Skies are truly calling to me this trip. I've been painting them myself but also looking at the way other people paint them. Of the five studies I did in the Orsay today, three featured skies. Above is Henry Tanner, 1905, Christ and his disciples on the road to Bethany. The combination of tree plus moon got me. I wish I'd been able to replicate his deep purple-y blue of the sky.
I spent most of my day with the surrealists today. I've loved Rodin since a show of his I saw as a teen, though it's never been the kind of art I do. For many years I was a pure landscapist. But I've been feeling drawn to having more narration in my work the last few years, and I love the mystery of Redon's paintings. The way he captures deeper truth by taking liberties with the surface truth. That's a bit of how I felt with the self portrait I did against the stars recently. Here Rodin is using clouds as a backdrop for two portraits, the way Vincent used stars.
I love the one of the boy best (I'm guessing his son by the name), but I was struck by the very realistic woman sitting in a demure armchair with carefully rendered embroidery juxtaposed with the fantastical sky. This feels a bit of what I wanted to do in those recent self portraits. Since I'm also doing so many cloud studies recently, I may have to try my own one of these as well.
I had already warmed up for the Orsay, unknowingly, by doing another cloud study over breakfast this morning. It's a skies sort of day.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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