Sir George Clausen on Morality

‘The English People Reading Wycliffe’s Bible’ [1925-27] by Sir George Clausen, Oil on canvas, 304.8 cm x 442 cm

Have a real good think about what’s happening here.

In this painting.

The aforementioned oil on canvas is depicting noble persons and ‘ordinary’ folk huddled in close proximity to one another.  Whilst there is a distinct separation between their social classes, including a cringingly aghast demeanour upon the mid-left lady, we do see a coherence of unity.

Religion can stir up avoidably provocative feelings.  Society always has two classes however which way you look at it.  Food for thought, whichever side of the bench you’re on.

The vivid colouration of this piece and realistic yet stylistic representation harks at pre-Raphaelite construction.  It’s a medieval masterpiece.

Given the influence of French artists upon leading British Impressionists towards the late 19th Century, we do see as with all art painters a yearning to ‘the old ways’.  Sir George Clausen is highly experimental.  His body of work unafraid to grace us with fog, dawn/dusk-haze, Realism, Impressionism, Stylistic and (near) Surrealist master classes.

A melted clock and a Dalian signature are not too far-fetched to envisage amongst a select few Clausen works.  Yes, that’s his ability to influence.

I’ve prided myself on keeping my blog neutral in political, religious and current affairs.  Whilst visual art and music are powerful motivating forces my interest has always been social commentary through art.  I make no PR judgements and steer clear of garnering partial affinity with any reasonable PR view as regards my art writing.

What I do-do (sidenote #1 – I found this highly amusing to attract younger Readers) is present information through art and actuate an empowerment throughout all the ages..

.. by allowing you, the Reader, to continuously develop your own knowledge, opinions and beliefs about what you artfully digest.

For the record (sidenote #2 – total vinyl art fan, Darren Baker smiley) I’m indifferent really to searching for the ‘Juju at the bottom of the sea’.

We’re all uniquely homo sapiens, here and now.

Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do.

It’s right here, explained in this article cryptically.

Isn’t life about operating humanely, co-existing as closely to our respective laws as we each can with good intentions by the by.

Art has the very capacity to connect people, share views reasonably and agree to disagree amicably.  Our Children Inherit The Art Around Us.

We are all ‘The Torch Bearers’.

‘The Golden Age’ [1919] by Sir George Clausen, Oil & encaustic on canvas, 305.7 cm x 174 cm.

Ancient Egypt.  Pugilism.  Pompeii.  Dainty flowers.  Breezy air.  Working focus.  Craftspersonship.  Oneness with nature.  His Signatory trademark.  Physical exertion.  Protection from the elements.  Fruitage of the Yellow Sun.  The beauty of nakedness.  Love of clouds.

Those were my immediate thoughts about this iconic looking artwork ‘The Golden Age’ by Sir George Clausen.  Art makes me so happy.

‘William Henry Clegg (1867-1945), Director of the Bank of England (1932-1937)’ by Sir George Clausen, Oil on canvas, 235 cm x 120 cm.

First, musical art – “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” –

This portrait shown above by Sir George Clausen is austere, dignified and slightly awkward about his business to pose.

Business from bisig – care, anxious, occupation.

Work consumes.  I never cease to feel confounded by the working desire of triple-millionaires (£100 millions+) and billionaires.  Business is fun.  Profit is good.  Working can be enjoyable especially from a social perspective.

Would you make it your business to stop people in their efforts to work?

Sounds absurd doesn’t it.  That would be called persecution.

‘Rickyard, Morning’ [1923] by Sir George Clausen, Oil on canvas, 52.50 cm x 60 cm.

I’ve included ‘Rickyard, Morning’ by Sir George Clausen for his application of shade, positioning of the working farmers, unusual composition choice, angle of the clouds and use of negative space.

Having closely observed field workers on a livestock-and-barley farm with all their modern machinery gathering hay in large perfectly round bundles this painting kind of called out to me.

Those farmers I watched working until the minutest aperture of dusk is the very reason why the hint of light in this painting is EVERYTHING.

Never say never to underestimating the ineffable intelligence of a Master at their life’s work.

– Matt The Unfathomable Artist, 15th June 2017.


Sir John Lavery to Cara Delevingne

‘The Tennis Party’ [1885] by Sir John Lavery, Oil on canvas, 76.2 cm x 183 cm.

