Winter Reading

As those of you know who have visited the studio, you will always find an empty chair at the kitchen table but you definitely have to work hard to clear a space to rest your elbows. There are always piles of books and stacks of Gazettes in various stages of perusal. Most are newly collected reference materials, art books, bird books, history books, and some are old dog-eared bookmarked standards that I dip back into often depending on what is on the easel or what is on my mind.

Here’s a look at what’s on the table for this winter’s reading…

While on the Vineyard my friend Ted gave me his library copy of Vanity Fair magazine to read. He said there was an article about a new Rockwell book, Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera by Ron Schick, that Ted thought was sorta fun which shows the photos Rockwell took for some of his paintings. It was the first book ordered when I got home and, as usual, Ted’s right on. I brought out the magnifying glass for this one and keep returning to certain images finding something new each time. It cleverly illustrates the subtle choices that the artist made to go beyond the photograph changing color, expression, positions and backgrounds  to enhance and often change the narrative.

While reading Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine I came across a review of the new Rembrandt book by Gary Schwartz and so that made it to the pile.  As my friend Peter will tell you I’m more interested in the pictures than the scholarly text but I’ve forced myself to read a bit of it and have learned a thing or two.

In keeping with the Dutch theme I picked up a little book on Bruegel, the elder, Bruegel: The Complete Paintings by Rose-Marie Hagen. It has good reproductions and an easy to read bit of background prose and I have spent hours already with the magnifying glass studying the detail.

At first I was paying attention mostly to the landscapes. I’ve been watching the winter come onto the farm across the street and as the trees lose their leaves and the field corn dries to a brittle umber, the stone barn, farmhouse and outbuildings are revealed. With the raking december sunlight in the early morning the colors reminded me of the Bruegel palette. Now that the storm has passed and the whole scene is blanketed in a foot of snow it has come alive like so many of his little dutch villages.  I decided a couple days ago to paint the view outside of my easel window while that snow is still here…and now when I dip into this book it’s all about the red that he uses. Like the cardinals at my feeders.

And no table of mine would be complete without a couple of Wyeth references. I picked up a new one on our trip to the Brandywine River Museum last week but it didn’t have enough going to keep it in the top ten stack. Instead I reached for the richer volume of Andy’s work, Andrew Wyeth, Mystery and Magic .

The Muses led me to a previously overlooked little gem of a painting, Baron Philippe. Within a few minutes I had gathered some dusty props and the sketchbook and come up with an answer of sorts…The Baroness. Stay tuned for that one.

The other old favorite that has been moved to the top of the pile (no pun intended) is the museum publication, History and Romance, Works by Howard Pyle. Moonlight on a snowy lane…he’s got it down.

I’ve linked the books and images here to the Amazon site and the BR Museum site, not as a promotion but to make it easier for you to get more information. Of course in doing that I have come across two more books to add to the collection. It is Christmas eve after all …

Merry winter to you all from our studio kitchen table…