William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

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.



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

# 82 - My One Minute of Fame

Fellow Art Lovers:

I want to tell you about some of my experiences while painting in public in France, namely on what is called “la digue” (the best translation is “the boardwalk”) in the coastal town of Saint Aubin-sur-Mer in Normandy. I’ve been painting a lot in the coastal towns near here because the beaches are beautiful, the skies above them are breath-taking, and it’s fun trying to capture the people on the digues and on the beaches.

When I paint on the digue in Saint Aubin, I often use a little wagon to carry my portable easel, my paints and brushes, etc, and a few blank canvases. It usually takes me no more than a few minutes to set up. Sometimes I take a few minutes to sketch the scene in an ink drawing, which helps me decide exactly what approach I will take. But very often I’ve already sketched the scene while sitting on the beach or drinking something at a café table. Then I get to work.

There is one particular challenge while painting in public that doesn’t exist when painting in the farms and fields and villages in the countryside. That is, passers-by. Most people are polite and discreet; they glance at what I’m painting, smile at me and often simply say “beautiful,” even if I’ve barely started or they haven’t even glanced at my work. I take this as a form of politeness or encouragement. Some people ask if they can watch me for a minute, and I caution them not to get too close because oil paint is hard to get out of fabric or I don’t want to get distracted. Especially if there are small children involved.

What do I really want? I want to be fully involved in the scene, fully involved with the beauty in front of me and the process of painting, so that I can produce something that will continue to give me or someone else pleasure when looking at what I produced that day or those days on the digue. 

That doesn’t always happen. Some people like to linger and chat. Yes, I accept that the beach and the digue belong to everyone, and I have no special right to space or privacy. And also, every once in a while people have interesting things to share, and I enjoy a few minutes of conversation. But it’s surprising how often an on-looker will tell me in detail how they’ve always wanted to paint but never did, or they will tell me their life story, also in detail.

There’s one kind of experience that I’ve never had while painting in public. That is, I’ve never been interviewed and filmed for the television news. Until now.

On Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, two television reporters from France’s France 3 TV channel saw me painting on the digue in Saint Aubin. The day was sunny, perfect beach weather, and it was the day before the French holiday of Assumption Day. Most people had both days off. The reporters asked me a lot of questions about how great the weather was, and how it was so great compared to the rain you often see in Normandy, and they filmed me while I painted. I gave them my time because they were polite, pleasant and honest about my chances of actually appearing on television. At one point, the two reporters thanked me and then headed off to look for other subjects for their report. When I saw them coming back to the point on the digue where I was painting, I asked them if they had found another older gentlemen who was more interesting then me; they looked at me, laughed and then told me,”Of course not.” They told me to watch the evening news for “Base Normandie.” And I thought it would be fun to be on TV, even though I knew it was unlikely I would actually appear.

Well, guess what? I appeared. You can see my one minute of fame by clicking on the link below. But first, just a few explanations. You might ask, if I was interviewed way back in August while I was in France, why did I wait until now to make a new blog posting? Well. without going into a lot of detail, suffice it to say that I needed some help to solve a few technical issues. Also, you might ask what's all this other stuff that's shown before I actually appear? Because of the size of the video file, I did not reproduce the entire segment. As I said above, the reporters were basically showing how many happy people came out to enjoy the beach on a beautiful day, because Normandy has more than its share of rain. 


As far as my own segment is concerned, I was asked how much I enjoyed the sunshine. The answer I gave, which was used on the air, was: Normandy is famous for its wonderfully green foliage, but that requires rain, for which Normandy is also famous.

I had my one minute of fame, not the 15 minutes Andy Warhol is credited with talking about. But this was just the beginning. The day after my television appearance, I was painting again in the countryside, just next to a road near the village of Reviers. All of a sudden, a truck-driver slowed down his rig on the road nearby, honked his horn, gave me a big thumbs-up gesture and shouted “television.” That same evening, my wife and I went to one of our favorite restaurants in our town of Saint Aubin-sur-Mer for a light dinner. Our waiter smiled at me, nodded his head and mentioned that he saw me the previous night on television. The same kind of response came maybe three or four more times. Even our former cleaning lady, who stopped by for coffee, told us she felt honored because she knows me, a painter who was on television. And during the following days while I was working on the painting “Saint Aubin III” on the digue, people started greeting me as “the painter of Saint Aubin.” So, maybe my one minute of fame will last just a little bit longer.

Thanks for listening, and for your encouragement,



Saturday, September 02, 2017

# 81 - Keeping the Groove Going

Fellow Art Lovers:

I don’t want to do a lot of talking this time around. I just want to show you some of the work I’ve been able to do since I believe I got my groove back.

