Thursday, February 5, 2009

Old Landscape Painters, And Blogs

I am reading J.M.W. Turner's biography. The author notes that his predecessors, such as Gainsborough, began to build paintings out from what looked like close up as scratches and accidents. Turner of course, capitalized on the accidental, and was the greatest of the landscape artists.

And it was all so long ago, something you'd expect to appear much later, after the Impressionists maybe.

All very interesting, I think, in a way that unimportant things are when they concern things that, well, interest you. As I feel that image making is a vital activity, at least a noble and ancient one, it interests me to know something about Turner, something that would clue me in to what the heck he was trying to do in those big vaporous paintings. Its easy to see now, and to love, and appreciate. But it seems so odd, so out of the general run of things then, and much of other his work seems so boring and placid or of the times, that it really is extraordinary. Weird even.

They were all such damned good artists back then, and so well trained, and so full time at it. The way I have approached trying to learn to paint has beenso solitary, such a slow self study, and I forget there are thousands- at least- of other painters trying to make a go of it, most far more successfully and productively than I. I was reminded of this today while bouncing through painter's blogs on the internet, and seeing some long lists of painters blogs with well over 100 bloggers, all doing the same sales pitch, their "drawings", "paintings", "figures", and all, for what I could see, talented and serious about painting. A few real stand-outs, real professionals that would have been the Great Painters in the old days and celebrated, and painting in that very old style, reading old "how to" books from the 19th century, trying to paint like Sargent and Sorello and Cecilia Beaux. I suppose that's laudable, something that i wish i could aspire to. But clearly, it just makes it more of an oddity, painting the old themes, the old lighting, learning the old techniques. Not all of it of course, though I haven't really discerned what the new painting might be, though the realist style is back, and young people are lining up to paint like that.

I don't have the bird's eye view, or any real perspective on it, just what i see on the net. Its a mix, it seems almost like a cacophany of voices, of people trying to sell their work for small amounts, and there is some level of desperation there, and self salesmanship, which makes me cringe a bit to read. This blog here, is part of the din. And I am sure it is just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come.

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