William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

# 87 - Self-Discovery and Good News

Fellow Art Lovers:

Okay, I’ve shared one bit of good news with you – my new website. But there’s a lot more. I want to tell you about a few things that I’ve done, and one other event that’s coming up in the fall, and explain to you why all of these events are important to me. 

On April sixth, I had an event at the Alliance Francaise de Philadelphie that was an absolute pleasure. First of all, I had an exhibition of my paintings, both landscapes of Normandy and urban scenes of Philadelphia, and the proceeds of the sales benefited the Alliance. At the same time, I gave a short talk comparing what it’s been like for me to be both an American painter in Normandy and an American painter in Philadelphia. 

Basically, both venues offer great advantages, like people who respect art and give a lot of moral support to painters. But for me, the greatest difference is that Normandy just stands out for its pure, natural beauty, which I know you’ve heard me lecture a lot about already, while the areas in North Philadelphia I’ve been painting in (which you’ve seen in my K and A series) stand out because I’ve witnessed and painted brave people from the four corners of the globe trying to make new lives for themselves and their families. 

Nancy Gabel, President of the Board, of the Alliance Francaise de Philadelphia, and yours truly.  

I had a very warm feeling while sharing my little experiences in both places, because the reception from the maybe about thirty or so people there was, itself, very warm. 

Then, on June first, Rabbi Zalman Wircberg, known as Rabbi Zash, the co-director of the Old City Jewish Art Center, in Old City, Philadelphia, and I opened an important event. It was the first exhibit of artists from the Philadelphia Sketch Club exhibiting their works at the Old City Jewish Art Center. 

                    Some of the several hundred visitors at the cart center on First Friday

The event was a true success. The number of art lovers visiting the center on that First Friday, must have exceeded several hundred. The conversation was lively and truly enjoyable, and several of the artists presented their works to visitors to the gallery and answered their questions. I said a few words about the Philadelphia Sketch Club. But the words of Rabbi Zash truly stand out. He said that, if people of widely diverse backgrounds can agree about their love for the arts, then hopefully they can also agree on other things, like respecting and helping each other. 

Well, I’ve been thinking about that message more and more. And more and more, I’m going to use more and more of my art to bring people together and help worthwhile causes. 

As a matter of fact, on October the seventh, I will have the opening of an exhibit entitled “Hope for the Homeless” at the Manayunk Roxborough Art Center, at 419 Green Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19128. The reception will run from noon to 3 pm. I will be showing 23 paintings, and all of my proceeds will go to the Bethesda Project, an important Philadelphia organization that helps the homeless. You can learn more about the exhibit on the art center’s website (www.mrartcenter.org). After this exhibit, the show will continue at the Roxborough Development Center, starting on Nov. 2, at 6111 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia.   

Thanks for listening. 



Thursday, January 18, 2018

# 86 - Combining Ideas and Art in "Together II"

                                          "Together II"

Fellow Art Lovers:

To be blunt and – yes – naïve, I believe it’s so important today to value our world’s diverse peoples and the positive contributions of their cultures. I’ve talked about this a lot in this blog, and I’ll bet there are a few people out there who are getting a bit annoyed that I can sound preachy and tiresome. But, when I look at the various trends pulling us in one direction or another, I guess I just want to add my two cents, my small voice, to try to pull us in the direction that recognizes the good in most of us and how most of us want the same good things.

“Together II,” the painting that you’re looking at above, had a difficult birth. Usually, it seems that I equate ease and speed in painting with some kind of validity of the painting. Sometimes I find myself saying, “Oh my gosh, this painting just painted itself, so it must be a great work of art.” So, with a combination of terrible weather, the holidays, distractions, a few false starts and changing ideas, “Together II” had its bumpy moments. But just maybe, the fact that “Together II” survived means that it has some kind of a force of its own, some content that kept it alive until I felt it was as good and valid as it possibly could be. 

                                         Detail (left side) in "Together II"

So, yes, now I feel good about the final result. If that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t be presenting it to you right now. But, when I look at the painting, I do have a few concerns.  

Boy, “Together II’ surely is different from anything else I’ve painted. Yes, each personage is fairly representational, albeit in the rough, forceful style I like and just happens as I paint. And there’s never been the assembly of people and places that you see here. And I just plucked an image from my memory of our favorite puppy to put in the middle. But you’ve seen a lot of these people and some of the places in my earlier paintings. And, maybe “Together II” could be considered pushing “Together I” four or five steps further.

                                         Detail (right side) in "Together II" 

So, the question remains: Is it valid to support an idealistic concept in what I hope is a valid work of art? These are big ideas, and they’ve been discussed a lot by a lot of great minds. And, frankly, we all know that painting – throughout its long history – has been used to promote one idea or another. As far as I’m concerned, and I know I’m repeating myself, I want my paintings to show people of different ethnic groups and cultures together and enjoying each other. So, right now I’m thinking about how to get ideas across in a painting, and still be able to produce paintings that are a pleasure to view and also touch people emotionally.

