cathedral of St. Bavo in Ghent.

Ghent Altarpiece (wings closed)

Ghent Altarpiece (wings open)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Self Portrait, 1500 (Albrecht Dürer)

One of the things I love most about Albrecht Dürer was that he was good... and he knew it.  It wasn't so much an arrogance, but a really great sense of self-confidence, and yet enough humility to know exactly where his skill came from.  This wasn't something created from within him, but a gift of God.  This comes across in one of his greatest self-portraits from 1500, also known as Self Portrait in a Fur-Collared Robe.  Many may look at this and think he is trying to deify himself by making himself look like Christ.  That's partially true, but not exactly... but sort of.. ish.  Not only in his likeness, but also in his pose, he presents himself in a very Christ-like appearance, but this isn't necessarily out of a sense of grandeur or blasphemous self-righteousness.  He is taking Paul's command to be "imitators of Christ" to the artistic level by saying "I want to imitate Christ and His perfection in my art.  As perfect and beautiful as Christ was, so I want my work to be." 
I often think about my own work as an artist as my way of imitating Christ... by depicting the way I see the beauty of God in creation and in humanity.  This is what Dürer wanted to accomplish as well.  In any case, this is certainly one of his greatest paintings and it certainly demonstrates his great skill as an artist.  And if his careful and reverent handling of the paint in this piece is any indication of his reverence for God, I'd say his faith was equally as solid.
As a mark of his confidence in painting, Dürer inscribed the following statement on the right side of the painting:  "Thus I, Albrecht Dürer from Nuremburg, painted myself with indelible colors at the age of 28 years."

Self Portrait in a Fur-Collared Robe
oil on lime panel

Friday, March 7, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Duomo di Orvieto Frescoes (Luca Signorelli)

Yesterday I talked about Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes, and today I thought I would write a bit about a somewhat hidden treasure, but what I think is the closest rival to the Sistine Chapel, and that is Luca Signorelli's frescoes in the Duomo di Orvieto.
Signorelli was commissioned to do the ceiling frescoes inside the Chapel of San Brizio in the Orvieto Cathedral in April 1499, and then later on in 1500, he signed to do the side walls.  I have not personally seen these paintings, but I know that they are vast, and it is impossible to capture it all in a single picture.  Nearly every inch of wall space is covered by Signorelli's work.  One could probably sit inside this chapel for days at a time contemplating each painting.  The main theme of the frescoes is the Last Judgement, including the separation of the elect and the damned and the resurrection of the flesh.
One of the things that amazes me about Signorelli's work in the Orvieto is the effeciency of it.  From the time of his first commission of the ceiling to the finishing touch of the last wall, Signorelli completed the work in only 3 years.
What is interesting is that Signorelli is one of what I would call the "overlooked" artists that contributed frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.  I always pitied those artists (which also included Botticelli and Perugino) because obviously Michelangelo's work completely overshadows theirs.  But as it turns out, Signorelli has work not only in the Sistine Chapel, but he also has an astonishing chapel of his own, which I believe inspired Michelangelo in his frescoes to begin with.

Chapel of San Brizio interior and ceiling

Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist

The Damned

The Elect

Thursday, March 6, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Sistine Chapel Frescoes (Michelangelo Buonarroti)

Michelangelo had more paintings than I realized, but the Sistine Chapel frescoes are arguably his best, and certainly his most celebrated. 
As today is Michelangelo's 539th birthday, I thought I would write in tribute to him today.  He was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508 to "decorate" the ceiling of the chapel, which Michelangelo reluctantly obliged.  Since he wasn't a painter, I can just imagine the frustration of this commission getting in the way of the "real work" he was called to do as a sculptor.  But work is work, and the Pope's wishes are the artist's command.  As it turns out, this wasn't simply a commission from a Pope to paint a chapel.  This became one of Michelangelo's highest callings from God.  Can you imagine if Michelangelo had refused outright to paint the ceiling?  And later on to paint the Last Judgement altarpiece?  Generations upon generations would have never known or seen the depths of this one artist's abilities.  It goes to show what can happen when we say "yes" to the things we don't necessarily want to do, either because it's inconvenient or because we doubt ourselves.  But when God's hand is in it, the result can be something astonishing and miraculous like these frescoes. 
It is true that Michelangelo relied on some assistants for part of the logistical work, but both the ceiling and the altarpiece were largely the work of his own hand alone.  Even in the process of painting the ceiling, Michelangelo was grumbling about the work and the seemingly impossible expectations of the Pope.  He kept at the task, but not without venting his frustrations in writing.  He penned a short poem on the work:
I've got myself a goitre from this strain....
My beard toward Heaven, I feel the back of my brain
Upon my neck, I grow the breast of a Harpy;
My brush, above my face continually,
Makes it a splendid floor by dripping down....
Pointless the unseeing steps I go.
In front of me, my skin is being stretched
While it folds up behind and forms a knot,
And I am bending like a Syrian bow.
 Along with it, he drew a small caricature of himself straining and reaching toward the ceiling to paint a figure.  We all have that job we don't want to do for whatever reason.  But hopefully we can look at Michelangelo's example as a reason to go through with it, knowing that the strain and struggle of the task could bring out the best of us.

