Thursday, January 14, 2016

David Katz: "Roof & Sky"

Contemporary Realism

It's been an adventure painting with him this past year. It has also been an honor watching his bold, colorful 'Roof & Sky' series develop.

Born in Haifa, Israel. He is a son of Auschwitz Holocaust survivors. His beautiful mother never complains. His upbringing puts in perspective the necessity of balancing hard work, and in seeking simplicity in Life.

His Life

From successful Philadelphia business owner, to Bed & Breakfast owner hosting actors and actresses (including Elizabeth Lee McGovern for three months), to BMW salesman. Life eventually led him to pursuing the Arts through encouragement of his neighbor, American Abstract artist Liz Ozborne. 

His positive outlook is expressed in his work. In an interview by Human Pursuits, David explains how he wants people to connect with "the importance of being happy."

In His Studio

Two easels. At night he uses both easels for painting. During the day he shares his easels with other artists like me.


Before painting, he knows exactly how he wants the finished painting to look. Prolific and productive, he has several paintings going at once.

In order, he paints :

1.) sky

2.) building

3.) clouds

All works are 30" x 40". A perfectionist, he says this consistent size gives his series cohesion. He probably has between 30 or 40 paintings in this series now, and the series keeps growing.

Tools of the Trade

A Work in Progress

Another talented artist friend Leander Fontaine showed him the trick of putting two magnets together to the attach painting reference to canvas. 

Secrets to Success...

He works with his trusty Bluetick Coonhound Haifa by his side, and coffee...

He is active in the Arts community, exhibiting, teaching, and giving artist talks. His work is straightforward, approachable, and vibrant. People resonate to his paintings.

His work is inspirational. 

Historic West Chester, Pennsylvania has never been painted like this before. 

It amazes me he is color blind, and can't see blues. The first time I met him was at the Woodmere Museum for the Walter Elmer Schofield exhibit. He asked me to describe the different colors in the sky.

100 W. Gay St West Chester Pa
40" by 30", Oil


Each painting offers a sense of presence and joy. Integrating modern color sensibilities with traditional realism offers a contemporary interpretation of reality. There is a sense of symbolism and metaphysical departure within the bold color, strong design, and dynamic composition.  Roof and building structural elements are firmly fixed and grounded. This solidity contrasts with movement of atmospheric skies, and intuitive, billowy clouds. With hints of the mysterious, the settings recalls Edward Hopper's work, yet offers different intentions. There isn't a solitary loneliness. In Katz's work, there is life and vibrancy.

To see more of this series, please check his web site:
Buy his work at Mala Galleria in Kennett Square, PA
You can also stop by and visit his studio in May, Chester County Studio Tour 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Charles Knapton

Engraver Charles Knapton (1700–1760)

Charles Knapton and Arthur Pond created engravings for a book called "Imitations of the Italian Masters" (1735).

Charles is a family ancestor, so I was very happy to receive this original print as a gift from my brother! Unfortunately, I don't know much about his life. His brother George who I'll write about later, was a well-known British portrait painter.

"E Museo dni Ricardo Houlditch" After Panini"


Another example of Knapton's engraving work

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This is based on Claude Lorrain's painting, "Landscape with Country Dance."  Claude Lorrain was a 17th century French Baroque painter who spent much of his life in Italy. He would create several studies and ink sketches for his works in order to authenticate his work, and prevent forgeries. The painting itself evolved, below was an earlier rendition of the motif, which portrays peasants organizing a dance based in a landscape set in Uffizi, Florence.

Lorrain then repainted this scene in 1669 in France, titled "Landscape with Dancing Figures."

He kept the basic landscape composition - the central figure calling the peasants, the bridge, trees, river, and distant villa. Then removed figures and animals to create better focus. The goal was to create a harmonious, idealized landscape.




You can see Knapton copied and etched the painting's reverse image for publication.

I'm guessing the purpose behind producing this book was to help realize the goal of that time, making Art more accessible to the public.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Jamie Wyeth Talk, 2013

Taken from my notes from the Gallery Talk: “A Conversation with Jamie Wyeth” October 4, 2013

From the exhibit:“Jamie Wyeth, Rockwell Kent and Monhegan”
Brandywine River Museum, Chadd’s Ford, PA.
June 15 – November 17, 2013

Outside gallery walls, Wyeth reminisced about life spent divided between the remote island of Monhegan, Maine and his other ‘island’, his farm in Chadd’s Ford, PA. Leading a charmed life, his artistic family has captured the American imagination for three generations. His reflections on life as an artist are inspirational. Of the necessity of solitude, and how with simple tools, “you can create worlds”.

