Monday, October 20, 2014

Made in Canada, an homage to Alice Munro and Mary Pratt

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 10 x 12"
Painting #224, 2014


Alice Munro and Mary Pratt are both considered like royalty and icons in Canada for their contributions to the arts.

Alice Munro is an author of ficton, known for her uncomplicated prose of short stories exploring a recurrent theme of the human condition with empathy, sympathy but without being sentimental. The setting for many of her stories often takes place in southwestern Ontario, where she spent the greater part of her life. Her first short story, "The Dimensions of a Shadow" was published in 1950 at age 19. But it was only at the age of 37 that an original collection of several short stories would appear in book format with "Dance of the Happy Shades. The Canadian literary scene was quick to recognize her talent by awarding her with the 1968 Governor General's Award for Fiction for her first offering. She would continue to publish another 13 volumes of original stories, gaining the attention of the literary world and many accolades including two more Governor General Awards, three Trillium Book Awards, two Giller Prize, a Man Booker Prize, a National Book Circle Award, and a Roger's Writers' Trust Fiction prize. 


Alice Munro - photo by Kim Stallknecht

She also contributed short stories to several publications including The New Yorker with Royal Beatings in 1977, being the first of many to follow.  I probably became aware of Mrs. Munro as a writer in 1998 when she was awarded the Giller Prize for "The Love of a Good Woman". That same Christmas, I offered the book to my wife as a gift. Her story "The Bear came over the Mountain" was adapted to cinema by fellow Canadian writer/director Sarah Polley as "Away from her". The film garnered two Academy Awards nominations; for Polley as Best adapted screenplay and Julie Christie as Best Actress in a leading role. It won 7 Genie Awards including Best Picture and was ranked the #1 drama for 2006 by the Rotten Tomatoes. The short film, adapted from a 1968 story of the same name,  "Boys and Girls", directed by Don McBearty won an Oscar in 1984. On October 10, 2013, she became the first Canadian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. New Yorker editor Chip McGrath calls Munro's Nobel a "Win for her, for Canada". 


Mary Pratt is celebrated her highly realistic paintings spanning a professional artistic career of more than 50 years. She was born in Fredericton, NB in 1935 and began drawing and painting at an early age. She would go on to study Fine Arts at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB, where she would meet her former husband, Newfoundland artist Christopher Pratt. They would wed in 1957 and later moved to her former husband's native province during the early 1960's.  Her artistic career was delayed by the fact that she was very busy raising their four children. At first, she stole time to paint small sketches on the kitchen table. Memorial University Art Gallery in St. John's hosted her first solo show in 1967. As she reveals in several interviews, she would find her voice as a artist with the painting, "The Bed" (1968).  The way the light came across the bed as she entered their bedroom, gave her what she describes as "an erotic reaction". She knew at that very moment that this was the kind of emotion that was essential when being informed about subject matter worth consideration and major enough to paint. She didn't find inspiration from other artists. She painted the world around her. Finding inspiration in the domestic and rural life she knew. In 1969, her work, The "Supper Table" is often considered as the first painting of her professional career, because she painted it from a slide instead of real life. The slide informed her about the constant light and gave the time needed to paint the subject in a timely manner.


 Mary Pratt

Since then, her work as been exhibited and collected by major art institutions, corporate and private collectors across Canada while also being represented by two major commercial galleries, the Mira Goddard Gallery in Toronto and the Equinox Gallery in Vancouver. The year 2013 would mark the start her third touring retrospective to visit several venues across Canada. The first being "The Substance of Light" 1995-97 organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, NB. This was followed by "Simple Bliss" 2004-2005, organized and curated by the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Sack. and finally her 50th Anniversary retrospective 2013-2014, organized and curated by The Rooms, Provincial Art Gallery in St. John's Nfld and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, NS. Six books have been published about her art, including A Personal Calligraphy (2000), featuring autobiographical chronicles, reflections, some of her published essays and recent artwork. She has been awarded The Canada Council of the Arts Molson Prize, is a companion of the Order of Canada and a series of two stamps was issued by Canada Post in 2007 to honour her contribution to the Canadian Art scene .  



