Low and Behold. We painted tonight. Like the swanky artists do.
I’ll tell you now, I may not be getting any closer to being a world class artist, but I sure do have fun while I’m doing it. Tonight was another “Unwind & Create” session at the Preble County Art Association.
Mary, Levi, and I went. We painted a colorful cow. We mooed when we were finished.
Our instructor was Robert Coveney. He is from England. So just sitting and listening to him for a couple of hours is okay by me.
All the paintings in the entire class came out great. It is so much fun to see how very differently they evolve, when we all are painting the same subject, following instructions, from the same guy. It is a great exploration.
But little did we know, as our brushes stroked the canvas…. that today… is Prime Time in the world of art. Today, July 15th, is the birthday of none other than Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. He was born into this world on 15 July 1606, and then he left the place on 4 October 1669. He was a Dutch guy. You can tell by his hat. And by his name.
He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art and the most important in Dutch history. On a personal level, he is one of my favorites. By far.
A lot of people don’t realize this… but…. In a number of biblical works, including The Raising of the Cross, and The Stoning of Saint Stephen…. that old boy Rembrandt…. painted himself as a character in the crowd. Oh yes he did.
Now one of the most beautiful things about his work, is his absolute phenomenal treatment of light. He could make it dance in his paintings. He made it look better than any actual light we see on most days. And, of course, among the more prominent characteristics of Rembrandt’s work are his use of chiaroscuro.
Chiaroscuro is the Italian word for light-dark. Rembrandt did this incredible well. He would strong contrasts between light and dark…. usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition.
He always gave an incredibly lively presentation of subjects. His scenes were often “moody” in a sense. He sort of broke the barriers of “rigidity” that a lot of his colleagues were using at the time. Color outside the lines, Remmy boy. He also displayed a deeply felt compassion for mankind, irrespective of wealth and age.
This guy painted more self-portraits than you can shake a stick at. Not only did he put himself on the canvases…. he also used his immediate family—his wife Saskia, his son Titus and his common-law wife Hendrickje. All of them often figured prominently in his paintings, many of which had mythical, biblical or historical themes.
I have a theory about why he painted himself so much. I just know that in the deep of Netherlands in the winter time, it is probably hard to find “sitting models”… especially when you don’t have a lot of daylight, and you work by candles. So you take the mirror and your wife, and your kids, when you can get them. That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.
I’m not sure we would have made him proud. But if you can’t paint like Rembrandt, the very least you can do, is paint a cow in his honor. AND. Our paintings were sort of like his. They were … at times….. MOOdy.