Saturday, July 16, 2011


A midsummer lull

One of the most beautiful weeks of summer and here I am indoors, recovering from a cold. I couldn't do much of anything this past week except blow my nose and read - a strange combination of misery and happiness. My attention span was that of a gnat so I chose comforting books with lots of pictures. Specifically, old-favorite art books, because I seem to be languishing in one of those mercifully brief periods during which my own paintings appear difficult and pitiful. I looked at books about some of my heroes, to remind myself what can happen when you stick to your chosen profession for your entire life. If you're any good, and much more importantly, if you have the will and means to paint all your life, you could become your own version of Fairfield Porter, or Rockwell Kent, or Edward Hopper. (At least this is what I tell myself, to lift my spirits.) Speaking of Hopper, an exhibit of Hopper's work in Maine has just opened at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and I am wild to go see it. In Robert Henri's classic book The Art Spirit he could almost be speaking of his student Hopper when he says (p.86):

"Is it not fine to see the development of oneself? The finding of one's own tastes. The final selection of a most favorite theme; the concentration of all one's forces on that theme; its development; the constant effort to find its clearest expression in the chosen medium; an effort of expression which commenced with the beginning of the idea, and follows its progress step by step, becoming a technique born of the theme itself and special to it. The continuation through years, new elements entering as life goes on, each step differing, yet all the same. A simple theme on which a life is strung."

One of Hopper's great themes, quoted somewhere in one of the books I have about him and his work, was the subject of sunlight on the side of a house. How beautifully simple, yet how complex in both execution and meaning, and how many variations he found to paint over the course of his life. Most heartening, and just what I needed to hear during this minor midsummer slough of despond. (Atchoo.)

Ha! Thanks...

A follow-up, one of my sisters has already seen the Hopper exhibit at Bowdoin and tells me it is AMAZING.
Oooh! I'm going to see it in a couple weeks. And I am enjoying all of your images and thoughts here.
Maura! I've been twice, may have to go again, incredible. Can't say enough about it. Emily says all the painters are coming to see, from all over the world.
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