Let’s first enjoy additional expert detail about the painting shown above in the following video by the Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums:

As explained in the video Lavery’s friends, the Scottish painters Arthur Melville, Edward Arthur Walton and James Guthrie feature in this painting of  ‘The Tennis Party’ (see photo above).

I love tennis.

When I first received a wooden tennis racket as a boy my brother and I would play tennis in my Grandad George’s well-kept garden in Malvern.  Towards the end of the garden was two apple trees we’d climb.

We played makeshift tennis on a rather modest sized rolled lawn adjacent of two wooden tool sheds.  Bees buzzed busily next door for Grandad’s Beekeeper neighbour, harvesting their sweet-solid honey.

Professionally labelled jars given to us every summer.

To practice tennis I would quite often hit balls against the side of our family house on my own prior to and into my mid-teens.  Thankfully, being so young I didn’t serve the ball at the wall too hard.  We know that serves of 137mph are possible on tennis courts these days.

During a very closely contested three sets friendly match, a 27 year old professional full-time tennis coach credited me with the fastest serve he had ever received.  I was 25 years old at the time.

Two sets to one in his favour were quite okay for someone who had never been professionally coached.

Sport is in my blood.  It’s part of my DNA.

‘The Tennis Party’ therefore invokes strong emotional memories for me.  Holidaying in Bude, Devon early 2000’s my ex-girlfriend asked me to play nice and actually rally with her.  Only love could have possibly made me avoid those all too inviting lines and send the ball happily back to her.

It was the most beautiful English day.  Clear blue sky, onward humid heat.

Relationships.  Again, we see a British Impressionist of this era depicting a thoroughly modern view of gender equality within a mixed doubles tennis game.  The gate is open and inviting us to come along and play this wonderful game too.

Young and old.  Social status is irrelevant.

Playful vs Relaxed.  Spectator or eager participant.  A Field of Dreams.

‘Violet Keppel, Mrs Denys Robert Trefusis’ [1919] by Sir John Lavery, Oil on canvas board, 33 cm x 25 cm.

‘Violet Keppel, Mrs Denys Robert Trefusis’ was a must.  Upon viewing this artwork I had to include this in my blog.

It’s precisely the sort of painting I’m looking for.  For instance ‘The Tennis Party’ has unique compositional angles.  What makes the painting ‘Violet Keppel, Mrs Denys Robert Trefusis’ so artistically commendable is her proud, inquiring pose.

The state of her undress is risqué for the time.  Quite in keeping with Violet Keppel as a liberal woman of the early 20th Century.  1920’s extravagance, flair and impassioned art-deco high-society.  I think the 1920’s and 1960’s share artistic freedom to the height of luxury, fashion and mild decadence.

Whereas the 1960’s spread the pursuit of Hieronymus pleasures to the masses, the 1920’s seemed all too intrinsically linked to monetary power and status.  By the 1930’s the masses wanted some of the action.

Moonshine and parties followed.  Mob rule.  Disorder.  Chaos.  Great photography too.  If you love photography and movie art please look up the documentary film of Weegee (born Usher Fellig) entitled:

‘ “I Am Rebel” – Weegee The Famous ‘  [Series 01/Ep02 – 2016, IMDb]

You may even see echoes of Danny DeVito in L.A. Confidential [1997] – if you’re of the appropriate age.

Through this we see the 1920’s morph like clay to become the 1930/1950’s.  Just like Doris Delevingne becomes ‘The Viscountess Castlerosse, Palm Springs [1938]’ by Sir John Lavery.

Yes, Cara Delevingne is her grand-niece.  How cool is that!  Interesting too that Cara is especially creative.  As previously stated in my blog, David Hockney really is a serious art student and a master art working genius.

Value ‘The Viscountess Castlerosse, Palm Springs [1938]’ as a piece of art history entwined.

Living Art, Girls On Film.

The paint application of ‘Violet Keppel, Mrs Denys Robert Trefusis’ is urgent, exquisite and untamed.  Perhaps Violet is portraying herself in a new way for the world to respect her?

“I Am As I Find” a saying by Matt The Unfathomable Artist.

Respect is not necessarily what we do as people.  It’s the inner motivation and intent of what we are.

‘Boating On The Thames’ [1890] by Sir John Lavery,

Anyone wishing to master water painting should check this preposterously life-like painting by Sir John Lavery called ‘Boating On The Thames [1890]’.

