Time to look at some bathers. First a late Renoir idyll. Bathers Playing with a Crab, c. 1897.  I’ve never seen this one. It says Philadelphia Museum, Cleveland Museum. Never seen a listing that gives two museums after the title.  Approximately 21 x 25 inches.

That red orange is full on intensity and those blues are brilliant as well. I like how he gets that blue onto the blanket underneath the woman on the left.

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45 Responses to Bathers

  1. johnk823 says:

    I’ve never seen this one before either. The only one I have seen with the skin tones close to this one is ‘Bathers in the Forest”, 1897, 29 x 391/4″, Merion, Pennsylvania, The Barnes Foundation, but it is no were as light and brilliant in color as the one you have posted. Great find. Seems like most of the Bather series skin tones are more yellow ocher in tone, like “Bather with Long Hair” and “Bather with BlondeHair”. The one you posted has a much more radiance to it. The blue is almost like a Fra Angelico blue or aYves Klein blue with white mixed in with it, or possibally just ultramarine. I would have to say the red orange is vermilion, at least that what it looks like to me. The women look like they are having a great time, to bad we missed the party.

    • trueoutsider says:

      John, Thanks for mentioning that one at the Barnes. I’ve seen that one. I wonder if you’ve seen The Art of the Steal?

      It’s a very interesting film in which the Pew Charitable Trust and powerful Philadelphia political interests conspired to violate Barnes’ will and have his collection moved from Merion onto the Ben Franklin Parkway. It’s scheduled to reopen next year. Barnes and Duncan Phillips were the two great private collectors of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, in my opinion. They were both extraordinary visionaries. Collectors, of course, can be great visionaries. They need to have the courage of their convictions just like artists do. And that’s all too rare anymore.

      American artists, and this one in particular, owe an enormous debt to those two men. I grew up with the Phillips Collection. It’s greatly shaped my way of seeing painting. Phillips collected the Impressionists and post-Impressionists in depth. But he also bought Rothkos and Diebenkorns, later American artists who grew out of Modernism. He was a man of extraordinary sensitivity and visual perceptiveness.

      As far as I’m concerned, the Phillips is one of the greatest treasures in the country. It’s a perfect collection in a perfect museum setting.

      Below is the Renoir you mentioned. Bathers in the Forest, 1897. Interestingly it’s the same year he did the painting in the first post. I’m reminded of the Dejeuner by Manet that shocked the Parisian art world. That was bathers in a forest too. I’ll put that up as well.:

    • trueoutsider says:

      I’m assuming you’re talking about Doak’s Fra Angelico Blue and Yves Klein blue. And Fra Angelico Blue is a Doak concoction that he named, right? I believe that Doak’s Fra Angelico has thalo blue in it to boost the chroma. But, again, let’s always remember that we’re not seeing the real colors but a digital version from who knows what photograph and with the computer back lighting. So what we’re really saying is what the colors look like on our computer screen, not what they’d be in the original Renoir. I think it’s perfectly fine to speculate about the computer image color because that focuses us on the color. Just as long as we don’t think we’re actually talking about the color in the original painting with any kind of accuracy.

      I think that Doak boosts his Vermillion as well and it doesn’t look like the Michael Harding vermillion I have which I suspect is true vermillion.

