My first great influence and artist that I really look up to is Vincent Van Gogh. Over 1,700 of his works survive to this day. In his life he created almost 900 drawings and more than 800 paintings. He did thing in his brief art career of only ten years, and only sold one for the equivalent of 80 dollars. His work was of a personal sort and he created more self-portraits than any other painter besides Rembrandt. Even his landscapes, figures, interiors, and still life’s are a sort of portrait. His method was to infuse what he felt and what he saw into a single painting as quickly as possible.
Van Gogh felt a great need to give love and had a greater need to receive love and yet never got it. He wrote once, “One may have a blazing heart in one’s soul and yet no one ever comes in to sit. Passersby see only a wisp of smoke rising form the chimney and continue on their way.” He felt that the world was dark place that God had put together quickly on one of his bad days. This was something that he had to fight threw. To people of later times, he became a hero, fighting against the established order yet he never thought as himself as a hero. He belittled himself all the time. He would sign his works only with his first name and never his whole name. He felt the French would only screw it up. But he never signed in full in his home of Holland either.
Born on March 30, 1853, in the village of Groot in Holland. He was the oldest of six children. He had two brothers and three sisters. But he was only close to his brother Theo. Theo gave him bits of money, supplies, and paints through out Vincent’s whole career as an artist. Vincent wrote to Theo all the time sending him drawing and paintings. Thoe was also an art dealer. Van Gogh did not start off as an artist. He was the son of a pastor and being a pastor was the first thing he wanted to do. But he was too strict and literal for the parishioners and other clergy members, so he left. He found that painting and drawing was a much better way to help other and himself.
Van Gogh started in Holland with his peasant painting. He wanted to show how hard peasants worked for very little and how they appreciated all they had. This came to its climax in his Potato Eaters. He captured so well their rough hand, their exhaustion, and how the light from the oil lamp lit the room. After that, he became board with Holland and wanted something new. He came to live with his brother in Paris and there he was exposed to the works of the Manet, Degas, Cezanne, the Impressionist, the Pointillists, the Symbolists, and Japanese art. Van Gogh became friend with Pissarro, Toulouse-Lautrec, Signac, Gauguin, and other avant-guard painters. His work went through a metamorphosis as a painter. He said that in Holland he was a “shaggy dog”, and then an art critic called him a “singing bird”. Brightness and lightness flooded into his work. He painted café interiors, breeze swept landscapes, dark figures where replaced with vivid close ups of friends. Though his personality didn’t change, his painting was liberated.
Van Gogh absorbed many new techniques and deliberately imitated them in his own work. He practiced pointillism and copied in painting Japanese wood block. He played around with perspective, color, and hard outlines. He liked the impressionist idea of the brush stroke itself playing a part in the object the stoke represents. He liked heavy us of paint and strong horizontals and verticals to plant wheat and grass firmly into the ground. His early impressionist works were light filled canvases that were virtually indistinguishable at first glace form other Impressionist works.
Van Gogh also found the city of Paris to be very stimulating. It had everything that was good their. A coming together of new and old and Van Gogh absorbed all he could. But he soon got overwhelmed and left. He moved to Arles in the south of France on the Rhones River, 55 miles inland form the Mediterranean. It was a very old Roman city. However, he did not paint the old Roman building, he painted all the modern ones. The light and color of Arles overwhelmed him. The blossoming fruit trees, the violet earth, the olive tree, and cypresses. He was enchanted and driven by the sun. In 1888, he produced 90 drawing and 100 paintings. Some of them include, The Drawing Bridge, Sunflowers, The Zovaue, Starry Night on the Rhone, Fishing Boats on the Beach, and The Arlesienne.
Van Gogh said, “ that he wish to give hope to poor creatures. I was his belief that, “it is actually ones duty to paint the rich and magnificent aspects of nature. We need gaiety and happiness, of hope and love. The uglier, older, vicious, ill, and poor I get, the more I want to take my revenge by producing a brilliant color, well-arranged, resplendent.” From February 1888 to May 1889, he produced 200 paintings, all masterpieces; all reflect light, color, and energy. Van Gogh drove himself to the physical and emotional exhaustion to produce these works. His time under the sun had made him and art giant, but he only had a year left.
