Tag Archives: painting

R is for Red (AtoZChallenge2018)

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Kiki de Montparnasse in a Red Jumper and a Blue Scarf, by Moise Kisling, 1925

It’s one of the first colours we learn to identify as children. Our eye is drawn to the red smear in a visual composition. It’s the symbol of blood and of love, anger and the universal color of stop signs around the world. Associated with the Red Cross, the red sun on the Japanese flag (it’s actually the most popular colour used in flags with 77% of all flags including it somewhere…), red is also the least common hair colour in the human population (only 1-2% of the world’s population can lay claim to red hair).

 

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Moise Kisling obviously liked both Kiki and the colour red… (this portrait is called Kiki de Montparnasse in a Red Dress)

 

Red is one of the primary colours – the others being yellow and blue. In theory, if one mixes two primary colours you get secondary colours (green, orange and purple) and then, if you mix primary and secondary colours you wind up with tertiary colours. If you know what you are doing and have a bit of black and white you should be able to mix any colour you can imagine.

 

P3060031 ECW Watercolours

As a kid, I was totally intrigued by the magical paint-mixing that went on while Dad was working. Even now when I visit his studio this process seems like a strange kind of alchemy, capturing light and form, shape and shadow by smearing colour on a flat surface… 

 

 

 

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By contrast, Piet Mondrian seems to have gone to great lengths to keep his colours clean and separate. This is Composition C (No. III) With Red Yellow and Blue, 1935

 

Also keeping it simple (colour-wise) is Roy Lichtenstein and this pop art portrait.

 

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Head – red and yellow (1962)

 

 

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This pensive child caught the eye of Mary Cassatt. Little Girl in a Red Beret dates from 1898. 

 

Would you call the child’s smock pink? Salmon? When you think about it, there are many, many words describing ‘red.’ Ruby. Carmine. Fire engine. Crimson. Rusty. And, plenty more… What’s your favourite shade of red? In case you are wondering, today’s artwork effort on my part was completely the wrong palette (greens and blues) so I won’t post here and spoil the word of the day…

 

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I went for a long walk this evening and took a ton of photographs. Scrolling through them there was a shocking dearth of red anywhere to be found. Except, in this photo which I snapped of a hula hoop hanging from a tree at the side of the trail. Who knows why a hoop should dangle just there… is it possible to drop your hula hoop and not notice? I thought the diminutive splashes of red were a lovely contrast to the more muted palette of the mountains before spring has fully sprung… 

See you tomorrow…

 

World Art Day – and Week Two Recap (#AtoZChallenge2018)

According to my source (thanks, Dad!) today is World Art Day! Given that Dad was the first artist I met (and certainly the one I’ve known for the longest), here’s a black and white photo of an early painting from Australia.

 

The Rocks

The Rocks by E. Colin Williams – not sure of the date – 1967ish?

 

This is an old area of Sydney – here’s a link to the Wikipedia page about The Rocks, now a touristy destination while still preserving some of the flavour of this historic district.

All these many years later, Dad is still going strong, still painting, still exploring new subjects, materials and techniques. Yes, he’s my father so I’m a bit biased, but I find him inspiring and love getting texts each day with updates from the studio. I never know what to expect and it’s so cool to be able to see paintings as they progress from the roughest of sketches to finished works.

 

IMG_6202 ECW Self Portrait

Self Portrait, 2015 E. Colin Williams Unfortunately, this photo isn’t really sharp, but it’s kind of fun to see the artist posing with the artist…

 

Hmm… I’ve been enjoying the daily blogging challenge this month – maybe I’ll continue for another month and just blog daily about Dad’s projects. He’s got lots on the go at the moment – then you could all see the cool stuff I get to see arriving on my phone each day…

I will chew on that between now and the end of April … Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in an ECW Art-themed month of blog posts starting in May.

Meanwhile, here are links to this past week’s blog posts:

Day 9 – H is for Home

Day 10 – I is for Ice

Day 11- J is for Jumping Jehosephat (and a BUNCH of other fun J words)

Day 12 – K is for Kisses, Klimt and Kerouac

Day 13 – L is for Landscape, Leonardo, Liu, Lowery, Lichtenstein and Lots more…

Day 14 – M is for Mary, Mountain (but not Montmartre)

See you tomorrow when we return to our regularly scheduled alphabet… Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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).

 

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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

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D is for Dying (#atozchallenge2018)

 

Édouard_Manet_-_Toter_Uhu Death Owl

Édouard Manet’s Dead Eagle Owl, 1881  Transforming death into art… 

 

The theme of this month’s blogging challenge is Transitions, Travel and Transformation. Dying could be said to be all three.

This past year I’ve read more about death (more precisely, the process of dying) than I would have thought possible. And, no – I have not developed a morbid obsession with the subject and no, I am not ill and no, nobody in the family has been stricken with a terminal illness. But I am writing a book for a new Orca Books series about the subject of medically assisted dying. What a rich and complex topic this has turned out to be!

 

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Pyramid of Skulls by Paul Cézanne, 1901

 

I remember my mother once telling me she had a terminal disease. I was, of course, horrified. She was quick to add, “well, so do you. So does everyone.” I was perhaps 11 and still didn’t quite get what point she was trying to make. Sensing my confusion she asked, “You do know what terminal means, don’t you?”

“You’re going to die?”

She nodded and laughed. “Aren’t you?”

The fact I still remember this exchange so many years later is indicative of how rattled I was at the time. I knew, in some theoretical way, that one day my parents would die. And, I suppose, I knew that we all have to go at some point, but it all seemed so removed from reality. So unlikely. I had not experienced death at that point. Had no idea what I was in for.

 

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Paul Cezanne’s Young Man with a Skull

 

As a result of my reading and I research I asked my father (now in his early 80’s) if I could interview him for the book, you know, have a chat about death. He was a bit offended, I think, and replied that he wasn’t planning to go anywhere anytime soon.

 

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Gustav Klimt – Death and Life, 1915

 

This pair of conversations with my parents pretty much sums up our North American discomfort with the inevitable. Yes, we sort of know it’s coming – but later and to someone else first.

 

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The Three Ages of Man and Death by Hans Baldung – 1541-ish

 

As a result, few of us have had proper discussions with loved ones about our wishes for end of life care. Even when we’ve carefully written out medical directives, the system (medical, legal) doesn’t always know quite what to do with them. It’s very hard to write a directive that will cover all circumstances. And, when the time comes, people sometimes change their minds and families are notorious for not wanting to let go.

I’m writing this post in the airport while waiting for my flight back to Canada from France. Assuming nothing goes dreadfully wrong, I’ll be back at home in about 20 hours from now. Given all the thinking and reading and ruminating I’ve been doing about the subject over the past many months, getting my thoughts and intentions regarding what I do and don’t want done with my dying body has now moved up on my To-Do list.

 

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Found Drowned by George Frederick Watts, 1850

 

What about you? Do you have an end-of-life directive? Do your loved ones know what it is? Have you had a conversation (or several) with those who may have to make those decisions on your behalf when the time comes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below… See you tomorrow on the other side of the pond!

You know, you don’t need to wait until you are dead to consider how best to share your wealth around… If you find yourself in a contemplative (and generous) mood, consider becoming a patron to support the creation of these blog posts, photo essays, and short videos. In return, you’ll have my undying appreciation, but you’ll also get access to Patron-only content, advance peeks at works in progress, and more – all for as little as a buck a month! It’s easy – head on over to Patreon to have a look at how it all works. One of the things Patrons will find out about me in a private post is the location of my grave. I’m not in it yet, obviously, but we do have a family plot and I have staked my claim!

 

 

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…