  2. Steve says:

    Yes, this is a beautiful painting. I could live with this on my wall and never tire of looking at it. Renoir is one of those painters that brings out love in my heart. For a fine telling of his life story, I recommend RENOIR MY FATHER, by his son Jean Renoir ( the great filmmaker ). And I’m also very partial to bather paintings in general, even those that are harsh or analytical. This one though is so rich and creamy and feathery. Yet for all the lovely light and color, I see a very sound structure. To my eyes it looks like that round pinkish form in the sky is the apex of a triangle with the two heads of the women on the right pointing to it and then down on the left to the other women whose gaze takes my eye back to the right. It’s a wonderful journey that I’d gladly make continuously. And the medium soft blue of the flesh shadows makes the pink and rosy skin tones sing. If he had made those shadings more neutral or darker in contrast, the painting would’ve died and turned into a marble relief. This is probably what Pissarro and Monet were complaining about with Turner’s shadows not having enough light and color. I still think that if Turner had made his shadows like this then his paintings would’t work, wouldn’t be Turners. But the Impressionists deserve the adoration they get, they worked hard to overcome the prejudices and blindness of their day. And no subject better illustrates this than bathers, for me personally anyway. The landscape plus nude women is a heavenly combination for my sensibilities. The compositional possibilities are endless , though Cezanne tried mightily to find one that was eternal.

    • trueoutsider says:

      I’ve always wanted to read that Renoir book. I know that The New York Review of Books has republished it. I’m going to try to get a copy since you recommend it. I’m also a big fan of Jean Renoir’s films. I love the Impressionists painters, but if I had my choice I’d take a Turner, hands down. Alfred Sisley is a completely under rated painter from the group. He died bankrupt, unable to sell his paintings. As an Englishman, he tried to get French citizenship but was denied it. It occurs to me that it was French xenophobia that served such an injustice on Sisley and his work. Of course, as with so many painters, as soon as he died his studio was cleaned out and his paintings went skyrocketing up in price and he was put into the edge of the pantheon of Impressionists. I saw a couple of his paintings at the Art Gallery of Ontario over the summer and those paintings were for me the best of all the other Impressionist work in the galleries there. They were exquisite works, just extraordinary capturing of light and color so that they breathed themselves alive into the gallery. Some painters really shine in certain situations, depending on the context and the quality of each individual work. So often we only pay attention to the “name artists” but often a lesser known artist will have a much better painting in the same gallery with a big reputation artist.

      I like to consider individual paintings as being autonomous. I often don’t care who painted them. What I really like in the two Renoirs above is just what you point to, particularly the rhythmic structure of of the forms. My eye just glides over all that undulating flesh. Matisse called Renoir’s late paintings the masterpieces of figurative art. You can see how they have so much in common structurally with Matisse’s Dance and rhythmic forms. I’ll put up Matisse’s great large bather painting from the Art Institute of Chicago as well.

      • Steve says:

        Sisley painted great arched bridges and swollen muddy rivers, using greenish browns, warm tans, and dirty blues ( Corot is also a great arched bridge painter ). He makes me want to go back in time more than any of the other Impressionists, except maybe Pissarro. He is given short shrift, as several others are. I made a pilgrimage to Emily Dickinson’s home in Amherst three or four years ago, while visiting a friend, and we stopped by a museum in Williamsburg ( I think ) to see an Impressionsit show. Great museum and surrounding park, sweet solitude, spacious rooms, lots of light. The room full of lesser Impressionist works was fine , with several gems, but the one painting that held my attention the longest and which I remember most vividly was a Berthe Morisot painting of a front-facing woman raising her arms up to her hair. One of the figure’s elbows was aimed straight at the viewer, so the foreshortening was radical. That’s a hard pose to pull off but Morisot did it with a few bold big strokes. I know that Mary Cassatt is the main woman mentioned in Impressionist history, and she may be the greater drawer and painter ( the best baby painter ever ), but I’ve always preferred Morisot’s paintings; somehow they speak to me more directly, even when they appear half finished. I also like another unheralded Impressionist: Caillebot, who may have died young, I don’t recall. He loved to paint large areas of gray, with paint handling a little like Manet. His paintings always catch me at a museum. Museum going is a very rare event for me and much treasured for years afterward. And I always come away with a few unsuspected ‘discoveries,’ in fact seeing the unsung masterpiece off to the side is one of the main joys.