We believe the foreground lady is laid-back relaxing in the boat.  We believe the ripples of bluish-green water by wind and movement.  I also thoroughly enjoy those two swans making a quiet appearance.  The sense of reflected light upon the water is carefully considered and astonishingly accurate.

Sir John Lavery shows skilful draughtspersonship.  Detail you can take hold of.  If the nearest boat was at the waters edge we could likely reach out and make it swirl around.  Purely for our amusement.  Maybe they’d fall in?  Oh how that would make us laugh.

What really is man’s work?

‘Mariana, ‘Is this the End? To be Left Alone, To Live Forgotten and Die Forlorn.’ [1880] by Sir John Lavery, Oil on board, 30 cm x 23.5 cm.

Another painting by Sir John Lavery that was a must to include in my blog..

‘Mariana, ‘Is this the End? To be Left Alone, To Live Forgotten and Die Forlorn.’ [1880] is stylistic and colour rich like those glossy hair adverts.  Mariana is voluptuously attractive yet despondent with loss.  Everything about her screams ‘help and comfort, please apply’.

Her most outer garment beckons us to cuddle her to a modicum of happiness once again.  The tone of her buttoned tunic is solemn, guarded, prim and proper.  Background detail is uncheery and perfectly balanced.

Using hues that replicate foreground detail is an excellent way to balance a painting’s composition.  Here Sir John Lavery uses this method cleverly.  The background does not compete for our attention.

Rather this accentuates our selective viewing order of eyes, the portrait expression/feeling, her facial shape, hair and lighting detail contrasts, clothing choice and her bodily structure/positioning.

I love this painting for in this very artwork it is absolutely clear why Lavery was later commissioned to represent Irish banknotes and coins.  This he achieved through his outstanding artwork of Lady Lavery for some 49 years!

Stylistic artworks require great story telling ability.  Throughout his works Sir John Lavery establishes himself amongst Irish folklore, art history and popular culture as a collectors dream.  Lavery portraits are triumphant and his architectural scenes definitive.

Some of my personal favourites by Sir John Lavery – ‘Under The Cherry Tree’, ‘Viscount Morley Addressing the House of Lords’, ‘Loch Katrine’, ‘Edne May in the Belle of New York’ and ‘A Lady In Brown’.


The La Thangue Angle

‘An Autumn Morning’ [1897] by Henry Herbert La Thangue, Oil on canvas, 47.5 inches x 37.5 inches.

‘An Autumn Morning’ by Henry Herbert La Thangue features the prettiest young lady exerting herself in forestry work whilst an older male colleague is cryptically obscured in the background vista.

During the late 19th century photography had grown into a fashionable medium for societal sublimation and the cataloguing of everyday events.  Creative painting had already scribed itself into this cultural mechanism for millennia.  For instance, ancient Egyptians crafted pictorial ‘movie’ reliefs to affirm various belief systems to their populace.

The Mummy and her Children.

In ‘An Autumn Morning’ La Thangue’s attractive lady displays a determined working ethic.  We could take the painting at face value as merely a woman bending a stick.  Considering the political mindsets of her generation there is a plethora of social commentary going on within his innovative composition.  Along with an impressionistic focal merging to highlight the foreground.

Both subjects, man and woman, have their heads momentarily cast downwards in an equality of effort.

Let’s call this young lady Kirsty for the purpose of explaining my reasoning.  Kirsty is very strong.  Look at her hands bending the wood.  Her measured grip.  Kirsty is not shy of putting her knee into the work to muscle a stubborn obstacle in her path.

Would you agree that this painting represents an intellectualised struggle?

Dignified.  Independent.  Womanly strength with purpose and vigour.

Henry Herbert La Thangue absorbed modern cultural ideas and inventions to bring forward his unique perspective of art.

‘The Connoisseur’ [1887] by Henry Herbert La Thangue, Oil on canvas, 44.88 inches x 63 inches.

Abraham Mitchell can be seen, shown above, contrary to his family whilst socialising in this masterful composition entitled ‘The Connoisseur’.  Mitchell is seriously pondering a recently purchased painting, magnifying glass in hand.

‘Dear Mr Holmes, did you notice.. the year is 1887..

‘..and there is a simile of “Boat in an Estuary”‘ on the wall?!’

Here Mitchell’s art collection surrounds everyone present in his gallery area.  Abraham Mitchell is clearly engaged in his endeavours with absolute exclusivity.

