Where a painter who eventually becomes famous worked/lived does not necessarily reflect their posthumous reputation. This is because more often than not the factors in no particular order are location, price and availability.
Not apparent from the work with which he became known, Paris was very important at the start of painter Ellsworth Kelly’s career. Several years ago, address in hand, I hoofed it over to this first studio (which remains just an apartment, having probably passed through dozens of hands since he lived there).
It looked just like all the other apartments arround it, neither more spacious nor with better light.
This year having read Jed perl’s excellent book on Alexander Calder, I decided to take a look at where on of his studios was. Once again, it was the same thing with the added touch which I think he would have appreciated, of a Chinese restaurant below his place.
Most people, when they think of an artist’s studio are imagining a large space, perhaps with a skylight or two. Or at the very least something which will look suitably dramatic and cinemesque upon seeing it after the fact.
For every Cezanne studio museum, there is Kelly’s or calder’s. This is because no artist is thinking in terms how it will look once they are famous and gone. Calder liked most of his Paris studios because they were an easy walk to the cafes he frequented and his friends, yet slightly set back as to avoid the noise keeping him up.
Kelly’s motivation had been the even more pragmatic financial one.
Another aspect of the painter life which many give no conscious thought to is the personal visual lexicon. This ever growing vocabulary is made up of the intentional such as portraits but also the instinctual. This is the every day as encountered by the painter, not made dramatic but rather it’s beauty drawn out. Cezzanne’s apples, soutine’s elevator operator et al.
The painter is not bragging of the incredible life lived a la some instagrammer’s vacation or food photo. They are recording the every day encounter(s) whether it’s the view from a studio window or some utilized necessity such as hat or groceries waiting to be put away.
I had no ambitions towards this as I had been unaware of the phenomenon until I started practicing it. The concept of “draw/paint from the guts” doesn’t mean to viscerally go at it until some sort catharsis is achieved. This misconstrued point is more about conveying the true, the reality without over thinking it nor worrying about drama.
Now one of my greatest pleasure in life is capturing on paper some little thing as it is from my daily existence. As ever, serving the process has become the pay off to me.
This is my second Paris painting this year. A dessert I had meant to try for a while, which was delicious.
I used 5.5x 8.5 spiral bound canson watercolor paper 140 lb. When i first started painting i used exspensive blocks of french cotton paper. This was initially my practice paper. Although the paper’s “voice” is inherently different, I have now long used it for fully realized pieces, espcially when traveling.