Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tangerines in a hurricane vase (an homage to Edgar Degas)

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #159
15 x 11'' - 2009-2012

When my wife Suzanne says she loves a painting of mine, it truly means that it stands out among my past work. I took the photo study during our last Christmas vacation at her sister Carole's home, who lives in Bathurst, NB. As I sat down at the breakfast table on Boxing Day, Carole had set up a hurricane vase with five tangerines as a table centrepiece. I had brought along this art book that I had received as a gift the day before from Suzanne, and had yet to peak inside. It was really hard to resist the combination of orange and blues, and cropping it tighter just gave it more impact. The book is entitled ''The Treasures of the Impressionists'' by Jon Kear.

It contains 30 rare facsimile documents such as sketchbook samples and drawings from Manet, Sisley, Cézanne, Monet, Degas, Pissaro and Renoir. This coffee table book has a hard shell slip cover with the image of Blue Dancers (pastel, 1899) by Edgar Degas on it's cover.

It was a lot of fun to reproduce pastel strokes using acrylic paint. My main concern was not only to try to get everything exactly right, but also to achieve the effect of pastel, the proper hues and lighting. Because the book is at an angle and is affected by surrounding lighting, some contrasting effects seem somewhat exaggerated. The most surprising aspect was that it was not that difficult to paint. It was very liberating to be able to paint so loosely and at great speed. The lettering however had to be as close to perfect to pull it off. I used drawing gum to mask the letters before painting the ballet dancer, then spent hours fiddling around with the letters. Very à propos after viewing the Degas room at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasedena, California the year before.

Exhibited in Near and Far solo show at Handworks Gallery, Saint John, NB - October 16-30, 2009 and in the Still Life Invitational at Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento, Ca., Oct, 2012. 
Updated - September 10, 2012. Painting was revised. My signature originally appeared in lime green in top right corner. The whole top corner was repainted and signature is now more discreet. The colour of the tangerines was revised and the painting now has a Liquitex Soluvar removable glass non-yellowing varnish making the colours and glass effect even more vibrant.  

During the Christmas Holidays of 2012, we spent 10 days in Louisiana. We visited a small portion of the Musson House, now known as the Degas House, located at 2306 Esplanade Avenue between the French Quarter and City Park. Edgar Degas stayed here with his Musson relatives during 1872–73. Both his mother and grand-mother were born in Louisiana. While we were too late for the two hour + tour, I did get to talk to one of Edgar Degas grand-niece who is a tour guide.

To acquire about this painting, please contact: 

Fog Forest Gallery
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB
(506) 536-9000 
e-mail- gallery@nbnet.nb.ca