It’s really an old story, and I’ve talked about it a lot in the past: The fact that I – like a lot of painters and people in other professions from surgeons and cab drivers to chess players and short-order cooks – feel clumsy with a palette and brush when I haven’t used them for more than maybe three days.

So, it’s a true pleasure when I work hard and get some proficiency back. And then I feel I can truly express myself through paint on canvas. Also, I want to explain to you that I really sense freedom when I painted these works, which is truly liberating. 

So, here’s a selection of some of the works I’ve done over the last few weeks, with a special photographic treat, thanks to a friendly tourist who – along with his family – watched me in action. 

This is me painting on what is called the digue (the closest translation is the boardwalk) in Saint Aubin-sur-Mer in Normandy. The photo was taken by a good guy who was visiting with his family. 

This painting is called "Approche de Reviers" (Approaching Reviers). It's a beautiful scene just off the road that descends toward the village of Reviers. I hope I did the scene some justice.

The is the big work (73 centimeters by one meter) I was painting when I was photographed. The work took about five sessions to complete. I have to admit that I'm not displeased by it.

This is a charming scene near the village of Cresserons. The simplicity of the farm buildings and the fields and - of course - the Normandy sky just captured me. 

Thanks for your time. If you have any questions, or you want more detail on anything I've talked about, please send me a note. Of course, I'd love to hear your reactions. 



Sunday, July 23, 2017

# 80 - Rustiness and Its Cure

Fellow Art Lovers:

Yes, I’m here in Normandy, and I’ve been painting. Now, I just want to show you some of my latest paintings (plus the surprise that I’m saving for last ), and tell you a little bit about how I function. 

That is, I believe I’m a lot like a lot of painters and people in other professions, for that matter. The essence of the story is that if I don’t keep practicing my art, it gets rusty, and then I have to fight to get that skill back.

So, what's the solution? It's not very surprising. It boils down to persistence. I just keep banging my head against that wall. But I'm overstating the whole situation. Once I get in the car, turn on the radio station France Classique, and roam the countryside for something beautiful, I just feel wonderful, and very lucky. Once I find a scene that rocks my boat, and I'm there, working and - once in a while - chatting for a few minutes with an interested passerby, like a farmer or bicyclist or beachcomber, I feel just great. Sure, the first few strokes may not be exactly what the canvas needs. But I convince myself that it's part of the process, and I need to just keep going, keep trying, keep pushing. 

And, miracle of miracles, once in a while I come up with something that's not bad.  

To be candid with you, I’ve suffered a few bad starts in my paintings, which I had to paint over. And there are a few paintings that I still believe I can save, because the scenes I tried to represent are beautiful.

So, let’s get to the specifics:

                                         "View of Douvres" 

Many of you will remember a scene like this painting, “View of Douvres,” which shows the basilica at Douvres from a distance. That first painting last year was relatively small, and I wanted to give myself more space to express myself, so I painted it a lot of larger. Well, the middle of the painting – that is the houses, trees and steeples – turned out fine, but it took me a lot of work to paint the field in the foreground and especially the sky above close to the way I wanted them.

                                         "The Beach at Saint Aubin I"

“The Beach at Saint Aubin I” was actually the first time I painted this subject this summer. (I’ve painting this scene quite a few times, and each time I paint it I discover something new to add meaning to the work.) This time I painted the scene, and I limited myself to a pretty small format, took my time and made one stroke after another (What else can you do?) So finally, in my estimation, I succeeded in giving an honest, unpretentious view of the beach that’s easy on the eyes.

                                          "The Beach at Saint Aubin II" 

This view of the beach, in “The Beach at Saint Aubin II” is from the opposite  end of this small village, this one being from the east to the west. I found that the cabins marching away from me, the texture of the sand, the color of the sea and the few people represented a simple story that could be told with just a few forms and lines in sunny colors.

                                          "Le Manoir" 

And now, the big surprise. Are you ready? Last year I painted a field that was on the property of a large manoir in a small village not far from Saint Aubin. Well, I wasn’t thrilled with the painting, so I scrapped off most of the paint, thinking that I would paint over it and not waste a canvas, even thought it was relatively small and didn’t represent much of an investment. But when I saw the result, something stopped me from painting over the surface. 

And then, sitting around one evening, my family told me that they really liked the painting, especially the uneven surface, the subtle colors and the slightly abstract approach. So now, the painting hangs above the fireplace in the living room.

That’s all for now. I hope I have some amazing paintings to share with you, now that I have some of my groove back. In any case, I’ll be trying.

Thanks for listening, and – as always – for your support.