Friday, November 23, 2012

Alive and Kicking

This time of year, well actually the third Thursday in November, we like to pause between bites of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and jellied cranberry sauce, (there is no other kind) and remind ourselves of what we are thankful for. 

For myself, I am grateful that I've given up trying to appear fit and trim.  Bring on more of that Pecan Pie!  And damn right I want ice-cream on that!

Now that I got that out of my system, I thought I'd give all of my regular readers of Maine-ly Painting (and you know who you are) a nice treat, and show some real art.  Both of you who read this regularly know that I have a deep affection for the great painters of the past.  Be they the 19th Century types like William Bouguereau, Jean Leon Gerome, Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer, or 20th Century Illustrators like Norman Rockwell, NC Wyeth, Tom Lovell and Dean Cornwall.  But one type of artist I rarely mention are those that are very much alive and producing work that I think is the equal of any artist of the past. 

So without further ado, let me show you some art by some artists that make me want to quit right now.

Leading off is Jacob Collins.  He's a New Yorker who was born in 1964.  He had extensive art training and today runs the Water Street Atelier, the Grand Central Academy of Art and the Hudson River Fellowship.  (More information can be found here)  He's a classical realist in that he uses techniques of the Masters from generations past.  But what I love is the contemporary feel he gives his work.

Check this out:

Man, the treatment of the sheet is worth the price of the painting, alone.  He's no slouch with a Still Life either.  Just look at the glow he gives this orange:

And last but not least, he's a triple threat in that he does exquisite Landscapes as well.

Great--now I can feel inadequate in all three disciplines of art...

Moving on, I bring you Daniel Sprick.   Like Collins, Mr. Sprick predominantly paints from life as well.  Where as Collins uses a dreamy attitude in his work, Sprick has a no holds barred, show-it-as-it-is mentality.  But, if I had one wish to have as a painter, I'd wish for Daniel Sprick's eye.  Just look at the power of observation that Sprick uses in this painting:

Sprick lives in Colorado, but was originally an Arkansas boy, having been born there in 1953.  He had extensive training to develop his talents, and uses traditional methods and techniques-- all of which he's a  master of. 

I'm always blown away every time I see one of his portraits.  Now, a lot of people would look at them and say, "My, that's just like a photo!"  but let me tell you, no photo can reproduce what Sprick sees and paints:

Yeah, just let a camera try that!

About twenty-five years ago, I stumbled upon a book called The Illuminated Landscape.  It showcases the artwork of Peter Poskas and the landscapes he had done of the Connecticut farmland.  I highly recommend you go to Amazon and buy it. Really, you'll thank me. 

Born in 1939, but still going strong, I had the wonderful opportunity to see his work up close and personal in Thomaston, Maine (less than an hours drive from my home) at the Haynes Galleries.  Poskas doesn't have a web-site, so I linked him to that gallery.

As a landscape painter, I can only look at his work and wistfully say, "Why can't I do that?"  He embodies the style and technique that I want to achieve in my work.  Whenever I start a landscape painting, I think to myself, "How would Poskas treat this scene?"  With all due respect, you can have your Richard Schmid's and Scott Christensen's-- I'll take Peter Poskas every time.

And who wouldn't when you look at these beautiful pieces of Art?

Even though I know these images are a tad bit fuzzy, I still think it's painfully obvious; The man knows how to handle light.

I don't have a lot of biographical info on Mr. Poskas, but I do know he used to do a lot of studies plein air in preparation for his studio pieces.  Nowadays, he doesn't do quite so much of that.  Having seen his work in person, I know he paints on masonite panels, just like I do!  So... we've got that in common... 

Just a few miles away in South Thomaston lies a little gem of a gallery that houses some of the best Maritime paintings you can find. (OK, and maybe a few of mine, as well).  It's called Art Of The Sea, and is a representative gallery for John Stobard, another of my painting Gods.

Stobard was born in England in 1932, and found out early on that he had an affinity for history and drawing.  He made his big debut in New York City in 1965 and made quite a big splash.  Pardon the pun... He has since become the leading historical marine painter of our times.  If you want to take a step back in time, whether it be the coast of Maine or out in the deep blue sea, Stobard can take you there in his meticulously researched paintings.

Before they rotted away, these two schooners were stuck in the mud in Wiscasset, Maine:

I saw the painting above personally in the gallery.  Stobard is a master of the Moon light, as you can see from this awesome piece: 

And again, he researched the crap out of all of his depictions of maritime history.  If Stobard paints buildings along the waterfront, rest assured-- they were there.  Heck, I bet he even researched the proper ice to use in the painting below:

OK, maybe I'm joking about the ice part, but he sure did research the vessel he portrayed.  But his work isn't just schematically correct.  His paintings are Art.  Full of color, design and drama.  You don't have to know the history he shows you, just appreciate the scene, beautifully shown.  To me, that's a rare gift.

So there you have it, my favorite current artists.  They are some of the guys that I look up to and emulate.

And they are very much alive.

More than I can say about that turkey I ate yesterday...



Susan Roux said...

Thanks for the journey into art I never get to see. It's all stunning. For whatever reason you look to these artists, to improve your own art, keep focusing on it. Studying work like that could never hurt anybody! Plus I do see a growing trend in a positive direction with regards to your work. Keep it up! Maybe someday a child being born in 2012 will be posting Kevin Mizner paintings and talking about you like you talk about these other artist.

It could happen...

Nora MacPhail said...

Wow, thanks for sharing all of this information! Lots to learn from these amazing artists.