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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

When Things get tough, find a Different Way to Work

"With These Hands -- Wonder" 1st in a Series; oil on acrylic canvas
I sometimes wail and whine about getting older. My osteoarthritis has begun to swell my joints and reshape my fingers. I can no longer draw a straight line without some help from a ruler or guide.

And I recently had contact lenses implanted in my eyes. They are “monovision,” meaning that one eye serves for distance and one for close-ups. While it’s great not to have glasses, my perspective has changed. Do I really paint what I see or is what I see distorted by my altered vision?

We all have problems as we age. Some of us were born with a disability. Others were given problems and illnesses sometimes at the peak of their careers. Life happens to us all and “shit” happens.

So you think you’ve got problems? These heroic artists continued to create in spite of their problems and well into old age.

At the end of his life, French impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir continued painting — using a brush tied to his arthritic hand.

Renoir had crippling rheumatoid arthritis — at the LACMA Exhibit, there's a flickering black and white film that shows Renoir painting in 1915, despite his afflictions. His hands look like stumps of old trees — you can barely see his fingers because they are so curled in on themselves. Fabric is tied across Renoir's palms, to protect his skin.

In the newsreel footage, he clamps a paintbrush between the thumb and fist of his right hand. Renoir leans into the canvas as he paints. He talks while he works. He's lively, and his eyes are piercing.
(The Absinthe Drinker) Renoir
"I am just learning how to paint," Pierre-Auguste Renoir said in 1913 — six years before he died. The French master painted right up to the end of his life; he died in 1919 at age 78.

Edgar Degas “frequently blamed his eye troubles for his inability to finish a painting, an explanation that met with some skepticism from colleagues and collectors who reasoned, as Stuckey explains, that "his pictures could hardly have been executed by anyone with inadequate vision." The artist provided another clue when he described his predilection "to begin a hundred things and not finish one of them," and was in any case notoriously reluctant to consider a painting complete.
(Blue Dancers -- Degas) Love the composition!
He was a deliberative artist whose works, as Andrew Forge has written, "Were prepared, calculated, practiced, developed in stages. They were made up of parts. The adjustment of each part to the whole, their linear arrangement, was the occasion for infinite reflection and experiment."

1890 Degas’s eyesight fades and he does more sculpture and pastels. He does some mono-types of valleys from memories of the countryside from a trip to Burgundy.

1895 Degas experiments in photography.

1910 Degas goes blind becomes depressed and bitter, stops painting.

1917 Degas dies 27 September aged 83 at his home. And so ends the career of our greatest artists.
(Degas liked to paint members of his family)
The following “lesser known” artists have overcome monumental difficulties but continue to do what they love. Lisa Fittipaldi lost her eyesight, yet paints the most remarkable paintings. She detects the color by the feel of the pigment. Remarkable!