Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Painting from Exotic Locations

Cloud View, Samoa

Well, I am ashamed to say it has been two weeks since my last post. I am even more ashamed to say that I have not been able to do much painting, as I have been traveling and very busy with work related matters. However, I have been trying to feed my artistic fires during my travels, and hope that when I get back to DC this weekend that I will be able to get back to some serious painting. Today I am in Sydney, Australia so I finally have Internet access again--and thought I would send some artistic rants to anyone who is out there listening.

I have just spent the last two weeks in Papua New Guinea and Samoa, and I had a lot of time to think about what it would be like to paint regularly in these exotic locations--and for the first time I think I understood what drew Gauguin to Tahiti. As you probably know, before Gauguin went to Tahiti, he spent some time in Brittany and around northern France. I recall when reading his biography, that he was mainly motivate by trying to find a simple lifestyle, where the locals led a simple life and he could get on with his work without the distractions of modern life. Of course, he also need some scenery to paint. In the end, he left Brittany and eventual traveled and settled in Tahiti. But, why Tahiti over Brittany? It would be easy to assume it is the lure of the tropics and sunshine and light, but after my trip to Samoa--I think it is much more complicated that that.

Samoa is a tropical paradise, and although I have not been to Tahiti, I think they share a lot in common, including climate and a Polynesian culture. I found myself several times in Samoa daydreaming it would be like to just stop in a local village, send for my paints, and never come back to the modern world. Paint my life away in a tropical paradise. In effect, it would be like following Gauguin--albeit some one-hundred years later.



View of Fagaloa Bay, Samoa

This got me thinking about, what is so compelling about Samoa--that it would draw an artist like myself? The views, of course, are everywhere--as it is clearly very beautiful. But, I think, as with Gauguin, this would be too simple of an explanation. After thinking about it for several days, I have concluded that the simple fact is that Gauguin was drawn to Tahiti mainly by its people and their culture--more than anything else. In Samoa, the Polynesian culture still dominates daily life. The Samoan people are very welcoming and friendly, and they take life in a much different way that most Western societies. The need to achieve is not as important as the need to participate in the broader family and community success. In sum, it is a much more accepting and communal way of living--and people are much more aware of the importance of enjoying the company of others and life.

So I am not entirely disappointed that I have not been able to paint. First, because I know that I have learned something that will help me as an artist in the future. I will most certainly never look at a Gauguin painting the same way again. It is now clear to me that in painting in Tahiti, Gauguin was as much interested in the psychology of its people and representing the sensation of being immersed in its culture, than with style or technique. Some might say he went for the women and to indulge himself in sex. But, as a painter myself, I am sure that this was not his primary motivation. He may have had personal weaknesses--and indulged himself. But, he could have done that in Paris or elsewhere. I am sure he loved painting more than anything in the end, and would have quickly left Tahiti if he was not able to paint something that was satisfying. So, in my mind, his painting is not about the visible beauty of a place--but an essence of place and communal acceptance as an artist.

So there you go, some thoughts on Samoa (and Gauguin)--but mostly about the importance fo finding a place where people accept you and you can feel part of a community.

All the best, sixtyminuteartist.


25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really like your work! I'm an artist, too, and I typically do small paintings in under an hour (my kids are still young).

These are beautifully fluid and full of life. Well done! I feel inspired!

Angela Fehr said...

I just thought it was neat that you were in PNG - I spent my teen years there, and was there for 3 months in 2006 - have a pile of reference photos to paint and love the fact that when I get bored of painting Canadian winters, I can explore a tropical paradise.

Ya-Graphic said...

Beautiful clouds ! thank you for the photos taken ^^

Anonymous said...
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Ollie said...

That first cloud photo is almost surreal - great flick, digging the artwork too.

Mike said...

Hello from New York! I am a water guy. I love these 2 photos. Very nice work. Good Luck!

Ruchika said...

These are awesome!! I am business writer and do not know much about paintings but still it is meditative pictures for relaxing and regenerate the power. Thanks for your blog postings.

arun said...

nice piece of art man..

thanks for ur valuable information

stilghma said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stilghma said...

Hey Jerry,
Scott, Tammy, Rachel and Sidney looking at your art work. WOW! Fantastic pictures! And even more fantastic paintings! Sidney is blooming into an artist! She really loves the cloud painting and picture. I told I knew some artist and google you and Mitchell.... Was I ever pleased I did. You two have really done some wonderful work.
Clubber

sixtyminuteartist said...

Hey Scott, glad to here you have an artist on your hands. She should be encouraged, many parents don't support there children's interest in art and they chose other occupations. I was reading the biography of Thomas Eakins last night on the train, and he was very much supported by his father--and it made a real difference in his career and work. Parental support is a key starting point for any successful artist. Hope all is well.

Jerry

http://i-need-the-world.blogspot.com said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kathleen said...

Stunning!!!! I love your photos as well as the composite of your daughter. Thank you for posting them.

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