Sistine Chapel Ceiling
The Last Judgement

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Madonna della Seggiola (Raphael)

Raphael was definitely a fan of painting the Madonna and Child.  Of all the many different depictions of this subject, this one is my favorite.  He painted his Madonna della Seggiola in Rome in 1514, and was possibly a commission from Pope Leo X.  There are so many Madonna and Child paintings by Raphael to choose from - Some with round frames, some in a traditional triangular composition, some that feature John the Baptist, and some that don't. 
But of all the many depictions of this subject, I am drawn to this one because it seems to be the only one that depicts a very natural tenderness between a real mother and her son.  Jesus is not a miniature adult in a baby's body, and the Virgin Mary is not distancing herself from her divine Son.  He is a real baby, and she is a real mother.  She is holding him tight and close so their faces touch, as if she just gave him a sweet, motherly kiss on the cheek.  And it is as if Jesus is actually gushing... complete with the wiggling of toes like a baby would do in a candid moment like this! 
I almost wish John the Baptist wasn't featured in this painting, because he just seems to be a third wheel, and really contributes nothing to the scene except that he fills up the empty space on the right side of the composition.  But aside from that, I absolutely love this painting because it shows the love of a mother in a real way, which in turn gives us a glimpse of the kind of love that God has for us.

Raffaello Sanzio
Madonna della Seggiola

Monday, March 3, 2014

Art Shows, Lent, Classes, New Work

It seems like every time I get on here, I have a lot to talk about in regards to everything going on.  Probably because I haven't made it a habit to get on here as regularly as I should.  But that's all going to change this week with Lent.  More on that in a sec...
First, I have a bunch of art shows to promote!  First of all, coming up this weekend is the show I've participated in the most - The Blue Springs Art Show.  This is the 36th annual show, and my 5th time participating.  If you're in the KC area, please come out if you can!  As usual, I have my maximum 2 entries for this show, and they are both ready to go.  The show is this Saturday and Sunday, March 8-9.  I am hoping the weather doesn't do that thing that it usually has done with the Blue Springs show.  I can think of only 1 year where the weather was actually nice and didn't have even a hint of snow.  And as I look at the forecast right now, guess what it's saying for Saturday?  I'll give you a hint... Let's hope it's the opposite of what it's saying now.  I'm really praying for great things at this year's show, so I hope many of you can come out and see it!  It's open to the public on Saturday from 10-5, and Sunday from 11-4.

I have sent in my application for the Images Gallery Juried Show, and got confirmation that they received it.  Now it's just the waiting game to see if any of my paintings will get accepted.  I am hoping that all 5 of them will, but that is up to the juror.  The deadline for that application isn't until March 18, so I have a while to wait before I hear back about the fate of my pieces.

So the next show I need to tell everyone about is a little different from the other shows I've done.  This is The Art Event at KCC (Kansas City Christian School) in Prairie Village, Kansas on April 25-26.  It is actually a fundraising event for the school, so people come to this event ready and willing to buy art!  I'm just hoping that they'll be ready and willing to buy some of mine.  I was pretty attracted to this show at the sound of how hospitable it is toward the exhibiting artists, but then I read about its mission and purpose, and that made it even better.  It has an opening night party on Friday from 6-10pm, and I believe tickets for that are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.  Saturday is free and open to the public from 10am - 5pm.  I'm new to this show, but if you need more info, I can give you what I can.  Otherwise, they have more information at  What I can tell you is that I will have many of my landscape paintings on display and wanting to sell!

Finally, I have to mention once again the Gamber Center Exhibition coming up!  The official dates for that will be May 1 - July 17.  There is still a whole lot for me to do with this show, and I had my first night of lost sleep due to it a few nights ago.  Nothing serious, but I had a lot of stuff going through my mind about what I still need to do, and mostly how to have a good, successful opening reception for it.  Again, if you are in the KC area, and even if you aren't, I hope you can make it to this - the biggest solo exhibition of my career up to this point.  Think of it as sort of a Greatest Hits of my work.  And by all means, if you would, help me get the word out about it!  Here is a little taste of the work I have planned for this exhibition:

Okay, enough about shows.  But as you can see I have a lot of them to get ready for.  Which is one reason I am not on my blog as much lately.  Anyway, I plan to be on here a lot more starting this week.  I mentioned before that I had an idea for Lent this year that would be similar to my 40 Days of Artists that I did a couple of years ago.  This time, I'll be doing 40 Days of Paintings.  Each day (minus Sundays) I will be writing a post on what I consider to be some of the greatest paintings in the history of art.  And they won't necessarily be what you might expect.  I'm sure when I mention names like Da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Velazquez, Rembrandt, etc., there is probably a particular painting that comes to mind.  A work that they are known for.  Well, those works may or may not be the ones that I cover.  For some, they may be paintings that you've never seen or heard of.  For others, you may know them well and they might very well be some of your favorites too.  But for each painting I have in mind, I have a particular reason for it.  There is something about each painting that draws me to it, and that's what I'll be talking about each day.  40 Days of Paintings will start this week on Ash Wednesday, March 5th.

Okay, one more thing that pertains to my KC area friends.  I will be taking a break from teaching my painting class for the month of March.  But we will be starting it back up on Tuesday, April 1 and go until the last Tuesday in May, the 27th.  If any of you in the KC area would be interested in joining the class, please let me know soon!  Or if you know of someone that might be interested, let them know and have them contact me.  The class will be on Tuesdays from 6-9pm.  We will be covering lots of things from grisaille to Zorn palette painting, alla prima, master copies, and painting a portrait from the live model.  Again, for more info please contact me!

I didn't have much to say about new work, except that it's coming soon!  By the way, as just a reminder and for those of you unaware, I do have an Ebay page where I sell some of my work.  Right now I have close to 30 paintings listed, and I can tell you now that they are listed at the cheapest prices you will ever see my work for sale.  So I encourage you all to check it out!  I only sell and ship within the U.S.  Click HERE to go to Ebay.

That's all for now.  More to come this week!