After all of this, I’d love to hear your opinions about “Together II” and what I’m trying to do. So, if you have time to shoot me a note through this blog or by e-mail to billkosman@gmail.com, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Thanks for your time.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

# 85 - Painting "Spring Garden Scene" Finds A Warm Home

              Julie Nelson, Manager of the Philadelphia Senior Center, introduces me.
                                         Photo: AMP Studios

Fellow Art Lovers:

Many of you must know by now that my artist’s studio – where I do my work painting – is now up in North Philly, not far from the intersection of Frankford and Allegheny Avenues. But just a few short years ago, I had my studio at 9th and Spring Garden Streets, in a building that was built to house the headquarters of the Reading Railroad but became 915 Arts, where artists created their oeuvres in 100 studios. Because of a small fire and the city’s discovery of safety violations, the artists had to find other quarters. But back in the building’s artistic days, I often used to walk along Spring Garden Street to get to my studio.

One day, on my way to work, every surface on Spring Garden Street seemed to glow under an overcast sky. And before me, I discovered a scene that just had to be painted. It was a simple moment in time, with a vendor in his food cart preparing an order for a customer, and a young woman jogging by at the same time. I felt good about the scene, so the painting, “Spring Garden Scene,” just seemed to paint itself. Frankly, I was pretty pleased with the work. But for some reason, it just didn’t click with the visitors to my studio.

                Talking About How "Spring Garden Scene" Came To Be
                                         Photo: AMP Studios 

Now, back to the present. Just several weeks ago, Julie Nelson, the manager of the Philadelphia Senior Center (on South Broad Street just south of Lombard), visited my current studio and declared she loved “Spring Garden Scene.” You see, the Philadelphia Senior Center is a warm place with a lot of welcoming people and a wealth of activities, and I decided to contribute a painting to it.

The occasion for presenting the painting was last Thursday afternoon, January 11, 2018, during a ceremony on a Day of Service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the center’s large auditorium. In the audience were maybe almost 50 people – mainly members of the center – plus my wife Catherine, a good friend and painter, Jim Stewart, and the center’s executive director, Mary Ellen Bolden. Julie had asked me to say a few words about the painting and about myself. So after an introduction, I thanked the center for accepting and displaying my work, and then I talked about my ideas for the painting and my artistic career.

               Members of the Audience Who Showed Their Warmth and Appreciation
                                          Photo: AMP Studios

Then followed a spirited session of questions and comments. Several of the center’s members mentioned that they recognized the scene just as soon as they saw the painting because they had lived or worked in the area. Several people they said they felt proud because the painting showed the real Philly with real Philly people. And one person said the surface of the painting seemed to glow. But what they liked most was the cart owner’s dog in the foreground. You see, I mentioned to them that, when I’m just about finished with a painting, I ask myself: What can I add to make the painting as expressive as possible? And in this case, I decided to add the cute, little dog where there had been none in the scene I first saw; basically, I was exercising my artistic license. That story bought on a round of laughter and applause. Only one other comment brought such a spirited response, this time applause; this was when I explained that I was attracted to the scene because it showed real Philly people of different ethnic groups enjoying each other. 

                The Discussion Continues - Photo: AMP Studios

I knew from the beginning – from the moment I walked into the center for the first time – that I wanted to donate a painting. But now there are other elements that make me feel even better about the gift: The ceremony, the spirit and humor of the people attending ceremony, the appreciation and sweetness I felt, and seeing “Spring Garden Scene” in a prominent place in the center. When I think about the number of people who will see my painting, I hope so much that it will continue to give them pleasure.

           The Proud Moment - "Spring Garden Scene" in Its New Home 
                                         Photo: AMP Studios 

By the way, if you want to see the original blog posting, which is # 46, you can go the listing in the right margin of this page and click on the dates 2/23/14-3/2/15.  And if you want to see how the painting is exhibited and get a feeling for the center, you can visit it: Philadelphia Senior Center, 509 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147, 215-546-5879, and its website is www.philaseniorcenter.org

If any of my of fellow painters or other artists – for example from the Philadelphia Sketch Club or the Manayunk  Roxborough Art Center – want to know the process I followed to make this gift, please shoot me an e-mail, and I’ll fill you in. It’s not rocket science, but it may be helpful.

Thanks for listening.




Thursday, December 14, 2017

# 84 - Sharing My Painting

          Here I'm just getting started on my demonstration at the North City Congress.

                                      Maybe about 20 minutes into the demonstration.
     You can see the still life and my serious efforts to make progress, before things loosened up.

                               This is the slightly re-touched work.

Fellow Art Lovers:

People are pretty consistent about what they like and dislike, and – when it comers to painting – I’m about as consistent as they come. One of the things I always enjoy is sharing my painting – that is, showing people what I do, talking about my work and what ideas I try to get across, and hearing their ideas.

The other day, Wednesday, Dec. 6, I had all of the elements I needed. I gave a painting demonstration to members of the North City Congress, a senior center up on North Broad Street, near Temple University, in Philadelphia.

