Winslow Homer and simple pleasures

close up flower tree_compressedThere are some things in one’s life that time is unable to devour… and that is the simple pleasures. And although time may chip away like the splintering of a tree into kindling, only to be consumed and then float away into ashes, simple pleasures often remain a constant.

How we occupy our time may change from decade to decade, person to person, generation to generation, yet some pleasures are still considered favorites. And even though the world has slowly been dominated by technology, there is still room for a most unelaborated contraption, the swing. The very act of swinging has the ability to transport us back to our youth on a spring day; a carefree moment in life.
And so, I invite you to swing back in time, close your eyes, and allow yourself this unsophisticated delight. Recall a time when a simple pleasure occupied your time; and I would imagine for some, it may have been between the boughs of a tree…. upon a swing. winslow-homer 1890

Today’s blog returns to us the esteemed thinker: Winslow Homer (1836-1910) America’s great artist who in the ninetieth century had the vision to recreate on canvas and paper both the simple pleasures and harsher realities of life. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Homer began as an illustrator and developed into the arena as one of the finest realist painters in the United States. Known for many of his watercolors, his work often emphasized nature; such the cliffs, mountains, rocks, and the seas of New England. He captured the wildness of the forces in nature as well as the people that endured and settled such harsh regions of the time. He found the tranquility of Mother Earth and her beauty… and then, through his art, brought it all to us.

I now bring you Homer’s interpretation of what I call simple pleasures; a watercolor completed in 1897, Girl on a Swing.

swing winslow-homer-

First image: NL Avery archives, Brickell Walk (2012)

Portrait image: Winslow Homer, circa 1890. Photo: Courtesy the Theodore Bolton papers, 1917-1958. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Esteemed thinker: Winslow Homer

landscape Nature’s influence is as expansive as the wonders she endows upon us. And with this thought one can only turn to the arts for examples of such marvels. From poets, to painters, to musicians, the natural surroundings have inspired.

Our inspirations come from the both large and small, tiny and grandiose. A warm breeze or a tidal storm; all products of nature; she is the source, the “ah ha moment” that stirs the creative process… gets the brush dipped into paint, the fingers flowing across the keyboard, and the first notes on the staff.
It is not hard to become inspired by nature; what is difficult is taming her for our distractions. It is true that some may pass her by with a carefree smile; however there are others who are propelled into her world as great as the passion provoked.

Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Winslow Homer,( 1836- 1910) a American artist and illustrator. Homer, considered to be one of the greatest American painters, was born in Boston, Mass. His career as an artist began at the age of 19 when he apprenticed at John.H Bufford’s lithography shop, teaching himself to draw by illustrating or the copying of photographs for sheet music covers of popular songs (1855-57). Two years later he moved to New York, attended a few art classes, later freelancing for Harper’s Weekly where he was sent to Virginia as an artist correspondent to cover the Civil War. winslow-homer

Homer travels and paints in France for a short time, only to return to the United States developing an impressionist style of painting years before the established school of Impressionism. His return to the United States takes him to seasides and rural communities where he is surrounded and enchanted by the beauty of nature, enticing him to experiment with technique, style, watercolor and oils. Throughout his life he travels to destinations such as the Caribbean, the Adirondacks, and rural Maine where he completes some of the most dramatic paintings. To date he continues to motivate and awe with his energy and artistic skills…for to see a Winslow Homer” is to be in the presence of greatness.

I now present to you one of our great American paintings, The Gulf Stream, 1899, an oil on canvas, inspired by Mother Nature and two winter trips to the Bahamas in 1884-85 and 1898-99. Painted by none other than Winslow Homer, take a moment from your hectic day and enjoy!

The Gulf Stream Winslow Homer

Tribute to summer

As the earth rotates and we near the Autumnal Equinox, I feel it is only fitting to give a tribute to summer for its sandy walks and the dipping of toes into water. I bid thanks to the season that shines.

And so, today’s blog brings you my piece, As the Shore Unfolds

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Esteemed thinker: Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz We humans believe that we are a sophisticated species having the ability to control so many aspects of our lives. We can decide where we live, when we eat, and how we spend days.

However, one small finicky component that we often do not seem to have as much control over is our mood. The disposition of our day can be easily altered and what began as a glorious morning may be modified, turning a seemingly pleasant afternoon into a dreary day. And the culprit for our gloom may be something that we, like it or not, have no control over… none other than Mother Nature.

Mother Nature has the ability to malign our attitude as quickly as she can turn the blue sky grey. How often do we find ourselves in a sour mood when it rains or complain when it is too hot? Her seasonal whims can make entire nations grumpy, putting scowls upon the faces of folks who only a few weeks before were delighting outside, now shielding themselves from the harsh and cold winter winds.

So as much as we would like to believe we are in control …take heed, there is a force greater than our own that “shall we say” owns our temperaments…it is our dear Mother…nature!

Today’s blog finds a path to the esteemed thinker: Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946). Acclaimed photographer and art promoter, he was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, but received his formal education in engineering in Germany. Upon his return to the New York City in 1890, he set his sights on establishing photography as a “legitimate” form of art. Early in his career Stieglitz led a movement called Pictorialism, which promoted the photograph as art, with an emphasis that a photograph was created when the camera was used as a tool, like a paintbrush or palette knife was a tool. His own work grew with his artistic achievements where he began to use the natural elements, such a weather, to create effects and the camera’s focusing abilities to soften the frames.

In 1905, he founded the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York, with Edward Steichen, which later became known simply as 291. Here he was able to elevate photography to the status of sculpture and painting. His own work

In 1917 he met the great American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, who becomes his lover and finally his wife in 1924. Over a period of 20 years, he had taken over 300 individual pictures of her, which demonstrates his unique and undeniable artistic ability to capture many facets of a single subject.

I now present to you a photogravure (1892) titled Winter – Fifth Avenue by the great photographer, Steiglitz. His ability to transport a mood is forever a testimony to his creative talents and artistic eye.

Winter - Fifth Avenue

Winter – Fifth Avenue

First image: Portrait of Alfred Stieglitz (1902) by Käsebier, Gertrude

Paul Cézanne and what is reality

cezanne Self-portrait-1887 What is reality and what is our perspective of it; a perplexing question, indeed. Some may think of this as one’s point of view, some may think of it as one’s opinion, some may think of it as one’s judgment. Where fact meet, converge, and often collide can make quite a difference in how we look at ourselves and others.

An ordinary mirror in our homes or the dressing room of a clothing store can take on the eye of an opposing point of view or similar reaction. The mirror may agree with us, whereupon we feel quite content with our dress, or it may show us a rather disagreeable figure of ourselves and we become disgusted with the reflection it has imparted.
Reality of a view or landscape, such as a mountain range, may be met with appreciation of nature’s vestibules or it may be overlooked as an impedance in our journey.

Such is the task of the artist, to present to us a reality that is wholly personal or universal. Sometimes we connect with a painting, feeling that its presence is greater than the canvas it is painted on, and other times our perspective of it falls short and we pass it by with a mere shrug of detachment .

And so, as we go on with our day, we are confronted with the decisions of what is reality. For some it remains unimportant, and for others it is a daily search for truth.

Today’s blog brings back the esteemed thinker: Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), French artist whose work demonstrates mastery of design, color, and the transition from 19th century art to the 20th century. Renown all over the world, Cézanne is considered the father of modern painting.

In his artistic endeavor, I present to you his oil on canvas titled, Mont Sainte–Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley. Take a moment to look at his reality through your reality and see where they converge. It is worth a moment out of your hectic day.

Cezanne painting

First image: Cézanne Self-portrait, 1887