  3. johnk823 says:

    Bart, You are right about the colors. In my book,as I mentioned, looks more yellow ochre, were the ladies in this second one look more white and glowing, as in your first post. The Fra Angelico Blue I was talking about dates way back to some church and to a friar who created it. I can’t remember where I read about it but if I find it I will let you know where. But, story has it he cooked it a bit to long or something like that and wa la his own custom blue. It is suppose to be one of the prittiest of blues ever. But, like you said we can’t even begin tosay what colors really are represented on or computers, we need the real painting. Maybe they could send it to us for an examinationfor a couple of months!!!

    • Steve says:

      That would be a good category to explore some day: great paintings that we would love to have in our homes. Most of my experience viewing paintings however is from books, and as noted above that’s an uncertain way to see them. I’m sure we all have been disappointed a time or two upon seeing a long-held favorite work in person,…maybe it’s more ‘slight’ than we thought, or more chalky, or muted, or whatever. But given that problem, it still might be interesting to see what has elevated our painting spirits over the years.

  4. johnk823 says:

    Steve, I’m like you when it comes to viewing art. I don’t care who the artist is, big name or not. If I like it then I like it for what the artist has created and expressed in the work. I don’t know Alfred Sisleys work, but will see what I can Google on his, but to bad about his life as an artist and trying to become a French citizen. There really are a lot of sad stories out their about good artists. But, for me I just paint because I enjoy it, and it’s fun. When I finish a painting, I sit around and look at it alot of the time and can’t believe I painted it, kind of like in awe. I’m not interested in fame and glory, I give all that to the Lord. When I finish a painting or a piece of music, I pray to the Lord and just thank Him for giving me the skills and talent to be able to be as creative as I seem to be. I really do, do this, because I am thankful to the depths of my heart and soul.

    • Steve says:

      John, I wish I could sit around in awe and enjoyment while looking at my paintings, as you do with yours. That sounds so good. But honestly that rarely happens for me. I can’t get past the ‘mistakes’ , or the wistful feeling that I didn’t quite get want I had hoped for. But there have been a few exceptions, so I know what you mean. I have one now that I keep liking, a landscape that I did last year. The composition never stops and that pleases me greatly. But there are also a few that I look askance at , like kids gone bad; they may have been good once, but not anymore.

    • Steve says:

      Wow! Great site! I’m going to go get another glass of wine ( the brandy’s gone ) and sit here at the computer and take a gander at every one of these pictures. I can tell by the thumbnails that they are great. Thanks

  5. trueoutsider says:

    Steve, you’re referring to the Clark in Williamstown, MA I believe. I visited it only once. Really enjoyed it.

    Here’s the Morisot you mention:

    I’ve always like Morisot much more than Cassatt. I just prefer her spontaneity and brush stroke and color. She was close to Manet and it really shows in her work. I’ve read that she was the one who got Manet out to do plein aire. She studied with Corot. She’s really a terrific painter. I’ve got a couple of books. I think it’s another example of gender bias, to be honest.

    • Steve says:

      That’s it John, thank you ! I love it as much as I thought I did. It is a nice size painting too, not a small study, so you can really feel Morisot’s arm move from the shoulder as she painted it. I just love those arms. Seeing it again I remember now how much I appreciated both arms. The foreshortened elbow is masterful, but that other arm is a marvel too, its modeling is really just the flat background colors,…take away the outline to see what I mean. The whole thing is as lively as a Lautrec. And yes, of course, the Clark Museum, that’s the one, in Williamstown,…a nice college town, …I remember thinking that I could live there.

  6. johnk823 says:

    Bart and Steve, Here is a link to the C’ezanne Bathers:

    I might like the Renior Bathers better myself, but C’ezannes are good as well.

    • trueoutsider says:

      Here’s Matisse’s big masterpiece, Bathers by a River, painted between 1909 and 1916. I loved seeing it when I was at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I even went up there for the retrospective last year. The book published along with it is marvelous. Lots of pictures showing all the stages of the creation of the painting. The first picture gives an idea of the scale of the painting.