La Thangue’s painting suddenly reminded me of the Hen and Chickens in Ludlow.  My dear paternal Gran with all her quality coffee consumptions had numerous footrests available throughout the guest rooms of the Hen & Chickens in Ludlow.  Now three decades past during my early teens.

Freshly caught rainbow trout from the river makes for a marvellous dinner.  Ludlow Castle.  Chocolate truffles.  True stories of her life in Saudi Arabia and Africa.  Visiting the cellar, beer barrels on tap.  Ice cold glass bottled Cola.  Darts.  The Garden.  Postcards.  Nostalgia.  Ye Olde English culture and architecture.

I’d like to mention that Mr R. H. La Thangue, father of the artist, is an extraordinary likeness of my Gran’s second husband.

Great art stirs emotion.

During research about La Thangue I found highly insightful information online about ‘The Connoisseur’ in a direct quotation, shown immediately below in bold.

With the kind courtesy of Dr Grosvenor’s enjoyable art blog:

“The Connoisseur” by Henry Herbert  La Thangue is actually of Mr Abraham Mitchell, aged 53 at the time, a Bradford textile tycoon and a Methodist of “reserved and retiring nature”.

He and his brother Joseph built neighbouring mansions (called “The Parks”), his with a picture gallery, which is the setting for this work. He was one of La Thangue’s principal patrons.

In the background are his wife and their two sons Tom (standing) and Herbert, and one of his daughters either Edith or Annie. Mitchell had been a local councillor, alderman, JP and refused the mayoralty of the town (see “A Painters Harvest”. Oldham Art Gallery catalogue 4 November -12 December 1978 Page 22 & 23).”

Many thanks also to a contributory reader of the ArtHistoryNews blog.

Artistic Analysis:

Like most exceptional artists La Thangue enjoyed particular focal references and the crafting of new compositional versions within a given theme.  Examples of this can be found in:

‘A Sussex Farm’ and ‘The Watersplash’ – a gathering of birds in a forced perspective, facing the camera.

‘Boy Filling Water Jars at Well’, ‘Ligurian Roses’ and ‘Winter in Liguria’ – a water well positioned right, standing or stooped singular character interacting with the well.

‘Gathering Bracken’ and ‘An Autumn Morning’ – two field forestry workers, one male, one female in complimentary working actions.  Intelligently contrived.

Studying La Thangue paintings further, as if with magnifying glass in hand, I noticed he uses favoured compositional arrangements to great effect.  Two distinct distances in contrast or harmony with each other to draw the eyes naturally to his intended descriptive. 

In ‘From a Ligurian Spring’ La Thangue repeats this structural arrangement of subjects/objects three or four times.  Tree branches, two carefully placed wooden posts, two adjacent stone walls and contrary ’emotional reflections’ of the painted characters foreground to background.

This structural observation can also be seen between the wheels of a cart; the outstretched shoulder-length arms of one person (there are exciting examples amongst his paintings of this inventive idea); two toy boats set to sail by a boy; general foreground to background character placements; person to working animal/s positionings and even two trees carefully framed to unify our attention.

My latter observation is clear to see in his painting ‘A Sussex Hayfield at Graffham’ [1912] shown immediately below:

‘A Sussex Hayfield at Graffham’ [1912] by H. H. La Thangue’, Oil on canvas, 25 ¢ inches x 29 1/4 inches.

From an online reference..:

..pages 20 to 27 is a treasure trove of art history about La Thangue.  Superlative publications like these are wondrously revealing to read.

La Thangue had residency in Chelsea – London, South Walsham – Norwich, Rye – East Sussex, Horsey Mere – Norfolk Broads and Bosham – West Sussex.  All prior to settling with his actress wife Kate Rietiker in Graffham – West Sussex whom he married in 1885.

Living in Graffham from 1898 to 1926, La Thangue clearly established his artistic influence following his early art apprenticeship with Jean-Leon Gérôme in Paris, France.  As previously stated regarding his admiration of Bastien-Lepage and Léon-Augustin Lhermitte, La Thangue’s connection to French art heavily influenced his work.

The sophisticated art sales platforms of Paris invigorated him into fine tuning British Art institutions and art communities in the UK.  Working on these worthwhile professional endeavours with much assistance from his highly accomplished artist colleagues.

The Graffham Parish News, hyperlink immediately above, specifically mentions The New English Art Club.  La Thangue also became an Associate Member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1912.

