Sunday, June 7, 2015

Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin
Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin was born June 7, 1848 and lived until May 8, 1903. Paul Gauguin was a French Post-Impressionist artist. He was an important figure in the Symbolist movement as a painter, sculptor, print-maker, ceramist, and writer. His bold experimentation with color led directly to the Synthetist style of modern art, while his expression of the inherent meaning of the subjects in his paintings paved the way to Primitivism.

His mother was from an influential Peruvian family. In 1850 his family left Paris for Peru but his father died on the voyage, leaving 18-month-old Paul, his mother, and sister, to fend for themselves. They lived for four years in Lima with Paul's uncle and his family. The imagery of Peru would later influence Gauguin in his art.

Woman Sewing, 1880
by Gauguin
In 1873, around the same time as he became a stockbroker, Gauguin began painting in his free time. That same year he married a Danish woman, Mette-Sophie Gad. They had five children. After the stock market crashed in 1882 and the art market contracted, Paul Durand-Ruel, the Impressionists' primary art dealer, for a period of time, stopped buying pictures from painters such as Gauguin. Gauguin's earnings contracted sharply. The following two summers he painted with Pissarro and occasionally Paul Cézanne. In October 1883, he wrote to Pissarro saying that he had decided to make his living from painting at all cost. His middle-class family and marriage fell apart after 11 years when Gauguin was driven to paint full-time.

After a period of time living in Copenhagen, he returned to Paris without his family. His Parisian life centred on the 9th arrondissement of Paris. All around were the cafés frequented by the Impressionists. He formed a friendship with Pissarro and visited him on Sundays to paint in his garden. Pissarro introduced him to many other artists. Gauguin showed paintings for the first time in Impressionist exhibitions held in 1881 and 1882. His paintings received dismissive reviews.

Tahitian Women on the Beach
by Paul Gauguin
Under the influence of folk art and Japanese prints, Gauguin's work evolved towards Cloisonnism, a style given its name by the critic Édouard Dujardin in response to Émile Bernard's method of painting with flat areas of color and bold outlines, which reminded Dujardin of the Medieval cloisonné enameling technique. Gauguin was very appreciative of Bernard's art and of his daring with the employment of a style which suited Gauguin in his quest to express the essence of the objects in his art.

Winter Landscape, 1879
by Paul Gauguin
In 1887, after visiting Panama, Gauguin spent several months near Saint Pierre in Martinique, Gauguin's Martinique paintings were exhibited at his color merchant Arsène Poitier's gallery. There they were seen and admired by Vincent van Gogh and his art dealer brother Theo van Gogh, whose firm Goupil & Cie had dealings with Portier. Theo purchased three of Gauguin's paintings for 900 francs and arranged to have them hung at Goupil's, thus introducing Gauguin to wealthy clients. At the same time Vincent and Gauguin became close friends (on van Gogh's part it amounted to something akin to adulation) and they corresponded with each other on art, a correspondence that was instrumental in Gauguin formulating his philosophy of art. The arrangement with Goupil's continued past Theo's death in January 1891.

The Cellist
 by Gauguin
Gauguin's relationship with Vincent proved fraught. In 1888, at Theo's instigation, Gauguin and Vincent spent nine weeks painting together at Vincent's Yellow House in Arles. Their relationship deteriorated and eventually Gauguin decided to leave. On the evening of 23 December 1888, according to a much later account of Gauguin's, van Gogh confronted Gauguin with a razor blade. Later the same evening, van Gogh cut off all or part of his left ear. He wrapped the severed tissue in newspaper and handed it to a prostitute named Rachel, asking her to "keep this object carefully." Van Gogh was hospitalized the following day and Gauguin left Arles.

By 1890 Gauguin had conceived the project of making Tahiti his next artistic destination. Many of his finest paintings date from this period. In August 1893, Gauguin returned to France where he continued to execute paintings on Tahitian subjects. By this time it had become clear that he and his wife Mette were irrevocably separated.

Still life with Oranges by Paul Gauguin
Gauguin set out for Tahiti again on June 28, 1895, disillusioned with the Paris art scene. He arrived in September 1895 and was to spend the next six years living, for the most part, an apparently comfortable life as an artist-colon. During this time he was able to support himself with an increasingly steady stream of sales and the support of friends and well-wishers. He built a spacious reed and thatch house at Punaauia in an affluent area ten miles east of Papeete in which he installed a large studio, sparing no expense.

His health then took a decided turn for the worse and he was hospitalised several times for a variety of ailments. While he was in France, he had his ankle shattered in a drunken brawl on a seaside visit to Concarneau. The injury, an open fracture, never healed properly. Now painful and debilitating sores that restricted his movement were erupting up and down his legs. These were treated with arsenic. Gauguin blamed the tropical climate and described the sores as "eczema", but his biographers agree this must have been the progress of syphilis.

