William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Thursday, January 18, 2018

# 86 - Combining Ideas and Art in "Together II"

                                          "Together II"

Fellow Art Lovers:

To be blunt and – yes – naïve, I believe it’s so important today to value our world’s diverse peoples and the positive contributions of their cultures. I’ve talked about this a lot in this blog, and I’ll bet there are a few people out there who are getting a bit annoyed that I can sound preachy and tiresome. But, when I look at the various trends pulling us in one direction or another, I guess I just want to add my two cents, my small voice, to try to pull us in the direction that recognizes the good in most of us and how most of us want the same good things.

“Together II,” the painting that you’re looking at above, had a difficult birth. Usually, it seems that I equate ease and speed in painting with some kind of validity of the painting. Sometimes I find myself saying, “Oh my gosh, this painting just painted itself, so it must be a great work of art.” So, with a combination of terrible weather, the holidays, distractions, a few false starts and changing ideas, “Together II” had its bumpy moments. But just maybe, the fact that “Together II” survived means that it has some kind of a force of its own, some content that kept it alive until I felt it was as good and valid as it possibly could be. 

                                         Detail (left side) in "Together II"

So, yes, now I feel good about the final result. If that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t be presenting it to you right now. But, when I look at the painting, I do have a few concerns.  

Boy, “Together II’ surely is different from anything else I’ve painted. Yes, each personage is fairly representational, albeit in the rough, forceful style I like and just happens as I paint. And there’s never been the assembly of people and places that you see here. And I just plucked an image from my memory of our favorite puppy to put in the middle. But you’ve seen a lot of these people and some of the places in my earlier paintings. And, maybe “Together II” could be considered pushing “Together I” four or five steps further.

                                         Detail (right side) in "Together II" 

So, the question remains: Is it valid to support an idealistic concept in what I hope is a valid work of art? These are big ideas, and they’ve been discussed a lot by a lot of great minds. And, frankly, we all know that painting – throughout its long history – has been used to promote one idea or another. As far as I’m concerned, and I know I’m repeating myself, I want my paintings to show people of different ethnic groups and cultures together and enjoying each other. So, right now I’m thinking about how to get ideas across in a painting, and still be able to produce paintings that are a pleasure to view and also touch people emotionally.

After all of this, I’d love to hear your opinions about “Together II” and what I’m trying to do. So, if you have time to shoot me a note through this blog or by e-mail to billkosman@gmail.com, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Thanks for your time.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

# 85 - Painting "Spring Garden Scene" Finds A Warm Home

              Julie Nelson, Manager of the Philadelphia Senior Center, introduces me.
                                         Photo: AMP Studios

Fellow Art Lovers:

Many of you must know by now that my artist’s studio – where I do my work painting – is now up in North Philly, not far from the intersection of Frankford and Allegheny Avenues. But just a few short years ago, I had my studio at 9th and Spring Garden Streets, in a building that was built to house the headquarters of the Reading Railroad but became 915 Arts, where artists created their oeuvres in 100 studios. Because of a small fire and the city’s discovery of safety violations, the artists had to find other quarters. But back in the building’s artistic days, I often used to walk along Spring Garden Street to get to my studio.

One day, on my way to work, every surface on Spring Garden Street seemed to glow under an overcast sky. And before me, I discovered a scene that just had to be painted. It was a simple moment in time, with a vendor in his food cart preparing an order for a customer, and a young woman jogging by at the same time. I felt good about the scene, so the painting, “Spring Garden Scene,” just seemed to paint itself. Frankly, I was pretty pleased with the work. But for some reason, it just didn’t click with the visitors to my studio.

                Talking About How "Spring Garden Scene" Came To Be
                                         Photo: AMP Studios 

Now, back to the present. Just several weeks ago, Julie Nelson, the manager of the Philadelphia Senior Center (on South Broad Street just south of Lombard), visited my current studio and declared she loved “Spring Garden Scene.” You see, the Philadelphia Senior Center is a warm place with a lot of welcoming people and a wealth of activities, and I decided to contribute a painting to it.

The occasion for presenting the painting was last Thursday afternoon, January 11, 2018, during a ceremony on a Day of Service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the center’s large auditorium. In the audience were maybe almost 50 people – mainly members of the center – plus my wife Catherine, a good friend and painter, Jim Stewart, and the center’s executive director, Mary Ellen Bolden. Julie had asked me to say a few words about the painting and about myself. So after an introduction, I thanked the center for accepting and displaying my work, and then I talked about my ideas for the painting and my artistic career.

               Members of the Audience Who Showed Their Warmth and Appreciation
                                          Photo: AMP Studios

Then followed a spirited session of questions and comments. Several of the center’s members mentioned that they recognized the scene just as soon as they saw the painting because they had lived or worked in the area. Several people they said they felt proud because the painting showed the real Philly with real Philly people. And one person said the surface of the painting seemed to glow. But what they liked most was the cart owner’s dog in the foreground. You see, I mentioned to them that, when I’m just about finished with a painting, I ask myself: What can I add to make the painting as expressive as possible? And in this case, I decided to add the cute, little dog where there had been none in the scene I first saw; basically, I was exercising my artistic license. That story bought on a round of laughter and applause. Only one other comment brought such a spirited response, this time applause; this was when I explained that I was attracted to the scene because it showed real Philly people of different ethnic groups enjoying each other. 

                The Discussion Continues - Photo: AMP Studios

I knew from the beginning – from the moment I walked into the center for the first time – that I wanted to donate a painting. But now there are other elements that make me feel even better about the gift: The ceremony, the spirit and humor of the people attending ceremony, the appreciation and sweetness I felt, and seeing “Spring Garden Scene” in a prominent place in the center. When I think about the number of people who will see my painting, I hope so much that it will continue to give them pleasure.

           The Proud Moment - "Spring Garden Scene" in Its New Home 
                                         Photo: AMP Studios 

By the way, if you want to see the original blog posting, which is # 46, you can go the listing in the right margin of this page and click on the dates 2/23/14-3/2/15.  And if you want to see how the painting is exhibited and get a feeling for the center, you can visit it: Philadelphia Senior Center, 509 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147, 215-546-5879, and its website is www.philaseniorcenter.org

If any of my of fellow painters or other artists – for example from the Philadelphia Sketch Club or the Manayunk  Roxborough Art Center – want to know the process I followed to make this gift, please shoot me an e-mail, and I’ll fill you in. It’s not rocket science, but it may be helpful.

Thanks for listening.