Thursday, July 15, 2010

Putting into Practice The Best Art Education Ever!

watercolor pencil sketch Jan Blencowe 2010

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, The Plain of La Beauce, 1840-45, watercolor pencil sketch Jan Blencowe 2010

Artists should go to nature, but they should check into the art museum from time to time to sift through the harvest of the great souls of yore ~ James Gurney, creator of Dinotopia

Yesterday I went down to the Yale University Art Gallery. My daughter has been going to a high school summer camp at Yale for three weeks and during her afternoon free time she met me there and we browsed through the museum and did some sketching,

Up on the third floor they have two Corot's. Corot is one of my favorite painters, though that was not always the case. Elizabeth Mowry, author of The Poetic Landscape, Landscape Meditationsand The Pastellists Year (all three of which I own and love), always named Corot as one of her favorite painters and most influential to her own work. I could never understand that. His work seem dull and uninspiring to me. Yet Mowry's work was deeply sensitive and complex. Turns out that in the days before internet I had only been exposed to a very few of Corot's paintings in books and I don't think any of them were his pure landscapes, they always included a lot of architecture. It wasn't until I was able to find his landscapes that I fell in love with his work, which like Mowry's is deeply sensitive, poetic and sublime. In the Yale Gallery the larger and more well known of the Corot's is The Harbor of La Rochelle, while the light is gorgeous in this piece it is filled with buildings and people and I don't particularly find it inspiring enough to sketch. But below La Rochelle is a small painting, perhaps just a plein air study of the plains of La Beauce. I forgot to take a picture of the painting and I searched the internet for hours but could not find an image of the painting, so apparently it isn't a significant work in Corot's oeurve. I did find out that Beauce is pronounced bōs, it's a region, in Orléanais, N France, in the Paris Basin, between the Seine and Loir rivers. It now comprises Eure-et-Loir dept. and parts of Loiret and Loir-et-Cher. It is the "granary of France"—a vast, limestone plateau where corn, wheat, beets, potatoes, barley, and oats are grown. The region shared the history of the countship of Chartres, which is its only important city. And apparently it is also a breed of dog! LOL 
After finishing the Corot we wandered down to the second floor to see the Asian art and I spent a lovely half hour under the peaceful and watchful eyes of the Buddha. Sketching from sculpture in a museum is also another incredibly beneficial exercise, especially if you don't have an opportunity to get to a life drawing class. Sculptures are impeccable models, who never shift position, don't need a break and never offer an opinion as to whether or not you have captured their likeness. ;-)


AutumnLeaves said...

I think these little tonal studies are gorgeous, Jan.

Joan said...

I think the Buddha would approve of your lovely sketch. ~Joan