William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

# 101 - Inching Further Away From Reality

 

Fellow Art Lovers:

A funny thing happened on Bainbridge Street in Philadelphia’s Queen Village neighborhood. It was a while ago when the trees were bare of leaves, and I noticed how the sunshine behind the trees cast the intricate shadows of the trees’ branches on the parked cars and the street in front of me. 

It was an appealing image, because it contained numerous attractions; there were just a few people walking along the sidewalk; the row of buildings was historic contained a mixtures of surfaces and shapes; the various colors were bright, including those of the cars and trucks crossing my vision. 

So, like any painter who wants to get the greatest impact out of a scene, I decided to make some changes: I altered my perspective so it looks as though I’m looking slightly down; that way I could trace the shadows even more clearly and also capture that delicacy and the life of the street on canvas. 

More changes: I played with the color scheme, kind of falling back on the same colors I used in the last several paintings I did just a while ago. The sky became pink, the branches stand out in burgundy, and I left the hints of branches in the sky to echo them. And the pavement in the foreground became orange. And the cars and trucks were painted in bright colors to keep the viewer’s eye within the painting. 



                                                       "A Day on Bainbridge Street" - 24" by 30" 

And speaking of cars and trucks, I rounded and simplified their forms in, I hope, not a silly way but a playful way. And I simplified the row of buildings on the other side of Bainbridge, and added just a few images of people on the sidewalk, along with a dog, because this block of Bainbridge has a pet hospital. 

A long time ago, I took painting classes in a suburb of Paris, by the name of Fresnes, and one of my instructors was Jean-Marie Creuzeau. The two most important messages he repeated over and over again were: 1. “Simplify, simplify,” and 2. : “You don’t paint the object; you paint the sign of the object.” 

When I think about how to give my paintings more impact, I often think about what he said.  

So, here you see the completed painting. And if you were to ask me, “Bill, what did you do to capture that scene and give it more impact?” I’d have to say that I had to give myself more freedom and move away from the reality. And that’s the artistic license painters and other artists use. 

Thanks for listening. I’d love to hear your comments if you have time. 

Best, 

Bill                


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

# 100 - Another Step Toward Freedom


Fellow Art Lovers:

I know, I know. I sure have written a lot about how I want my work to be more and more free. Well, now this time I've played with the colors to find more freedom. 

As you can see, these are relatively large paintings. I worked on them side by side at the same time, so they both carry some similarities in the the colors - mainly some orangey reds. But now that I look at them, I believe I was freer with the Rittenhouse scene, while I stuck more with some elements' natural colors in the Red Balloon. 


                                                     Red Balloon III (24" by 24")

And, now that I look at the two paintings, I see that the characters are consistent with my more common style for personages in these kinds of scenes - rough, a bit simplified and sometimes a bit odd. Why's that, when I'm fighting for freedom? Maybe that's just me, and maybe I should accept that style, since it comes so naturally to me. 

I worked on these two pieces on a kind of on-and-off basis, because of the COVID pandemic and some personal issues. And I draw the conclusion that this is really me because despite those constraints, I really got into the act of painting. COVID and all, with a brush in hand, everything else just drifted away, and every brushstroke just took over. 



                                                     Rittenhouse Square Scene (24" by 24")

One afternoon, my 12-year-old grandson visited my studio to see my new works. He told me I should add gray to the pavement to delineate the squares. I did, and I see that he was right; the gray also carries through the gray of one of the trees. 

If you have any ideas you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them. Just shoot me an email at billkosman@gmail.com. If you want to look at my website, it's williamkosman.com. And shoot me a note if you want to visit my studio. 

Thanks for listening. 

Best, 

Bill 


 

  


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

# 99 - Good Vibes on Philly Streets

 

FellowArt Lovers:  

Our city of Philadelphia just keeps giving me great ideas for paintings and good vibes that make me want to paint them. The vibes from the people are important, because even if I'm only sketching them or taking photos of them, a feeling stays with me. 

And one way or another, that feeling ends up on my canvas. 

