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Monday, March 31, 2014

e. e. cummings

"most people are perfectly afraid of silence"

American Poet/Artist
1894 - 1962


e. e. cummings

Writers and artists require silence to focus on their work and, yet, many people are afraid of silence.  Silence helps us find our way through the maze of life.  Silence opens like a flower in the morning.  Take time to enjoy the silences of your life.  The hardest silence to find is the silence of the mind.  We are constantly talking to ourselves even when we have silenced the voices around us.  Learn to slow your mind down and quiet the voices talking inside your head.    Rid yourself of your mother's voice.  Your father's voice.  The voice of the critic.  The voice of the editor.  Learn to love silence. 

Edward Estlin Cummings was the oldest child of Edward Cummings and Rebecca Haswell Clarke.  His artistic talents were present from an early age.  His mother preserved many of his drawings of animals from his early childhood.  He wrote his first poems at the age of 3 with his mother serving as scribe.  He was reading at four.  He compiled his first book of poems at age 12 and his second collection at age 14.  His first published poem appeared in the Cambridge Review when he was 15.  In the summer of 1910 he wrote a poem a day.

In the fall of 1911, a couple months shy of his 17th birthday, Cummings entered Harvard College as a freshman.  In 1913 he acted in a play along side then graduate student T. S. Eliot and won the affections of the girl they both pursued.  Cummings graduated from Harvard in June of 1915 and delivered one of the graduated speeches on the new art.

Cummings pursued the twin arts of painting and poetry throughout his life. Best known for his poetry, Cummings also published two novels and four plays. His paintings can be found online at http://www.eecummingsart.com/ .

My favorite poem by e. e. cummings is anyone lived in a pretty how town. Here is Cummings reading the poem.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Henri Matisse

"Creation is the artist's true function; where there is no creation there is no art."

French Artist
1869 - 1954

Most of us are drawn to the arts because of a need to create something, to express what we are feeling.  Those who stay involved with some art form, such as writing, painting or acting, must also learn technique, but if in the study of techniques we forget creativity, we have lost touch with the purpose of art.  Creativity is the very heart of what we do.  The mastery and perfection of technique must never be more important then the creative impulse.  The art we create must be fresh and new, not boring and repetitious.

Matisse, Woman With A Hat, 1905
Henri Matisse was born in northern France, the eldest son of a grain merchant.  At 18, he moved to Paris to study law.  At 20, he had an appendicitis attack and while recovering took up painting because his mother gave him art supplies to keep him from being bored.  When Matisse decided to study art instead of law, his father was very disappointed.

Matisse is best known for his use of color and his original draughtsmanship.  While he was a printmaker and sculptor, he is best known as a painter.  His creative work spans more than half a century and he is considered one of the leading painters in modern art.

Here is a documentary about Henri Matisse.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Claude Monet

Painting of Monet
by Auguste Renoir
"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers."

— Claude Monet
French Painter
1840 - 1926

Why did you become a painter, a writer or a storyteller? Why did you start playing music and composing songs? Why do you love to take photographs? What drives you to be creative? What is your story? I began writing poetry when I was a junior in high school and I submitted my early poems as a paper for a social studies seminar. My English teacher asked me why I had not shown them to her. At the time I had not made the connection between writing and English class. I wrote because it was a way to express my ideas on societal problems. Why are you an artist? I'd love to hear your story.

File:Claude Monet - Water Lilies - 1906, Ryerson.jpg
Water Lilies 1906
Claude Monet was born in Paris, France to Claude Adolphe Monet and Louise Justine Aubree Monet.  He was baptized as Oscar-Claude but his parents called him Oscar.  His father wanted him to enter the family grocery business but Monet wanted to be an artist.  When he was sixteen his mother died.  Monet moved to Paris and lived with his widowed, childless aunt.

When Monet was twenty, he joined the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry in Algeria.  He was committed to serve for seven years but was discharged after two years because he had contracted typhoid fever.  

Woman in a Green Dress
by Claude Monet
Model is Camille Doncieux
In 1867, Camille Doncieux, a model, gave birth to Monet's first child.  They were married in 1870.  In 1879, Camille died from cancer at the age of thirty-two.

