Monday, February 16, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
And the Winners are.....
I used the recommended Random Integer Generator to select the winners of my One World, One Heart giveaway, and this is the result:
Here are the random numbers:
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Vincent and me.... Van Gogh's Ear
I had no idea that Ell, at The Pomegranate Tiger had awarded me a Van Gogh's Ear until she commented on this week's Sunday Scribblings post, in which I'd featured one of Vincent Van Gogh's most-loved paintings, and spoke a little of what a thrill it was for me to visit an exhibit of his work at MOMA in New York just as the year began.
The Van Gogh's Ear award is for "making a difference in the Blogosphere", through art, writing, photography, philosophy, comedy or blogging. I'm honoured that she thought my blog makes a difference, and I'm going to say that all the blogs I love and visit (however haphazardly or infrequently recently) make a difference in so many of those areas, and more than that, in the encouragement that so many of those bloggers so readily share with others, willing them on to pursue their creative dreams.
It seems the universe is conspiring to tap me on the shoulder, repeatedly, to remind me to think a bit about what Van Gogh means to me and has meant in my life. He is the artist to whom my heart most deeply responds. Up until this recent exhibit, "Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night", I'd only encountered a handful of his paintings "in the flesh", but whenever I met them, it felt like I'd finally met an old friend again after a long time apart. People may focus on the fact that he was tortured, troubled, "mad", but what I find alongside all that in his paintings, even those painted when he was at his most troubled, is a joy at the world around, a fascination with the innate beauty of the most mundane objects. A chair! What Vincent did when he painted a chair! When he painted Gaugin's chair, he imbued it with the spirit of the absent Gaugin. How did he do that?
In the exhibit at MOMA, one of the paintings that touched me most deeply was one painted in 1889, The Garden of Saint Paul's Hospital, an asylum to which he'd admitted himself, and in which he continued to paint. The colours, the shapes, are all homage to the beauty he found in the last glimmers of sunshine falling into the garden, the way the sky reflected yellow in a rain-puddle, how dark ochre was "exalted" to orange by the rays of the dying sun.
I have read a few books about his life, but not the correspondence between himself and his brother, Theo. Still, I've gleaned snippets that have been quoted elsewhere, and one of the most enduring for me was the following:
"As to your thinking I should not want to be among the mediocre artists, what shall I say? it quite depends on what you call mediocre. I shall do what I can, but I do not at all despise mediocre in its simple sense. And one certainly does not rise above the mark by despising what is mediocre. In my opinion one must at least begin by having some respect for the mediocre, and know that it already means something, and is only reached with great difficulty."
[There's a website with all his letters, translated and annotated HERE... I just found it!]
Isn't that wonderful? Isn't that such an encouragement? Fear of mediocrity is one of the things that really holds so many people back from trying, and having read that, I felt it was ok to attempt to copy one of his paintings, to create my own version of one of his self-portraits.
It hung in my study for quite a few years, but over the past while, as I've redecorated, and begun to acquire art by other artists, ("Real artists") I've taken my own paintings (my mediocre work) from the wall, and replaced them with others'. Maybe I have "cut off my ear" in some way. Maybe I'm being reminded to value what I make - be it writing, painting, a poem, a blog-post. Maybe Vincent is whispering to me. Maybe I'm being told to listen to him. Maybe I'm being reminded to practice what I preach!
Have you "cut off your ear" in any way? What might Vincent have to say to you? What would you be doing if you listened?
Labels: Van Gogh
Friday, February 06, 2009
Sunday Scribblings ..... Art
This week's prompt from Sunday Scribblings is a little word, and a tall order... gather together and articulate something in writing about art. That's Art. Or is is art? The capital letter makes a difference. Julia Cameron made the point very well in The Artist's Way. When we think of Art with a capital A, it's important, serious, something that Professional or Trained or Talented Artists do. People who are "not like me", in other words. The world is full of people who are utterly convinced that they "can't" draw, paint or make other art, and what they really mean when they say things like that is that they can't do it as well as "Those other people... Real Artists", and what that really, really means (in part) is not that they can't, but that they feel they can't, and because they feel they can't they aren't going to try, because that's pointless, because they can't. There are a multitude of books out there that can help people get over that block, through that thinking, and into making the kind of art they will enjoy, the kind of art that's not meant to be judged against anything else, that is art for its own sake - but that will sometimes turn out surprisingly to be more than you'd expected to be able to produce. I just love the attitude Julia Cameron encourages - one of "gentle exploration", as in, if I just start playing around with these coloured pencils, and enjoy doodling with them, and let myself not have expectations as to outcome, what might happen?...
I loved that museum. There were European artists a-plenty there, modern and classical. Rich bounty of art. And then, the South American artists, many of whom I'd never encountered before. This one took my breath away, in part because the image echoed a dream I'd had around the time of my mother's death - the black egg: This is by Leonor Fini.
Close by, I encountered this:The artist is called Varo, and it's entitled "Feeding Stars to the Moon" or Celestial Pablum. I laughed aloud. The idea!
I'm sorry.... These are snippets, mere glances, of a few hours of abundance, riches, beyond anything I can really describe. I wasn't very good at recording names and dates. (OK... I wasn't good at all... I didn't do it). I came away with impressions, memories... full, sated. Aaaah!
And then... within a few days of that experience, I found myself doing two things I'd long wished for... Visiting MOMA in New York, and seeing an exhibition of some of Van Gogh's major paintings, including two Starry Nights. It just happened. My layover on the way home was long enough for a trip into the city, and I got in a taxi and asked to be taken to the Museum of Modern Art. That's the only place I visited. I just got so lucky that the Van Gogh exhibit, Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night, was still running. It was closing 3 days later. I just walked through there soaking those paintings up. That was where I missed having someone with me, someone to share the experience, so I just enthused to whatever stranger happened to be nearby instead. Well... I'd have burst if I didn't! All around me, I could hear people making their comments, and there were plenty of really well-trained eyes there, obviously. Parents educated their children about the technicalities of the techniques he used, urged them to observe the effect of this or that. I just loved hearing all the intakes of breath, the murmurs of "amazing..."
I needed air, space, a little quiet time to bring myself back from that place, and readiness to go back onto the street, back into traffic and "reality", and the perfect bridge was a turn around MOMA's sculpture garden. A wonder in itself, containing wonders. [You can see how inarticulate I get in the face of art, can't you?!]
I came home with a sense of having been blessed in so many ways. Blessed with good fortune.
This post has become way, way too long. I was going to write about and post some photos of what local primary-school children did as an installation in celebration of the sweets (candy) made at a local factory, but I've discovered that there's a lovely description on one of the school's websites HERE... The Sweet Fantastic. Enjoy!
This post is in celebration of Art as prompted by Sunday Scribblings. Go HERE to see what others have offered!
Also, I'm participating in One World, One Heart again this year. Here's the post with my giveaway, if you'd like to take part. There's still time... Any comments up to midnight (GMT) 11th February will be included.