I'm sure I've written a lot about how I try to capture people's gestures, and if I can focus on specific people, I even try to give some hints about their personalities. And I know I've talked a lot about the beauty of human diversity, and how I try to show people of different cultures and colors together and enjoy being together. 

I want to admit something. During the months of the Covid 19 pandemic, it seems that I've written a lot less in my painter's blog. The reason is that I've felt the way a lot of folks feel, frankly a bit blue. But now, writing my ideas, thinking about people and painting and art in general - all this helps me a lot.  

Well, back to painting. In this post, I'd like to show you three scenes. I didn't paint these scenes en plein air. Rather, I was at some distance from these scenes. The reason has more to do with the weather than anything else; oil paints simply melt when it gets hot, and when the weather cooled down, I was blessed with rain. So, most of the time, I was forced to sketch the scenes I wanted to paint, and then I went one step further; I used pastels to play with the colors I wanted to use. Then, I took a few photos to guide my painting. And finally, I was forced to actually execute the paintings in my studio. 



The painting above is in Philadelphia's Northern Liberty's neighborhood. The woman walking her dog struck me because of her confidence and her stride. And the rest of the scene just seemed to frame her perfectly. In fact, so many lines in the scene just seemed to point to her. The painting just seemed to paint itself. The only element that took patience was the woman's face; it's often a challenge to paint a person's facial features and transmit an emotion when I also want to show that the person is some distance from me. 



This next painting (above) of a man and woman together on 10th Street near Spring Garden Street, not far from my studio, was completed exclusively with a palette knife. If you know my painting, you know that I've worked a lot with a palette knife, actually ever since I used that tool to try to capture the beauty of Normandy's landscapes. One strategy that I disagree with is that some artists try to use a palette knife to create a work they believe looks like it had been painted with a variety of brushes. For me, the two tools produce complete different works, each with its own style. A palette knife forces me to simplify, and for me simplicity has great impact. At the same time, the knife can be used to create a special vitality in the surface of the painting by mixing colors right on the canvas. 


And the third painting is the same scene, only with different people; here are four young women marching together, and their stride seems to show their youthful confidence and energy. 

Thanks for listening. I'd love to hear your comments, if you have the time. 

Best, 

Bill 



 

Monday, May 10, 2021

# 98 - Playing Catchup with People


 Fellow Art Lovers: 

A lot of time has passed since my last blog posting. Well, for me like most of you, the pandemic hasn’t been easy. To get through it, I did as much painting and writing as I could to keep focused on the positive. 

 

I’m sure I’m like a lot of other artists; once I’m in front of a canvas with a brush in my hand, and once I really get into it, I forget about the Covid. So, at this point, I want to share just a few of my paintings, and then tell you about the conclusion I’ve reached.  


 


1.     Bourg la Reine is the suburb of Paris where my family and I lived for seven years a long, long time ago when I was a reporter in Paris. It was a great place to live, and I tried in this painting – “Bourg la Reine” – to show the liveliness of the main shopping street, Rue René Roeckel. I’m also showing you the sketch I used to guide me. 

 



2.     With “Blue Balloon,” I try to show people of all cultures and colors enjoying being together. 

 




3.     “Old City Park” shows a very simple scene in Philadelphia. I found it beautiful and it was a challenge trying to show the beauty of the shadows on just about the entire park. 

 

I’m sure you’ve seen that painting has moved in the direction of people. Painting people, trying to capture their gestures and their moods gives me so much pleasure. And it captures my whole being.  

 

If you want to visit my studio, you can email me through my website, www.williamkosman.com

 

Thanks for listening. 

 

Best, 

 

Bill 

 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

#97 - My Friends - A Surprise With Poetry and Painting





                    "Best Friends"

Fellow Art Lovers:

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this post about combining poetry and painting. Some time ago, I painted a work in North Philadelphia featuring two happy young women who were good friends, maybe even best friends. Maybe two months ago, in reviewing my file of paintings, I spotted that painting, and I told myself that it would be great to write a poem about friendship. (Actually, I’m a firm believer that true friends are a key to a good life.) 