I've had the privilege to see all three retrospectives. The most recent, on October 18 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Collectively, the are among the best solo shows that I've had the privilege to see in my lifetime. The impact they've had on my own work makes her my all-time favourite artist. Her imagery become so biographical and authentic in a very singular way. She has painted subject matter and presented them in such an original manner, like no one had before her. Her colour palette is so harmonious, vibrant and goes beyond what any slide might be able to provide as information, So many of her paintings gives me a visceral internal response that just speaks volume about her ability to juggle life. She balances the very appealing images of jelly jars, fruits and glass bowls with less easy imagery containing dead moose, eviscerated chickens, dead fish and slides of a nude model taken by her former husband.   The scale of her paintings also makes a statement when view up close. This last show is but a sample of her total oeuvre and makes an overwhelming declaration of dedicating a life to family and art while making lifelong sacrifices in order to produce this kind of body of work. 

 
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, October 18, 2014

Salon hanging of still life paintings at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia


Unlike Munro who's work has crossed borders and has been published in 13 languages, Pratt's work as a painter has essentially remained inside Canada. I have never heard of her showing outside the country for the exception when at the age of 11, one of her painting was selected and displayed in a children exhibition in Paris, France. But that is the faith of many artists, not just Canadians. Only a handful of artists ever attain that kind of status, and for many, it happened posthumously. With the computer age upon us, art is quickly becoming accessible to all, opportunities for artists to break down these barriers are starting to happen, even if recognition by the artistic establishment and academia is another matter.   

Munro and Pratt do share many commonalities. They are of the same generation, only 4 years separate them. Both married young and for a while put their professional career on hold in order to raise their children. Both lost children at birth or miscarried. Both depicted the world in their immediate surroundings. Although Munro's work is fictional, the setting for her stories is not. Neither of them have political agendas with their work. When they started to produce their mature work, both received National recognition very early on. Both divorced and remarried. Both of their careers has been hampered by illness as they advance in age. 

The genesis for this painting was brought on by these recent honours bestowed upon both. They are forever linked by the fact that Alice Munro's editor, Douglas Gibson has chosen no less than three of Mary Pratt's images to appear on Munro's book covers, with:
-Friend of my Youth (1990) / "Wedding Dress"- 1986 
-No Lost Love (2003) / "Barby in the dress she made herself"- 1986         
-Runaway (2004) / "The Bed"-1968.  


For the painting the background image "Jelly Shelf" (1999) is from the exhibition poster for "Simple Bliss" shown at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. I viewed the exhibition after driving my mother to Halifax for a medical appointment during the winter of 2005. My mother insisted on paying for the usage of my car and gas for the seven-hour round trip. When I refused, she said, "Well, I want to pay for something", so ended buying me this exhibition poster. My mother was not well at the time and passed away the following year from heart failure, severe osteoporosis which had crippled her body and Parkinson's disease. Munro's mother also succumbed to Parkinson's. This image and poster have sentimental values for the very obvious.  For reasons unknown to me, the curators for her current retrospective have chosen the same painting of "Jelly Shelf" as the promotional image for the exhibition and for the book cover published in conjunction with the show. This latest retrospective in comprised of 75 paintings.   


To acquire this painting, please contact the 
Fog Forest Gallery 
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB. Canada
(506) 536-9000 or e-mail-gallery@nbnet.nb.ca .

