William Wharton, 1925-2008

As a commenter noted on my previous post, William Wharton, Author, Dies at 82:

William Wharton, a successful impressionist painter who at 53 published his first novel, “Birdy,” which won a National Book Award, became a critically acclaimed movie and led to a dozen more books, died Wednesday in Encinitas, Calif. He was 82.

Phillip and I are saddened to learn about this, that we won’t be reading anything new from him. You learn a lot about him and his family through his books, and he seemed to be someone you’d want to hang around with.

I’m going to reread Houseboat on the Seine: it’s a celebration of his life. Highly recommended. It’ll make you laugh and make you cry. I enjoyed ALL his books.

William Wharton was an accomplished painter but I never saw much of his work until Phillip found this YouTube video of his paintings:

Phillip and I were coincidentally discussing an old interview of Wharton the day before we heard of his death: Reasons for Life: A conversation with William Wharton.

I believe that we constantly have to keep our ear to the ground, our ground, and all the rest of it, in order to know what seems to fit the morality and the persona of what we usually call “God”. But the very word “God” is meaningless. The word itself does not mean anything to me, I do not care for the word itself, it is just the word “dog” spelled backwards.

He talks about influences in his life including painters. An interesting interview.

Now go read one of his excellent books.

Update: An informative obituary of Wharton from The Guardian.

A Painting By Leonard E. Kelsey

I have this painting titled “Old English Home” by Leonard E. Kelsey, dated 1915. On the back is a label with the painting’s title, painter, and date, along with the sentence:


I assume that’s the location the painting represents.

I know nothing about the painter or painting besides what’s obvious on the painting itself. Googling “leonard kelsey paint” turns up this reference to him from the Biographical Index of Artists in Canada:

KELSEY, Leonard Edgar b London 1883, d W Vancouver 1975, paint M MM RCA

He died an old man. I can’t find any other references to him or his paintings.

I think the painting’s title refers to Cap Rouge in Quebec, which is on the St. Lawrence river.

Jean’s Paintings

afternoon on kimberly painting by jeanJean’s almost a “Painting A Day” features excellent oil paintings that she briefly describes with a good selling price. She occasionally articulates her love of the art and its learning process:

I am energized and confident. I know I am in the process. There is no end. You just continue to do and as you do, if your mind is engaged, you will learn and you will move forward.

I like her work.

I discovered her via a comment she recently made here.

Rodin and Mary Pratt

rodinIf you have the chance to visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia between now and May 22, don’t let it pass you by. Jenny and I took the morning off to spend a couple hours roaming the gallery, and it was exactly what we needed. We’re feeling totally energized and at peace right now. It was amazing.

We spent the first hour and a half looking at Rodin bronze sculptures, the real deal — you know, the guy who did The Thinker? Man, seeing those things up close and personal is an experience that cannot be reproduced. The bronze sculpture of two hands touching (called The Cathedral) left me stunned. I thought The Thinker or even The Kiss would have got me good. But nope, it was those huge hands shaped like a cathedral (both right hands I later discovered) that moved me the most. For the first few minutes, I was so drawn to it and oblivious to everything going on around me, I didn’t bother to read the title. When I did, I had one of those moments where you say, “Holy shit, ” in total awe of the experience. “The Cathedral” is the perfect title for that sculpture. I couldn’t keep my eyes off it.
Mary Pratt - Jelly Shelf (2003)

But what really choked me up was the Mary Pratt paintings, like the one shown here. It looks like a photograph (click it to enlarge it), but up close you can see the actual brush strokes. The effect of slowly walking back from the painting as it reveals itself is so dramatic, I don’t know what to tell you except that you have to see it to believe it…

Then I got hit by what I was looking at: Mason jars full of home-made jam; a day’s catch of herring (which could have easily been trout) spread out on a backyard deck; a kitchen table set for breakfast; a carrot cake or some kind of fruit cake, one of those large ones with a hole in the middle and icing sugar frosting on the top, with a huge piece cut out of it — all of it food, I guess, but objects that are so specific to life on the Atlantic coast, especially Newfoundland… man, she nailed it. Most of my family is from Newfoundland, and I spent almost a decade of my adult life living there. What can I tell you? I identify so intimately with the subjects of her paintings, I know them all so well, I came close to crying looking at those stupid Mason jars.

Talk about art… I’m done talking. It was the best four dollars I’ve spent in a long time.