                    "Watch Me Jump"

But there was a problem: Here’s a poem by an old man, yours truly, and I use a painting with two appealing women to illustrate my poem. Of course, I have to write from my own point of view, and the concept remains valid. And, in fact, I’ve already written in one of my postings that – in general – a poem can inspire a painting, or the other way around. 

Just one word about the actual writing of the poem: “My Friends” was not an easy poem to write, and I took quite a while thinking, revising and looking for just the right phrase or word. One reason is that I try to achieve a certain rhythm of each sentence and the frequent use of rhyme. For me, using rhythm and rhyme pull the text together and give it a ring of unity. In fact, it’s just like using the unity of color and of brushstroke in a painting. 


                    "Quince Street"

Now, back to my paintings: I was going through my file of paintings, I realized I actually have painted numerous works that illustrate friendship. So, here are five that show friendship and that I will show you:

1.     “Best Friends,” the two young women painting smiling and strutting along Allegheny Ave. in North Philadelphia. 
2.     “Quince Street,” a charming street just off Locust between 11th and 12th Streets, where a sweet women admires the fallen leaves during fall with her dog. 
3.     “Watch Me Jump,” a mother and her daughter walking in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. 
4.     “Conversation,” two friends engaging in a sincere conversation, as only real friends can have, also in Crown Heights. 
5.     “Crossing Spring Garden,” a mother crossing that important thoroughfare in Philadelphia with her young son. 


                    "Conversation"

Just as I’ve done already with two of my poems, I recited this last work, “My Friends,” to the Moonstone Poetry group (www.moonstoneartcenter.org), this time, on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at Fergie’s Pub (1214 Sansom St., Philadelphia 19107). Frankly, this session was one of the most enthusiastic and festive I’ve attended with the group so far.  The entire text of the poem “My Friends” is right below this lengthy introduction.


                    "Crossing Spring Garden"

From my website (www.williamkosman.com), you can also use the links to access some of my other offerings. Also, I invite you to visit my Etsy store (www.etsy.com - WilliamKosmanFineArt). And if you’d like to visit my studio(#310, 915 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia 129123), to see these works and others in their canvas and oil, please send me an e-mail at billkosman@gmail.com.

As usual, if you have any ideas to share, of course I’d love to hear them. 

Thanks for listening. 

Best, 

Bill 

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 My Friends 

By William Kosman

I wish I could someday see, 
All the friends who were dear to me.
I’d want to tell them I’m just so sorry,
I did only part of what I said I would,
But I feel so good for the part I could. 

The world out there’s a dangerous place,
There’s evil stuff happenin’ at every pace. 
Now I’m gonna swear I’ll always try harder.  
I promise I won’t be stingy with my time or my dough, 
And when you ask for help, I won’t be so slow. 

Promises kept or promises dropped, 
Sometime it’s just how things come our way.
It’s never clear how much we can help our friends. 
Promises dropped or promises kept,
Sometimes it’s how hard we’re willing to pray. 

Growing old has its own set of problems,
It hurts everywhere that I could list in columns.  
If your misery’s so bad you just stay home.  
And if all you do is counting your aches and pains, 
All that complaining is all that remains.  

When it comes to time, we don’t have much more,
But we’re here ‘til we hear that knock on the door. 
We all got some special skills and talents, 
That we can share to brighten other folks’ days,
So, we’re gonna keep tryin’ in our own special ways, 

Years ago we tore that phony façade right down,
Now we can share our thoughts and secrets, 
We can giggle and laugh at the dumbest jokes, 
We know that none of it will be repeated. 
Once in a while bad taste should be applauded.    

So now when I’m feeling blue,
And nothing’s going my way,
I won’t let my problems build up in my mind,
I won’t beat my head against that brick wall,
And I’ll try to force myself to give a friend a call.  

I wish I could gather my old friends around me,
To talk about all the great things we were gonna do – or not.
We can’t change how this big bad world is – or not. 
But we can make sure what we do about it. 
We can make sure we’re there to help our friends survive it.  




