Thursday, December 15, 2022

Artists Painting the Ordinary

My brother George sent me a link to the painting up above. It is called "Don Valley on a Gray Day" and it is by the artist William Kurelek. The painting is at the Art Gallery of Ontario and dates to 1972. George was just up in Toronto admiring the picture in person.

George and I share certain views on art and we both admire this picture no end.

There is a hidden crucifix in this picture. Kurelek was a Catholic convert and that had something to do with that. However that is a matter for another day. For now, what George and I admire about the painting is that Kurelek took a view no one would think is anything special, and depicted it so creatively and realistically.

I think this guy was influenced by Andrew Wyeth. A while ago I sent George and interview I found on YouTube with Andrew Wyeth. I will have to find it again and link to it. In that interview, Wyeth talked about how he loved dull landscapes with nothing in them. He didn't use the word dull but he meant that, kind of static. He found them interesting. I cracked up when Wyeth said about his famous painting "Christina's World," that sometimes he thought it would have been better without Christina in it. That is something I will never forget!

It's interesting to me how all these guys, the Don Valley painter and Andrew Wyeth and Charles Burchfield too, they worked with crazy uninteresting scenes that conventional artists would not ever have noticed or thought about painting. I identify with that way of thinking. I was thinking that way naturally when I began drawing things around Buffalo several years ago. Someone told me that my pictures reminded them of Burchfield, so I started researching Burchfield, and I loved learning that he thought that way. Burchfield believed that an artist did not have to live in Paris or Venice to create great art. What he saw before him in West Seneca was all he needed.

These artists knew you could do something interesting with anything. There was one artist, maybe it was John Singer Sargent, used to carry a chair and just set it down anywhere and start drawing. 

Sargent did a lot of paintings of great European scenes so I am not sure he was the one who did that. I will have to do some Googling. However he did leave advice I agree with and that reflects what we are talking about.

"You can't do sketches enough," he said. "Sketch everything."

He added: ".... and keep your curiosity fresh." However I prefer my abbreviated version. 

"Sketch everything."

Even the Don Valley Parkway!

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