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Poets and Artists


My artwork is currently featured in a 3-page layout of the current issue of
"Poets and Artists"(Sept. 2014, issue #57). 
The magazine is a US based publication available through:


Many thanks to the publisher for this great opportunity.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Date with Marilyn, an homage to Warhol



Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 16 x 12"
Painting # 222,  2014

Last year we spent the long Easter weekend in Pittsburgh, Pa It's a wonderful city with many top-notch museums, several professional sports teams, a great downtown core and the skyline view atop Mount Washington is breathtaking. We took in, a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game with Sidney Crosby leading his team to victory. We also attended the hilarious "Broadway Across America" musical, "The Book of Mormons" at the Benedum Theatre, and Green Day in concert at the Consol Energy Centre. Philanthropists Andrew Carnegie, Andrew W. Mellon,  Henry Frick and H.J. Heinz II have contributed greatly in creating a lasting legacy, making the city a sophisticated and cultural hub. 

One of the major reason for that trip was to visit the Andy Warhol Museum. I've been an admirer of Warhol's artwork for as long as I've been painting. It was never a question of if I would visit the Andy Warhol Museum, but when. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Upon exiting, I even received a parting gift of a Brillo Soap Pads Box, an homage to Warhol by Charles Lutz, that was part of the exhibition, Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years.   




A few years back, I had the idea of incorporating some sort of Kerr's Candy in a Kerr Mason jar and entitling the piece, "Kerr's in Kerr". The jar and lollipops has been on a shelf in my studio ever since. Being in a Warhol state-of-mine when I got home, I took out a 1991 Andy Warhol Celebrity Calendar which I had held on to for some twenty odd years.  As I started flipping the pages of the calendar, I noticed that the colour combination of the jar/lollipops with the image in that calendar for the month of March, "Eighteen Marilyns" (Reversal Series), 1979, seemed like a perfect match. This is when the genesis and narrative for the painting took place. The title suggest an encounter with Marilyn Monroe, a fantasy entertained by many.   

The image above is of my wife Suzanne with another of Warhol's Reversal Series
image of Marilyn Monroe that was on exhibit
 at "La FIAC" (International Contemporary Art Fair) at 
le Grand Palais in Paris in 1989.




Last month, Suzanne and I spend 10 days vacationing in the states of Georgia and South Carolina. As luck would have it, we got to see a wonderful art exhibition entitled "Marilyn, Celebrating an American Icon" at the Jepson Center in Savannah, Ga.  The exhibit includes the artwork of more than fifty artists, in styles ranging from Andy Warhol’s Pop Art to photographer Tom Kelley's 1949 famous nudes of Marilyn against a red velvet background. Click on the banner below for details of the exhibition that runs until July 27, 2014. 





To inquire or acquire this painting, please contact:
Elliott Fouts Gallery
1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811 
Phone (916) 736-1429 
e-mail: efgallery@sbcglobal.ne
t

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Peonies for Emily

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 12 x 12"
Painting #221, 2014

For this painting, I decided to crop the image tightly and focus on the glass vase rather than the flowers themselves. The book is Canadian Paintings, Prints and Drawings by Anne Newlands published in 2007 by Firefly Books.

The art on the cover is by Emily Coonan (1885-1971), "Girl in Dotted Dress" c.1923, thus the title.

I can't recall seeing Emily Coonan's artwork in the past, so she was not familiar to me prior to publication of the book. After doing some research, it felt appropriate to give her flowers since she was a pioneer Canadian woman artist during a time when woman in art were mainly perceived as hobbyists. She studied under William Brymner as did many others of her contemporaries. Along with like-minded modernist painters, she was associated with the short lived Beaver Hall Group in her native Montreal.  She and Lilias Torrance Newton were the first woman to be invited to show with the illustrious Group of Seven. She was also the first artist to receive a travel grant by the National Gallery of Canada in order to go to Europe.

This painting is currently on exhibition in a group show at the Fog Forest Gallery entitled "In the Garden", from May 22 to June 14, 2014.

To acquire this painting, please contact the 
Fog Forest Gallery 
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB. Canada
(506) 536-9000 or e-mail-gallery@nbnet.nb.ca .