Saturday, February 22, 2020

# 96 - Another Adventure - Lost in the Universe




          "Lost in the Universe"

Fellow Art Lovers:

It just seems that when I get an idea, I become obsessed with it and want to get as much out of it as I can. In my last post, I talked about linking painting and poetry, and I presented “Old Father Time” and a painting to illustrate it. Well, the idea has been bubbling up in unexpected ways. 

For the longest time, I’ve been fascinated by the universe – its beauty, its mysteries, its dangers and the fact that while we’re told that its infinite, it continues to expand. For me, this is even more interesting because we human beings, when faced with the endlessness of the universe, we still think of our own importance. Basically, how can we be important when we’re faced with this unending series of darkness, lights and colors?

So, I started out by writing a poem about the massiveness of the universe, but it sounded like a scientific description, and was – frankly – was not interesting. Then I changed the approach, and made it more personal. The poem – of course - is about me. “Lost in the Universe” is about me facing the universe in a strange way. 

Then, since I started the poem and the painting at about the same time, I began a process of cross-fertilization. I would write a few lines of the poem, and look at the painting I had started, and I would tell myself that I had to illustrate the concept contained in those lines. I’d be swinging my brushes from side to side, and new elements would appear in the painting. So, guess what. I realized that I had to add the concepts I just started painting in the written text of the poem. This back and forth went on for quite a while. 

So now, in the post, you can see both the written poem and the painting. 

And, believe it or not, this exercise has stimulated a bunch of new ideas for future paired poems and paintings. Also, I realized that I could write poems for paintings I had done in the near past, and that I had actually done the same pairing in some of my rap videos that I’ve already completed or planned to complete. 

Little by little, I’m going to do postings about these projects, unless someone sends me a note and begs me to cease and desist.  


          Detail from "Lost in the Universe"  

As you see, photos of the painting “Lost in the Universe” are in this blog, and below is the entire text for the poem. I have already recited the poem during a meeting of the Moonstone poetry group (www.moonstoneartscenter.org) Wednesday evening, Feb. 19, 2020, at Fergie’s Pub (1214 Sansom St. 19107, Philadelphia). There’s one photo here of me in front of the other poets and poetry lovers at Fergie’s. 

From my website (www.williamkosman.com), you can also use the links to access some of my other offerings. Also, I invite you visit my Etsy store (www.etsy.com - WilliamKosmanFineArt). And if you’d like to visit my studio, #310, 915 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, PA 19123, please send me an e-mail at billkosman@gmail.com). 

As usual, if you have any ideas to share, of course I’d love to hear them. 

Thanks for listening. 

Best, 

Bill 


          I'm painting myself in "Mirror Play"
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        Yours Truly at Fergie's

Lost In The Universe ©

By William Kosman 

I had a dream the other night, 
A nightmare so scary I couldn’t make it right,
Dreamed I was lost in the universe,
Skating through the cosmos to find my way home,
But doomed to this endless space to forever roam.  

No rocket, no spacesuit, no air tanks to sustain me. 
No GPS, no maps or charts of the far-off galaxies to guide me.
How can I survive in this vast nothingness, so empty yet so full? 
Pushed back and forth as I pass the streams of light,
Eyes blinded by the shapes and colors so bright.  

How can I save my life with everything beyond my control?
How can I look in wonder at the beauty around me and save my soul? 
Sometimes in a dream you suddenly realize it’s all not real,
And you can mold your surroundings and choose your own actions.  
But with the colors and flashes around me there’s only distractions. 

A voice within tells me to gather my courage, 
To reach out and grab at the passing stars. 
Maybe I can cling to a planet, to my Earth. 
Maybe I can reach out and get home again,
But the courage doesn’t come to me, so I have nothing to gain.   

I look out into the darkness and try to conduct a careful survey. 
I’m looking for the planet Earth, the Moon, or even the Milky Way. 
But I’m too far, and I’m moving too fast. 
I look, I look, but I can’t see any clues.  
I know I can’t find any hints I can use.  

