William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

# 37 - BACK IN THE U. S. A.

                                                   "Going Home"

                                                  "View from My Studio VI"

                                                   "Night Scene from 915"

Fellow Art Lovers:

Yesterday, as I arrived to work in my studio, a friend on my floor was listening to music.  And guess what it was?  Linda Ronstadt. Strange, because one of my favorite albums from all those years past was “Back in the U. S. A., “ which - by the way – had the song Mohammed’s Radio.  And it so happens that I’ve been back in the U. S. A. after spending the summer in France.

Linda raises two issues for me, and I’ll talk about the first one first.  As I assume you know, my life – and a big part of my life is my painting – is splint between the U.S.A. and France. So I ask myself, how does each of those countries influence my painting?  Do I have different thoughts and emotions that make me feel different and produce different kinds of paintings?

Before attacking this question, you should know that I’ve been spending summers in France for more than 40 years, and my family and I lived in France for seven years when I was a reporter. Also, there’s the fact that France was the place where, not just a few years ago, I painted a series of landscapes that a Philadelphia gallery, the Show of Hands Gallery, liked and put on an exhibit for me, my first one.

So, is there a difference in the way I feel in France and the States?  Yes, there is.  But I think it’s less important that other factors. 

In France, my family and I are, in many ways, on vacation.  We stay in a little village on the coast in Normandy, with so much beauty it takes your breath away.  The ocean, the beach, the rocky shores, the fields, the centuries-old villages, the trees, the skies, the people – they all contain so much beauty and emotion.  We are surrounded by friends, family and a lot of other people, all of whom are wonderful.  When I’m not painting, there’s a lot of visiting and a lot of talk, and I have to confess that my consumption of wine is just a bit more than in the States. 

Away from a lot of the cares and responsibilities of home in Philadelphia, who would not feel freer, and also strengthened by the moral support and the friendship?

A lot of that can be said for Philadelphia.  In addition to the beauty of people and place here, a lot of artists and other friends also give a lot of support.  One thing that’s wonderful about being a painter in Philadelphia is that so many artists really want to help other artists, and they give support and constructive input freely.  And it may be because of the crowds I travel in, but many, many people in both countries are very interested in art.

But in France, there is still that difference of the separation from many daily concerns.  And perhaps this makes me feel a bit freer and allows me to paint with a bit more freedom.

However, no matter where I paint, in France or here, I set myself apart and try to remain in my own little world, apart from my surroundings.  And when I am really successful in my painting, I forget about what’s around me and lose myself in my painting. 

So, which country is the better environment for my painting?  Honestly, I don’t know.  But when I figure it out, I’ll tell you.  

But let’s get back to Linda Ronstadt and the second issue.

When I hear her sing, for example “Long Long Time,” she gives me the impression that she’s lived every song; she’s felt the pleasure or survived the pain her voice describes.  It’s more than the richness of her voice.  It’s the conviction and the emotion the listener can feel.

This week, I had the good fortune to have been invited to a dress rehearsal for a concert by Barbra Streisand.  The theme of the concert was that she was back in Brooklyn, and the audience, through videos and photos and interviews, took a trip down her memory lane. We saw a lot of Barbra’s life.  And when she talked or sang, we felt that same authenticity.  It was in her voice, in her comments and in her person.  And for that reason, the pleasure was multiplied.

There is a point to this.  And it is that the same can be said for painting.  For me, a successful painting is not technical accuracy or flawless presentation.  It’s the desire to show real life and to transmit emotion. 

I want people – you – to feel something from my paintings. How do I get there?  The viewer knows that the painting represents where I live, either here or France , and I am part of that community.  The viewer knows that I feel something for those locations and people.  And, hopefully, the viewer will see that the paint was applied with emotion. If there’s a flaw here, a fudged line there, that doesn’t matter.  Or maybe it does; it shows that a real person, a real person with emotions, did the painting. 

Please look at three paintings above, painted back here in the U.S.A., and ask yourselves if I succeeded.  The night scene of the city is about four feet by four feet, and is the companion piece to the city scene, of the same size, in Blog # 34. 

There are more in my studio, and you can see all of them, along with the new paintings from France, on Oct. 20th and 21st, from noon to 5 pm, during Philadelphia Open Studio Tours.  My address is studio # 407, 915 Spring Garden St., near 9th Street, but actually at Percy Street and Spring Garden, Philadelphia, PA 19123.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate: billkosman@gmail.com, or 215-280-9580 

I hope to see you. Thanks for listening.


William Kosman