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A world in need of more Superheroes


Acrylic on gessobord, 11 x 14"
Painting # 220, ©-2014

Now for something completely different. I've had the idea for this image for several years now. I think I might have broken my personal record for the most printed letters and words in one painting. With Superman recently celebrating his 75th anniversary in print, the timing seemed appropriate. Superman was created in 1933 by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian born artist Joe Shuster, high school students living in Cleveland, Ohio. The character was sold to Detective Comics, Inc. (later DC Comics) in 1938. Superman is considered by many to be the most famous superhero of all-time. He was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton and raised by foster parents in the town of Smallville, Kansas. Living under the alias Clark Kent, he works as a journalist for the Daily Planet by day and by night transforms himself to come to the rescue of people in peril by using his superhuman abilities for the benefit of mankind. 

I'm really going down memory lane with this one by using toys of bygone days. The first prop belonged to my wife's family. The earth globe was made by J. Chein & Company. This collectable tin toy would be dated pre-1958, since several counties names have since changed after they acquired their independence. The other toy belonging to our son Jean-Luc when he was 8 years old. In 2003, with the success of the Justice League animated series playing on television, Burger King was offering a collection of eight toys in their Kids Club meals which included  Superman, Batman, Hawkgirl, The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman and Javelin 7. During the process of discarding many toys which he had outgrown, I kept a few which included this one.

This painting is a tribute for all of the super heroes that exist in real life. They may not wear skin tight suits and a cape, but their contributions in making the world a better and safer place are immeasurable. Sure there are the household names like Jonas Salk, Thomas EdisonLouis Pasteur, Frederick Banting, Charles Best, Alexander Fleming, Alexander Graham Bell, Benjamin Franklin, Albert EinsteinPierre and Marie Curie and countless others that came before and after. But there's also the people working in all walks of life from the multifaceted healthcare system, teachers, police officers, firemen, farmers, scientists, inventors, soldiers, disaster relief aid workers, cleaning maids who help prevent the transmission of pathogens, volunteers in food banks and animal shelters just to name a few. There are Superheroes who also appear out of nowhere and put themselves in harm's way with acts of bravery to rescue or save a life. And of course, there are those who change the world with simple acts of kindness. 


Superman is a regarded as a world-wide Pop Culture icon. From the pages of DC comics, to action figure toys, to kids lunchboxes, printed on t-shirts and p-jays , body tattoos, to the small and big screens adaptations both in animation and live action films spanning several decades and sequels. I remember quite vividly, watching the original Superman movie starring Christopher Reeves as the protagonist with a bunch of friends at a Drive-In Theatre when it came out in 1978. In September 2013, Canada Post issued a series of six-stamp and the Royal Canadian Mint, a collection of silver and gold collector coins for Superman's 75th Anniversary.





To acquire this painting, please contact the 
Fog Forest Gallery 
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB. Canada
(506) 536-9000 or e-mail-gallery@nbnet.nb.ca .

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nostalgic Candy



Acrylic on gessobord, 14 x 11"
Painting #219, 2013

I came across this candy jar at Chapters Book Store during the fall of 2012. It was priced at $15, but probably contained two dollars worth of candies. The art of presentation and packaging really caught my eye which compelled me to buy it. The translation in French of Nostalgic Candy for the Canadian market should be "Bonbons nostalgiques". "Friandises d'antan" translates to Treats of Yesteryear in English which sounds equally sweet. 

The art book that anchors the composition is one of those amazing Taschen indispensables written by Kerstin Stremmel. The frontispiece for Realism is Gumball XV (detail) by Charles Bell. The first time I witness a solo show by a Photorealist was Charles Bell at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in New York City during the month of November, 1994. This is a nostalgic homage to Bell, the type of artist I technically aspired to become in the earlier stage of my artistic career.  At the time, it just seemed quite impossible to paint like that. The book itself is a general overview on Realism with the likes of Eric Fischl, Lucien Freud, Edward Hopper, Tamara De Lempicka, Georgia O'Keefe, Gerhard Richter, Charles Sheeler, Grant Wood among others and two more Photorealists- Chuck Close and Richard Estes. 

