I joke a lot about art, love, and romance. I’ve written about breaking-up with Aubrey Phillips and his style of watercolor painting, I’ve casually dated other artists and their particular styles, and today I’m boldly proclaiming that I’ve found my soulmate when it comes to art.
I suppose I could say that I’ve gone out with several of his friends. I’m definitely a huge fan of the artists of the Hudson River School. Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt, and Asher Durand are always among my “go-to’s” when I’m asked to name favorite and/or influential artists.
But today, I “met” another artist. Oh, I’ve heard his name before, but until now I’d never really gotten acquainted with him and his work. As you might well guess, he is a tonalist, and I discovered him while exploring that style of art.
Much like a single browsing an on-line dating site, I was eagerly reading a short bio about this artist. Truly my heart leapt when I came to this line:
…his works consistently earned acclaim for their powerful, coordinated efforts to elicit depth of mood, atmosphere, and emotion. Neither pure realist nor impressionist, he was a transitional figure who intended for his works to combine both the earthly and the ethereal in order to capture the complete essence of a locale.
Oh, my goodness! Isn’t this somewhat of a restatement of my very own words yesterday? I wrote:
…what I want to create is an imagined reality, landscapes that show the beauty of the earth but which show it in imaginative ways that speak to viewers through the colors and shapes.
I wrote how I saw myself now:
…developing a personal style that is somewhere between impressionist and tonal.
Clearly this artist I’ve discovered is a man after my own heart. At once I was searching out reference materials and resources to learn more about him.
Who is he?
He is George Inness, an American-born landscape artist who lived from 1825 to 1894. In his youth he attended classes at the National Academy of Design and studied the art of the Hudson River School. Inness once said that he wished to combine the works of Thomas Cole and Asher Durand in his own painting. Is it any wonder I love this man?
In his lifetime he was recognized as a great artist, and he’s come to be known as “The Father of American Landscape Painting.”
Yes, I’m smitten. More than smitten. I’m falling in love with Inness and his paintings. I have so much yet to learn about his life and his philosophy of art, and I have so much more to see! So far, my favorite of his works is this one — The Home of the Heron, housed at the Chicago Art Institute.
I think, in many ways, learning about Inness and studying his art will become an affirmation of my own artistic vision. Seeing his work teaches me that it’s all right to create the misty, muted scenes I see in my head. His art in some way seems to give me permission to work with my limited palette, to play with subtle colors, to make feelings an integral part of what I put on my canvas.
In the past, I’ve often dreamed of painting scenes like “The Home of the Heron” — explorations of a single color with vague details and gentle light. I’ve dreamed of it, but I’ve never dared to do it. Why, what would people think? Wouldn’t people frown because the work isn’t bright and colorful? Wouldn’t people criticize the lack of detail?
Well, George is telling me to throw those cautions to the wind and paint whatever I see in my heart. The world may be filled with light and color, but it’s up to the artist to use the elements that best convey mood and atmosphere. Our thoughts and emotions aren’t always so bright and beautiful.
Oh, yes, George Inness, I will sit at your knee, I will listen to your words, and I will study your paintings in depth. I won’t try to imitate you — it would be an impossibility — but I will listen to your voice as I paint. I will let your thoughts guide me through my own artistic landscapes.
Will you marry me, George Inness — artistically? Will you come and live in my art studio, inspiring me each morning? I promise to love you and cherish you forever.