Tuesday, October 27, 2015

clean lines and bright washes

I was really taken by the roughness and simplicity of these botanical sketches by Theodoor Willem Niewenhuis — they are so fresh with such clean lines and bright washes; something you would see out of a sketchbook today, though they were painted around 1895.

And then there were these beauties by Richard Roland Holst and Theo van Hoytema from around 1892 and 1900:

It makes me want to take a walk down to Rabat's botanical gardens with a sketchbook...

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Jacob Marrel. Sheet from a Tulip Book. c.1640. Watercolour on parchment. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Crispijn van de Passe I. Title Page and Eleven Prints of Flowers, Plants, and Fruit, from Cognoscite lilia agri. c.1600–1604. Engravings. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

to feel

Recently I was told that the purpose of art is to make the world beautiful; that art should in itself be beautiful— that realism is beauty.

But what could be more beautiful than feeling something inside you move with every twist and turn of a brushstroke, every curve of carefully smoothed marble, every light and shadow and colour and form? How beautiful, that pigments spread across a cloth over a century ago by someone I will never meet and yet feel so close to, can make me feel that intimacy, that loneliness or joy or love or anger... The beauty of art for me lies not in how skillfully the artist can reproduce the world around them, but in how they can make someone else feel something.

I would crawl into those greens if I could.

Vincent van Gogh. Self-portrait. 1887. Oil on cardboard. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Vincent van Gogh. Carafe and Dish with Citrus Fruit. 1887. Oil on canvas. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Vincent van Gogh. Undergrowth. 1887. Oil on canvas. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

love and union

Rembrandt van Rijn. The Jewish Bride. c. 1665–1669. Oil on canvas. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
(I forgot the details of the gorgeous satyr and nymph painting— please let me know if you know!)
Maarten van Heemskerck. Portraits of a Couple. 1529. Oil on canvas.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Ercole de'Roberti. Portraits of Giovanni II Bentivoglio and his wife Ginevra Sforza. c.1474–1496. Tempera on poplar. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Anthonis Mor. Portraits of Sir Thomas Gresham and Anne Fernely. c.1560–1565. Oil on canvas. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

getting lost in the rijksmuseum

Getting sucked into all the lovely details can make five insufficient hours feel like minutes in the Rijksmuseum.
I was lost in brushstrokes— lost in loose movement and details so sharp, I marvelled at the hands that made them— hands so steady and knowing, long gone.

Johannes Cornelisz. Portrait of a Girl Dressed in Blue. 1641. Oil on canvas. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Isaak Luttichuys. Portrait of a Young Lady. 1656. Oil on canvas. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. 
Frans Hals. Portrait of Feyntje van Steenkiste. 1635. Oil on canvas. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. 

the threatened swan

My goodness, how this painting gives me chills! Jan Asselijn's The Threatened Swan is such a beautiful example of the power that a strong use of value, colour, and composition can give a painting. Over the next few days, I'm going to begin unloading the Rijksmuseum upon you, home to some of the most important works of art in Western Art History— think Rembrandt, Vermeer, IsraĆ«ls, and of course, my dear Van Gogh!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

my deepest condolences

to all the people who lost their loved ones in the Ankara bombings yesterday. I am horrified beyond words. You and the victims are in my thoughts.

What is solved with violence and anger?