William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

# 39 - Old Strategy Becomes New

"School Morning"

"School Morning" (Detail)

"Quince Scene" 

"Quince Scene" (Detail) 

                                                    "Reading Structures"

Fellow Art Lovers:

There are some things I want to share with you today – several paintings and one important lesson I learned, or at least, one lesson that was reinforced for me. 

All of the paintings are scenes of Philadelphia, scenes that appealed to during my travels around the city.  One of them, “School Morning,” just struck me as capturing some ideas I find important: a mother caring for her kids, making sure they are scrubbed and bright, making sure they are getting a good start in life by going to school and – hopefully – valuing education.  I was originally drawn to this location on 15th Street because of the buildings you see in the painting.  But I just happened to be there around 8:30 in the morning, just when so many parents are taking their kids to school.  By the way, I am now revealing to you the true identity of the “mystery painting,” the one with the traffic light.  This is it.  I didn’t want to share the entire painting with you until I mastered the shadows in front of the kids and, most of all, the mother’s face. 

The lesson I learned?  I usually paint pretty rapidly when I’m sure of myself.  I’ve written so confidently about the confident stroke and the painter’s high.  Well, a lesson I learned long ago was made more obvious:  Once in a while I have to slow down and take things one little step at a time.  That was the case here, especially with the mother’s face.  For numerous attempts, it just wasn’t right or did not express the feeling I wanted to get across. This one small portion of the painting presented a special challenge.  The viewer is some distance from her, so her face cannot be painted in any detail. But still, she is the most important person in the painting, so some detail or some element has to give her a special sparkle and express an emotion – the mother caring for her children. I was forced to take a breath and take a different attitude.  I was force3d to keep trying, slowly and carefully.  Now, I don’t know if it’s perfect, if perfection exists at all, at least for me, but it’s pretty close.

The other painting is “Quince Scene.”  I happened to be near Eleventh Street and Locust Street, and I discovered the most charming street, Quince Street.  And guess what?  The scene became even more beautiful, because I saw a mother with her baby in a carriage talking to a friend.  She was looking up at the trees – lush with fall leaves – in admiration.  And she was charming and helpful, and she said it was fine for me to use her image for a painting.  If she reads this blog entry, I want to say a big “thank you.”

But the same lesson was valid for her, also.  I had to slow down, and really concentrate, of course, to show her face the way I wanted to, so that it expressed her admiration for the beauty of nature. And I had to accomplish this with no detail, because of the viewer’s distance from her.

The last painting, “Reading Structures,” is from the Reading Railroad Viaduct, a portion that shows harsh metal structures against modern buildings and the blue sky.  The scene expresses a sense of grittiness contrasting with the delicacy of the sky and the clouds.  This scene, I have to admit, was a softball.  It was readymade, and it would have been harder to mess it up than to succeed with it.

Please remember that clicking on the image increases its size.

Thanks for listening.


William Kosman