Without question La Thangue is a very important British artist.

Visits to Provence, France follow during the early 1900’s along with Liguria, Italy (paintings aforementioned) and the Balearic Islands.  Reference Wikipedia –

Let’s take a look at another Henry Herbert La Thangue masterpiece:

‘A Farmyard Scene’ [1905] shown immediately below – oh me, oh my – quite super.  Truly a charming painting par excellence.  La Thangue incorporates an honest application of sunlight in a natural residential setting.

‘Farm Yard Scene’ [1905] by Henry Herbert La Thangue, Oil on canvas, 73cm x 81cm.

Viewing this ‘Farm Yard Scene’ of Italy I’m picturing a past visit to Rhodes, recalling the Old Town chickens roaming freely between garden pathways – wild with their interactive noisy squawking.

With thanks to dear Henry Herbert La Thangue for his time honoured contribution to international art.

Next artist writeup is.. well you shall need to read my blog to find out.

Thank you dear Readers.


John Singer Sargent – Portrait Art’s Everything

‘Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose’ [1885] by John Singer Sargent, Oil on canvas, 68.5 in × 60.5 in

The title for the above painting by John Singer Sargent ‘Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose’ is from the song called ‘The Wreath‘ by eighteenth-century operatic composer Joseph Mazzinghi.

The two girls are the daughters of Frederick Barnard an illustrator by profession.

Dolly aged eleven is to our left and Polly aged seven is standing in front of her to our right.  Sargent found inspiration to include Chinese lanterns whilst sighting them during an earlier boating expedition on the Thames with American artist Edwin Austin Abbey.

This en plein air technique literally influenced by Monet to John Singer Sargent was completed over countless sessions whilst visiting Broadway, Worcestershire, England – The Cotswolds.

I promise you would find a visit to the Cotswolds oh so very pretty just like these two adorable girls painted herewith.  Therewith or herewith – its almost like going back in time.

The house of these very gardens was then owned by yet another friend of Sargent’s – American painter, writer and sculptor Frank Millet.  Sadly he died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912.

A 2016 auction of the beautiful “Poppies – A Study Of Poppies for ‘Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose'” sold for £6,858,000 USD at Sotheby’s.

The history, its painted subjects, the luminous mastery and intricate technical derivation would make the original ‘Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose’ a grand prize for any serious Art Collector.

What do you like most yourself about this painting?

The trodden grasses?  The girls’ concentrated facial expressions?

Warm Chinese lanterns incandescently glowing amidst arty white lillies?

I particularly love that Barnard’s daughters are thoroughly engaged, individually, in an unspeaking togetherness.  A shared purpose to delight each other and themselves equally.

John Singer Sargent gifts us with this painting for the ages.

‘Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife’ [August 1885] by John Singer Sargent, Oil on canvas, 20 1/2 x 24 1/2 in

Rock and roll baby!

I thought of The Beatles when I first saw the painting ‘Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife’.  Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and more specifically George Harrison.

Stylistic lyrical geniuses.

Robert Louis Stevenson is super cool.  Sargent captures Robert’s inherent quirkiness, his restlessness of thought.  Creatives can, at times, exhibit this characterisation without being aware of their indifferent juxtaposition.

Art takes over the mind.  It becomes the working of the hands.  The pacing of the feet by sheer conscious will.

Interestingly his wife appears almost ghostly and distant in this full-bodied reddened portrait.  Stevenson looks as if he wants to ‘get away’ to his writing even as Sargent’s brush strokes are being formed.

The opened door and positioning of our protaganist might seem incidental.  However, would you have chosen this composition over all other possible scenic angulations?

We have to say ‘Eureka!’

John Singer Sargent is a true portrait artisan.  The Rubens of his generation.  Sargent is as accomplished at Impressionist works as he is portrait Realism.

‘The talk of the town’..  Sargent probably knew someone’s ‘ears were burning’.

‘Miss Elsie Palmer’ [1889-90] by John Singer Sargent, Oil on canvas, 75 1/8 x 45 1/8 in

I found the pose of ‘Miss Elsie Palmer’ quaint and disciplined.  A pragmatic solution to posing for great lengths of time.  Her hair natural and the clothing fabrics a multitude of folding criss-crossing layers.

Miss Elsie Palmer’s eyes look rather mournful here.  This is a professional portrait revealing a practically perfect young lady in every way.  Modest and likeable.  Sargent’s use of light and dark is exemplary as expected.  Mood is, as Warhol commented in his own way, where Sargent’s genius shines.