This painting will be part of the 15th Anniversary Celebration Group Show of the Elliott Fouts Gallery running from January 4 to February 6, 2014. 







Participating gallery artists also includes: Christopher Stott, John Karl Claes, Gale Hart, Susan Hoehn, Bryan Mark Taylor, Anthony Montanino, Joe Santos, Kathy O'Leary, Deborah Bonuccelli, Vito Antonio Ferrante, Sandy Delehanty, Samantha Buller, Gary Pruner, Philippe Gandiol, Susan Shoger, Kathrine Lemke Waste, Terry Pappas, Judy Nunes, Manuel Nunes, Teresa N. Fischer, Gregory Kondos, Micah Crandall-Bear, Vic Vicini, Bill Chambers, Randy Brennan, Tod Steele, Jeff Nebeker and Tim White.


photo provided of EFG



Elliott Fouts Gallery
1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811 
Phone (916) 736-1429 
e-mail: efgallery@sbcglobal.net

-SOLD

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Glass Decanter at the MET

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 14 x 11"
painting #218, 2013


While my previous painting was inspired by a tumbler from the Museum of Modern Art Store, this one is from the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During the final day of our escape week-end in New York City this past February, my wife and I had the immense pleasure of meeting Hyperrealist painter Cesar Santander who kindly gave us a quick tour of the highlights of the Met. We then parted ways by noon time and made our way to the American Wing CafĂ© for lunch before heading back to the airport.  The American Wing features the Charles Englehard Court, a grand multi-level atrium flooded with natural lighting which showcases sculptures, architectural elements, stained glass and art glass. The ground floor has amazing Tiffany stained glass murals.

The previous month, I had acquired an original Louis Comfort Tiffany Favrile glass vase for my own collection and was able to find similar pieces in an adjoining room which houses decorative art.

The decanter and glasses featured in my painting are attributed to Jersey Glass Company of George Dummer (1824-1862) and can be found in the upper level of the atrium. It was displayed behind glass, but my SLR camera was able to focus properly on the vessel and eliminated any kind of glare. I took the photo as a vacation snapshot, but when I saw the image of my PC screen, it had all the elements for an elaborate glass study. It is one of the most intricate imagery that I have painted thus far.

This painting is currently on exhibition in the Walking in a Winter Wonderland group show at the Fog Forest Gallery. 

To acquire this painting, please contact the 
Fog Forest Gallery 
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB. Canada
(506) 536-9000 or e-mail-gallery@nbnet.nb.ca .

-SOLD 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Art Book- Arte y Libertad VIII ( Art and Freedom VIII)

Art and Freedom VIII


The art book Art and Freedom VIII (Libro . Annuario Galeria Artelibre / Arte y Libertad VIII) published by Galeria Artelibre located in Zaragoza, Spain is just in. I'm very fortunate and grateful to have been invited to take part in this edition and was given a 4-page spread. I'm in very select company with over 100 top realists and hyperrealists painters from around the globe, several of which I've admired for many years, while many other talented artists were new to me.

The book cover jacket is graced by a 
Don Eddy painting. The polyptych, Broken Dreams was on exhibition earlier this year in NYC at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery during the month of January, and I had a chance to admire it up close.

You may order a book from this link - http://www.artelibre-store.com/libros/

Saturday, October 5, 2013

American Art Collector #96 / The Still Life Invitational

 American Art Collector - October 2013

My artwork currently appears in the October 2013 issue of American Art Collector (#96) on pages 124-125 as part of The Still Life Invitational, opening today at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, CA. This exhibition has been held annually during the month of October since 2010, and I've had the privilege to take part in all four editions.  


