Creating beautiful oil paintings without poisoning myself and the world is important to me. I have been oil painting for nearly four decades and have never been happier than when I paint with M. Graham & Co. walnut oil based paints. Over the years I have tried nearly every high-priced professional art oils on the market and I keep coming back to M. Graham.
The late poet philosopher John O’Donohue’s concept of beauty goes far deeper than popular culture’s superficial view. He wrote, “At the deepest level, creativity is holiness. To create is to further the dream and desire of the creator. When the world was created it was not a one-off, finished event. Creation is a huge beginning, not a finished end. Made in the image and likeness of the Divine Imagination, human creativity helps to add to creation. The unfinished is an invitation to our imagination. This is what happens in experience: the unfinished reaches towards us in order to come to form and expression…Everything we feel, think and do, even the smallest thing, expresses and unfolds the dream of God.”
Richard Schmid is one of the few courageous and incredibly talented artists, late 20th Century artists who swam against the tide of pop, post-modern, conceptual and other movements to kept representational art alive. Schmid is not only a great painter he is one of the most generous and gifted teachers of the fine art of painting.
Wine is part of my ritual when I paint in the afternoons and evenings. A single glass will last me for hours. It is the mood that the music and wine creates that I love. It makes me feel creative and energized. I imagine how the painting might be enjoyed in someones home enveloped by the same ambiance. Also, I tend to get a little tight about mid-way in the process as I am working through the challenges of the painting. So, too avoid overworking a painting I find music and wine help me keep loose.
A Meyer Lemon is nothing like your ordinary store-bought lemon. Its skin smoother with a color that leans toward gold. Their juice is sweet with a hint of orange through the subtle tartness. The truth is I am infatuated by their look, especially when washed by the southern light from our kitchen window. Even though our tree is loaded with these wonderful fruits in the winter, they remind me of warm summer days.
Sometimes I feel compelled to paint a subject for no reason other than to satisfy an obsession. This is one of those times. The books belonged to my grandfather. Given to him in 1910 and subsequently came into my possession. As realist still life painter I feel a connection to Chardin, one of the greatest still life painters ever. Vermeer is an artist whose little paintings tower over nearly every artist before and after him. I am always inspired by the intimacy of his work. And of course there is Degas, Millet and so many wonderful artist who have added so much beauty to my life and who have led me to see the world anew time and time again.
There was something a little melancholy about Arles. Beauty is found there. At the heart of the city, I was surprised and impressed by the well preserved Roman amphitheater and the arena – which is undergoing a very dramatic restoration.
Of course Arles’ most famous – perhaps infamous – resident was Vincent Van Gogh. This is where some of his finest paintings were created – “Starry Night”, “The Cafe with the Yellow Awning,” “The Postman”. It is also where Gaugin lived with Vincent for a short time until Vincent’s troubling behavior became too much to tolerate. After Vincent’s notorious breakdown when he sliced a piece of his ear off and presented it to a prostitute, the people of Arles had him arrested and petitioned him to be expelled from the city. That led to his move to the asylum in St. Remy.
St. Remy in Provence offers so many sensual treats. Golden sunrise – didn’t see many of those as we also love to sleep in. The herbs and flowers in the garden giving up subtle hints of their afternoon perfume But the best is the fragrance of coffee and fresh baked French breads. Flaky or crisp crusted, French breads are the best in the world. I loved the contrast of the woven basket, white cotton lining and the golden breads. On a weathered teak wood table, under a canopy of trees caressed with soft Provencal morning sunlight – what a great way to wake up my sleepy eyes.