      • johnk823 says:

        This one is hard for me to relate to the subject of bathers. It seems more like a figure study and has no flow or movement to it. But, being impressionistic, you have to let the mind bend a bit to see where he might be coming from. Maybe they are bathers out in the jungle under a waterfall. That would be as close a guess as I would be able to come up with.

      • Steve says:

        Boy, my eyes can’t stop moving looking at this Matisse. Granted, it’s not as flowing as the Renoirs and it even makes the Cezanne Bathers look flowing by comparison, but my focus darts from one part to the next with much excitement and anticipation. Such fun decisions he made.

      • trueoutsider says:

        Here’s one of the small original sketches. You have to imagine the scale of the finished painting. I believe you’re thinking in terms of the small image on the computer screen and being too literal in trying to imagine where they are, jungle or waterfall. Imagine it at it’s full size. Look how big those figures are compared to Matisse. He’s up on a ladder painting those large color areas. The movement is in the rhythm of all those black lines interpenetrating the color areas.

        That’s the huge disadvantage to looking at paintings on computers. It’s turns a large masterpiece into something like a postage stamp. You get no sense of the emotional charge of those color areas and the lush beauty of the paint itself.

      • johnk823 says:

        This is another bather painting by Matisse titled “Bather with a Turtle”. The charactures look so sad and almost from the caveman days. The colors are soft and almost pastel.

  7. johnk823 says:

    Guys, This one is my favorite, but doesn’t look that great on the computer. In my book it is awesome. This one is by Courbet. Bather at the Source, 1868:

    • Steve says:

      This may be a stretch, but this Corbet nude brings Picasso to mind for me. I was staring intently at the woman’s waist and hips, marveling at how solid and real Corbet had modeled them, then her whole body began to be exaggerated an suddenly I felt Picasso’s out-of-proportion figures on a beach ( or anywhere ). Corbet really loved that model’s shape and did incredibly things with it, while still keeping the natural look. Strong painting!

      • trueoutsider says:

        I read in my Gustave Courbet book published by Hatje Cantz in conjunction with the show at the Met a couple years ago:

        Indeed, one cans sense Courbet still searching as he composed his works, even late in his career. Who would have suspected that his magnificent Source from 1868 featuring the remarkable, subtly modulated view of a woman seen from behind, was in fact the final stage of a composition that had at one time contained three figures: a woman seen from the front, balancing on one foot, a child at her side, and finally, a figure seen from the rear who seems to hold the other two back…. Courbet never hesitated to break free from past efforts to compose his subjects: he happily corrected, adjusted, and explored new directions.

        Here’s Courbet’s Young Women on the Banks of the Seine, 1857:

        And Picasso, who of course, “happy corrected, adjusted, and explored new directions.” Here he is in 1950 exploring a new direction for the Courbet painting above.

  8. trueoutsider says:

    That Sisley link is great John. Here’s my favorite from the Museum in Toronto. That thing just lifts your heart. I recall reading that Sisley had most of his early paintings destroyed by the Prussians when they invaded France. I know the source book and will try to check the details. And still look at all the works on that link. These guys were painting fools. It seems criminal that a painter of his genius and accomplishment lived in complete poverty most of his life.

    • Steve says:

      For sure he was tragically treated. I had no idea how prolific he was, and that’s because he was pushed aside. What a landscapist. I must confess that I was relieved to come upon a quick figure study ( of his children ? ) about half way through the 539 paintings on the site John gave us, but you’re right, great scenes to & from the heart. If you love pathways and dirt roads from ages gone by ( and I do so much that it makes my eyes well-up ), then Sisley gives them from every time & clime. Beautiful.

      • johnk823 says:

        Steve, I noticed that about hiss landscapes as well, all the climates and he also seemed to do that with a particular building as well. His work though speaks volumes as to his energy and his technique with the brush. Lots of great paintings for sure. Very much under rated, what a shame.