L- Life in Delft, gifts for Griet, 12 x 12", acrylic, 2013 - SOLD l
top R- Mondrian Tumbler, 11 x 14", acrylic, 2013 - SOLD l
bottom R- Peanuts come to Life, an homage to Charles Schulz, 11 x 14, acrylic, 2013 -SOLD l

This year's other participants includes the talented Bryan Mark Taylor, Christopher Stott, Elizabeth Barlow, Jelaine Faunce, Joanne Tepper, Judy Nunes, Leigh-Ann Eagerton, Teresa N. Fisher, Todd Ford & Vic Vicini. 

My three entries as shown in the image above will be included in the group show that runs from October 5-31, 2013.


To inquire about these paintings please contact:
Elliott Fouts Gallery  
1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811
Phone (916) 736-1429
e-mail: efgallery@sbcglobal.net

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mondrian Tumbler

Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 11 x 14"
Painting #217, 2013


Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was a Dutch-born artist who is mostly recognized as one of the pioneers of Modern Art and is the epitome of the abstract painter. He is one of those artists whose entire body of work could be described as transient. Evolving from representational to non representational forms of art. Initially starting out with Impressionism, Pointillism, Fauvism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism then transitioning to more abstract forms of art. He is a major contributor to the Dutch De Stijl or Neoplasticism art movement. He is most celebrated for his grid-like paintings of vertical and horizontal black lines; using the primary colours, red, yellow and blue and placing them in contrast to the non-colours black, white and grey. He spent much of his professional life abroad in Paris, London and New York City. 



As mentioned in the previous post, this past January, my wife and I travelled to New York City for a 4-day winter getaway. During our previous past three visits to the Big Apple, we had always visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). This time around, we only had time for a quick stop at the MOMA Store to browse through their art book selection. Upon entering, I saw these Mondrian Tumblers on a shelf which I simply could not resist. They are made exclusively for the museum. The composition for this painting needed to remain minimalistic and simple. My love of painting with the primary colours and glass made it an easy decision to pay homage to this artist. When ever I see a Monopoly Game board, I think of Mondrian.

photo from our visit to the MOMA in Oct. 2010.

Interesting trivia- During the 1920's in Paris, Mondrian became a very accomplished ballroom dancer. 

This painting will be included in the upcoming group exhibition, The Still Life at the Elliott Fouts Gallery, October 5-31, 2013.

Elliott Fouts Gallery  
1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811
Phone (916) 736-1429
e-mail: efgallery@sbcglobal.net

-SOLD

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Life in Delft, gifts for Griet



Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 12 x 12"
painting #216, 2013

Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of the world's most famous paintings. It's has often been called the Dutch Mona Lisa, or the Mona Lisa of the North. This Johannes Vermeer's (b. Delft, Holland, 1632-1675) painting has been copied countless times by other artists or incorporated in various fashion in original pieces of art by many others. Little is known about Vermeer's life. Many of the models whom have posed for his paintings have never been specifically identified. With the passing of time, he was forgotten after his death. His artwork only came to light 200 years later. He is regarded as one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden age.  

Some speculates that the model used in ''Girl with the Pearl Earring'' might have been Magdalena Van Reijven, an art patron's only daughter or Maria, the artist's eldest daughter of which he had 11 children. My approach for this painting was to explore the unknown model behind the painting that was brought to life in Tracy Chevalier's fictional 1999 novel of the same name whom was given the name of Griet. I first came upon the novel in 2003, just prior to the film release based on the source material. The storyline is from the point of view of Griet, a very young woman who goes to work as a servant in the Vermeer household after her own father, a potter and tile maker suffers severe burns from a kiln explosion. The imaginary narrative leads to how she came to pose for Vermeer and the relation she entertained with the artist and his family during her brief stay there.

