Tag Archives: oil painting

L is for Landscape, Leonardo, Liu, Lowry, Lichtenstein and Lots more…

 

ECW Mountain and River.JPG

Mountain and River by E. Colin Williams. Yes, I’m lucky enough to live inside a landscape that looks a lot like this painting done by my father. 

Growing up I looked at a lot of landscapes – not just the ones we lived in and drove through but also the ones my father painted and my mother photographed. In a way, I got to see everything at least twice – once as a fleeting impression as I moved through the landscape and again, later after it had been filtered and transformed on its way to becoming a painting or a photograph.

Maybe because of that I love seeing how artists interpret the world we live in, how they try to capture the essence of a place on a two-dimensional surface.

 

da vinci bird-s-eye-view-of-sea-coast

Leonardo (da Vinci) is not the first artist that jumps to my mind when I think of landscape painters. This painting is called Bird’s Eye View of Sea Coast and was painted in 1515. I find it fascinating because it feels quite abstract and clean in its execution, features the strangest composition, and shows the world from a perspective Leonardo could not have experienced firsthand. It’s a strange blend of cartography, art, and imagination. 

 

 

Lautrec painted lots of outdoorsy scenes, but generally they include people, horses, or both… This is very different to my father’s paintings which rarely included humans, birds or animals. Until recently, that is, when Dad has been exploring subjects he spent little time with earlier in his career (a topic I’ll explore in more depth in a later post).

 

Lautrec fishing-boat-1880

Fishing Boat by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1880

 

In the literary arts department, Jack London had a gift for capturing the landscape on the page. The Call of the Wild certainly evokes the brutality of the Yukon and the impact the landscape has on its inhabitants.

 

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Jack London was not the only one inspired by images of the frozen north. The Russian painter Nicholas Roerich often turned to the mountains in winter for inspiration. This is Snowy Lift (1924), by Nicholas Roerich

 

 

lichtenstein arctic-landscape-1964

Here’s Roy Lichtenstein’s take on the northern landscape. Arctic Landscape, 1964

 

 

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L. S. Lowry’s dull as mud colours were typical of his early landscapes, this one from 1910. Though it’s titled Clifton Junction, Morning this hardly screams ‘morning light’ to me. 

 

 

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Compare Lowry’s somber morning with this exuberant sunburst by van Gogh. Enclosed Field with Rising Sun, 1889. 

 

And, finally, here’s a landscape by Georgia O’Keeffe… It may be abstract, but I can still see the landscape in the colours and natural forms.

 

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From the Lake, 1924 by Georgia O’Keeffe

 

Today I was priviledged to watch the amazing photographer Amy Liu at work. She was taking some photos of Ally Lacentra, super-talented young actor (and my step-daughter who, as luck would have it, has an abundance of Ls in her name).

 

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Amy and Ally at work – I felt bad for them as it was brisk outside today! Poor Ally had to try and look relaxed even when the chilly spring breeze blew down from the mountains! 

 

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One of the many gorgeous shots Amy Liu captured during the shoot today. Lovely!

 

 

And on that note, off I go to get back to work on the current work in progress. Let me know in the comments below if you have a favourite landscape painter…

Catch you later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

What is it about abandoned buildings that is so compelling? Given that the theme of this week’s photo challenge is ‘abandoned’ I’m obviously not the only person to think so. I find abandoned buildings sad and lost – and can’t help wonder about their stories and the stories of those who lived/worked/died there.

Dad is the same way – over the years he has painted many decrepit old barns and derelict buildings of all shapes and sizes. A few years back he was fascinated by the facade of one of Victoria’s old brick buildings that had carefully been salvaged and propped up prior to the property’s redevelopment. The project had been in limbo for a while when he started working on the painting and we captured all the stages of its development in this short (less than a minute) time-lapse photo video.

Partway through you can see two figures appear – and though the whole painting is interesting and full of intriguing details, it is their presence that I am most curious about. What are they doing? Who are they? What are they talking about?

Depending on my mood and how optimistic I am feeling about the world, they are two heroin addicts finding a quiet corner to shoot up – or they are activists scoping out the empty lot as a possible place to do a bit of guerrilla farming – or, they are young lovers who just wanted to sneak away from their respective day jobs for a quick snuggle…

Preservation

If you click on the link to the image (for some reason, I don’t have a copy to upload from this computer) you can zoom in on different areas to better read the graffiti, etc. If you have a closer look at the seated figure you might notice some similarity to yours truly… Dad had me pose (out on the deck, if I remember correctly) and then based that person (druggie/world-saver/hussy?) in the painting on the photos and sketches.

The process wasn’t unlike what I do when I create fictional characters in my novels – I am often inspired by real people I meet and then plunk them into some alternate world and make them hang out with people they would never meet in their actual lives. The fact I am sort of in this painting does nothing whatsoever to help me know the story behind whatever conversation it is those two might be having… and Dad isn’t saying.

