Editor's note: The following 1994 article was published on August 19, 2004 in Resource Library with permission of Thomas Daives, New Canaan, CT. If you have questions or comments regarding the article please contact Mr. Daives by writing to the author at 58 Beacon Hill Lane, New Canaan, CT, 06480.


Sharing Your Paintings


"It's Better Than Selling Hot Dogs"

by Thomas Davies





Many students were attracted to the detailed approach to 19th Century painting. Two Hudson River School masters elicited some similar responses;

"Cropsey's painting, 'Pastoral Scene', was begun in 1859 but not completed until 1867. This painting shows not just a nature scene but also the existence of man in nature. Cropsey does this by including cattle in the painting. This is meant to show how man co-exists with nature and uses the land for his needs. There is a repetition of shadow which breaks the composition. A strip of light makes the painting look very bright and shows the influence of Turner. The mood of this painting is very peaceful. I like this painting because if I look at it after a hard day, I forget about all my troubles. This work is representative of Cropsey because it reflects his view that the United States drew its basic strength and security from the land."

A brilliantly luminous Sanford Gifford caused these observations.

"This painting, is extremely detailed. At the tree to the left, one could see each leaf, defined as can be. The mountains in the distance fade out towards the horizon, creating immense perspective. But most of all, the reflection of the falls in the river typifies Gifford's astute capacity for painting. What is. fascinating about this painting is the concentric bands of rose, pink, and white around the afternoon sun, exemplifying its brightness. This painting makes me feel as if I am present within the picture. In fact, this painting Is so realistic that It looks like a doorway to Kauterskill Falls (the site of the painting). I can relate to the painting. Just by looking at it, it gives me a sense of a tranquil, autumn afternoon. As soon as I saw 'An October Afternoon' I fell in love with it. Doing this report opened a new doorway for me. I now can go to a museum and enjoy what I am seeing."

It seems that the 19th Century works which displayed highly detailed images challenged the students' powers of observation and description, a small William Trost Richards was described,

"The painting I was given is called 'Appledore Island,' a painting done in the medium of watercolor and only 8 by 13 inches. In this painting Richards captures the gentle, misty picture of the ocean. He captures the beautiful motion of the waves with his brush strokes and the color he chooses to use: the beautiful blues, grays, pinks, reds, peaches, purples, yellows, blacks, whites and greens. He captures the sky with a mixture of colors and gently defines the lighthouse that sits in the background on an island. The way the rocks seem to come alive when you look at this painting, you can almost hear the crashing sound of the waves as they hit the rocks and the beach. Because of his way of showing grandeur and atmosphere, he gives a luminous glow to all of his paintings. 'Appledore Island' is one of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen. I too have a love for the sea, and when I look at this painting I can almost feel the spray of the ocean as it comes up off the rocks, the deep smell of the salty air, and the sound of the waves as they beat their rhythm on the rocks. The way Richards captures the color of the sky and blends it into the horizon, and the way he grabs the gentle yet strong power of the rocks as they hold back the even-flowing ocean, leaves you with a sense of peace and accomplishment deep within your soul."

Not all students were fortunate to receive a picture they initially liked. With a little effort to understand the artist, his viewpoint, and the time period, attitudes often changed. The simple still life by Emil Carlsen had such an effect,

"Have you ever looked at something and, without any background, decided that you do not like it? Take the time to find some information on it and then ask has your attitude changed? Carlsen is said to be the master, especially in still lifes. In still lifes he often liked to use objects that seemed to have a history or even a story to tell. He chose objects that had rich color tones: copper kettles, pots and pans were his common choices. I honestly did not like this painting in the beginning. I also did not know how to appreciate it. As I studied more about Emil Carlsen, I learned how he painted, and started to understand his concepts. This painting now intrigues me and makes me wonder: what else have I glanced at and not appreciated? I know now.that I need to look more deeply in order to understand and to see true beauty."

After an extremely insightful description of the Milne Ramsey Oriental still life, the student concluded he didn't like it at first, but his viewpoint changed;

"The different types of texture and material are what make the painting so . . interesting. The background seems to be made up of silk which was made into wallpaper. The light texture of the wallpaper makes the other objects seem so much more detailed. The tablecloth, which the objects lie on, has an aged texture that contains unique work marks. The painting contains a great deal of symmetry. Every object is balanced by another object. For example, the bronze vase is balanced by the smaller porcelain vase. The balance of detail is extremely important in the background of this painting as it complements the objects. The eight-sided octagon fan within the painting was matched by the eight different objects scattered throughout the piece. This painting does not make a great first impression, but if you truly study it you will be surprised what a masterpiece this will be. I learned a lot from this painting, especially not to judge a painting at first glance. I truly enjoyed it and I hope you do too."

Humor sometimes made this transformation from "it's not my favorite", to something, "that was pretty exciting,"

"Maxfield Parrish: some of you have heard of him and maybe some of you haven't. Well, either way it's not that important. In this paper I intend to talk about Maxfield Parrish's life, the kinds of paintings he designed, his travels throughout the world, and the type of painting I was assigned to and what materials were used to make it. I hope that this essay will give you, the reader, a better idea of who Maxfield Parrish really is, and will help you get to appreciate him as much as I do. Parrish possessed an innate interest in technical matters and a compelling concern for perfection in the execution of his work. He chose to use colored glazes as the medium in which he worked almost exclusively. He never stopped experimenting with new techniques within this medium. When I first saw this painting it was not the one that I had wanted, but now I am very happy with it. I enjoy looking at the picture of the painting very much, but what I liked even more was seeing the real thing. That was pretty exciting for me. I'm glad I had a chance to talk to you about Maxfield Parrish, and I hope now that you will enjoy his paintings even more than you did before."

The exotic subject matter of expatriate painters elicited some thoughtful descriptions and observations. A Samuel Colman North African campsite was introduced as follows;

"Throughout history artists and artisans of all kinds have illustrated their ideas about the world in art of some sort. From the earliest cave drawings to today's often loud and obnoxious modem sculpture, people have interpreted life through their own eyes. Samuel Colman was an American artist who will be remembered as a great expatriate who traveled about the globe illustrating much of the world's normal yet unheralded sights."



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