Monet was a founder of the Impressionist movement in France and was one of its most consistent and prolific artists.  The first Impressionist exhibition was held in 1874.  Renoir chaired the hanging committee and did most of the work himself.  Monet showed 11 paintings in the collection of 165.

Monet died of lung cancer at the age of 86.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Paul Gauguin

"Poor artist!  You gave away part of your soul when you painted the picture which you are now trying to dispose of."

French Artist
1848 - 1903

Tahitian Women on the Beach
The yin and the yang for most creative leaders is the conflict between the passion for creating and the need to eat, between time spend creating and time spend selling.  How do we balance these two opposites?  

Most of us would prefer to paint, to write and to compose, but we also have the need to feed our families and to a lesser extent ourselves.  Some people take jobs teaching.  Others work in business.  The poet Wallace Stevens spent his career as a lawyer for an insurance company.  How do you balance the need for creating art and the need for cash to live?

Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, France to a French journalist and the daughter of an influential Peruvian family.  When Paul was two, his family moved to Peru.  His father died on the voyage.  When he was seven, his mother returned to France with his sister and him to live with the paternal grandfather.  Paul's first language was Peruvian Spanish.  He also learned French.

Paul joined the French navy and was at sea when his mother died.  Upon returning to France, Paul became a successful businessman.  At 25, he married a Danish woman and they had 5 children in ten years.  In 1884, Gauguin moved his family to Denmark, the home of his wife, and tried to sell tarpaulins but failed.  His wife supported the family by giving French lessons.  His marriage failed and he returned to Paris in 1885.  

In 1873, Paul also took up painting in his spare time.  He frequented cafes where he found other artists.  He visited art galleries and purchased paintings by emerging artists.  He formed a friendship with Pissarro who introduced him to other painters.  He spent 9 weeks painting with van Gogh in 1888 in Arles, France.  He also traveled to Martinique and Tahiti. Both places influenced his paintings.

Here are some of Paul Gauguin's paintings.  Enjoy.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Irving Stone

"Art is a staple, like bread or wine or a warm coat in winter.  Man's spirit grows hungry for art in the same way his stomach growls for food."

American Novelist
1903 - 1989

Lust for Life
A novel about the life
of Vincent Van Gogh
Many people treat the creative spirit as a luxury, something that is not needed to live life.  And they are quite wrong.  Creativity is a crucial part of living.  If I did not have an outlet for my creativity, I would either go crazy or die.  Creativity is at the very core of who I am.  If I go too long without writing, without putting words on paper, I begin to feel a hunger growing inside me.  I have a strong need to create, to produce something either through writing or painting.  It is as important to my life as water, air, food, shelter and companionship.  Without it my spirit would shrivel and die.  We need food for the body and food for the spirit.  Creativity provides the food for the spirit.

Irving Stone was born Irving Tannenbaum  in San Francisco, CA.  When he was seven, his parents divorced.  When he was a senior in high school, his mother remarried and Irving legally changed his last name to that of his stepfather.  His mother instilled in him a passion for reading.  He received a bachelor's degree from Berkeley in 1923 and his masters from the University of Southern California in 1924.  In the early writing years he supported himself by writing detective stories.  He married Jean Factor, his editor, 1934.

Irving Stone is one of his best known for his biographical novels.  He called them bio-histories.  His first novel, Lust for Life, about the life of Vincent Van Gogh was published in 1934 after being rejected by 17 publishers.  Lust for Life is probably his best known and most famous novel.  Stone did exhaustive and detailed research of the lives of his famous characters, reading original letters and documents.  Several of his novels have been made into movies.

Besides Van Gogh, Stone wrote novels based on the lives of Jack London, Clarence Darrow, Earl Warren, Eugene Debs, Michelangelo, Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin and Camille Pissarro.  He also wrote three novels based on the marriages of three American presidents: Andrew and Rachel Jackson, Abe and Mary Lincoln, and John and Abigail Adams.

Here an interview with Irving Stone.  He is very articulate.