My body is trying to readjust to the cold and I’m not helping the process. I dipped down in a hot tub earlier today and then relaxed in a steamy sauna. I’m just not built for the cold. I think it’s all genetics. My dad’s ancestors were the Choctaw from the bayous of Louisiana, so a predilection for heat must be in my blood. Still, it’s nice to be back home.
Today I ran into one of my old professors and we were talking about the art I saw on this week’s trip. Here are a few of my favorite paintings:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bellona – Rembrandt
I saw this painting and immediately fell in love with one thing: that shield. Rembrandt’s mastery of light is quite apparent in the shadowed face of the Medusa and the slow progression of scattered light over the shield’s surface. It feels so metal and yet so real. But I could only stare at it for so long before I had to move along. If the week was a whirlwind, our museum trips were super-cyclones. We tried to see as much as possible before moving on to the next stop. I don’t regret that. It was what I wanted to do. But I also look forward to the vacations where I can relax in these museums and take time to study the art.
Chrysanthemums in the Garden at Petit-Gennevilliers – Gustave Caillebotte
The photograph doesn’t do this painting justice. Of course, I could say that about every painting. This photograph just doesn’t capture the transitions from light to dark. It was great to see how Caillebotte dealt with lights in the dark and darks in the light. And I just love how the canvas is almost split in half at a diagonal by the light.
Marie Julien – Vincent van Gogh
I’ll admit that I wasn’t always a van Gogh fan. Back in school we would look at his paintings and I’d struggle to see what the big deal was. Then I saw his other paintings. That’s when I started loving van Gogh. Take this painting for example. It’s a blend of texture, large shapes, small shapes, line, saturated color, and complementary and contrasting colors. There’s something firm and solid about the painting and yet it is built up by small brush strokes.
Irises – Vincent van Gogh
I saw a lot of van Gogh on my trip. And I came to like his flower paintings the most. I’d like to incorporate more flowers in my own paintings.
The National Gallery of Art
The Island and Bridge of San Bartolomeo, Rome – Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
On our way back north we stopped in DC and managed to spend a little time in the National Gallery of Art. It felt quite small compared to the MET.
I like this particular painting because it is able to represent a city with simple shapes.
The Tragic Actor – Edouard Manet
I see this painting as a counter piece to James McNeill Whistler’s Symphony in White, No. 1. If only because of its heavy and all encompassing use of black. I’ve lately been intrigued by paintings that focus mainly on one color.
Degas’ technique attracted me to this painting. Everything seems scraped and blurred to the point that the colors flicker and glow. It’s as if the colors bleed through each other.
I first saw this from across the room and then was surprised at how loose it was when I got closer. It works well from afar because of Monet’s use of light. The mind fills in the small details that the large shadows don’t distinguish. It would really be a great painting to do a study of if I could get into the museum with my easel.
Inspired by all the art I saw, I made sure to get some drawings down in my sketchbook.
On Monday we journeyed from Columbia to Charleston and relaxed on the beach. We were there for four hours while I worked on the above sketch. I’m not exactly pleased with how it turned out, but I learned I was really working too big to be effective with markers.
We arrived at 12:30am and the beach was mostly empty. It didn’t stay like that. For the rest of the day I had people asking me questions about my drawing. One guy asked to take pics of me drawing so he could prove to his art teacher friend that not all students were getting non-stop wasted on spring break.
I applied and reapplied sunscreen all day long and I still got burnt. The backs of my knees and my ears got the worst of it.
Man my neck looks weird and elongated in this photo. I definitely was standing too close to the drawing.
When we were done with the beach we drove into Charleston proper. The city is like a beautiful movie set. I’d love to live there some day.
Because I was unsatisfied with my beach drawing, I drew a portrait of my girlfriend as we waited for dinner at Kickin’ Chicken. Then it was a two hour drive back to Columbia, where we fell immediately asleep and woke up early for more fun.
On Tuesday we went to Congaree National Park and explored the swamps and hanging moss. We didn’t have real hiking equipment and thus were confined to the boardwalk. Though were still able to take in a huge chunk of the park’s beauty. I’d like to go back and travel deep into the swamp and see the amazingly tall champion hardwoods.
From there we went to the Riverbanks Zoo.
There were very few people at the zoo and we only ran into crowds when we crossed paths with school groups.
My first few sketches didn’t turn out too bueno, but I hit my stride once I got to the flamingoes.
I enjoyed the reptile house since those lizards were kind enough to hold still for me. My favorite drawing of the day is the one of the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana.
After seeing all the animals, we went to the flower garden and I got in a quick sketch of a brick arch and its surroundings. We were exhausted at that point and called it quits for the day and returned to Columbia. The rest of the trip we drove from city to city without a home base to return to at night. We arrived back at my parents’ house at 2am on Friday. It was a hectic end to our week, but I’m happy with all we got to see.