Saturday, January 31, 2009

Nolde 1

These aren't mine - they were painted by Emil Nolde. I wish I had painted them, and that I could paint this kind of thing - I am playing with it some - we'll see what happens.

Meantime, though, another painting finally got started (pictures later) and I wanted to share some Nolde watercolors. These are from that wonderful book Dearest bought me for Christmas. It has 104 plates - and I allow myself to turn one page, and see two new ones, about every week or so. I look at them often, but I just look at the ones I've already seen. So I've viewed eight - these are the three favorites so far. These are all about 5 x 7 inches in real life - and he did about 1300 of them while he was forbidden to paint by the Nazis. I'm working, in a painting of my own right now, to understand a little of the technique and color depth that appears in these tiny, intimate pieces.

I drew and completely erased two 19x19 paintings today. Back to blank paper. It was OK - I'm trying to get somewhere in particular, and I don't know how to start. I'll keep trying.

6 comments:

Pagan Sphinx said...

The is a harrowing beauty to these.

linda said...

these are really interesting ... they are so soft and the colors are wonderful but there is a "harrowing" quality as gina says, about them...almost sinister and I don't know if I am reading into them or not...the children in them, do you know if they are his? and the second with that strange person in it is very, well, strange looking as is the expression on the other face...I wondered if there were messages within them we don't understand, not having lived with this horror and their smallness must mean they were kept constantly hidden someplace...I can't imagine living this way and they do tell a story of the fear that seems to be palpable in these pictures...the top one with the dark dark circles under the child's eyes broke my heart.

you have an interesting way of keeping things for yourself, like little gifts...you mentioned this about your dunnies too...how you have boxes not opened? and pages of art books not turned?

well, I was not surprised to not see any paintings this weekend, after being so busy and your wife's knee problems...I am glad you were able to work on some art anyway, even if you didn't post it...I seem to have lost my energy for painting and haven't all week...it will come back and I hope you find more time again soon, too. I am very curious of where you are trying to get to, imagining it has something to do with the nudes and them wanting to be in your art....not easy....

susan said...

The Nolde's really are beautiful but one would not want to be wearing the shoes he wore while painting them. There's a line impossible to cross when we contemplate the work of an artist forbidden to paint. It must have seemed like forever to him.

"There is silver blue, sky blue and thunder blue. Every colour holds within it a soul, which makes me happy or repels me, and which acts as a stimulus. To a person who has no art in him, colours are colours, tones tones...and that is all. All their consequences for the human spirit, which range between heaven to hell, just go unnoticed." Nolde-Forbidden Pictures

I'm sure you've read this too.

tammy vitale said...

I've heard that if you see something and yearn toward it, that you are projecting something that is already yours onto someone/thing else so that you can "see" it and claim it. =]

Steve Emery said...

Pagan - As I mentioned in an earlier post, I hated Nolde at first - I was repelled by the crudeness of some of his later oils, in particular, and, I think, the deep sadness I felt in many of these watercolors.

Linda - I don't know if the people in these are real people - he seems to have found them, like I found the conductor in the piece I posted later last night. And yes, I have always tasted the fear (fear of discovery) in these furtive pictures. He was a very gentle, quiet man. But his painter's heart was huge and he could not stop, come what may.

Yes - I'm a hoarder, like a dragon over his treasure heap, and I like to savor things over excruciatingly long periods of time.

I did finally paint some (next post). But mostly I wandered or sat outside the garden wall. I will get in eventually. I think I need to figure out if I'm out here because I'm actually afraid to go in.

Susan - I also cannot imagine being forbidden to paint, a prolonged form of torture. For Nolde this came right when he felt he was breaking through to something huge. He'd arrived at the gates of paradise and then been prevented from entering. I exiled myself from that country, but that's different.

I did read those words - and I understood the lines about colors. For me it is also shapes and arrangements, as I've written before. Today I began rereading Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and was overwhelmed by the way Stephen Dedalus was in love with words from his infancy. So familiar. It's like hearing a language others can't. I no longer think it's odd when I cry out and weep in the car over the appearance of a tree against the sky, or the way the light looks in the west. My kids are used to it, too. If I can channel 10% of that beauty, as it strikes me, into my art, I will be a happy man.

Tammy Vitale - That's a nice wish you've given me there!

Karen A said...

Steve, Independent crossword puzzle from a couple of weeks ago had Emil Nolde in it. I only knew it because of you. Not sure I could have his paintings hanging around me. Something grim and sad in them, for me.