Show me what I have, tell me what I’m missing.  
I have to want them, and the desire has to be crushing.  
Give my family back to me, give my friends back to me. 
People are life, being with people is the meaning of life. 
Enjoying them, helping them, loving them, that’s life.  


Why is this happening to me? How could I deserve this hell?
I’m just a speck of a being, and my rising fear traps me in a prison cell.  
I have to look past my fear and examine my life. 
I have to turn my forced space exploration
Into a voluntary self-examination.

I remember I was really happy when I worked to help the needy. 
A friend and I used a loaded van to find the homeless in the city,
We brought them meals to get them through the night,
And fresh clothes to warm them and give them a chance to find work. And that warmth we felt when some returned to relate their success. 

If I want to get back home, I gotta pay the price, 
Think of the person I used to be, just think of my life.  
I used to help folks, the poor, the homeless and the old, 
So now, I have to dedicate myself to serving humankind. 
In the vast emptiness of space I see a plan for my future. 

I’m tossing and turning in my twisted nightshirt, 
I stumble to the floor, but I feel – surprise! – alert.  
I’m waking up to a new day in my very own bedroom. 
I’m back home, yes, finished with a trip I’m proud of,  
Back on solid Earth with the people I love.  

I woke up in the same warm bed where I started, 
And, okay, yes, my left hip somewhat smarted.  
But I’m dead serious about the promises I made to myself. 
Sure, it was only a dream, but it wasn’t just messing around. 
I was lost in space and now – just maybe – I’m found. 


Monday, January 20, 2020

# 95 - New Adventure - Connecting My Painting and My Poetry





         Here I am reading "Old Father Time" at Shakespeare & Co.
  
Fellow Art Lovers:

I have news for you. I’ve started connecting my painting with my poetry. That is, whenever a painting stimulates my poetry juices, I write a poem to explain or tell the story of the painting. Or it can happen in the opposite direction; a poem can send me to my easel with palette and brushes in hand.  

You have an example right here. Just a while ago, I wrote the poem – “Old Father Time” – and the beginning of the poem brought a flood of images of my youth to me. (The text of the poem is further down the page, following this introduction.) So, I decided to paint one of those images. (That painting, entitled “You Gotta Put In Trees,” which I’m still working on, is above.) In the coming months, I’ll post more blog entries showing other painting-poetry projects, in addition to new paintings that don’t have poetry links. 


         "You Gotta Put In Trees"

My poetry story goes back maybe year or so. Sonia Robin, of the Alliance Francaise of Philadelphia, suggested numerous times that I would enjoy the poetry readings at Fergie’s Pub (1214 Sansom St., Philadelphia), sponsored by Moonstone Poetry. Well, I finally went, and it was revelation. Here were dedicated poets – accomplished and amateurs – performing their works to a crowd of between 20 and 30 souls. The atmosphere was festive and supportive, as creative sorts swallowed hard, took their books, printed pages or smart phones and mounted a platform to test their courage in front of the crowd. 


         Larry Robin introduces me at Shakespeare & Co. 

Moonstone Poetry is the creation of Larry Robin, of Robin’s Book Store fame.  After he closed the book store, he threw himself into the support of poetry. Now, Moonstone Poetry (www.moonstoneartscenter.org) presents some 80 readings a year at four venues, publishes a growing number of poetry collections, and leads other programs - all to spread the wonders of poetry to young and old, to the accomplished, the professionals and other poetry lovers.  

I qualify as one of the mature, amateur poetry lovers. So far, I’ve attended maybe a dozen sessions, and I’ve taken advantage of the “open mic” three times to present a few of my works. On Thursday evening (January 16, 2020), I recited “Old Father Time” at Shakespeare & Co., (1632 Walnut St., Philadelphia). Larry was the host. One of the featured poets was John Wall Barger, who read from one of his recent collections, “The Mean Game,” and also took the photos you see here of me here. 


