Friday, December 18, 2015

Still Life Inspiration from Sir William Nicholson (1872-1949)

Gertrude Jekyll by Sir William Nicholson

This last week I reread a show catalog, "William Nicholson Paintings" from the Kasmin Gallery 2006 show held in New York.
I've drooled many times over two of his still life paintings featured in Juliette Aristides' book, "Classical Painting Atelier".  For some reason, unknown to me because I like to research things, I never looked up Nicholson or attempted to find other works of his floating on the internet.
I went to a plein air retreat in September, and on one of the nights, they have an art book sale and swap.  Of all things, Richard Jordan PAAWM's leader and talented painter, was selling this catalog -thanks, Richard!!  What good fortune for me!

What do you respond to in Nicholson's work if you're already a fan?

What do I respond to?

I respond to his inquisitive approach to his subjects and even subject genre.  I almost have the feeling that would set about to paint something and honestly not know how he's pull it off.  This makes his work feel fresh to me.  He was eccentric, and unafraid to learn, pleased by everyday beauties.  I love his still lifes best, and then some figures and landscapes...oh it's hard to choose after the still life pieces!

He did know tragedy in his life-he was not naive.  He lost two adult children, a wife, and an infant. He lived in the war years made famous by TV drama, Downton Abbey.  One of his sons died in action in France during World War 1.

My rebellious side loves that he found immense success in his lifetime without being "branded".  He made a living first with woodcut illustrations and posters, and then by his portrait skills, but now he is remembered largely for his still life paintings.  He painted all sorts of subjects, more than I've mentioned, and he painted them well.

His paintings feel fresh, curious, and sincere.  I love painting and learning about painters I admire partly for the sheer visual pleasure, but also for the stories their work and their lives tell.  Painters interpret the world around them, they paint, and the echoes can reverberate for ages.

I just read a warning blog post about using pictures cautiously in blogs because of copyright issues. Too bad, because I wanted to plaster this post with Nicholson paintings I like:)
If you're on Pinterest, look me up and I have a William Nicholson pin board.  The paintings shown here are both related to Gertrude Jekyll, the famous English garden designer.

Look up some images!  Use your favorite search engine or try this link for a few...
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/sir-william-nicholson-1703

Miss Jekyll's Boots by Sir William Nicholson






Saturday, December 5, 2015

On Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic”

This week I’ve been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book “Big Magic-Creative Living beyond Fear”.  I haven't read "Eat, Pray, Love" or "Committed: A Love Story" or "The Signature of All Things" but I may.  
When I read, I’m not the sort of person that feels that they have to agree or disagree or come up with some sort of pronouncement.  It’s enough for me to get a golden nugget of information or inspiration.  I wasn’t always this way, but I am now.
I got really excited by Gilbert’s description of herself as a child.  She describes herself as a very fearful child that wished for example, when at the beach, that everyone there would come out of the water and read so she wouldn’t have to worry for their safety.   That is familiar to me.  My parents would agree that I shared some traits with young Ms. Gilbert.

She goes on to describe her encounters with the creative spirit.  She experiences an Idea as an entity that comes knocking, asking for you to help bring it to life, and if you pass on its offer, it’ll visit someone else.  She has some examples from her own life that are fascinating enough for you to go read them yourself.  Again, after getting over the strangeness of the concept, I had to agree that I have felt that sort of “magic” in my own life.  I found that after reading about Gilbert’s experiences, that understanding creativity in this whimsical way, for me, helps me feel less fearful as I step forward in my productivity, whether it be painting, writing, or doing business or making new connections.  I feel more aware when an Idea comes knocking, more conscious as I accept a project or turn it down.  And I’ve been doing it for years, but without the sort wakefulness that Gilbert has cultivated.