Monday, May 16, 2011

Homage to Bonnard

May day trees

A bit of Bonnard's  "Almond Tree" painting transfers, bequeaths, to this small painting.  The May day trees here are real enough:  they are flowering now between an old brick building and some woods not far from where we live.  Someone keeps the grass mowed.  The crabapple at right was growing from an old broken trunk.  The other trees kept co-merging in view, exchanging color and light.  Something about the way the color stays in and comes out of the paper reminded me of Bonnard's way of working in oil paint on canvas, reminded me when I was almost finished. My center tree here is not an almond tree; nevertheless, it beholds a bit like one. 

My painting is somewhat clumsy.  But it has, I think, something of the living, exchanging nature of art and homage about it.  I am glad for that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bonnard's almond tree

L' amandier en fleurs
(The Almond Tree in Blossom)
Pierre Bonnard
This small painting is the last one Pierre Bonnard painted.  The almond tree was outside his bedroom window.  The painting, he finishes in 1947.  Here are the words of Bonnard's grand-nephew, Michel Terrasse, from a lovely book, Bonnard at Le Gannet, about the painting:

    Though bedridden in his austere cell, and drained of strength, he was still thinking of his Amandier en Fleurs (Almond Tree in Blossom).
    He asked Charles Terrassee to bring him the canvas: 'This green--on the ground--there--it's not right.  It needs some yellow.'
    The nephew who loved him best took his uncle's hand and helped Pierre Bonnard to add a little touch of gold for the very last time on this earth.

This time of year, when the trees are starting to bloom, I think of this painting.  I love Pierre Bonnard's work.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

our pear trees in spring

pear trees, early May

We have pear trees all around town, along major roads and framing the lawns of municipal buildings.  They are beautiful trees, and they are just starting to bloom.

This small painting is pastel and charcoal and some graphite on a soft printmaking paper.  I did a quick pencil sketch out in the car.  These trees are growing beside a road near my studio, a road wide enough that I could pull over and stop the car to do the sketch.  What you cannot see--to the left, outside of the frame of the painting's trees--is a wide, scrabby field, a "super fund site," i.e. a place of toxic dump.  At the far other end of this field is our municipal waste water treatment plant.  An odd landscape.  Still, the part of the view with pear trees is beautiful.