  9. johnk823 says:

    This is another Courbet and is actually called “The Bathers”. This one has some nice colors to it. Courbet was quite the Romantisist. Their are alot of great pieces he did.

    The Bathers, 1853, oil on canvas, 89 x 76 inc.

    • johnk823 says:

      Bart, Thanks for posting the pictures. Now everone can see the detail that Courbet goes to in his work. I like how the bather has come up out ofthe water, mostlikely a stream and wrapped he garment around herself. Its like she is telling her friend how fresh and clean she feels. This is another great work of his, but so many of them were.

  10. johnk823 says:

    Bart, If I had torely on my paintings to keep me going, I’d starve to death. Yes, the Sisley site is really awesome and he did a ton of paintings. Seems like he enjoyed what he was doing whether his was selling his work or not. I have a friend that told that it was color that sells, not necessarily what you paint. He tries to follow the market and has a great technique and sells a lot of paintings. I just don’t like to have to pay to display, and so I get to look at my own work for a long time, kind of like Turner.

  11. johnk823 says:

    Bart and Steve, Here is one from the MoMA by Andr’e Derain “Bathers” 1907

    • trueoutsider says:

      Derain is another of those neglected painters. But Derain has been neglected because he was involved with the Vichy government in France when the Nazis took over. Kees van Dongen was as well and his painting reputation has suffered accordingly.

      It’s funny. I don’t recall seeing that Derain painting at MoMA. I wonder if they had it hanging. It’s a pretty fascinating painting. Oh, I see. I just looked it up; it’s 52″ x 6′ 4″ inches. Too much wallspace for Derain to merit.

      I recall this one from MoMA. It’s only 26″ x 29″:

      • Steve says:

        Another heart-pulling arched bridge painting. It’s odd that I love paintings of arched bridges more than real arched bridges. This one by Derain is glorious , and reminds me of a comment that Gauguin made about colors: ” Paint it frankly green or frankly blue.” But of course that dictum was said to make a point about being too hesitant and not bold enough, because using only pure colors unrelieved by muted tones or related grays can lead to what Matisse called “… a cacophony.” The bridge in this painting and the city in the distance have delicious shades & tints of grayish color, which make the brighter hues really sing. Isn’t that black boat great? He placed it right at the brightest yellow point of reflected water, a brave and exciting choice. And he put in two gray-blue touches to show the wake in the water that the boat makes and soften the black object a little. At first glance this painting strikes the viewer with loud radical colors but it’s really full of quiet sensitive touches. It feels very musical to me.

  12. trueoutsider says:

    That’s a very perceptive comment, Steve. Matisse frequently made amplue use of muted tones and related grays, as we can see by just going back up to his Bathers. One of my favorite paintings of Matisse’s is the one at the Phillips collection. Here’s just a detail that doesn’t show the lovely blues and violets through the window but it does illustrate the muted tones and grays that offset the color.

    Here’s the full painting, with the color completely washed out. Oh well. I love that oval on the table with the thick black line enclosing it. There’s a lot of paint scratched out there. Matisse did that a lot, scratching through the fresh paint with the handle of his brush.

  13. trueoutsider says:

    Here’s David Park, Male Nudes at the Water, 1957. Odd, it says 20 x 203/4 inches, but it’s obviously not those dimensions.

  14. johnk823 says:

    Bart and Steve,

    This to, a bathers painting, gives us just another artists point of view and shows differing in technique of vision. This vision is Pointillism, and the painting is “Bathers at Asnie’res” by George Seurat, and you read his story at the link below, where you can also view his work.

    In 1884, a young artist named Georges Seurat (1859-1891) exhibits his first large-size painting in the newly created Society of Independent Artists. Because of its size, it hangs in a bar and goes to a large extent unnoticed. Like the other artists exhibiting, Seurat’s work is refused by the official Salon. He also adopts the brilliant palette of Impressionism, their interest in open-air light effects and the realization that “local” (the actual color of an object) can be modified by atmospheric light, sunlight or by juxtaposed colors.

