Art Appreciation

On my recent trip to Scotland, I made it a point to visit some of the museums in Edinburgh. The Scottish National Gallery  and Scottish National Portrait Gallery were two venues that really stood out.

Interior of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Interior of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Portrait Gallery featured a fascinatingshow by Victoria Crowe. The collection revealed a biographical narrative to portraiture. I found the work interesting because of the attention it paid to a story beyond a single portrait or moment in time. The people in the paintings were all connected to the artist, so she was telling her story, in addition to theirs. The show made me think about the level of depth needed to provide the story for each painting. The concept of stories within my own work continues to evolve, so the show sparked a lot of thought into my own future as an artist and story-teller.

The National Gallery featured great work from artists I tend to gravitate to, such as John Singer Sargent, Monet, and Pisarro. Though I hadn't been previously interested in Flemish painters, something clicked for me and the paintings on display really spoke to me. Vermeer and Rembrandt, were masters at light and shadow - nothing new there. I was struck, however, by the level of detail so brilliantly demonstrated through the work of such masters as Rubens and Van Dyck. The intricracies of paint application was a great complement to the detail of ideas demonstrated in the portrait exhibit.

The level of detail in both areas is something I've been more cognizant of within my own art and will continue to explore. 

Unanticipated Scotland

I recently returned from a trip to Scotland. Unlike previous trips abroad, I had no artistic or cultural objective: I was there simply to get away from the day-to-day grind and be open to whatever surprises the trip had to offer. With no expectations, I was rewarded with a beautiful country, welcoming people, visual inspiration, history lessons, and experiences that truly celebrated the art of life and pleasure. The town of Oban, known to me initially because of their whiskey, and then somehow affirmed through a Rick Steves video endorsement :P, best exemplified the experience.

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The drive through the countryside to get there was simply beautiful. Rolling hills, green everywhere, sheep... just beautiful. The coastal town seems to originate from a cliff facing the ocean. Everywhere I looked, I found visual inspiration with a sense of familiarity that surprised me. The history of Oban is celebrated not only in the distillery (amen!), but several landmarks as well: McCaib's Tower and Dunollie Castle, to name a few.  Unusually dry conditions allowed the rare opportunity to sit outside for a dinner at Ee-usk, watching a colorful sunset as our group enjoyed some of the freshest fish I've ever had - mussels, sea bass and properly paired wine and whiskey. As we were finishing our meal, one of the locals stopped by our table and started a conversation with us that ended in song; I believe it was "The Road to the Isles". I was a kid in a cultural candy store. In the end, each city shared its own story and they were all very satisfying.

I was refreshed in a way that made the end of the trip not only bearable, but hopeful. I believe travel is such an essential part of life, as it enriches our perceptions of what is ultimiately important, in addition to offering a release from the routines that we can get into as part of the discipline of life's work.

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Loving Vincent

Last weekend, I saw the film Loving Vincent. The film is illustrated through painted animation that references Van Gogh's work not only in terms of style, but subject matter and characters as well. The technical aspects of the film are truly impressive - 100 artists, each frame hand-painted. This was truly a labor of love.

The idea of so many artists contributing to this film was such a moving (literally) tribute to a beautiful, and often misunderstood soul who was not long for this world, but left a wealth of timeless art and inspiration. I absolutely love these types of experiences that open my eyes to possibility! This was a great reminder for what I am trying to do with my work as well - using expressive brushstrokes and color to convey the feeling of seeing the world through fresh eyes again.

I highly recommend seeing this film. If you do, feel free to share your comments and let me know what you think!

"Landscape at Twilight" Vincent VanGogh

"Landscape at Twilight"
Vincent VanGogh