Sunday, August 28, 2016
I've been working on a painting of coastal redwoods, found along the coast of northern California. Well, I'm sort of working on it...lots of distractions and chores to do lately.
The scene I'm working on is a composite -- typical of the redwoods, but there's no one place (that I'm aware of) that will look just like it. I wanted something less literal...more mystical, something worthy of a place I think of as God's own cathedral.
So far, I have several sources of inspiration, including some photos I took of Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood National Park in 1982. One of the neat things about LBJ Grove is: it must be at the top of a hill, close to where the hill drops off. Instead of the typical dark wall of dense redwood forest, the sky is light even in pea-soup fog. I like both kinds of looks, but the bluish sky is awesome, in my opinion. (The following are scanned from 35mm slides).
LBJ Grove is such an amazing place, especially when a light fog drifts in. Then the air itself luminesces, making the visitor feel like s/he turned a corner and stepped into heaven. Photos don't capture it.
Actually, the painting I'm doing now won't quite capture it, either. I'm after a different, moody, womb-like effect. I hope I can find the time and energy to finish it soon!
Saturday, August 13, 2016
"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?"
This comment appears in the Bible (King James Version in this case), Ecclesiastes 1. The writer spoke of the utter hopelessness of his life -- all based on things and actions of which God would not approve.
I don't think I have much of a problem in that area, but the verses (and the ones that follow -- look 'em up in your Bible if you're so inclined) seem to be ringing especially true for me lately.
I'm getting old...OK, I AM old, and have been for a while. When loved ones around you die and the things/careers/educational goals we work so hard at just don't do what they're supposed to do, then we look at what we've really accomplished, it's possible to get to a point where everything feels worthless. Like -- what's the point? We get old, do stuff in the meantime, then die, and the world goes on without us.
What's it all for? What's the point?
Some people want to leave a legacy behind to be remembered by -- the closest to immortality we'll ever achieve here in this lifetime. But maybe we're fooling ourselves. I've often thought if I were incredibly rich and I could fund a new addition to a hospital, I would resist calling it The Mark Junge Center for Really Important Medical Stuff. No one would know how to pronounce my last name, and anyway, who cares whose name appears on the building. The Really Important Medical Stuff is all people want and need
In my head, I know whats really important and what isn't. But there's something depressing about reaching a stage where "all is vanity" is what it was all about.
Supposedly, painting was going to be my legacy of sorts...or, at least, a way to earn a living. In fact, the gift of knowing how to make money by any method seems to be a skill I never picked up along the way. I certainly worked hard at a number of skills -- science and art were the two at the top.
But it never really worked out financially, and now I'm just tired. The motivation to work at something seems to be gone. I could have a number of reasons for feeling that way, but I can't discount the sheer frustration of working hard for a long LONG period of time and being no better off now than I was many years ago.
So, that's it. At least now that I've been collecting Social Security, I can paint what I want to paint without even wondering if it would sell or not.
At least THAT thought is freeing! ☺
Oh, and don't forget -- you can still find me at:
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
"The Heart of the Andes," Frederic E. Church, 1859, 66-1/8" x 119-1/4" / 168cm x 302.9cm). Entire painting and a detail.
One of my favorite and inspirational paintings in the universe. This sucker is almost 10 feet long; yet, look at all the detail Church painted into the scene. I can't say for sure what the dimensions are of the "detail," but as you can see, he painted every leaf and stem. No blobs of paint that we're supposed to use our imaginations on. Church painted as much detail per unit of measurement as I do, but he did it on big BIG canvases! In fact, paintings like this are what inspired me to work that way.
The plant and animal life are accurate, too. I know some PhD. botanists who love Church's work because they can speciate the plants. This scene is a composite of views from Columbia and Ecuador and shows a number of habitats all at once -- from lowland tropics to the alpine mountain peaks.
So if you ever get to New York, get thee to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where this gem is hanging. Unless they've moved things, "Heart of the Andes" is directly opposite Albert Bierstadt's "Rocky Mountains."