To sum up the experience in a few words: It was really a pleasure, frankly fun.  

And yes, that’s the group I worked with to organize a silent auction of paintings in conjunction with the group’s fund-raising gala this past June. The silent auction, under the auspices of the Philadelphia Sketch Club, brought together eight artists, who contributed a total of 10 paintings to help support the Congress’ ongoing programs. 

The painting demonstration, also, was the first of a new program being carried out by the Philadelphia Sketch Club as part of the club’s community outreach. 

And now those elements I needed for the demonstration: The most important thing was that, in front of me, in the Congress’ large activities room, I had almost 20 of the Congress’ members, who showed a deep respect for art in general and painting in particular. I’ll talk about them more in a minute, but I just want to say that all of them were so appreciative that I was there. And during the time I was there, a little more than an hour and a half, the people’s warmth got through to me. Toward the end of my demonstration, they called me “Mr. Bill.”

For my demonstration, I brought all of my painting gear, all of the things I bring when I paint en plein air either in Philadelphia or in Normandy, like a blank canvas, easel, brushes, palette knife, tubes of paint, etc. Also, I brought a simple still life made up of a bouquet of flowers in a vase and some pieces of fruit. And, just to show them what I usually paint, I brought one of my Philadelphia scenes and one of my landscapes from Normandy.

Then I threw myself into the purpose of the afternoon. I talked a little bit about myself – my earlier professions as a journalist and marketing executive, and then my big decision to devote my professional life to painting. I told them that, in my painting, I want to show what is beautiful in life and what is good about people, and I explained how I want to show that in the two paintings I brought with me. Then I stressed to them that I was there for them, so they should stop me at any point and ask any questions that come to mind.

As I started, I put some rough shapes on the canvas. As I kept working, I talked about what I was trying to accomplish, the how and why of what I was doing. Things like why I put certain elements here and there, and why I used a brush some times and a palette knife other times.  

Well, this turned out to be quite an inquisitive group, and a group that likes to participate. During the time we were together, they asked questions about my background, why painting is so important to me, the places I paint in France, the prices some collectors are willing to pay in today’s art market, the prices I ask for my paintings, why I use certain techniques at different points in painting a still life, and a lot more.

At numerous points during my demonstration, most of my audience offered their opinions, and as the session loosened up, they offered more and more of their ideas, and a sense of sharing and humor took over. But one serious thing was important to me: Because of the demonstration, some of the people said they would like to study painting.

Well, we did a lot of talking, so I did not complete the still life. So, back in my studio, I just touched up the painting a bit.

Now that the painting’s a little more presentable, I believe I’m going to offer it to the members of the North City Congress for the opportunity they gave me to share what’s important to me.   

If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them.

Thanks for listening.



Sunday, November 05, 2017

# 83 - The Pleasures of Plein Air

Fellow Art Lovers:

There I was in Chamber’s Square, a lush public park up in North Philadelphia at the corner of Allegheny Ave. and Belgrade St., painting away with my portable easel and my paints and other materials at my feet. It was an unusually warm afternoon for early October, and the trees’ foliage was just starting to change color. People from the neighborhood walked by and respectfully greeted me.

The scene of the park and Saint Paul’s House beyond it was beautiful, and I was having a wonderful time. (The artistic product of those hours is below,  “Saint Paul’s House.”) 

                                                 "Saint Paul's House"

How did I miss the boat and wait so long?   For the longest time, I’ve felt the need to paint my Normandy landscapes by actually being at the sites of the paintings – out in the fields, on the roadsides, in the villages and on the beaches. Whereas, for urban scenes, yes, I’ve painted in some neighborhoods, but for the most part, I’ve preferred to use a combination of on-site pen-and-ink sketches, photos and then good measure of studio work.

Well, I’ve really missed that train – the pleasure of putting colors directly on canvas while interacting with the environment, which includes the people and the foliage.

Why the awakening?  I have to credit two dedicated plein-air painters for my change of heart and for the fact that I’m now getting a lot more direct knowledge and emotion for the sites I’ve been painting, and for the pure pleasure in doing so.

                                         "Philly Trolley" 

My next stop was the intersection of Girard and Frankford Avenues, just north of Northern Liberties. My goal was to try to represent an active afternoon at this busy place. The view I chose was from the western side of Frankford because all of the elements it contained, (You see them in the image above.) including the club Johnny Brendas, the traffic on Girard, and the people rushing to get home after work. Again, the passers-by were friendly and respectful, and most of all the wait staff of Joe’s Steaks was great because, while I took over a portion of their space for two afternoons, they brought me drinks and food.

                                                  "Lucky Orange Cap" 

This posting would not be complete without the still life I did in my studio (Above). In the beginning, I just wanted to keep my skills and my right arm in shape. But then at a certain point, I decided that the work wasn’t bad. Also, I pleased that I included my lucky orange cap.

Thanks for listening.