Another artist that I that I draw inspiration from is Henri Matisse. Matisse was born on December 31, 1869 in Le Cateau, France. In 1887, he went to Paris to study law. He got really sick and was bed ridden. His mother brought him some paints and canvas for something to do while he was healing. He fell in love with painting and changed his career from lawyer to artist. He said, “I have discovered a kind of Paradise”. His father was very upset. In 1891, he returned to Paris to study and Academie Julian. He started off making still life’s and landscapes in the traditional Flemish style. Matisse loved the artist Chardin, and went to the museum to make copies of his paintings.
In 1896, Matisse showed five in the Salon fo the Soiciete Nationale des Beaux-Arti. The state bought two of them. In 1891, he visited Peter Russell. Russell introduced him the impressionist works of Van Gogh. Later he would teach Matisse color theory. Matisse was also influenced by Manet, Cezanne, Gauguin, Signac, and Rodin, and Japanese art. Later, he became close friends with Picasso.
The first painting that really got Matisse some attention was The Joy of Life. He made several version of it. His final version he used bold, flat contrasting colors to create a work with much impact. He simplified the figure and with strong outlines and filled the figures with solid color. The figures seem to find their own peace in there own way. Some figures are dancing in the background, some are relaxing, and one couple down in the corner are embracing each other. One critic coined the term fauves or wild beasts for the violent appearance of the painting. Matisse embraced the term and made it his own. The painting shows a very primal world and a very sexual nature.
Matisse loved to collect woven patterns. From when was young to when he was old, he collected these patterns. He would spend all his money on them. He really liked Persian Tapestries. He also collected African art and craft. He would decorate his whole house with the stuff and the same for his studio. It looked like a magician lair rather than a place of work. The collections served as inspiration and archives for his work. He was criticized for applying colors like a weaver, saturating his canvas like a dye merchant, and using old weaver tricks lay out his paintings.
In his technique, he would pin up colored paper to the canvas and try out different color combinations. He these tricks back in his hometown that was know for its textiles. He used the technique while making another famous work, Harmony in Red. It started off as Harmony in Blue. But he found that it was much better in red. He used these tricks threw out his whole life and often used paper cutout to work out form and color. He said while working on Harmony in Red, “I was seeking forces: balance of forces.
The last of Matisse’s work I will mention is The Red Studio. “You are looking for a red wall”, he said, ”This does not exist at all.” “Where I got the color. I do not know. All these things, flowers, furniture, the chest of drawings become what they are to me when I see them with the color red.”
This was one of Matisse’s boldest attacks on the three-dimensional space. He erases the wall, floor, and corner of the room, yet the interior is implied by the arrangement of objects in the room. The chairs remind us of Matisse’s idea of rest from the physical fatigue. He wanted to disestablish the laws of 3-D illusion. Also, color was most important to Matisse and everything else was secondary.
The last artist I am now drawing new inspiration from is David Carmack Lewis. His work reminds of impressionist work, similar to Van Gogh, but with different subject matter. He is originally from Virgiania. He studied illustration at the Virginia Commonwealth and in Cardiff, Walse. He started painting after moving to Phoenix Arizona in the early 90’s. He showed his work at Scotts Dale Arizona in Art One Gallery. Then he moved to Numibia near Cape Town in South Africa. He had a few shows there. Then he moved to Portland, Oregon and that is where he is living and working today.
Lewis’s work is about the night and our efforts to hold it at bay. He has a color pallet for light and used the dark for dominance. The work is about location and light. However there is a story going on. The pictures look as if someone was there or there is someone there and we can’t see them cause they are in the shadows. The used of light and darkness creates this kind of drama and creates a kind of mystery. The view is slightly detached from the piece because the perspective is over the area so that they can look of subtle clues to the story. There is also a sense of loneliness, but the artist is not struggling with it, in fact he is embracing it.
