Saturday, June 29, 2013
Benjamin Franklin said: "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."
I hope this blog and my paintings meet his approval, and yours.
I painted this little watercolor sitting on the steps near the Parliament, while waiting for the tour to start. The Swedish Parliament is the most democratic I've ever heard of : anybody can walk in, attend the sessions (in Swedish) and even be elected Member of Parliament, if you have the votes. It is an Open Parliament, nothing is secret. There is only One House: this Parliament, which makes the laws. The representatives, don't sit by political groups, but by region. Thus, all the political parties sit together, by each of the 28 regions. This organization seems to make their allegiance to their region stronger than to their party. Something to think about.
Friday, June 28, 2013
The building in blue, the Stockholm Concert Hall, was built in 1902, for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and was immediately (and ever since then) used also for the Nobel Prize Ceremony. The building was planned in front of the square where the open air market is held daily, with fresh fruits and flowers, in the manner of the Greek "agora". Music in the place where people meet for their daily business.
Stockholm is one of the greatest cities in the world. I basque in the beauty of ancient buildings, flowers, gardens, coffee houses, and water everywhere. Rio de Janeiro resident Bobo Karlsson, writer of the successful book URBAN SAFARI (a soulful portrait of 12 of his favorite cities), said of Stockholm: "Stockholm is an old beauty, with a strong, youthful, creative vitality - the mixture of urban modernity and nature, plus water around the corner all of the time. And a sort of high qualit overall."
Keep reading about this beautiful city, where I'm spending a few days...bye now, I'm late for breakfast!
Thursday, June 27, 2013
I've just finished reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez' ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE. marvelous book. Some quotes: "The secret to a good old age is simply an honorable pact with solitude." ".(She was)....unaware that nothing could be sold in a town that was sinking irrevocably into the quicksand of forgetfulness."
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Midsummer Celebrations were last Friday, June 21st, all over Sweden. I was lucky to attend two, one in Saxnäs, at the hotel Saxnäsgården reflected in this watercolor I painted later from one of my pictures, and another celebration a couple of hours later at Fatmomakke, further northwest, closer to the border with Norway. Boys and girls of all ages danced around the Maypole. Most of them had a freshly made flower crown of sorts, made with flowers collected from the fields. The fields are carpeted with flowers. And the whole area is flower fields, except when there is a lake. Here you can probably see the musicians in the foreground. A man playing the accordion, and a lady, dressed in white, playing the flute. Can you hear the music? It is very playful. Enjoy!
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Ryan Brown, in this year's January/February Artist Magazine, has said: "The media are feeding the public a diet of superficial images". I agree. We artists must both educate ourselves and our audience at the same time.
According to Greg Albert, there is a simple formula to use in a painting: mostly, some, and a bit. Most of the colors should have the same characteristics, some should differ from the first, and a small bit of color should differ from the rest. I am trying to do this, not very easy!
Saturday, June 22, 2013
The Sami culture, in Northern Sweden, celebrate midsummer's day with the dance around the maypole with flowers, and with reindeer lasso contests. Nowadays, they use reindeer horns nailed to a post, and the contests are organized by age. The first category is for ages 0-4, and the posts are held closer to the contestants. As the age groups advances, the reindeer horns become farther and farther. They don't actually move the posts with the horns, but the starting place. This contest and other ceremonies go on rain or shine, and everything is held outside. There is a saying in Sweden, that there is NO BAD WEATHER, JUST BAD CLOTHES!
Friday, June 21, 2013
Today, June 21st, is Midsummer Celebration in Sweden. The tradition calls for picking flowers from the fields and braiding them together in a crown, and wearing it on your head while dancing around the Maypole with your family and friends. You are supposed to choose at least seven different flowers, and tonight, young girls will put the seven flowers under their pillow, and they will dream of their love, or lover, or the man they will marry, something like that. June 21st is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, while it is the shortest in the southern hemisphere.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Now you have an idea of the varietes of "midnight sunsets" I can see from my front door and windows, if you look at my last few posts. Unfortunately, last night, June 19, it was so cloudy and dark, that it didn't look like an interesting painting.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio perfected the Chiaroscuro, the use of lights and shadow for dramatic effect. Following his work, we can use the following guidelines:
-Choose a subject
-Decide on a design and composition for it
-Do a color study.......................................................Now, GET TO WORK!
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I just finished reading ALICE BLISS, by Laura Harrington. The story of a 15 year old girl, smart, funny, not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She idealizes her father. When he goes to war, her coming of age painfully, dramatically, starts. Very entertaining!
Marc Chagall said: "If you work with your heart, everything goes well."
Continuing my series of Midnight in Lapland pastel skies, here is the sky a couple of "nights" ago. Well...not totally night, since after this, the light travels behind the mountains to the right of the painting, for about an hour and 15 or 20 minutes, then the light starts coming back up, having made an arc of about 45 degrees behind the mountains, from here. Then, at about 1:45 or 2 in the morning, the light becomes stronger and the sun starts coming up. Next Friday 21st is "Midsummer" called here in Sweden. The shortest night and the longest day. Celebrations are all over Sweden, with song, dance, music, drink and cakes. I am very much looking forward to that.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Every night I'm flabbergasted by the beauty of the sky near midnight, and its reflection on the Kultsjön Lake. I run around the house taking pictures from different windows, or from the front porch, or the side. So a couple of days ago I decided to start painting those midnight suns in pastel. I started by my first night here, June 1st. This was midnight sunset on June 1st.
