Saturday, October 22, 2011

Grandma Hands

I have Grandma hands.
Used to be that my hands were beautiful. Not puffy or wrinkled. When I was young my nails were long and I would paint them chocolate brown. That was in the 70s when chocolate brown fingernails were radical and blue nail polish was never heard of. I was pretty once, too. On a good day. (sigh)

But years offer dreams that actually come true for some of us. The same dreams also require us to give away parts of ourselves. I could list for you all the names I find most beautiful in the world. The names that belong to the ones I've given parts of my life to. Two wonderful and very different husbands (at different times, of course), 7 children, one grandchild and one loaner whom I can't seem to not love dearly. That's makes 12 if you weren't counting.

One day, before I saw it coming, after all the diaper changes and sippy cup fills, dishes and dinners, craft projects and laundry, I looked through the soap suds and saw Grandma hands.

Do I miss the brown nail polish? Maybe a little. But my hands are ready for the next job in my life. If God wills that more dreams come true, I'll be changing more diapers and filling more
sippy cups. And hopefully keep giving myself away.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dear friends,

Have you seen the painting elephants?
The elephants who paint with brushes!
Not kidding!

Check it out!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ernest Meissonier,
The Chess Players, 1856
Oil on panel, 10.5 x 8.5 in.

Check out this little bit of goodness!
Notice its size? Oil, colored oils, painted with a brush, onto a board, 11 inches tall!
Some look at mountains to see the greatness of God, for some, medicine holds fascination and proof of the existence of God. For me, things like this. Perfect likeness with incredible detail... of two guys playing chess. Incredible! The skill that God has put into man! What must God be like??

This genre, everyday life scenes in a small format, was very popular with the wealthy French Bourgeoisie. What an amazing little thing to have hanging on the wall?!
The men's coats are velvet. The tapestry on the wall is rich and realistic. Gilt on chairs, shiny buckles, and the expressions! The blue guy seems to think he's checkmated his opponent.
(How do you say "checkmate" in French??)

What do you think this room smelled like?? Musty, maybe? Cold for sure. What do you think is going on in the upper left corner. All those squiggly white lines. I could just about hear the 'shashing' of their shoes on the wood floor.. unlike women of the time with layers of fabric, these guys' jackets would probably not rustle... but I can hear the chairs definitely creeking!
You know... when you get right down to it, there are really only a few colors in the world. This painting has the best!

They say an artist views his works as never quite finished. Some paintings are done over several times. That thought makes this piece all the more fascinating. The artist had very little room to contain his concept... let alone to change it! One false move with the brush and someone's entire hand could disappear!

Do you enjoy this as much as I do?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gustave Courbet, A Burial at Ornans 1849-50
Oil on Canvas, 124 x 263 in.
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Another painting of a lifetime! Double-click on A Burial at Ornans!
In real life it measures 10 feet, 4 in tall and 21 feet wide! This would mean the figures are lifesized!
I'll stop here and wait for you to look.


The dawn of realism in 19th century is before your eyes!
Courbet strayed from the beaten path of conventional historical painting (which was all painted from past tense, events that had long since happened) by painting from his lifetime and personal experiences. This scene is said to have been from his uncle's funeral. Some say he arranged the townspeople outside and others say he brought them to his studio sometime after the funeral to paint the scene. (Below is a study for the work. I'm sorry I couldn't get a larger image)

In the mid 1800s, art was seen as something to copy first. (An artist's own creativity was secondary. ) Students were even denied a spectrum of colors until they had mastered another's work.
Here Courbet used somber colors, and handled his paints with a palette knife. He also gave equal treatment to all his characters. These techniques were frowned upon. A self-proclaimed 'realist,' Courbet made his own way, radically, through major repercussions with the contemporary establishment. When jurors banned his fourteen works from the Universal Exhibition in 1855, the painter held his own exhibition. Amazing! (I would note that although some of Courbet's paintings are edifying, others, I have found, are less so.)

Let's only look at this magnificent story on canvas for now. A funeral in France, 1849.
Each face tells a story. All the elements of a small society, right here. I look all around the space and simply find what looks like truth. (You can see why Courbet's critics did not like his handling of the subjects. everyone's flaws left to see. Like a scene after a fire. No pretense. Not even in the peacocks! (See below)) The paul-bearers, eyes covered, knowingly, acknowledging their dark task. The blonde alter boy looks up for guidance. Most seem genuinely sad. The red peacocks at center left seem mocked, I think, by Courbet. Their bulbous noses, ridiculous headdresses, and flushed faces... juxtapose the grave-digger's face, handsome and purposeful. I do wonder what the man in blue socks is doing.

The colors used here are beautiful and calming. This, to be sure, is the one element perhaps not totally realistic. In a real sky there is cool light somewhere. Hints of blue somewhere. If we were to experience an afternoon with a sky this color, light cast in all amber tones and no direct sun, we would think the world was coming to an end! (or for me, that I'd finally gotten my dream after all and found myself inside a painting!)

This piece is one of the first of its kind. Realism is born. I love it!
Do you??

(Study for A Burial at Ornans, 1849 )

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This series of posts begins 6 pics below this.
Scroll down until you see the little boy.
Double click on each one and take some long looks.
Which is your favorite?

How 'bout inside the house??

And some are just plain creepy!
( I think I'd look the other way too!)