  15. trueoutsider says:

    John. Good one! I’d forgotten about this humdinger by Seurat. Seurat was such a marvelous composer. And his works went through so many revisions. I always have loved how the boy sitting on the bank has the rich blue against his forward arm. And the darker shadow side of his back is haloed by that pale glow. The pale glow is also around the shadow of his face. The boy calling just glows in the same way. His sense for shapes and simplified forms absolute impeccable. One can look at his conte drawings for how he seizes on these simple mass forms described just by conte hatching. Mysterious and sensuous.

    The Grand Jatte was at the Art Institute of Chicago and it was such a pleasure to see it so regularly. He did countless studies for paintings, assembling his various characters. He’s really like a traditional Old Master in many ways, but he was breaking down color with rigor of a scientist, all the colors mixed in the eye of the onlooker. One has to imagine how Seurat would have developed his art had he not died so young. I remember hearing that his color was so planned by his scientific formulations that he often painted just under gaslamp at night.

    He was twenty-four when he made this painting! And I consider it the work of a completely realized master painter. He died when he was just thirty one.

  16. trueoutsider says:

    Here are a couple of the conte studies where we see he worked out the simplified mass of the forms in tonal studies before moving to the color. There was a study for the main figure but I can’t get an image for it that will post:

    • johnk823 says:

      Thanks Bart, Yes, the contes are fabulous and show us the pains taking work that goes into them. You can almost feel his patience one dab after another. I draw with conte some imes, but my patience for this style and technique are mostlikely limited. Might have to give it a try though some time. Really soft in feeling!

  17. trueoutsider says:

    Below is Circus Sideshow by Seurat, completed just a couple years before he died. Seurat’s paintings were so painstakingly achieved that during his lifetime he completed only a small handful of major works, but his was an extraordinary accomplishment. The paintings stands out distinctively from other paintings of the time because they’re composed so meticulously. He bears a similarity to Cezanne in the fact that he wanted to create works that had an enduring classical structure, whereas the other Impressionsts were more concerned with the transient effects of light. Seurat’s figures have a timeless quality. While located in the Paris of his day they seem also to exist in a kind of eternal realm.

    The detail below from Circus Sideshow gives a good sense of what Seurat was doing with color. It’s optical blending. The same kind of blending used in color printing. Pure dots of color are placed next to each other. When one steps back the eye blends the dots into an image. When you’re close to the man’s face all you see is the dot patterns. Now Turner was doing that as well but not with dots. Turner is probably the first Western painter to do that consciously on a large scale. By that I mean that he suggests what the object or person is but doesn’t complete all the information. The viewer must have the necessary imagination to see into the painting. Seurat is doing basically the same thing but in a different manner. His images read concretely as very simplified and basic forms. But when you’re close to them they disassemble into their constituent dots of color. It’s the basic magic of painting at work. You’re seeing an illusion. There’s really nothing there at all but a pattern of dots. No circus performers or trees, simply dot patterns.

  18. trueoutsider says:

    Seurat was the first painter to figure this out. Roy Lichtenstein parodies it by turning Rouen cathedral into ben day dot pattern, coincident with Pop Art’s mission to cheapen and vulgarize great painting:

    Chuck Close is doing the same thing as Seurat but without any of Seurat’s imagination, invention or magic. There is no composition in any of his paintings. It’s essentially conceptual art. He’s obsessed with photomechanical reproduction. There’s no spontaneity or room for any intuitive spark or spirit to enter the work. It’s pre-formatted like all photo-realism. Duchampian anti-art at its heart. If there were a heart, that is. At it’s root it’s a dead-on attack on painting like Seurat’s, just as much as Lichtenstein’s is an attack on Monet. Just as Duchamp attacks Leonardo.

    Any kind of emotion or search for the transcendent or sacred is rigorously excluded from the outset. I call this nihilistic art.