I've been painting the midnight sun for the past three nights, and plan to continue doing so for at least a week. Some of them will make it to this blog. So stay tuned!
Monday, June 17, 2013
The church in Saxnäs, Lapland, in Northern Sweden, is small, surrounded by a lovely park, with the stones of town people buried here all around the church. A few benches to sit down, meditate, or paint a small watercolor like this one.
I recently read: THOSE WHO SAVE US, by Jenna Blum. This book examines the emotional and moral gray area between heroism and collaboration during WWII. At the core of the novel are the themes of love, sacrifice, and family secrets which cause a mis-communication between Anna and her daughter Trudy. Excellent! I enjoyed it very much and recommend it, even though...I know...it's another book on a subject that has been covered so much.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
In the Artist's Magazine July-August issue, I read an article about the master illutrator Tomie dePaola, where he says: "Being an artist is not like being a doctor, or a teacher, it's making something up out of nothing." Yes...he's right, we have a vision and try to set a mood, to communicate our dreams...on a flat piece of paper with water and some colors.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Charles Reid once said: "Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." He was a watercolor pioneer. His first wash was allowed to dry. Then he connected the shadow shapes. He insisted that we should judge our paintings in terms of our "personal best", and start a critique by asking ourselves what we like and dislike about our painting. Being able to identify what did not work is the best way to moving forward. We should solve one problem in each painting. So we keep trying...
Friday, June 14, 2013
I recently read PURPLE HIBISCUS, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian wonderful writer. It is the story of a 15 year old girl, Kambili, who lives in fear of her father, a charismatic yet violent patriarch. He is well respected in the community, yet he is fanatically religious, repressive, and abusive at home. Discovery of a new way of life, for her and her brother Jaja, comes when they are forced to live at their aunt's home, a noisy place full of laughter. Laughter? They had not known laughter before. Beautiful story! A page turner! I highly recommend it.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
A Poem by Alberto Cairo:
FROM MY VILLAGE I CAN SEE
From my village I can see as much of the world
as from any other place in the universe.
Therefore my village is as large as any other world.
for I am as large as what I see
and not according to my own height...
I recently visited a painter's studio in Vilhelmina, Sweden. His name is Tage Lundin, from Lapland. He creates complexity, and builds up many layers of transparent oil in a coloristic way, very poetic and imaginative. I think his oils have a watercolor feeling.
Another quote from DREAMS FROM MY FATHER, by Barack Obama: "I think education doesn't do us much good unless it is mixed with sweat."
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Saxnäsgården is a hotel and spa, on the lake, in Sweden. I go there often to have lunch, then read and paint outside, or inside, depending on the weather. This watercolor on hungarian hand-made paper was painted alla prima, from the lobby.'
I recently read DREAMS FROM MY FATHER, by a young Barack Obama. His grandfather said: "The secret to a man's success is Confidence. That's something you can learn from your Dad." I will add: Yes, and the opposite is also true: the lack of confidence in himself or herself, no matter how much talent, will bring up failure.
Kultsjön Lake is in Lapland, Sweden. For this month, I live in front of it at Ricklundgården. It is huge! I have only walked a couple of miles one way and the other way, making small sketches when the time permits, and taking photographs. There are many houses in the forest, near the lake, most of them are painted red, occasionally you find one in yellow or white. Here you breath viridian, and your eyes feast on cerulean and turquoise!
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I will have a show at my studio in Ricklundgården this coming Sunday, June 16, from 11:00am to 1:00 pm. You are welcome to come see the original paintings posted on this blog, and more original paintings and sketches. Ricklundgården is in Saxnäs, Sweden.
"When you and I no longer exist, these pictures will remain. This is why I sit here day after day, painting and writing. For me to remember, and to be remembered by, pictures of beauty...."
from THE SAMI-People of the Sun and Wind.
Monday, June 10, 2013
Emma Ricklund owned the house, when Folkes and Emma separated. He left and started a new life. She stayed here and continued opening her doors to artists. She also started painting herself. The Spring is very short in Southern Lappland. So here in Saxnäs, a few shy flowers opened their eyes at the end of May, and by mid-June there is a riot of flowers all over the place! Lots of birds are loudly announcing their presence, butterflies appeared scattered here and there, not sure in what direction they want to go, and Emma's house, museum and art gallery Ricklundgården, witnesses it all with charm and elegance.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Why Midnight Sun V? Because I've painted so many midnight sun's scenes! What a temptation, it is so beautiful, yet different every night!
Did you know? The Gulf Stream gives Scandinavia a warmer climate than areas of similar latitude in Siberia and Canada. Nevertheless, the winter is harsh. People, animals and vegetation make it, thanks fo fire, skis and reindeer. The power of the sun is absolute!
