American Art – Part I of II: Louise Britton
Artist Statement: “In my ongoing exploration of painting, I shift my focus between the genres of landscape, still life, figure and creatures, combining observational realism with imagination. The common thread is nature, which I experience as restorative but also with consciousness of its precarious state. Within all of these subjects I search for beauty whether humble or grand, and an inscrutable quality found in the relationship between objects, the way light reveals them, and the metaphors they call to mind. The environment of my Southern coastal upbringing, where stories are embedded in the landscape, still influences me. When I travel there and around my current territory, the Pacific Northwest, I collect natural objects and make sketches and photographs of scenery that I find compelling. In the studio I make drawings of the model and still life objects and clip interesting photos from newspapers. All are useful raw materials. I combine elements and memories into compositions using logic and intuition, working to create a sense of space and palpable atmosphere. I work with a consciousness of the symbolic meanings the components carry, both historic and personal, but expect the viewer to generate his or her own interpretations.”
26 October 1825 – The Erie Canal officially opens. Here is what one historian has written about this impressive feat of American engineering: “The Erie Canal is a canal in New York that originally ran about 363 miles (584 km) from Albany, New York, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie, at the time completing a navigable water route from New York City and the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The canal contains 36 locks and encompasses a total elevation differential of approximately 565 ft. (169 m), and is widely regarded a chief cause that New York eclipsed Philadelphia as the largest city and port on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.”
Above – The route of the Erie Canal.
Below – The Canal at Lockport, New York in 1839; the Canal near Albany.
26 October 1861 – After operating for approximately nineteen months, the Pony Express ends its mail delivery service.
Here is one writer describing the artistry of Filipino painter Aleah Angeles: “(She is) inspired by the figures of young girls, which the artist herself relates to and draws from life based on her own photographs; her paintings often show them in recumbent positions, half caught in dreams and fantasy.”
From the American Old West – Part II of II: The O.K. Corral
26 October 1881 – The “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” one of the most famous events in the history of the American Old West, takes place in Tombstone, Arizona.
French Art – Part I of II: Helene Delmaire
Here is one critic describing the background and artistry of French painter and printmaker Helene Delmaire (born 1987):
“Hélène was trained for three years at the Angel Academy of Art, Florence, Italy, which takes after the 19th century atelier methods to give its students proficiency in drawing and painting. She then returned to France where she was introduced to intaglio printmaking by engraving artist Nathalie Grall.
Drawn to the mysterious atmosphere and deep blacks of mezzotint prints, she took up the medium and started exhibiting prints as well as paintings. She has been showing locally and internationally, including at the Bardini Museum in Florence and the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts in Russia. Her work hangs in private and public collections in Europe, Russia, Australia and America.
Fascinated by the pre-Raphaelites, Hermeticism and the middle ages, her work draws upon nature and plants both as aesthetic and symbolic elements. It is also an attempt at portraying an inner reality, rather than the everyday of waking life. Sleep and silence become more prominent than conscious life itself.”
“The highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge, or Virtue, or Goodness, or Victory, but something even greater, more heroic and more despairing: Sacred Awe!” – Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek writer, philosopher, and author of “Zorba the Greek,” who died 26 October 1957.
Some quotes from the work of Nikos Kazantzakis:
“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else. . . All that is required to feel that here and now is a simple, frugal heart.”
“This is true happiness: to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition. To live far from men, not to need them and yet to love them. To have the stars above, the land to your left and the sea to your right and to realize of a sudden that in your heart, life has accomplished its final miracle: it has become a fairy tale.”
“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their
“A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free.”
“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.”
“If a woman sleeps alone it puts a shame on all men. God has a very big heart, but there is one sin He will not forgive. If a woman calls a man to her bed and he will not go.”
“You can knock on a deaf man’s door forever.”
“I was happy, I knew that. While experiencing happiness, we have difficulty in being conscious of it. Only when the happiness is past and we look back on it do we suddenly realize – sometimes with astonishment – how happy we had been.”
“You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint the paradise, then in you go.”
“Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.”
“Look, one day I had gone to a little village. An old grandfather of ninety was busy planting an almond tree. ‘What, grandfather!’ I exclaimed. ‘Planting an almond tree?’ And he, bent as he was, turned around and said: ‘My son, I carry on as if I should never die.’ I replied: ‘And I carry on as if I was going to die any minute.’
Which of us was right, boss?”
“All my life one of my greatest desires has been to travel-to see and touch unknown countries, to swim in unknown seas, to circle the globe, observing new lands, seas, people, and ideas with insatiable appetite, to see everything for the first time and for the last time, casting a slow, prolonged glance, then to close my eyes and feel the riches deposit themselves inside me calmly or stormily according to their pleasure, until time passes them at last through its fine sieve, straining the quintessence out of all the joys and sorrows.”