    Monet and Seurat are old and out of style. All that sentiment and deep feeling for nature and light and life. So old-fashioned. Much too human and flawed.

    Close and Lichtenstein are flawless. Close at some point started allowing himself to play around with color blotches inside the grid. That’s about as expressive as it gets. What you get is a weird computerized looking baby, just as if you were playing around with photoshop. It’s painting as done by robotics. The same result invariably happens. Go to a lot of NYC galleries and you can check it all out. Photography, photo-derived work, computer derived work. Anything but something made by hand with an original vision and humanistic impulse. There are exceptions to this conformity but very few and far between.

    Why? It’s art for subsidized by corporate sponsors. It’s corporate art. Predictable. Certainty of quality. No highs or lows. Bland muzak playing in the background of sterile corporate buildings. Or bland muzak playing in the background of all the many McMansions. Homes with dozens of rooms with no human beings to inhabit them.

    This is art as currently worshipped after the demise of feeling and emotion in painting:

    Incidentally, I find it all completely likable. Greenberg was at least right about Pop art, which he helped to launch by turning the New York school into a formal strategy involving flat painting. Greenberg basically said, “What’s not to like? It’s easy on the eye and doesn’t tax or challenge the brain.” It’s highly competent and disciplined work.

    It reminds me quite a bit of the French Academy and the new American Academies or Ateliers as they call themselves.

    The great difference between pictures and paintings is that paintings risk complete failure, not just once or twice, but every single time. Cezanne is sitting before a blank canvas each time. How does he go about it? As Resnick said, the first five minutes are great and then you’re in trouble.

    Lichtenstein, Close, Warhol, etc. etc. etc. are never in trouble. They need to make good color choices. They get their pleasing image or photograph in place before starting to work. They know with certainty that they’re not treading into problematic waters where anything could happen. There are two kinds of artists. Those that take risks. And those that don’t. I find the latter far more exciting and enigmatic. The ones that don’t take risks I get right away. There’s little point in seeing the work a second time. There’s nothing deep in it that you don’t see on first viewing. As Warhol said, it’s all on the surface. There’s nothing behind it. Warhol, to his credit, was refreshingly direct and honest about what he was doing.

    With risky artists each time I see the work again I’m drawn into its mystery of its creation. That’s because the artist isn’t in control. He’s interacting with something other. The mystery. Whatever you want to call it.

    • johnk823 says:

      With all that said and I get where you are coming from, I guess we all have tolive with it all around us, but we don’t have to participate. As painters, we can take the risk of failure and run with it the best we can. This world is being filled with all kinds of evil and vial things, and its not just in art. Its in our politics, businesses, banking and so on, you truely get the picture.

      We can only try to bye pass that what we can and try todo our art in the hopes of some people still out there who will appreciate it for the art that it is. Today, just trying to get a job as an artist, you are required to know how to work with several software programs just to qualify for the job. There is little freehand work going on in the budiness world because the computer age has indeed arrived and so you are expected to learn it and the more the better.

      When I worked for Echo Artz as a concept design artist,it was great, because everything I did was created by hand drawings, approved and then a hand painting was made for the client. Now the clients want everything presented to them in programs like Dream Weaver, Adobe Photoshop and the like. Some of those programs require a college education to learn them, because they consist of so much information it takes a couple of years just to learn how to do it all. They are massive programs that incorporate 3D ad beyond.

      No longer are your years of drafting, drawing pictures, painting and sculpting a preresiquit, now it is how many programs are you efficient with and how long have you been working with those programs. You can go to and see maybe some of my hand drawings still on their site, but now, the new people doing my old job have their work on there as well. I may get a call once or twice a year for some hand drawnings or paintings and that’s it. Everything is going to the computer, it’s the future!!

