William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

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.”
-0-

Text in italic performed in radio voice. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

# 94 - Contrast of Styles




Fellow Art Lovers:

If you’ve been following my work, you’ve surely noticed that I use several different styles or tools for painting: Generally for landscapes in Normandy, I tend to use a palette knife pretty often; and for Philadelphia urban scenes, more often than not I tend to use brushes. Also, in the past few years, I’ve built up my courage and combined the two, because each tool has its own special contributions and there are good reasons to combine them.   

In the last two paintings I produced in Normandy this past summer, I painted one of each – one exclusively with brushes and one exclusively with a palette knife – to see how much impact and emotion I can squeeze out of each method. 



“View from the Castle at Cruelly (above)." The castle of Cruelly is a beautiful structure, and I believe I’ve sketched it several times, although I don’t believe I’ve ever painted the castle itself. But what attracts me a lot is the view of the valley to the west of the castle, with its open fields, the rows of trees, the two smaller structures, the stunning sky and the Norman cows grazing in the field. 

I took the approach of a bit of realism along with some impressionistic freedom.  The three painting sessions of several hours each I spent on the stone veranda attached to the western side of the castle were blessed with sunlight and curious visitors with respect for my work. I love talking with passers-bye while I paint, when they make concise and insightful comments. And, as usual, once I made some decisions about my approach and I felt fully involved in the painting, my right hand didn’t need much instruction. I will admit, however, that I did get a little prissy when I worked on the Norman cows, because I want to make sure they were recognizable in all their glory relaxing in the shade of the nearby trees.    


“Cabins on the Beach at Saint Aubin” (above). I can’t count the number of times I painted the beach at Saint Aubin – certainly more than a dozen. But this time was different. I wanted a different approach that give me the greatest freedom to let me get the most out of my palette knife. (A secret: I have maybe a dozen palette knives, but I have a favorite that I used most of the time.) 

My approach was to simplify the scene, so that I could use the knife to enhance the painting’s surface and make it as interesting as possible. The aspects of the scene on the beach were ideal – with the sky, the rough tide hitting the beach, the jutting slice of land in the fog in the distance, and the white cabin in the foreground. One of the advantages of my palette knife is that I can work over the same section several times to add different colors without their purity blending into the initial paint layer. 

And in some instances, it’s surprising how much detail you can achieve with a palette knife.  But you have to be careful. Once, in a painting-supply store in Paris, I thumbed through a book about painting with palette knives, and the author’s approach was to try to do the kind of painting with a palette knife that you’d do with brushes. That’s not my approach, and I consider her approach wrong. For me, painting with a palette knife is a different experience, and the result you achieve can have a different kind of impact. The strategy is to use the knife for what it is best at.   

I don’t know which painting is the winner, if there is one. Each one should bring out the best possible with the tools I used. So here I’d like to ask for your help. If you have the time, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for listening. 

Best, 

Bill 






Friday, August 16, 2019

# 93 - Persistence on Canvas

                                                "Verdant Passage"    

Fellow Art Lovers:

You haven’t heard from me for a while, so, I want to show you some of the works I’ve produced while here in Normandy.  

Before I start giving you a few short explanations about each painting, I just tell you what I discovered while deciding what to write for this blog entry. I’m going to present three paintings, and in all cases, I just kept fiddling with them. Of course, all artists make changes so our paintings are as good as we can get them. And, the old saying says: “The hardest thing for an artist is knowing when to stop.” But this time around, I found my fiddling went on a bit longer than I remember any time in the past. 

I’ll let you decide on looking at the final, maybe, versions of these paintings. 

In “La Digue en Lumiere Douce" (below),” I wanted to simplify the people and the place, and I wanted to offer a new perspective. Why pink? On many evenings the sunset is actually a bright pink. I just carried the theme one step further. In this case, the changes I made were not outrageous. 

                                                      "La Digue en Lumiere Douce"

But with “La Mue a Reviers,” (Below), I not only made numerous changes, but the changes were fundamental. I’ve painted in the village of Reviers numerous times, but I had never realized the beauty of this scene – the colors and reflections of the Mue River, the stonework of the wall and the house, the foliage, the sky. My first version felt wonderful, but I realized the composition was all wring, and I scraped the paint off the canvas. The composition of the second version was perfect, but I didn’t like the surface. More scraping. On the third version, I took my time, and it was a lot better. Of course, I had to come back to maybe five or six times for this or that. What you see is the best I’m capable of. 

                                                       "La Mue a Reviers"

In “Verdant Passage" (Top of page), I wanted to play with the light coming through the trees onto the ground, with the strongest light coming through the opening around the woman, I wanted to show the different colors of the trees and the beauty of their leaves, and I wanted to have a strong focus on the woman. I did spend a good amount of time on the painting, but it was not unreasonable because I knew what I wanted to accomplish. 

I’d like to hear your reactions to the paintings. 

Thanks for listening. 

Best, 

Bill 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

# 92 - A Must Paint Scene at Penn's Landing



                               "Penn's Landing" -This is the finished product.

Fellow Art Lovers:

What could be more of a dream for an artist than a scene that cries out – almost literally raises its voice: “You have to paint me”?  Such a scene raised its voice to me on Penn’s Landing, right between the four-masted sailing ship , the Moshulu, and the Cruiser Olympia. It’s a scene I’ve often walked by along the western bank of the Delaware River. But I hadn’t noticed the beauty of the ensemble - the reflections off the water, the line of yachts moored near the shore, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the far bank across the river. 

I tackled this scene several weeks ago. I set up my portable easel along with all of my painting gear, and I worked for about three and a half hours. Frankly, it was fun. It was sunny, but not too hot (oil paints melt in high temperatures), and a steady stream of art lovers stopped by to give me moral support. 

Then, in my studio, I worked for maybe another four of five sessions to finish the work. To be frank, I believe I could have completed the work a lot more rapidly, but I wanted to be loyal to my rule, which now seems obvious: “Never declare a painting finished until it is absolutely the very best it can be with all of the skill and talent I possess at that moment.”  

I want to show you major steps in the painting’s completion as I pushed forward with it.  Each step is labeled. By the way, the title of the painting is “Penn’s Landing,” and its size is 30 inches by 30 inches. 




1. Here you can see that I've sketched things out with the right proportions and composition, but I haven't decided on the surfaces and not many details are added yet.


2. I've added some details but I can see that the sky is wrong and doesn't add to the drama of the scene. One important thing: I'm feeling very good about the painting, and this good feeling is giving me a confident brush stroke.


3. I've added the reflections off the water, but the clouds are still not right. Also, the surfaces of the objects don't reflect the source of light, and I'm missing opportunities to add drama to a lot of the objects. 


 4. Here the sky is getting better, but a lot of little things need adjustment. Compare this to the final version, and you'll see a lot of small changes I made.


I hope this was interesting for you. Frankly, every painting session took a good measure of thought and just a little bit of bravery. 

Please feel free to offer me your comments. I always appreciate them. 

Thanks for your time and loyalty. 

Best, 

Bill