“When everything goes wrong, what a joy to test your soul and see if it has endurance and courage! An invisible and all-powerful enemy—some call him God, others the Devil, seems to rush upon us to destroy us; but we are not destroyed.”
“For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.”
“Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean Sea.”
“Every man has his folly, but the greatest folly of all … is not to have one.”
“We come from a dark abyss, we end in a dark abyss, and we call the luminous interval life.”
“When an almond tree became covered with blossoms in the heart of winter, all the trees around it began to jeer. ‘What vanity,’ they screamed, ‘What insolence! Just think, it believes it can bring spring in this way!’ The flowers of the almond tree blushed for shame. ‘Forgive me, my sisters,’ said the tree. ‘I swear I did not want to blossom, but suddenly I felt a warm springtime breeze in my heart.’”
“All those who actually live the mysteries of life haven’t the time to write, and all those who have the time don’t live them! D’you see?”
“Let your youth have free reign, it won’t come again, so be bold and no repenting.”
“Free yourself from one passion to be dominated by another and nobler one. But is not that, too, a form of slavery? To sacrifice oneself to an idea, to a race, to God? Or does it mean that the higher the model the longer the tether of our slavery?”
“Beauty is merciless. You do not look at it, it looks at you and does not forgive.”
“Every perfect traveler always creates the country where he travels.”
“When I encounter a sunrise, a painting, a woman, or an idea that makes my heart bound like a young calf, then I know I am standing in front of happiness.”
“When shall I at last retire into solitude alone, without companions, without joy and without sorrow, with only the sacred certainty that all is a dream? When, in my rags—without desires—shall I retire contented into the mountains? When, seeing that my body is merely sickness and crime, age and death, shall I—free, fearless, and blissful—retire to the forest? When? When, oh when?”
“Man is able, and has the duty, to reach the furthest point on the road he has chosen. Only by means of hope can we attain what is beyond hope.”
“Throughout my life my greatest benefactors have been my travels and my dreams. Very few men, living or dead, have helped me in my struggles.”
“Once more there sounded within me the terrible warning that there is only one life for all men, that there is only one life for all men, that there is no other and that all that can be enjoyed must be enjoyed here. In eternity no other chance will be given to us.”
“What a strange machine man is! You fill him with bread, wine, fish, and radishes, and out comes sighs, laughter, and dreams.”
“We are not men, to have need of another, an eternal life; we are women, and for us one moment with the man we love is everlasting Paradise, one moment far from the man we love is everlasting hell. It is here on earth that we women love out eternity”
“Truly, everything in this world depended on time. Time ripened all. If you had time, you succeeded in working the human mud internally and turning it into spirit. Then you did not fear death. If you did not have time, you perished.”
“I should learn to run, to wrestle, to swim, to ride horses, to row, to drive a car, to fire a rifle. I should fill my soul with flesh. I should fill my flesh with soul. In fact, I should reconcile at last within me the two internal antagonists.”
French Art – Part II of II: Dominique Fournier
Here is one critic describing the artistry of French painter Dominique Fournier (born 1951) “What she is seeking is to capture the transitory emotion, to catch it and to express it as simply as possible…We go deeper into the intimate scenes where the characters, seen in their daily actions, are surrounded by a decor of draped cloth, cushions, rugs, and curious objects…This painting is the expression of serene pleasure. It is the luxuriance and sweetness of living.”
A Poem for Today
By Denise Levertov
To leave the open fields
and enter the forest,
that was the rite.
Knowing there was mystery, they could go.
Go back now! And he receded among the multitude of forms, the twists and shadows they saw now, listening to the hum of the world’s wood.
American Art – Part II of II: Matthew Peake
Artist Statement: “The Start: I was born into a world revolving around art. My father was the renowned illustrator Bob Peak. With his artwork gracing major magazines and movie posters, coupled with my parents having met in art school, artistic exposure was a large aspect of my upbringing. By the time I was four years old I was spending a lot of time in my dad’s studio sitting on the rug drawing pictures and watching him paint. Little did I know this would lead to art becoming my lifetime pursuit.
Inspirations: Every day there are countless miracles occurring around us. Only through our awareness and ability to feel to the fullest can we receive the pleasure these miracles have to offer. I feel that my social participation in art is to help increase the appreciation and awareness level of these miracles. Nature with all its beautiful relationships is the forefront of my artistic appreciation and expression. Whether it be the predominate subject itself, or a backdrop for figurative compositions, nature plays an integral role in virtually all of my artwork. Most of the master works that have inspired me are figurative in subject, whether they are paintings, drawings or sculptures.”