 

Selfie Meets Hurricane Ethel – Artist vs Farmer

Selfie - brown sweater

I was considering posting more snow photos (maybe we’ve all seen enough of those? And besides, our snowlettte hardly counts… ) or a dreadfully wobbly video of me chopping through the ice on the horse trough in the pitch darkness (you have no idea how hard it is to hold the phone steady and not drop it in the icy water, point the headlamp more or less in the correct direction so the axe head is illuminated, and then chop effectively… The sound effects are good, but the video – not so much). I still haven’t got around to writing up my notes from the Deconstructing Dinner talk last week (was going to do that but then reached for my purse, into which I had stuffed my scrawled scribblings, when I realized my purse is down in the truck cab…) And then I remembered that this week’s photo challenge is none other than the Selfie!!

Regulars here will know this one had my name all over it, given my recent obsession with selfies and the deeper meaning thereof… Here’s a link to the post that talked about self portraits, artists and their interpretation of selfies, and a few of mine… And here’ s a link to the [very] recent post about how my felfie (a selfie by a farmer) won some market bucks at the local community market… I kind of like that one because the chicken looks so stern and regal and I don’t typically think of chickens as looking either stern or regal…

Dad and I have continued to talk about this strange thing artists (and now every Tom, Dick, and Harriet with a phone) have with self portraits… One of the things Dad mentioned was how important it is to get the eyes right – and how challenging that can be. If you can capture that whatever-it-is that makes the eyes seem alive, you have half a chance of creating an image that makes an impression.

Alas, his comment about how hard it is to get the eyes right caught me in a goofy, ‘what else can I do with google’s image toys?’ frame of mind and I came up with this:

Face twitch-MOTIONThen I thought I should settle down and try to do something more serious and took this one:

Closed eye selfie

Every time I added another filter it added forty years or so, which was a tad depressing. I mean, I feel pretty tired at the end of some days, but some of these were rather alarming…

Selfie old

What I would look like if I were 87, lived in the desert, and had just heard my favourite goat had died while giving birth to triplets. Where on earth will I find the milk to raise the babies?

Meanwhile, Dad was in his studio obsessing about eyes. A while back he had done a self portrait in shades of grey:

Self portrait [E. Colin Williams]

Self portrait [E. Colin Williams]

Dad photographed one of his eyes from the painting:

ECW Self Portrait - Eye… printed it out at a scarily larger than life size… And then, he spiralled down into that eye and recalled a story from September 1960 when he and my mother were travelling together through Florida. They were holed up in a tiny rustic cabin which, apparently, was full of holes and very drafty when Hurricane Ethel struck the Florida panhandle. This could have been a scary story, but instead it was more one of those bizarre nightmare scenarios that one comes up with in… you know… nightmares.

Dad and a friend (a B-52 bomber mechanic) had completely taken apart the transmission of Mom and Dad’s 1956 Packard. Every last tiny bit had been spread out on a tarp on the floor of the cabin in accordance with the exploded drawing in the manual. Every piece had been cleaned and oiled and checked over, lined up and was ready for reassembly when Ethel rolled ashore bringing with her a gazillion bits of girt and sand and dirt and dust which blasted through the many cracks in the walls and around the door and windows, nicely coating the many delicate parts of said transmission. Dad said they hoped Ethel would carry off the car so they could write it off but no such luck. They spent the next who knows how long cleaning off every speck of crud before the transmission could be put back together again.

This made a huge impression on my parents as this was one of those stories we heard over the dinner table at various points as we were growing up… The image of that storm still, apparently, haunts Dad as this is where he went from the close-up of his eye:

Ethel Comes to Town

Which, when you compare it to the original eyeball

E. Colin Williams - eye detailmakes one realize just how aptly the eye of the storm is named…

NABLOPOMO – Farmer vs Artist

Sometimes Dad drops sketches onto my desk. These are usually delivered with interesting comments like, "the one on the right is thinking about the Sanctuary Knocker."

Sometimes Dad drops sketches onto my desk. These are usually delivered with interesting comments like, “the one on the right is thinking about the Sanctuary Knocker.”

So while I’m being all practical and thinking about turkey sales and recipes, Dad is busy in his studio being all artistic…  He has been doing a series of sketches and watercolours of turkeys in various stages of development. The two birds in the image above are what we call teen turkeys – young birds not quite big enough to be heading for freezer camp (you can tell they aren’t very old because their snoods are of modest proportions…).

When Dad mentioned that the one on the right was thinking about what he would do with a 37-day stay of execution I confess I returned a blank stare.

“Look it up online,” was Dad’s reply.

I know Dad is a tad obsessed with the Sanctuary Knocker at Durham Cathedral. One of his paintings featuring the knocker graces the dining room:

Dad's painting of the Sanctuary Knocker at Durham Cathedral.

Dad’s painting of the Sanctuary Knocker at Durham Cathedral.

After our little turkey-inspired exchange I looked up the details and discovered that someone in grave trouble (usually self-inflicted trouble, like, say the person had stabbed someone else…) was allowed to thump on the cathedral door with the Sanctuary Knocker and, after being admitted, could seek sanctuary inside for 37 days. According to the Durham World Heritage Site website (which is quite excellent) the perpetrator could either reconcile with his or her enemies or plan an escape.

Good thing we don’t let the turkeys into the house or they’d be lining up to peck at the painting. Not a good thing for various reasons, but if the plotters above were successful in getting that cathedral door to swing open, 37 days from now would be much too late for Christmas dinner…

For more information about the cathedral, visit the official website.

For more information about Dad (who does have an actual name – E. Colin Williams) – visit the artist’s website.