Lewis tells stories. The may not have a beginning or an end, but it is there. He likes fantasy, horror, science fiction, and myths. If may not show in his work, but it is a starting point. The events in the paintings are unusual or impossible. It is a reminder to us to look around with different eyes so that mysteries and revelations may reveal themselves. The color that was shown during the day is now betrayed in a world of darkness and only partially and imperfectly revealed by light.
One of the writers I really enjoy is C.S. Lewis. Mainly his series of books called Mere Christianity. I also enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia but I will save those for another time. I will be talking about his first book, The Law of Nature.
In the Law of Nature, Lewis starts off by talking about how people argue. How the argue by trying to prove that one of them is in the wrong and the other one is trying to prove that they are not in the wrong. They are measure the cases against a standard, which everyone seems to know. And it must be real, because if it wasn’t then we still might argue there would be know way to prove who is right. Why should the person who was in the wrong feel he must prove that he is not and the person who was wronged? Why should they feel anything at all.
After the standard was proven to be a real thing, call in morality. The second thing came into play. Where did it come from? If it was just a man made thing, then what gave them the wright to make rules for the rest of us. No, it must have came before us. Something further back and high up made it. It would have to be more than a human. But how do we know it is their. It can’t show us its self in the ordinary since. That is like an architect designing a house while being a wall in the house. But the architect does make instruction, which the lay out of the house follows. We can feel these instructions within our selves. When we disobey them, we feel bad and feel good if we do right.
Now this only works if goodness is a real thing. Otherwise you could not complain if someone was unkind or did wrong to you. The standard is only interested in good conduct and does not care how painful or how long it will take for you to do. Being good is the only right answer; anything else is a waste.
Another thing I am really enjoying is the Universe on the History channel. The stuff on there is so cool. Learning about he vastness of space and long it take light to get form one side of the galaxy to the other is just amazing. The Universe is a very beautiful place. It is also an extremely dangerous place, full of magnatars, black holes, and galactic collisions.
Magnatars are the are neutron stars that are born out of the death of massive stars, 30 to 40 time the mass of our sun. When these huge stars die, they shed off 90 percent of the mass, leaving the densest material behind. The star goes super nova and what is left in the middle implode, compacting in on its self. What you are left with is a very dim very dense neutron star. Then the magnetic fields of the star pull and tug on the stars surface until it give and you have a star quake that sends of huge amount of energy. They are some of the most powerful forces in the universe.
Black Holes are area of space that have such a strong gravitational pull, that not even light can escape it. It will suck in anything that gets to close. We can only detect them indirectly. When light or a star passes near one, but not close enough to get sucked in, they will get distorted by the black holes gravity. Some stars even orbit around black holes like the planets around the sun. That is another sign of a back hole, many start with a strange orbit moving around a single point.
Galactic Collision happen when the galaxies gravity start pull each galaxy toward each other. The Milky Way is on a collision with are neighbor galaxy Andromeda. The Milky Way will be swallowed up by Andromeda, but since the distance between starts is so vast, we might even know it is happening. But it is possible that will get flung toward the center of the galaxy, and that could hurt us.
Right now I am reading The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry. In the chapter titled, The Use of Energy, he talks about how mankind cannot make energy, he can only convert of refine it. How we don’t use the energy efficiently. We make products and any thing that is not used is called waste, and if the waste has no use, it is called pollution. How man is using machines too mush and the is breaking the link between man and soil. How man is taking away for the soil and giving nothing back.
In Nature, there is a cycle. You are born, you live, breed, die, and the decay. Your energy that sustained you in life gets returned to the soil. That is a kind of infinite energy. However, the energy that is used to run machines is not infinite. It does have a seeming infinite shelf life and won’t go bad, but once it is used, it is gone forever, and that we abuse those energies. There are other sources of energy that as far as we know seem to be infinite like wind, water, and solar. But if we abuse to limited resources how would we abuse the infinite ones.