“Great stuff comes from being alone. By nature, it’s a singular discipline. It doesn’t require a big orchestra. It’s really only you, and simple tools. Some canvas, some paint, and a stick with hair on it. With that, you can create your own worlds.”

He works everyday:

"It doesn’t matter where you work. You have to isolate yourself, you need the concentration. I’m not inspired everyday, but the opiate is when it starts clicking, when that portrait starts breathing.”


He spoke of negative reactions to his work. At the portrait unveiling of Doctor Helen Taussig‘s portrait, her students cried. They wanted to destroy it. She was a kind woman, and it was painted too harshly. He didn’t mean to be cruel to this amazing human being. Through the years, people have warmed to it.

“I think a painting has it’s own life, and a painter should be quiet about it. The more interpretations the better.”

Kennedy Portrait

Critics, and people also hated his John Kennedy portrait. “I got the worst mail from people.” People saw Kennedy as a blue eyed, blonde yet Wyeth painted him with brown hair, wandering eye. “Now people love it.

He referenced Picasso. At an unveiling, everyone said, ‘it doesn’t look like her!’ Picasso said, “it will.” That paintings take on a life of their own.

He found being with people, and doing portraits exhausting. He followed the great Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev around for a year. His visage was very important, he would complain, “My foot’s not right, my foot’s more beautiful.” Of course Wyeth was fond of him. He grew to know him so well he could draw his likeness from memory.

“Portrait of Andy Warhol”, 1976 Jamie-Wyeth

In the 1960′s he was affiliated with Andy Warhol. On his portrait, Andy complained he used too much “pimple paint”, and his dachshund’s nose was too long. Andy said, “If I owned it, I’d put it in my closet.” Which according to Jamie he did. Warhol was an important figure in his life. Jamie said in the Art World, Andy was considered weird. He was a ”childlike person, with a sense of wonderment about the world, always very curious about things. That was his world.” Warhol hated his art, which he said barely sold then.

On having an ‘intense relationship with Nature.

“There are two classes of people in this world.
1. people who accept elemental nature, the casual, trivial.
2. those who sense different aspects of human life. How we fit into nature”

He said his father Andrew fit into the second class of people. “The more you know, the deeper you go. The audience senses that.”

The Bones of a Whale by Jamie Wyeth, 2006, oil, 60 x 72

He mentioned Robert Frost, the two paths:

“one the surface level, which is nice, and the other goes underneath, and is chilling, wonderful.”

Monhegan Island, Maine

The Islanders

At Monhegan, he spent time turning “away from the sea”, of the emblematic beauty of Maine to the “weirdness of the island”. He would focus on painting isolation. There was a weightless quality in the houses rooted to the ground. The houses became portraits of the people and their houses, which were more than objects.

Jenny Whibley Sings, 2008

After his first show sold out in New York City, Jamie used the money to buy painter Rockwell Kent’s home on Monhegan. Rockwell’s mistress Jenny (a singer) was in her 80′s by then, and sold the house to Jamie. One evening he heard someone crying. It was Jenny standing at the bottom of the hill weeping.

Upcoming Retrospective exhibit in Museum of Fine Arts
Boston, Massachusetts
July 16, 2014 – December 28, 2014
Lois and Michael Torf Gallery (Gallery 184)

Four years in the making, Jamie was allowed the freedom to use his own ideas how he wanted his work presented. Adding this is not an end point for his creative work. He decided to divide his work according to his various “obsessions”, noting an artist should not be restricted by subject matter.

“Artists are free to do whatever they want. You don’t have to be locked into a certain subject matter.” 

The exhibit will include various subjects including Monhegan, his political work, Watergate, Kennedy, birds, his chickens, and Space Launch, among other things.

Sea Watchers (2009)

Included in the show are sculptural figures he made for Sea Watchers (2009). Representing the important people in his life, the MFA insisted he include these models. Jamie said, “they’re the most obsessive things I’ve ever seen.” Highly detailed figures, even reconstructing Andy Warhol’s white hair.

* An interesting insight. In March 2014, his niece Victoria explained this painting is based on a recurring dream. Always with his grandfather, and father standing on a cliff, pointing towards the ocean.

He mentioned the “Wyeth Dynasty”, used in his Burlington, VT reviews, “the last of a great tradition.” “Painting is not easy, but the idea of an artistic dynasty never bothered me.” That his family’s art is like Nature. It has to come to an end sometime, “like The Flying Wallendas”.

All artwork copyright © Jamie Wyeth