Friday, December 11, 2009

Window to the Soul...

So I'm still dabbling in the arts... alas the art class has moved to a night I play water polo, so I'm having to get creative in finding time to practice my creativity. With me? Cool.
Anyhow, one of the things I've always been drawn to in art (pun not intended) is the artist's ability to convey the essense of the her or his subject. My art history/criticism books always warned me how difficult that was to do with oil, and - for example - was why William Blake preferred water colors or charcoal in his mission to portray the spiritual and ethereal realities of his subjects.... Now that I'm practicing with different media, I'm realizing just how true this is.

When I lived in Southern California (2.5 years ago, now!), I regularly visited the Getty - and the above portrait has always been one of my favorites in their collection. Gericault painted this as a study for a larger painting about a sunken ship off the coast of Africa - major news at the time - that had very few survivors ("The Raft of the Medusa", at the Louvre). What is amazing and profound to me is the simultaneous sorrow and dignity conveyed here. The man seems to me to be narrating a story - and is at a point in his tale where he must somehow collect himself from the staggering heartbreak of it all.
I tell you truly, friends... if I could paint nothing else, I would love to be able to paint eyes like this.

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