Friday, December 26, 2014

Watercolors - Joseph Stella - Late Starts

                          Oregon Refuge 5 watercolor on paper 13x11

                          Over the Sea 28 watercolor on paper 5x7

                      Light in the Forest watermedia on Yupo 6x6

                  Winter Rainforest Study watermedia on paper 12x9

  Two new clouds, two older forests.
Unlike many artists, I don`t identify myself as an 'oil' painter or as a 'watercolorist'. I`ll paint with anything however watercolor was my first love. Maybe everyone`s, toddlers aren`t usually given oil paints and solvents.

  Because research is now instant rather than having to take a trip to the library or make phone calls, our curiosity has met its match in the internet.
Just this morning in bed, on my cell phone, I began some research into the under celebrated painter Joesph Stella. He`s long been a favorite but I remember being frustrated by a lack of information about him. Not any more. The Italian immigrant isn`t better known because he doggedly followed his muse into some very strange places. He`s best known for his early work as a Futurist and is justly famous for his magnificent paintings of the Brooklyn Bridge;

   Then he abandons the avant garde to delve inward and construct deeply personal and often complex images based on folk art from his homeland, his travels in the tropics, his interest in surrealism and experiments with collage. Most completely defy categorization;

Here is his masterpiece, 'The Tree of my Life';

  I could look at this indefinitely! I have such regard for the artist who wanders away from their fame to do something else. Something important.
This is in the National Gallery and is one more reason to visit D.C. There will be a tipping point!

  Since moving to Lake Oswego and beginning to teach, I`ve met many older adults who`ve taken up painting again after long hiatuses away. More often than not to have a family, or a more practical career. Sometimes there is a rueful quality in this decision as well as  a lack of confidence. Nearly all think the big issue is technique and the hours required to become skillful. It`s not. A long searching look within is required to figure out what you love visually. What fires you up with painting and why? This takes separating what we appreciate from what animates us emotionally. If we know what language to speak, that`s a huge advantage. Finding what we want to say will follow. If the technical ambitions correspond to the aesthetic goals, the process will have direction and focus.
  Those that persist through their feelings of foolishness and inadequacy deserve respect. They are honoring their younger selves and the ideals they`ve carried quietly with them ever since. There is a parallel in psychotherapy where the adult patient learns to recognize, then comfort and protect the child they once were. I sense with many of the adult painters I meet a yearning to retrieve something of great value. While they still can.
This is noble.

  Here is an article on some late starting artists.

 Artist Beatrice Wood. What an inspiration ! Her most productive years were from age 80 to 105. "I owe it all to art books, chocolate and young men."  


work for sale in my studio

watermedia demonstration in the studio Jan.10, 10 am


Maureen said...

A reason to come to D.C.!

I read Wood's book this year. She was something else; above all, fascinating.

Mitch said...

Thank you for another beautiful and helpful post; your online journal is a wonderful way to share with others. When I was much younger and felt my destiny was to write the great american novel, I enjoyed reading the journals and letters of accomplished authors, learning about their processes and struggles. In a similar way, I enjoy following you at this mature and confident point in your career, and appreciate your endless generosity and kind spirit.

Libby Fife said...

I enjoyed reading about those women very much, thank you. It's never too late to move forward with confidence and conviction.

I have a lot of thoughts about taking up painting later on in life. It's a struggle. We go at it like baseball players at practice; we want to get better with our technical skills so our game can be better. But as you suggest, there is still something missing. It's what you wrote, to look for what "animates us emotionally" and maybe not what looks conventional or pretty or what have you. Finding that part is very difficult-harder than you would imagine. It's why I love some of the later work of Lawren Harris. He went out there a bit to try and get at what mattered to him.

In any case, thank you again for the free advice. That's three times now! Feel like I owe a big thank you:)

Melody Cleary said...

I just love your comments about lack of confidence and finding what fires you up. If I may, I would like to share your words with some art friends. And thank you for sharing so much with your readers, Randall!!