Art and Life

Hans Hoffman - an Artist in Constant Evolution by Jeannine Cook

From his early exposure to Cubism and Fauvism, Hans Hoffman evolved through a lifetime of experimenting in painting to an extraordinarily inventive approach to creating art that is often as relevant today as it was when it was created in the 1960s. Seeing his evolution in the large exhibition, ”Hans Hoffman - The Nature of Abstraction” at BAMPFA, Berkeley, reinforces my own belief in each artist’s need, and capacity, to remain open and flexible to growth and change.

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How a New Display can Transform Art by Jeannine Cook

Staying at The Chetwood, an artist’s residency in Oakland, California, and evaluating my art with fresh eyes as it hangs at Subrosa Coffee, also in Oakland, is an interesting process. It is all thanks to photographer, Terri Lowenthal, who has hosted me here at The Chetwood.

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Using Art to Remind by Jeannine Cook

Symbols of past glory, of empire and and global reach, caravels and carracks still sail in Lisbon, woven in Persian 17th century carpets, painted on Japanese screens or even depicted in pavement cobblestones. All reminders of nearly six centuries of empire, for good or for bad. Seeing these emblematic ships at a moment when the Brexit furore is reaching a crescendo in England made me ponder the parallels of the erstwhile Portuguese and British Empires.

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When Art and Embroidery United - Part 2 by Jeannine Cook

Visiting master embroiderer Alain Dodier in Sainte Valiere, Southern France, was like straying into a medieval scriptorium, save that Alain is very much of our time Nonetheless, as he creates intricate vivid scenes in silk embroidery threads, using Bayeux stitching that harks back to the 11th century, his passion and dedication to historical detail and fidelity reminded me of the slow and painstaking creation of illuminated manuscripts that tell stories of great import to Western culture. His seven-meter panel about the Pilgrims’ Route to Santiago de Compostela is one such work.

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Art and Friendships by Jeannine Cook

Art is the most wonderful passport to making friends around the world. Sharing, learning, agreeing, disagreeing - friendships flourish and deepen over time. Many a time, art has been the bridge to making that friendship, just as it has down the ages for so many people.

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Camille Claudel, so talented, so heart-wrenching by Jeannine Cook

Camille Claudel lived in Nogent sur Seine as a teenager, and from there, she was launched into her career as a sculptor, her talent carrying her to Auguste Rodin’s studio and into another complex world. The recently-opened Museum in Nogent sur Seine holds an important number of her sculptures, and offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of late 19th and early 20th century French sculptors.

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How to Translate Travel into Art by Jeannine Cook

When you travel to a country so entirely new, different and utterly amazing, how does one even start to translate those experiences into art? This is the conundrum with which I am grappling after a recent trip to Western Australia.

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When an Artist shares her Thoughts by Jeannine Cook

Reading Anne Truitt's Daybook; The Journal of an Artist underlines the subtle use of lines as a metaphor to depict how our lives evolve and change so imperceptibly.  The balance and intervals she uses in her drawings, such as her drawing, Remember No. 6 of 1999,  teach us all about the elegant possibilities of spareness in art.

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Life becoming Art by Jeannine Cook

A wonderful quote from Sir Anthony Caro, the famed British sculptor, was in the 2/9th June 2012 Spectator: "I believe art is about what it is to be alive".  The article was by Ariane Bankes, discussing Caro's current exhibition of sculpture at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.

Ms. Bankes was writing of Caro's huge and unending curiosity about the world around him, and his use of these interests as the source of his creative work. It reminded me how important it is to be curious about everything around one: as an artist, antennae need to be up as much as possible, eyes and ears open, and a questing attitude cultivated.  Not always easy and other things in "life" obtrude, but even then, it seems that later, things not consciously registered at the time come floating back into one's mind.

A Day at Julienton, watercolour, Jeannine Cook artist

A Day at Julienton, watercolour, Jeannine Cook artist

I realised, the other day, that a day I had spent drawing on the coast was more rewarding than I had thought.  I was concentrating on what I was trying to do at the time, but indeed, I was "alive" to many more things around me.  The result was a watercolour that came flowing, quite some time after this day's drawing. The different elements of the painting - marshwrack, a contorted dead cedar, eythrinia flowers, a baby alligator, different birds - are those that I was not drawing at the time, but were burned in my memory because of the heightened senses that art was allowing me to have.  A lovely gift.  Capturing the energies and magical forces of life around one is a never-ending quest for an artist and a passport to living life to the full.

Believing in Life by Jeannine Cook

Each year, when I send out the invitations to my Art-Tasting open studio/wine-tasting party, I write a couple of paragraphs about something to do with art. It varies of course according, in a way, to what is going on in my life and thus colouring my optic.

This year, I took Henry Moore's observation, "To be an artist is to believe in life" as the theme.

I wrote : " Henry Moore, best known for his powerful sculptures, saw aspects of life that were grim and depressing during World War II. His drawings of people huddled in the London Underground, sheltering from air raids, are eloquent testimony to life's hardships. Yet his creations are all vigourous and enriching assertions of his belief in life.

Shelterers in the Tube 1941, Graphite, ink, watercolour and crayon on paper, Henry Moore, (Image courtesy of the Tate)

Shelterers in the Tube 1941, Graphite, ink, watercolour and crayon on paper, Henry Moore, (Image courtesy of the Tate)

Henry Moore OM, CH. Tube Shelter Perspective. 1941 , Graphite, ink, wax and watercolour on paper (Image courtesy of the Tate)

Henry Moore OM, CH. Tube Shelter Perspective. 1941 , Graphite, ink, wax and watercolour on paper (Image courtesy of the Tate)

The label accompanying the drawing, Tube Shelter Perspective. 1941,  said:  " This picture was exhibited at the National Gallery in 1941. It was described in the catalogue as 'a terrifying vista of recumbent shapes, pale as all underground life tends to be pale; regimented, as only fear can regiment; helpless yet tense, safe yet listening, uncouth, uprooted, waiting in the tunnel for the dawn to release them. This is not the descriptive journalism of art. It is imaginative poetry of a high order.' "

"In today's complex world, artists can play many roles, all of which celebrate life. Art can calm and heal, bring joy and stimulation, challenge and widen horizons. Believing in life allows not only the artist, but those who see the art, to remember that our time here is fleeting, potentially beautiful and very precious."