      • Steve says:

        John…it’s that “future” that makes me long for the past. I can barely stomach the present, but the future? Oh boy. Okay, I know I need another breath to keep living, but when breath and death feel like the same thing I start to wonder. I love real paint more than virtual paint; an old fashioned guy in a new- fangled world. It’s not so much a judgement of the computer age ( after all I’m using one now to share wonderful things with you and Bart ), but it’s a proclivity of mine to long for simpler times when ‘learning curves’ started with the hands and never let go of them. I salute the future, and say “so long” to it. You will find me in Amsterdam in the 1640’s, or Arles, France in 1887, or at the ‘Frog Pond’ ( Argenteuil ) with Monet & Renior around 1872 or so, or way back with Giotto in an Italian chapel, or at the base of Mount St.Victoire in Aix En Provence late 1890’s, or further south in France in the 1960’s with Picasso,…and in the caves of Lascaux when recorded time began. You won’t find me in the future, tomorrow, in the co-op gallery nearest you. I am a lucky enough to be an anachronsim, a grateful relic of times gone by.

      • trueoutsider says:

        Steve, You’re remark hits me where I live. I don’t know how an artist with the least bit of sensibility can bear to live in the creative sterility of the current environment without going back to the past for nourishment. All one sees anymore with very few exceptions is cold and calculated commercial art parading as painting. The great irony to me is that the revolutionary painters of the past like the Impressionists you mention are now flocked to by the same middle class that detested them when they first showed their paintings. And that same middle class no more sees their paintings now than they did when the works were made. Here’s a letter written by Camille Pissarro from December 28, 1883,to his son, Lucien, in which he expresses exactly the relationship between the outsider visionary artist and the middle class or bourgeoise:

        The discussion….about naturalism is going on everywhere. Both sides exaggerate. It is clear that it is necessary to generalize and not lean on trivial details. But as I see it, the most corrupt art is the sentimental, the art of orange blossoms which makes pale women swoon.

        See, then, how stupid the bourgeoisie, the real bourgeoisie have become; step by step they go lower and lower, in a word they are losing all notion of beauty, they are mistaken about everything. Where there is something to admire they shout it down, they disapprove! Where there are stupid sentimentalities from which you want to turn with disgust, they jump with joy or swoon. Everything they have admired for the last fifty years is now forgotten, old-fashioned, ridiculous. For years they had to be forcibly prodded from behind, shouted at: This is Delacroix! This Berlioz! Here is Ingres! etc. etc. And the same thing has held true in literature, in architecture, in science, in medicine, in every branch of human knowledge. They are Zulus with straw-yellow gloves, top hat, and tails. They are like the falling, rolling rock which we must ceaselessly roll back in order to escape being crushed. Hence the sarcasms of Daumier, Gavarni, etc., etc. You are indeed young to want to convince a bourgeois!–English or other!

        So we can see in the above letter that while our times are tough, painters like Pissarro and company labored before the same uncomprehending public and lack of support. And it was no doubt the same in Rembrandt’s time. I’ve got a selection from Bailey’s book on Vermeer that’s germane. I’ll try to post that somewhere soon.

  19. Steve says:

    Bart, you’ve hit upon a connection that I had not formalized before having to do with painters taking risks, and also about Seurat. I realized now that Seurat’s drawing ( more than his painting ) taught me how to take risks safely. Before his mysterious conte drawings came to my attention I tried to succeed with line and failed, failed hard and failed fast. Color did not help but only exacerbated the problem. But Seurat didn’t use line, he used simultaneous contrast, light against dark, dark against light, and in very low key tones. It was a revelation. I didn’t have to draw well at the beginning of a picture , I could slowly build up forms and get the most wonderful feeling of light, and in simple compositions. I still use that predominate technique in my paintings, especially to solve color problems, …it may take a while, but with forms slowly emerging out of the dark into a low light, I begin to ‘feel’ what color they are, the hues are no longer arbitrary. Whenever I get lost in a painting, I return to this method. So thanks Bart for helping to make that connection clear to me.

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