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


Handling a totally foreign subject with intense observation and quite artistic conclusions is this description of Edwin Lord Weeks' "Snake Charmer",

"The design of the painting shows that the nearest man to the viewer is playing a type of wind instrument. The man next to him is playing a drum. Weeks captured the mood and the intensity of the poisonous snakes slowly rising out of the wicker basket. The basket is effectively painted to give the viewer a feeling of texture. The same is felt for the leather drum. The background of the painting is not as detailed as the subjects are. The combination of light browns and olive drabs provides a feeling of arid India, while the emphasis on the Indians' red turbans gives an indication of the lively culture of the Indians. The foreground of the painting places the cobra snakes closest to the viewer's eye. This intense part of the painting draws one's eye. Finally, the highlights of the perspiration on the beautifully painted canvas are skillfully balanced to give a composition that is pleasant to view.."

Seasons of the year and time of day being portrayed were themes a number of students developed and captured in their papers. Hugh Bolton James' Sunset in Winter was described;

"This painting is one of Jones' nature views which was very common for him. The title 'Sunset in Winter' goes along with his theme for telling the observer the time of day and the season. I feel he is actually portraying an average winter day. Jones gives the observer atmospheric perspective by fading the background, and giving more details to closer objects. In the background the colors of the glowing sunset all come together, giving an effect of warmth. With the sky he has used broken color to blend the yellow and orange together. To the right side of the painting Jones has made a clustering effect by grouping many trees and bushes together, while still leaving the left side open to view the full perspective of the horizon."

A particularly eloquent description of "perfect snow" and a perfect finish to . . a day in the snow relates to a Walter Palmer mixed media piece;

"The snow is crisp and dry, dazzling against the blue horizon. Every twig and track in the snow has the sharpness and completeness of nature. His paintings have a delicate, subtle and delicious use of color. There are delicate pinks, greens, purples, and other shades abounding on the snow as reflections of light. I like the dreamy impression that this painting makes on me. The fluffy snow and the old fence make me think of what a snow winter day should look like. The tree looks perfect with the snow on the branches, and the fence looks worn from all of the harsh winters it has had to go through. I wish that the painting would come to life. The beauty of the snow is magnificent. I get a warm feeling when I look at this painting. I can see myself sipping hot chocolate from a mug and taking in the beautiful picture."

Summer and summer colors attracted one student to a figure study by Charles Hawthorne,

"My specific painting by Charles Hawthorne is 'Palette Knife Portrait Study.' This painting is a figure painting which is typical of Hawthorne's artwork. The type of color scheme used in this particular piece is referred to as split complements of warm and cool colors. This is portrayed through the cool blues and warm golds and beiges. These colors may suggest that this painting is a summer scene. I chose this painting because of the simplicity and the colors. The rich blues really caught my eye, especially because the lighter background colors emphasize the blues. I also like the simple theme as opposed to an overcluttered painting where one has to search for the theme."

After a particularly adept grasp of Frank Vincent Dumond's painting style, this student eloquently captured the feeling of autumn;

"Dumond grew very attached to the area around his house, and he greatly enjoyed doing 'plein air' landscapes which reflected impressionist sentiments. These scenes were fresh and realistic. He used loose brushstrokes, which provided the piece with texture and realism. He liked to experiment with dramatic light and shade, as well as with variations in the atmosphere surrounding his subject matter. There is a light feeling to Dumond's pieces, and he was never heavy-handed with his brush. His paintings show depth perspective as well as theatrical light sources and shading to bring out the tactile qualities of the subject matter. His quick, even brushstrokes provide texture, and his warm color scheme gives an autumnal feel to the piece."
"This painting reminds me of the warm days of Indian Summer, right as the leaves begin to change their colors. I think of how the sun shining through the yellow leaves makes them look like petals of gold, and how the vibrant reds and oranges appear to be .on fire. One can almost hear the dry leaves crunching underfoot, while the late afternoon sun warms the scene. I found myself wanting to enter Dumond's world to lie on the cool rocks and let the warmth of the scene envelope me in autumnal bliss."

Painting. of deceptively simple.subject matter do not provide the "obvious" to describe. The student here is forced to go beyond the surface detail, as with a simple Rose Still Life by George Cochrin Lambdin,

"During the time he lived in Philadelphia he became very intrigued with flowers. Lambdin became an expert gardener, and his favorite flowers were roses. Not only did he enjoy planting and caring for his roses, but he also loved to paint them. The piece "The Rose" seems to be an excellent example of Lambdin's work. The painting shows a contrast in textures between the soft flowers and the rough brick wall. By using a lot of shading Lambdin has made the flowers and the brick walls seem very realistic. The contrast between the warm pink shades in the flowers and the dark subdued background makes the flowers stand out. Lambdin makes the !eaves on the roses less of a focus by using such dark greens that they almost blend into the background. The way the flowers are organized also helps to carry the observer through the' painting. This painting is really a study of nature as well as a study of beauty. I enjoy . . looking at the pretty flowers, yet I also feel that I was learning about the wonders of nature and growth. I think that Lambdin as an artist took his paintings one step beyond just the final product of the painting itself. Lambdin included nature and growth in his portrayal of flowers."

Another simple composition led to an interesting observation about a reflection on an object as well as a view of the character of the artist, A.B. Frost,

"In this 8 x10 oil painting entitled 'Copper and Apples,' Frost shows extreme care in the delicate tones, which was a characteristic of Frost's illustration. Frost uses highlighting to make his three dimensional shapes. His ability to darken the background enables everything in the foreground to stand out. While looking closely, you are able to see Arthur Frost's reflection in the copper pot, showing the intricate detail he goes through to have added this feature to his painting."
"The impression which Arthur Frost left me was one of a man who would never quit, never take no for an answer, and never stop pushing himself to do his very best in either painting or illustrating."

On some occasions the students would dissect the paintings composition and describe why they thought it worked and what the artist was trying to do. A classically peaceful Edwin Austin Abbey was so diagnosed,

"Abbey used a rhythm in this painting (the regular repetition of elements within one design). The repetition of lines flow in the background with the trees and continue with the bench. The girl in this painting is at a diagonal that matches the diagonal of the road. The consistency of repetition throughout this particular piece of artwork makes up its composition."


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