Esteemed thinker: Henri Rousseau

There are twenty-four hours in the day all making up the exact amount of minutes, sixty-per-hour to be exact. However, it is curious that some of these hours seem to fly by, not allowing us to complete specific tasks. It is during this time that we often say, “time flies”. Yet, on the opposite pole, there exists times when we feel an hour goes by so slowly that we wish it away. These creeping hours are universally agreed upon to be relegated to the occasions when we wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to fall back to sleep.

During these fitful hours nothing seems to agree. Our pillows are too flat or too thick, our sheets are too hot or too cold, and the room is too quiet or too noisy. The clock’s ticking or lit numbers seem too loud or too bright, and seem only remind to us that we should be asleep.

Twenty-four hours in the day may be the official count however, during unintentional times we are awake instead of sleeping, twenty –four hours seems interminable. rousseau image

Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), a self-taught French artist born in Laval, France. His nickname, “Le Douanier” (“the customs officer”) by his acquaintances in the Parisian avant-garde was given to him because of his occupation as a toll collector. During his life as an artist he was often ridiculed as not being good, and unlike his peers who profited by their art, Rousseau did not.
His style, often described as childlike and naïve, did in fact portray his subjects with bold colors and very personalized style. His style was never appreciated by the conservative art officials in Paris, yet he was able to find exhibitions that accepted his work to be shown.

It was contemporary artist friends such as Camille Pissarro who praised his direct approach. After his death in 1910, his work did influence other artists; from his friend Picasso to Max Ernst and the Surrealists.

And so, I bring you a most famous painting by “Le Douanier”, which envisions those set hours we call night….here is an oil on canvas titled “The Sleeping Gypsy” (1897).

rousseau_ sleeping gypsy

Second image: Henri Rousseau 1902 photomechanical print : photogravure

Esteemed thinker: Paul Cézanne

chef_2 If there is one activity that seems to be enjoyed by both men and women, it is eating. Dining out has become a pastime that stirs everyone’s taste buds from the moment we get up to the moment we go to bed. From breakfast to mid-night snacks food is our minds. Much of one’s morning drudgery at work is survivable by much collaboration with colleagues on where to go to lunch. Dates consist of a dinner out, while a get-together with friends at a sporting event first involves a well-executed tailgate party. Our time at the grocery store is extended by squeezing and smelling…to find just the right colored vegetables and fruits; reading ingredients on labels (that always need glasses to see), and making sure the fish at the seafood counter is “wild”.

The multitude of television programs that host reality shows with restaurant chefs, culinary hopefuls, and celebrity cooks who concoct dishes under bizarre circumstances illustrates our fascination with food. Travel shows that take us to places we cannot pronounce with hosts who eat things that challenge the stomach and palate have become ever more popular with armchair chefs. It is clear that the world has become enamored with food.

So with all this eating and cooking, why is it that when we come home from the grocery store and put away our purchases we seem to always open the refrigerator and say, “There is nothing good to eat!” Hmmmm, perhaps that’s why we head directly to the television…because there is always something delicious to virtually eat!

cezanne fruit still lifeToday’s blog brings you the esteemed thinker: Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) born in Aix-en-Provence, France, one of the most influential artist. Falling in the category of Post Impressionists, his painting inspired generations of artists having formed the bridge from late impressionist’s movement to the cubist movement. Much of his work seemed to ignore what was considered classical perspective, painting objects that allowed each item to be “independent within the space of a picture while the relationship of one object to another takes precedence over traditional single-point perspective.”

Having brought to you a great painter in today’s post we must look at his thoughts in a different way; for his ideas are to be interpreted not through words but rather transported by way of the medium he creates best, painting. And so I bring you an oil on canvas titled, Still Life with Jar, Cup, and Apples (1877) by the great Paul Cézanne. Take a virtual bite out of his work and enjoy!

First image: Chef in North Beach Italian restaurant. San Francisco, California, Photographer: Collier, John, Date Created: 1941 .

Esteemed thinker: George Field

20140715_124832 There are three primary colors, red, blue, and yellow, and three secondary colors, orange, purple, and green, which are created by mixing one primary color with another. For example: if you mix a dash of yellow with a dash of red you will produce orange. For our youngest members of society, this in itself is magic. As we turn our colors from one shade to another, we can become more creative with the names. Dark blue, resembling the night sky, can have the moniker of “midnight blue”, while a more vibrant blend of blue and green may be referred to as “turquoise”.

But it was just recently; upon a re-voyage to the Caribbean Sea that I decided the names of the blues did not satisfy my request for identification of the water’s color. There seemed to be nothing on the “proverbial” palette that would announce such grandeur, such beauty, for as one would venture from wave to wave, the sun upon the surface changed the blues like a chameleon dashing from leaf to leaf.