         John Wall Barger reads from his poetry collection "The Mean Game"

I’ve always had a strong interest in poetry, first of all because of my studies in English at the University of Oregon a very long time ago, and then more recently because of the rap videos I’ve written and produced, which you can see on my YouTube channel through the link on my website (www.williamkosman.com). Now, I just see more of my poems as subjects for paintings. I know that the question of combining poems and paintings could be an issue. One could maintain that each art form should stand on its own. But for me, once in a while, the combination just feels right. I don’t know how long these poems will keep coming to me. I hope for a long time. For the moment, it’s great. By the way, I’m sure that any of you would be welcomed by Moonstone Poetry or any of the other poetry groups in Philadelphia. 
   

         A detail from "You Gotta Put In Trees"

If any of you want to see more of my work, you can access my website, visit me on Facebook (William Kosman) and Instagram (williamkosmanpainter), and also please take a look at my new Etsy store (www.etsy.com - WilliamKosmanFineArt). And if  you’re really interested, send me an e-mail (billkosman@gmail.com) to visit my studio, #310, 915 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, PA 19123. 

I'd love to hear from you. 

Thanks for listening. 

Best, 

Bill 

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 Old Father Time ©

By William Kosman 

Little streets with houses on them, my sisters and me, we made them all. 
Cereal boxes and tooth picks, colored paper, foil from Hershey bars, 
Just little kids all taken with creating a little world, 
Tiny fingers working, Elmer’s glue and Scotch tape, Mama’s nail polish. 
No guilt, no doubt, our little world that took over our minds.  
We worked, listening to the kiddy shows on the radio:
Pluck your magic twanger, Froggie, Hiya kids, hiya. 
It’s Sky King, Hummm. I’m back in the saddle again.

Old Father Time’s tracking me,
But he ain’t gonna get me, not yet. 
I’m runnin’ free, fast as I can.
I want those times again. 
No thoughts, no guilt, the pure pleasure, just free,
The mystery, the discovery, the warmth.

The warm sun, the gleaming blue, splashing in the pool,
Sherry jumps into the water, and you throw her into the air,
You catch her, and your hand lingers on her thigh, smooth, wet, golden,
Sherry laughs, and you catch her again, and again and again.
The plain pleasure, no thoughts, free.
Sherry grabs your hand, your lips brush, then 
Splashing, running, she disappears. 

Pluck your magic twanger, Froggie, Hiya kids, hiya. 
It’s Sky King, Hummm. I’m back in the saddle again.

Old Father Time’s tracking me,
But he ain’t gonna get me, not yet. 
I’m runnin’ free, fast as I can.
I want those times again. 
No thoughts, no guilt, the pure pleasure, just free,
The mystery, the discovery, the warmth.

Windows down in your custom Olds,
Wind in your hair, the feelin’s cool,
Gunnin’ your four-barrel, your pipes callin’ back. 
All the stupid stuff, Mel’s drive-in, red-lipped smile from Blondie,
A burger and a shake, you hear the hits, 
Your Hit Parade, “So long for a while.”

Pluck your magic twanger, Froggie, Hiya kids, hiya. 
It’s Sky King, Hummm. I’m back in the saddle again.

We met one night at a party in a chic suburb of Paris.
I was a bit drunk. How could she like me?
But after, together on the Left Bank streets, 
Immediate understanding, immediate ease, no pretending,
And she was beautiful, beautiful beyond my dreams. 
The waiter at the Claire de Lune kept filling her wine glass,
But I didn’t need any help. We knew it was good. 

Old Father Time’s runnin’, tryin’ to catch me,
You’re not gonna get me, you old fart.
I want those times again. 
No thoughts, no guilt, the pure pleasure, just free,
The mystery, the discovery, the warmth.
But if I can’t have it, I’m gonna remember it, 
Playin’ that movie in my head. 
Playin’ that movie in my head. 

Pluck your magic twanger, Froggie, Hiya kids, hiya. 
It’s Sky King, Hummm. I’m back in the saddle again.
“So long for a while.”
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Text in italic performed in radio voice.