Chevalier paints life in Holland with a lot of historical details and nuances giving it a sense of authenticity and believability. I read the book with immense interest. When the film was released in theatres it became a magical visual spectacle of what life in Delft during the mid 17th century might have been like. Being able to venture inside a make believe Vermeer studio and how they brought everything to life is a visual feast for any painter. The movie itself was not filmed in Delft but on an existing movie back lot in Luxenbourg. The period film stars Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth in the lead roles, and was directed by Peter Webber. Johansson was nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for best actress and did win the BAFTA that year but for another film, Lost in Translation.  I loved the fact that they were able to find an actress to play the role of the other servant named Tanneke, who looks exactly like the model in Vermeer’s ''The Milkmaid''. Other details like Vermeer's possible use of a camera obscura to create source imagery for his painting (click HERE). Description of pigment used for paint colour. In one scene when art patron Master Van Ruijven confronts Vermeer upon viewing the new commission painting his wife Emily, ''Woman with a Pearl Necklace'', he asks, ''Is this Indian yellow.....distilled from the urine of sacred cows fed only on mango leaves? You glazed my wife in dried piss!". Click HERE for movie scene. Interesting titbit, on Wikipedia, Van Ruijven's wife name was named Maria de Knuijt.

My painting, it is as much of an homage to Vermeer, but even more so to Tracy Chevalier. In order to create a visual narrative that was based on the Griet character during the final scene in the novel/film, I had the idea of incorporating a new tile to replace the one given by her father that had been broken by one of Vermeer's jealous daughter. While browsing on eBay I found this amazing hand painted Blue Delft tile with the scene of the city itself. It is also known as Delftware or Delft earthenware. The tear drop pearl earrings I used were also an eBay find from a seller living in China.  In the final scenes of the film, Griet leaves the Vermeers to return home, crosses a canal on a arch bridge and then soon after, Tanneke arrives at her house and she is given the pearl earrings as a gift from the artist. In the book, Griet does receive the earrings as a gift, but the circumstances are much different. Since the Blue Delft tile features row houses, a canal and an arch bridge, it really contributes to the narrative for my composition. 

Girl with Pearl Earring, c. 1665
Johannes Vermeer
Mauritshuis, The Hague

In real life, Pieter Van Ruijven had amassed approximately 20 of Vermeer's paintings during his lifetime. After his death, and that of his heirs these were sold at auction in 1696 for approximately 70 guilders each.  Arnoldus Andries des Tombe, a Dutch army officer later purchased ''Girl with a Pearl Earring'' at an auction in The Hague in 1881, for only two guilders and thirty cents. At the time, it was in poor condition. Des Tombe had no heirs and donated this and other paintings to the Mauritshuis in 1902. In the movie, the painting being acquired by Van Ruijven is ''Woman with a Pearl Necklace'' with his wife Emily modelling the same type of pearl earrings as in ''Girl with a Pearl Earring''. The two models also share the same facial features upon close examination. Personally I think that the model in both of these paintings is the same person. The turban she wears only adds an element to distract the viewer. Furthermore, these two paintings are dated one year apart. Then again, the same pearl earring appear in several other paintings on different models as does the ermine-trimmed yellow jacket shown below. 



Woman with Pearl Necklace, c.1664
Johannes Vermeer
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

The Mauritshuis Museum is undergoing major renovations and is closed until mid 2014. However, a few masterpieces of the museum including ''Girl with a Pearl Earring'' is currently on tour in the USA. Earlier this year these were shown at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco. They are currently at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and later next month will be travelling to The Frick Collection in New York City. 

I am a great admirer of Vermeer's artwork. Only 34 paintings have been attributed to him (view them HERE). During my travels, I've had the privilege to see 22 of them. These are housed at the Rejksmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery in London, the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in Washington, DC, the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston, the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art both in New York City. My personal favourite is ''Milkmaid''. 

And yes, I did use Indian Yellow in bringing Griet to life.


This painting will be included in the upcoming group exhibition, The Still Life at the Elliott Fouts Gallery, October 5-31, 2013.

Elliott Fouts Gallery
1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811 
Phone (916) 736-1429 
e-mail: efgallery@sbcglobal.net
-SOLD