I spent yesterday at the National Gallery. I sat in front of my favorite painting - Carl Schaefer's Ontario Farmhouse, for a while, then two lovely L.L. Fitzgerald water colors. I spent some time with two big Canalettos - both of which I loved.
And I loved them all for different reasons.
The Schaefer is a big piece with a yellow farmhouse on a hill. The sky behind is cut into brilliant blue shards of light. At the bottom of the hill is a green field, then small trees against the brilliant sky. Bright primary colors, strong lines and shapes. Everything is a bit off-kilter, a little skewed from reality. It's not realism, but it feels real and I love it.
The Fitzgeralds are quite different. They're both in the palest of Winnipeg winter colors, greys and pale browns and blues. The lines of the bare trees are sinuous and sensual, the overall effect quite warm, even though it's winter. I love the shape of things in Fitzgerald's work - he has perfect architectural detail but softened somehow so the lines aren't stark. And then he lays in tree trunks or a white picture for the curves. Lovely.
As for Canaletto - what can I say? The more I look at them, the more I see. Yesterday I noticed a woman at the top of a building putting out her laundry, and a balcony with flowers. Canaletto is realism - every detail included but details you wouldn't notice with your naked eye. And the buildings? They're amazing, the detail perfect and accurate in every way.
Have you noticed a theme to these paintings? I love paintings with architectural detail and every one of these paintings has that. It's not that I don't love landscapes - I do - and I own a whole bunch of them. And I love abstract art - I saw a Molinari in oranges and yellows and white that I loved. Or still lives or portraits. In fact, I saw some lovely Stanley Spencer portraits that I'd love to have. But if I was more of a painter, architectural details would be what I paint, and what I do paint in very bad fashion.
So today I'm off to see Petra, the lost city, at the Museum of Man and Civilization. And then, hopefully, if I have time, back to the National Gallery for another look at my favorite paintings.