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Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

April 30, 2013

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is a photo of Nicole Rizzo that I took a few months ago but altered yesterday. I like it. Maybe subconsciously I was trying to make up to her for the less-than-flattering painting I did of her recently. See my April 21 post. I think this doctored photo is beautiful. Of course, the undoctored version was beautiful, too. The photos should be good. The subject is lovely.

I've been reading "The Grand Design" by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. Or rather listening to it. I've been through it once. Have read Chapter 4 about four times. And am almost through the whole book for the second time.

Grand Design, written in 2010, is called popular science and was a best seller. But trying to grasp the concepts of modern theoretical physics can be a mind bender. At the same time it can be breathtaking. These guys say that M Theory - which scientists say once fully developed may explain everything - shows there is no God. They say God wasn't needed to start this ever-expanding universe and that if he actually set things in motion that that begs the question of who or what created God.

The Big Bang was simply the result of the rules of nature. I'm an atheist but this book makes me wonder  where the raw materials, the incredible forces at play, and the space they Banged in came from. I'm starting to wonder if God wasn't a theoretical physicist - one far smarter than an Einstein, maybe 12 times to the 100th power smarter. Don't ask me how many times smarter that is. I was just trying to show off.





April 25, 2013

By Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I started working on this picture last year. The main figure and her pose are based on an Oscar de la Renta ad. I have show it to you in various guises Sometimes it was a work in progress. Sometimes it was finished. But when it was finished I would decide it wasn't finished. One of the things holding it up was the legs. With some suggestions from my friend Jay, I think her legs are looking more natural.

I added some detailing on her back and back sleeve. Self portraits play a role in this painting. One of them is not doing the family name much good. I have fallen asleep about five times while I'm writing this. So I have to quit.




April 21, 2013

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is my latest painting. It is a giant: seven feet by four feet. It's of Nicole Rizzo of Williamstown. No, in real life she doesn't have a gash in her upper arm, the skin of her forearm isn't disfigured and her knee isn't marred by growths. These parts of her body look like they do because I am going through a stage. I am trying to make my paintings a little ruder and cruder.

To get the roughness I've been attaching scraps of acrylic I salvage from paint containers.

You can tell she's a beautiful woman from the photos of her I've incorporated in the painting, which also includes four pictures of King Richard III's skull, the one dug up recently in a London parking lot. The skulls tie in with the painting's title: "For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one."

Above and below are details from the painting to give you an idea of the texture. I did the painting over one that Joe had done but didn't want anymore. I really liked Joe's and hated covering it over. But that's what he wanted me to do with it.


Below you can see how I've used my scraps of acrylic paint to highlight the folds.

I like this photo of Nicole but it is distorted here by the angle I was shooting at. When you look up at her in the painting, it looks like her eyes are staring at you.

If you like this painting, thank FX. I wanted to get the photo of Nicole leaning into the wall printed large, cut it out and glue it to the canvas at the size I painted it. FX gave me a hard time about that. Paint it, he said. And if you hate this painting, it's all FX's fault.




April 17, 2013

Photos by Grier Horner except as otherwise noted.

Julianne Moore is The Fairest of Them All according to the New York Times' T Magazine last Sunday. I wouldn't fight with that assessment, which will undoubtedly send many Hollywood stars half her age - she is 52 - running to their magic mirrors.

"There is something uncanny about her appearance, at once beautiful and otherworldly," writes Aaron Gell. But beauty is only part of her appeal, Gell says. "She looks deeper into her characters, inhabits them more fully, loves them more completely and with less judgment than just about any actor out there."

Here I am photographing Moore through the magazine's pages, shooting all but one of these pictures from the wrong side of the page. This has changed the fantastic photos taken by Inez and Vinoodh. My technique was far from sophisticated. I simply taped the page- wrong side facing me - against a window  on a sunny afternoon.

Moore, I think, looks great in brick.

This was the cover shot through the watch ad on the back of the cover. Below is the cover as it really looks.

Photo by Inez and Vinoodh.

And this is the cover, not shot from behind as in my other photos here, but from the front. Now the wristwatch takes a secondary pictorial role, instead of playing the lead.