We need to be more efficient. Right now we are just focused on consumption and production. We need to add one more step. That step is return. We must follow patterns of energy exchange. For example, out death will bring someone’s life and we live in someone’s death. We must not consume in the sense of using energy all up and we must not produce waste.
The word agriculture does not mean agriscience or agribussiness. It means cultivation of the land. The word cultivation the come the words cult, to worship and culture meaning to revolve and dwell. To live, to survive on earth, to care for the soil, and to worship bound at the root to the idea of a cycle.
There have been a lot of things that have been an influence in my personal life. My family, my friends, and my teachers are just some of the influences. Growing up on the farm has been a huge influence. I am doing a series of painting about farming for my senior show. Pop culture icons like Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Terminator, Alien, and Lord of the Rings are some of things that drew me to art in the first place. I loved the special feature of those movies; they showed all the creative power that went into creating those movies. Finally, just growing up, being a child that spent his time playing with legos, build mud and stick forts, running around bear foot all summer, and swimming in the creek when it flooded.
My family is busting with creative people. My father played the guitar, my sisters Holly and America were very good at drawing in high school, my sister Rena has a major in fashion. That is something right there; I have a lot of sister, six of them and only one brother. When I tell people that, they think it was because my parent had children from previous marriages then married each other and had more kids. Nope, we all have the same parents for all the children. I joke that parents needed slaves for the farm. I is also interesting that we all went to college. My little sister and I still need to graduate, but our older siblings already have. I guess I went to college because all my older siblings went so I felt I had to. I don’t know if I was ready when I first came here. That is probably why I have been here so long. But I knew I didn’t want to work at the window factory the rest of my life. Nothing motivates you to go to college more than a boring summer job. That was my biggest influence for going to college.
Farming life is the biggest influence in my painting right now. I am painting picture of farms and farm equipment. From big tractor and furor plows to milking units and manure gutters. I started out with machines from my home farm but then wanted to get into the modern dairy farm. We used to be a dairy farm but my dad got hurt and now we just run beef. My friend Forest does milk dairy cow and it is at his farm that I get most of my current imagery. I also took a trip to the Van Der Geese farm. It is a huge factory farm just north of Wausau, Wisconsin. There, everything is bigger, much bigger. Forest only has fifty animals and only twenty-five of them are milked. Van Der Geese have 4,500 cows and all of them are milked three times a day. I am now doing a series of painting that show the difference between these farms. Not only in size but how the to go about doing the work to accommodate the size of each farm.
I became an artist in the first because I wanted to be in the preproduction of movie or video game design. Those classes were not offered here when I first arrived. I chose studio art as a second choice. I didn’t know where I wanted to focus when I started in studio art. I just new I wanted to create. At first I loved drawing because that is what I had been doing for the longest time in my life. Then I got into Art Metals and realized that I was good at making rings. I got lots of complements. But I thought making rings was too easy. Then I had Painting three with Professor Brantmirre. She opened my eyes to painting. Taught me about under painting and how colors work together. All my paintings before this class were just terrible until I learned about under painting. Now Professor Lume is pushing me further, I got my own technique, now I have to learn to apply it to story telling .
Robert Wallace and the Editors of Time-Life Books. The World of Van Gogh: 1853-1890. Time-Life Books, New York, 1972
Spurling, Hilary, Jack Flam, Remi Labrusse, Dominique Szymusiak. Matisse: His Art and His Textiles. London, England. The Royal Academy of Arts, 2004.
John Elderfield. Henri Matisse: Masterworks for The Museum of Modern Art. New York The Museum of Modern Art, 1996.
Wendell Berry. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. Sierra Club Books/San Francisco, 1996
C.S. Lewis. Read by Jeffery Howard First Given on the Air then published, The Case for Christianity, 1943. Christian Behavior, 1943. Beyond Personality,1945.
The Universe: The Most Dangerous Places. The History Channel