Where Are You Going, 1893
by Paul Gauguin 
He died suddenly on the morning of May 8, 1903. Earlier he had sent for his pastor Paul Vernier, complaining of fainting fits. They had chatted together and Vernier had left, believing him in a stable condition. However Gauguin's neighbour Tioka found him dead at 11 o'clock, confirming the fact in the traditional Marquesan way by chewing his head in an attempt to revive him. By his bedside was an empty bottle of laudanum, which has given rise to speculation that he was the victim of an overdose. Vernier believed he died of a heart attack.

Paul Gauguin, Self Portrait with the Yellow Christ, 1890

Paul Gauguin - Lady In Red

The guitar player by Paul Gauguin

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Maynard Dixon Country 2014

The Maynard Dixon Country show comes together once a year in Mt. Carmel, Utah. This year's event is Sept, 5-7, 2014.  This art show features 33 of some of the best known artists from across the country.  Now in its 16th year, this annual event is gaining national acclaim.  If you are an art lover, it is a must see show.  These four paintings are my entries in this year's Maynard Dixon Country.

Canyons in the Sky, 22x30'' watercolor

Morning Layers, 18x36 watercolor

Desert Shadows, 14x18'' oil

Wind Chill, 18x22'' oil

The second day of the show opens at 10:00 am with a crowd of people trying to see all of what is called the Wet Painting Show.  This show takes place in Maynard Dixon's historic studio.  Here are a few photos from last year's wet painting show.

The crowd gathers awaiting the 10:00 entry to the wet painting sale.

Inside Maynard Dixon's studio just before the door opens.

Another view inside Maynard Dixon's studio just before the door opens.

Many discussions about which paintings to buy.

An up close study of some of the many paintings available.

Group art discussion in front of the Maynard Dixon bunkhouse.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A few recent paintings

I felt it was time to post a few paintings I've done the last little while. Most of these were done on location during various painting trips. Two of them are studio pieces.

North From Powell Point, 10x12" oil - on location piece

Heaven's Breath, 15x22" watercolor - studio piece

Zion Morning Glory, 12x16" watercolor - on location piece

Balancing Rock North Rim, 10x12" watercolor - on location piece

Morning at Rio Grande Gorge, 11x14" oil - on location piece

Sangre de Cristo Chapel, 9x12 oil - on location piece

Box Canyon Shade, 12x16" oil - on location piece

Winter Moisture, 11x14 oil - on location piece

Gate Keeper, 14x11 oil - on location piece

Stormy Sky Over Taos, 12x16" watercolor - on location piece

Morning Announcement Zion, 22x22" watercolor - studio piece

Thursday, February 6, 2014

New Year's Road Trip 2014

After many weeks working hard on a major home improvement project (adding on a living room and dining room) we needed a break. We decided to hitch up our vintage 1955 Airstream trailer, Moonshadow, and head south to join 40 other Airstreams for a New Year’s Eve rally at Picacho Peak, Arizona. On December 27th we gladly left dreary cold and snow behind.  The first day on the road we went as far as Burro Creek campground, a beautiful spot and popular birding location in Arizona. 

Picacho Peak: warm sun at last! Even though our home is now much larger with two new rooms, we were getting cabin fever and after a long spell of sub-zero temperatures, we were more than ready for a change. At Picacho Peak, just north of Tucson, it felt like a summer day in Parowan.

We thought we were here to celebrate the New Year, not Christmas!
I guess Santa needs to get away from cold weather too.

Five days and nights camped amongst other Airstreamers, we had afternoon happy hours for socializing and sharing good food and drink. Pictured here: New Belgium Brewery of Colorado’s “Accumulation” IPA with Airstream in the snow label, a winter seasonal brew.

Nightly bonfire and b.s. sessions.

Spike spent daylight hours painting rocks, arroyos and saguaros.

Picacho Peak Afternoon, small 9x12'' oil

Arroyo Bottom, small 8x10'' oil

The last day of 2013 we gathered for a White Elephant gift exchange. Gifts ranged from the bizarre to the awful with a few good things mixed in. That night we rang in the New Year around a blazing campfire with plenty of champagne.

Evening Announcement, 12x16'' oil
The evening glow on the surrounding mountains was pure eye-candy!

We began 2014 by moving further south to Saguaro National Park, just west of Tucson. We camped three nights at a county run campground and made day excursions for painting into the park and to San Xavier de Bac Mission and Tubac.

Sonoran Desert, 12x16'' oil
It was amazing to see how green the desert was this time of year.

San Xavier de Bac Mission, 11x14'' oil

Desert Wash, small 8x8'' oil

We headed home by way of  Marble Canyon and Vermillion Cliffs
where we planned to camp a night or two.

Crossing Navajo Bridge gave us a spectacular view of Marble Canyon and the Colorado River.

At Lee’s Ferry campground we grab the best campsite. For years we have lusted for this primo site which overlooks the river. Now, in the cold January weather, with the campground virtually empty, we have our pick of sites.

Marble Canyon Tributary, small 9x12'' oil.
One last chance to get in some painting time.

We stay two nights. Our last evening here, as the sun sets, warm light glows on the canyon wall above the cold river.