Here's another of my through-the-page pictures. The text, which is not referring to this photo is on the page facing the camera, as is the red hair on the right, which is spilling over from the other side of the facing page. Below is the complete photo on this two-page spread. 


Photo by Inez and Vinoodh.






April 13, 2013

Sometimes you hit pay dirt when you're looking at art. That happened for me Thursday at Yale when I saw some amazing work by artists I hadn't heard of before - all from about 1900. Above is a large - it is 104 inches long - oil by Edwin Austin Abbey an American who moved to England in his mid-20s and stayed there.

I love the richness of Abbey's work, the play of vivid colors against somber shades, the dramatic compositions and storytelling. This painting, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and the Lady Anne, done in 1896 was the sensation of that year's Royal Academy exhibition in London. This is Abbey's depiction of the scene In Shakespeare's Richard III where Richard proposes to Anne during the funeral procession of her father-in-law, King Henry VI. Richard, who will become king, has killed both Henry and Anne's husband Prince Edward.

Here are two more large Abbey paintings. Above is the play scene from Hamlet and below is Repentance of Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester.  You can tell he was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites. Maybe they're a little melodramatic, but, boy, they are something to look at.

Then there was the 1915 portrait below by F. Luis Mora, another painter I had never heard of. The subject is the American dancer Jeanne Cartier. "Clad in purple stockings and an iridescent orange dress, Jeanne Cartier represents the new modern woman in the style that dancers such as Irene Castle and she had made fashionable: slim-figured, uncorseted, and vivacious" according to a piece I read. But I can't remember what publication it was in or who wrote it. Anyway, I like the freshness, vitality and air of spontaneity about it.

In the Yale Center for British Art's current exhibition, Edwardian Opulence, this is one of a number of arresting large-scale portraits.
Painted by Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) in 1903 its subject is Mrs. Lionel Phillips, a voluptuous beauty. The black fan might be needed by the men in her presence, or even those viewing the painting. It is big and a little overwhelming.

While Boldini did this about the same time Abbey was illustrating Shakespearian scenes, Boldini's approach is much more modern, as is Mora's. But I like them all. .

And here are two great friends of mine, Nancy and Babbie, taking a break in the main room of the Yale Center for British Art. Rounding out our quintet were Tricia and John. He, bless his heart, did all the driving.



April 9, 2013

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This tree in a park in Lake Charles, Louisiana, despite the ravages of age and wind, is bringing forth new life. It has taken on the aspect of a monster or a martyr. Do you know the $5 word for attributing human characteristics to a tree? Anthropomorphism. It's a word I like but have a hard time remembering.



April 5, 2013

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Tuesday evening I stepped out of Lanesboro Pizza with a small veggie pizza for our supper and saw this lovely interplay between the sun and clouds from the parking lot, which overlooks Pontoosuc Lake.

I can't remember whether this shot was taken Monday, April Fool's Day, or not. But it might as well have been. I was walking along the sidewalk on Route 7 watching snow squalls like this one coming down off the mountains and sweeping across the lake. It was cold and certainly wasn't acting like I'd wish April 1 would act. If you look closely at the ridge line on the right, you can see the wind turbine in action at the Jiminy Peak Ski Area.

And while we're on the subject of Pontoosuc Lake, this is the old YMCA boathouse. It is being saved by contractor Scott Graves who bought it from the Y for $10,000. A condemned building, it was in rough shape and probably faced demolition if he hadn't picked it up. Graves plans to use it as a boat club.



April 1, 2013


How many  of us have had the privilege of running with wolves? Not too many. But one of them was me, as you can see from this photo. Of course because of age I can't do it anymore, much to my sorrow. But to have had that link with the wild that few since Romulus and Remus have enjoyed, is an experience akin to ... Akin to what? I can't think of a parallel at the moment. Maybe you can.


April 1, 2020

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is a bonus feature. A member of my family likes to run around the yard picking up small, ovoid objects every Easter. She's as enthusiastic about this at 13 as she was at 3.  We never have had to egg her on.




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