Looking through his vast body of work is hugely pleasurable for any art lover.  Blending of interactive foreground and background details.  His unique artistic quality incorporated from canvas to canvas.

Quite remarkable.

‘Lawrence Alexander “Peter” Harrison’ [c1905] by John Singer Sargent, Watercolor on paper, 50.16 x 33.02 cm

Immediately above is a relaxed Impressionist portrait of the artist ‘Lawrence Alexander “Peter” Harrison’ by his close friend John Singer Sargent.

Immediately pictured below please take a look at Sargent’s fellow artist Giovanni Boldini‘s (1845 -1931) likewise expert rendition ‘Portrait of the Artist Lawrence Alexander “Peter” Harrison’:

‘Portrait of Lawrence Alexander “Peter” Harrison’ [1902] by Giovanni Boldini,
Oil on canvas, 49 5/8 by 39 3/4 in

Boldini’s portrait is regal and dignifying in its own exquisite artistic right.

Whilst Sargent’s portrait clearly demonstrates his extreme skill at Impressionism.  The sense of body and movement in both artworks is outstanding.  Please remember that Sargent is strongly regarded as the epitome of classical high society portraiture.  True it is too.

Yet he is also very brave artistically with his career.

Impressionist works.  Perfected landscapes.  Architectural masterclasses.  Ordinary peoples, time-indefinitely painted during his various travels.

John Singer Sargent – Art at Everything.


The Edgar Degas Art Ballet

'The Ballet Class' [c1871-1874) by Edgar Degas (b1834-d1917), Oil on canvas, (H) 85 cm; (W) 75 cm

‘The Ballet Class’ [c1871-1874) by Edgar Degas (b1834-d1917), Oil on canvas, (H) 85 cm; (W) 75 cm

Edgar Degas born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas, 19 July 1834 – 27 September 1917 was a French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. He is especially identified with the subject of dance; more than half of his works depict dancers.”

Opening quotation courtesy of Wikipedia.

Ballet dancers feature extensively by Degas.  Having seen Degas’ work for myself I can irrefutably attest to his awe-inspiring magnificence.  Please let me be clear, I’m talking about breathtaking quality.

The kind of art works that cause me to wonder-at.. much like a child seeing their first puppy.

‘Rover’ a Manchester Terrier popped his adorable puppy head out from our Dad’s coat jacket.  I was about nine years old.  If you had known our first family dog you would have to say his name was perfectly accurate.  Pretty much everyone within our neighbourhood knew him.  Even the butcher ten minutes walk away at the local shops!  Rover had been known to sit outside looking through the window, waiting.

A nearby family watched him enter their open-gated garden, take their large sheepdogs juicy bone from under its nose and leave like the SAS as if nothing had ever happened.  We only knew because they told us – astounded at his sheer audacity!  Rover once got locked in a neighbours garage, barking for a couple of hours to be let out.  They thought it was a neighbours dog, well it was, ours one road and cul-de-sac away.

As children we’d play with our friends and so the opportunity eventually arose for him to craftily sneak off to do ‘Rover’ business.  One of the funniest things was seeing him regularly ‘jogging’ in front of us, tongue-out looking back at us.  Wouldn’t mind except that we were at full speed on our pedal bikes!

Rover – “an animal which ranges over a wide area.”

Degas had a keen interest in gracefulness and the beauty of depicting honesty in his paintings.

‘The Ballet Class’ shown above has an excellent sense of perspective, order and formal instruction as its theme.  The dancers waist bows are multi-coloured with intentional shine or matte finish.  Floorboards and walls would be painted first ready for his complex ensemble of dancers in their individual postures.

Foreground-left, a girl is uncomfortable and fidgety.  Adding to the sense of flexibility and concentration required for intricate ballet moves.  Degas paints intellectual ideas.  Is this the young girl that attends classes for a few weeks then decides it’s not for her?

Her mother might say –  ‘You loved ballet and we brought you all these lovely clothes boutique et al.’

Their ballet teacher is rigid and strictly characterised in polar contrast to the dancers.  We need to ask – was this momentarily observed by Degas or a structured composition by design?

Likely both.

