Monday, October 5, 2009

Stamp collecting: A closer look at American Art

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, #164
12 x 12'' - 2009

I have been collecting postage stamps since the age of 14. My main interest focused mainly on Canadian stamps. By the year 2000, I only had a few missing in order to have the whole Canadian catalogue. Since then, I've only been buying the odd stamp or First-Day cover. I've always considered stamps as miniature works of art. As they cover various subject matter like politics, history, biography, architecture, sports, art, botany, geography, folklore. I've learned a lot by just collecting them. After the French Impressionists and Canada's Group of Seven, it is now the turn to pay homage to American artists.

My muse was a US Postal 20-stamp sheet printed in 1998 entitled, Four Centuries of American Art. Here, the main focus is on Nighthawks by Edward Hopper and American Gothic by Grant Wood. Hopper is in my shortlist of all-time favorite artists. These two masterworks are among the most iconic art images of the 20th century. Other artists in this painting are Charles Sheeler, Franz Kline, George Caitlin, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church, George Caleb Bingham, Asher B. Durand and Joshua Johnson. Also on this sheet were: Mark Rothko, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, William Harnett, Rembrandt Peale and John James Audubon, which would have made equally beautiful additions to the painting. After running the Chicago Marathon on Halloween Day 1993, I had a chance to visit the Art Institute of Chicago the following day. The museum had been opened for exactly 100 years old + 1 day. Their art collection ranks among the finest in the world, and these two paintings are among the masterpieces.

What surprised me the most was that I was able to pull it together with paint, as the preliminary drawing lacked a lot of details. The metal around the magnifying glass is brass. There were a few oxidation stains, which remains.

Part of my solo show- Near and Far - October 16-30, 2009.