In the International Artist magazine June/July 2013 issue, Karen Benco's article "Look for Design in Nature" offers the following advice: "Re-design nature. Change Mother Nature to create a better design for a painting. " That is good advice, in general. However, here by Kultsjön Lake, in Saxnäs, Sweden, very little or nothing could be changed to improve nature. Her other piece of advice, "cropping", answers my needs at the moment. I find it frustrating to paint one flat watercolor of ONE view, when all around me, I have 360 degrees of lakes, forests, and a little red house here and there. I will keep trying!
Saturday, June 8, 2013
The Sámi are the native population of Lapland, in Northern Sweden. Like any native population in the world, they have been misunderstood, mistreated, their rights ignored, their land invaded and stolen by the "civilized" groups that came later to the land. These "newcomers" are us, who think in terms of "conquering" nature. The Sámis live IN nature, with it, respecting it. In Lapp mythology there are seven female divine beings, and three of them are most important, the daughters of Maadter-Aahkka--the Earth Mother. The word Aahka means something good and safe, grandmother. Aahka is also an honorary title and symbol of respect.
Friday, June 7, 2013
Sent as a gift to my grand-daughter Emily-Sebastian.
"They say that time changes things, but we actually have to make the changes ourselves." Andy Warhol.
"Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with dreams or wake up and chase your dreams." --twited by my son a couple of months ago.
So here I am, in this inmensity of lakes and forests in Lapland, painting, pursuing my dreams, changing my life experiences. It feels good.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
This watercolor was mailed to my grand-daughter Marina a few days ago.
I've just finished reading PURPLE HIBISCUS, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. It is the story of Kambili, a 15 year old who lives in fear of her father, a charismatic yet violent and abusive patriarch who is respected in the community. He is fanatically regilious at home. She and her brother Jaja discover a new way of life when they visit their aunt. A way of life full of laughter. They had not known laughter before. A beautiful book, I strongly recommend it. A page turner, I finished it at two in the morning!
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Not available, sent to my grand-daughter Alejandra.
Walking around this area, I find so many beautiful places to paint, that I am working as fast as I can, painting several watercolors a day, every day, today, tomorrow, and forever!
I recently read the poem TODAY, TOMORROW, FOREVER, by Sussi Gabrielsen. Here are some lines:
"They were here first, the mountains
then the fjords, the forests, the rivers.
The first artists
Ice and Water
ardently set to work
with tools provided by the Maker Himself:
sun, wind and rain.
With heat and cold,
with love and pain,
with fantasy and the urge to create
They were carved, the monuments:
the tides, the gorges, the cliffs,
then they carved out the grottos
the caves, the harbors
all under the artist's direction..."
"A work of art is not put in a place, instead it is the place." Martin Heidegger.
I recently read that the great change in art in the 20th C. has been that the viewer has become " a partner in the discussion". So I will ask you, the viewer of my painting: how does this watercolor makes you feel? I'd like to hear from you...please write your feelings in "comment". Thank you.
Painted here in Lapland, Sweden, last week. Not available. I mailed it as a gift to my grandson Matthew.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
I have done this pastel today from a black and white photograph of Emma Ricklund I found on the internet. I know her eyes were blue, but the hair color I imagined. I hope she forgives me. I told yesterday the love story between Folkes and Emma. Well...nothing lasts forever, and their love didn't either. They separated, he moved away, Emma stayed at the big house in Saxnäs, and continued to welcome artists to her house and to the hotel next door, Saxnäsgården. Before she died, she left her beautiful house and art collection, for public viewing, and the studio for artists to come from all over the world to work. I am blessed to be here at Ricklundgården, thanks to her generosity.
Monday, June 3, 2013
Not available, I mailed it as a gift to my granddaughter Natalie.
Hello from Sweden! Painting at Ricklundgården Residency, part of the Museum and Art Gallery created and donated for the community of Saxnäs, the country of Sweden, and future artists, by Emma and Folkes Ricklund. This is a place for meditation and creation, overlooking lakes and mountains, a beautiful home surrounded by gardens and forests. Next door is Saxnäsgården, an Inn/spa which used to belong to Emma's parents at the beginning of the 20th Century. Artists used to come here at that time, and that's how the painter Folkes Ricklund met Emma and they fell in love.
Keep watching my blog for more from Sweden, the Land of the Midnight Sun!
Sunday, June 2, 2013
This painting was a request from a couple in West Hollywood, California. They wanted me to paint in a big format, the image on a small ancient playing card. I did, and they were very pleased.
I finished the painting in a week, working almost constantly on it, just before leaving California for Sweden...
Saturday, June 1, 2013
South American Cruise series # 47
We had visited South America for 6 weeks, and had to take our plane back from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles on March 13. My cousin Mirtha and her husband, Mario, were taking us to the airport in a couple of hours. Meanwhile, we were having a glass of wine and watching the news, when the announcement for the new Pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, surprised and delighted us! Not only he is from Argentina, but he used to visit my cousin's church, as a Cardinal, arriving by Metro instead of using the car available to him. Since my cousin knew him, we felt he was part of the family! What a way to end our trip! And what a way to end this South American Cruise saga!
Watch my new blog, coming up from Sweden.......