Wednesday, January 09, 2013

My Formative Years Slash Women Having Orgasms

If you were standing in the National Gallery of Art right now, staring closely at this ...

... what might capture you are the fairly-evident-in-the-flesh-but-less-so-in-the-image-here changes he made in the composition of the painting over time.  Consider this ...

Homer began the canvas in New York in 1873, after he had visited Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he first worked in watercolor. He used the sketches made there, of which the most closely related is Sailing the Catboat (1873), for the oil painting, which he worked on over three years.[1] Infraredreflectography has revealed the many changes he made to the composition during this time, including the removal of a fourth boy near the mast and a second schooner in the distance. At one point the adult held both the sheet and the tiller, a position initially adapted from an oil study of 1874 titled The Flirt.[1] The painting's message is positive; despite the choppy waves, the boaters look relaxed. The anchor that replaced the boy in the bow was understood to symbolize hope.[2] The boy holding the tiller looks forward to the horizon, a statement of optimism about his future and that of the young United States.

(You can't trust everything from Wikipedia, but this one, I promise you, is okay.  For those of you not in the loop, a "sheet" is the line you used to control the sail.)

My father, God bless the man, used to drag me to museums when I was a kid, and "Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)" is the first memory of a painting I have.  The first one.  Whether the rest, as they say, is history is a matter better left to historians.  I'm only one man, doing the best I can.

All that aside, one of the things that struck me was that you were "allowed" to go back and make changes.  Even if the viewer could tell that you did so.  I remember thinking this was very cool.

All of which brings us to the really filthy parts ...

The Ecstasy of St. Theresa.  As noted below, it was inspired by the Bernini sculpture of an angel piercing St. Teresa with a spear.  Over and over again.  If you look above her breast in this painting you can see a bunch of smudges.  This was me first painting her as if she were impaled by the spear, then taking the spear away.

I knew from Winslow Homer that this was okay.  Even if you, dear reader, could tell.

I wish, in the process, that I hadn't smushed her breast quite so much.  But there you have it.

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