And so, my tongue was tied to the usual color selections however, I know better than to hold such radiance hostage within the framework of the color-wheel.

NPG D20848; George Field by David Lucas, after  Richard RothwellToday’s blog introduces the esteemed thinker: George Field (1777- 1854), the British chemist, who helped alter British painting both aesthetically and practically. It was during the industrial revolution that an increased knowledge of chemistry allowed early nineteenth-century painters to benefit from the most dramatic increase in the number of new natural and synthetic pigments and refined color processing developments. Field, buttressed his theories with reliable information about light-fast, durable pigments, all based on his own scientific experiments and manufacturing processes.

In 1835, he published Chromatography, although already recognized by professional painters as London’s most important color-maker and supplier.

I now bring you a piece of his writing from FIELD’S CHROMATOGRAPHY; OR, TREATISE ON COLOURS AND PIGMENTS AS USED BY ARTISTS. From the essay, The relations of harmony and colour, here is something to ponder.

“Assured as we must be of the importance of colouring as a branch of art, colours in all their bearings become interesting to the artist, and on their use and arrangement his reputation as a colourist must depend.
Colour, remarks Ruskin, is wholly relative; each hue throughout a work is altered by every touch added in other places. Thus, to place white beside a colour is to heighten its tone; to set black beside a colour is to weaken its tone; while to put grey beside a colour, is to render it more brilliant. If a dark colour be placed near a different, but lighter colour, the tone of the first is heightened, while that of the second is lowered. An important consequence of this principle is, that the first effect may neutralize the second, or even destroy it altogether. …

We learn from these relations of colours, why dapplings of two or more produce effects in painting so much more clear and brilliant than uniform tints obtained by compounding the same colours: and why hatchings, or a touch of their contrasts, thrown as it were by accident upon local tints, have the same effect. We see, too, why colours mixed deteriorate each other, which they do more—in many cases—by imperfectly neutralizing or subduing each other chromatically, than by any chemical action. Finally, we are impressed with the necessity, not only of using colours pure, but of using pure colours; although pure colouring and brilliancy differ as much from crudeness and harshness, as tone and harmony from murkiness and monotony.

The powers of colours in contrasting each other agree with their correlative powers of light and shade, and are to be distinguished from their powers individually on the eye, which are those of light alone. Thus, although orange and blue are equal powers with respect to each other, as regards the eye they are totally different and opposed. Orange is a luminous colour, and has a powerfully irritating effect, while blue is a shadowy colour, possessing a soothing quality—and it is the same, in various degrees, with other colours …”

Second image: Portrait by David Lucas, after Richard Rothwell mezzotint, 1845 (1839)

Esteemed thinker: Vincent van Gogh

hayThere are very few things that humanity agrees upon except perhaps when it comes to nature. Not even those who consider themselves city dwellers are devoid of Mother Nature’s presence nor can they ignore her. Even in the most congested conditions does one find a flowering weed growing between the cracks of cement, whereupon our hearts delight with its determination. Even in the smoggiest of days do we feel her resolve, releasing the sun’s rays or sprinkling rain upon a thirsty sidewalk…for these are the doings, the free spirit that belongs to nature… And of course there are the forever vistas that we witness along the shores or on the precipice of a mountain…scenes that make us heave with a great sigh of gladness.

We would be hard-pressed to find someone that has not recorded mentally or digitally nature … for we hold her in universal awe. It is a theme that has inspired the artists of the world and in tribute they have dedicated works in her honor.

Today’s blog introduces one of the most famous artists in history, a man who I believe was greatly misunderstood and unfortunately best known for his physiological breakdown during which he cut off part of his left ear with a razor; an event in his life that has became synonymous with his name… Esteemed thinker: Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was a largely self taught artist and considered one of the greatest Post-Impressionists. His bold and colorful style of painting became an influence on his successors, where his approach to expressionism was adopted by generations of followers. Though his work was never honored during his lifetime, his masterpieces now have become part of what we recognize as genius.

van gogh hay stack So without anymore fanefare, I bring to you the thoughts of this humble man which I have extracted from his letters to his brother, Theo. Set aside a moment and read the words of Vincent Van Gogh …

“… Many landscape painters do not possess that intimate knowledge of nature which those have who from childhood have looked at the fields. Many landscape painters as men (though we appreciate them as artists) give something that satisfies neither you nor me. You will say that everyone has seen landscapes and figures from childhood on. The question is: Has everybody also been reflective as a child? Has everybody who has seen them also loved heath, fields, meadow, woods, and the snow and the rain and the storm? Not everybody has done that as you and I have: it is a peculiar kind of surroundings and circumstances that must contribute to such knowledge of nature; it is a peculiar kind of temperament and character, too, that must help to make it take root…”