"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Impressions of Impressionism

An experiment in watercolor

The Impressionists intrigue me and helped lead me to Cezanne, who went beyond them and influenced cubism.

I so wish I'd studied art.

So my art education is late in life, reading and visiting all the museums and shows I can.

Yesterday I visited the Turner to Cezanne exhibit at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Wow! I bought the catalog, but I've discovered printing never does justice to the originals in terms of matching original colors and impact. But there is much to learn there. I'd been privileged to attend the Turner exhibit last year in Washington and was stunned by his work. He, and the other great ones, always experimented, always took chances, always painted from the spirit within. their ability to see, their talent, flowed into their brushes.

I recently discovered a new artist--new to me, the late student of art, in the San Diego Art Museum: Maurice de Vlaminck. His angular work shouted at me of the influence of Cezanne, but I wasn't sure.

Now two of his works in the Oklahoma City show confirm it, along with accompanying textual material. I've seen the same influences in an American artist who painting in my beloved New Mexico, Marsden Hartley, although he's considered a modernist.

And I found another new one too, Matthew Smith, Apples on a Wicker Chair, a brilliant, emotional experiment with form and color.

As I browse through the exhibit, I'm taking notes, studying brushstrokes, composition, and finding lessons on how to improve my paintings.

The main two lessons: experiment, and be loose. Every time this journalist gets too picky about reality, he starts overworking a painting, and it dies. When I'm free and playing, as with many of my skies, I get success.

It's time to breathe, to paint again.

That's my impression. Go see the exhibit.

That's what's brewing in my coffee pot.

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