In 2004 I saw an impossible sight of human perception.  I spoke of this phenomenon to a rare few and made especially careful note.  In 2004 I stood by a paint artist working ‘plein air’ in Rhodes not far from the port itself.  Hidden deep was he, peaceful amongst an ‘orchard’ of trees and deep red flowers.  Likely the red hibiscus.

Speaking with the artist whilst he contrived artily of that gorgeous flower, painting also precisely of certain delicate observations.  His brush movements definitive and skilled.

Whosoever can paint as definitely as Edgar Degas deserves to be earnestly proud.  A Realist of his period and highly capable of masterful Impressionist work.

'Achille De Gas' in the Uniform of a Cadet (1856/1857) by Edgar Degas, Oil on canvas, 64.5 cm x 46.2 cm (25 3/8 in x 18 3/16 in)

‘Achille De Gas’ in the Uniform of a Cadet (1856/1857) by Edgar Degas, Oil on canvas, 64.5 cm x 46.2 cm (25 3/8 in x 18 3/16 in)

Achille Degas is his brother.  Posing here relaxed, casual and at ease in his Cadet uniform.

Photographs of paintings allow us glimpses.  Please trust me when I say that having seen ‘The Beggar Woman’ by Edgar Degas for myself that his work defies belief.  Paint has its own texture within oils.  The substance real and magical of properties through the cunning art of visual illusion.

'Before The Race' by Edgar Degas, Oil on panel, (H) 26.4 cm (10.4 in). (W) 34.9 cm (13.7 in)

‘Before The Race’ (1882-1884) by Edgar Degas, Oil on panel, (H) 26.4 cm (10.4 in). (W) 34.9 cm (13.7 in)

Degas produced numerous compositions of horses and their riders.  I chose to include an Impressionist oil painting for this article.  The bowing horse is particularly alive to me.  Living.  Breathing.

That the painting is some 132 years old does not prevent me from wanting to know what on earth he is thinking bucking like this with his rider.  The far-left horse could be viewing the finish line already!  Or perhaps waiting for a gentle squeeze of knees and heels for the cantering.

The chromatic symmetry is a work of art all of its own.  Burnt umbers, oranges and yellows.  It allows for variety as an artist.  Sometimes its good to exclaim ‘What does my sky matter when the foreground subjects become our EVERYTHING.’

Diversity is depth of feelings.

'After The Bath, Woman Drying Her Neck' (1898) by Edgar Degas, (W) 25.59 in x (H) 24.41 in

‘After The Bath, Woman Drying Her Neck’ (1898) by Edgar Degas,
(W) 25.59 in x (H) 24.41 in

The most exciting thing about nude painting?

Naked trust.  Every single time.


Roots and Daisies

I guess that most artists plan their compositions.  I’m usually no exception to this method of working.  That is until ‘Roots and Daisies’ kind of happened, shown below here:

Roots and Daisies, 2013

Roots and Daisies – 2013 (40 inches x 30 inches)

Naturally, the composition for ‘Roots and Daisies’ was always intended to actually represent daisies.  I purchased daisies for this express purpose and photographed them in various arrangements on a table.

For me it made sense to create an artwork somewhat different to the standard flowers in a vase painting.  To tell you a story.  To be interesting in a peculiar way.

‘Are you being weird again?’.  Well of course I am, to use the precise expression someone once asked me earnestly some years ago.  A most logical fellow.

Here is a close up of the artworks roots:

Roots and Daisies, roots in detail.

Roots and Daisies, roots in detail.

Please notice the texture, divergent brush lines and cascading light effects.

Again, as with the haze of confusion that I described in an earlier blog [see Art in the Making referring to ‘Creative Mind’] I became absorbed whilst painting the roots in this artwork.  Very much experimentation to find shapes and lines that I found most agreeable.

Overlapping the roots was quite delicious as I continued working with a syrupy linseed oil.  To me as pleasurable as eating figs; and this by reason I tell few in all truth.

The brush beautifully flowed in immensely relaxing canvas moments. Adding darker paints mostly to the right hand side of the many roots to bring forward depth and solidity.  The roots scattered about like an ancient story of thousands of years passing by.

Here is a close up of the left-side daisies:

Roots and Daisies, detail of four daisies with one root amidst.

Roots and Daisies, detail of four daisies with one root amidst.

It would be so lovely to be to Light as Van Gogh is to Sunflowers.

Until then I really do hope you like this composition because I struggled to love this canvas when it was completed.

Now though I can honestly say I love this artwork dearly.