RDP Tuesday: Art

There is only one artist in our family and that is Mr. Swiss. He is one of those people that can draw and paint. This is a painting he made as a young man of a building in his village. The only paintings I ever did were from the colouring books I would get as a kid. You did not have to use your imagination, but just fill in the outlines with a coloured pencil. The only things that were painted in my family were perhaps a door or when decorating a room to add a splash of colour.

Mr. Swiss grew up in a family where art was appreciated.

He mainly painted with water colours and with a few strokes of a brush he produced something that for me was a miracle. He would also dabble in oils now and again, but the can be a problem. The oil paints have a strong smell and can be quite messy. He had some lessons from a painter when he was a teenager, but the talent is there.

It was from him that I got a little appreciation of art. Now and again we would visit an exhibition. It was something I was missing in my childlhood. Today he no longer paints or draws unfortunately.

RDP Tuesday: Art

Daily Prompt: Eye of the Beholder

Describe what it feels like to hear a beautiful piece of music or see a stunning piece of art.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BEAUTY.

Pampas 2013

My pampas in the garden at the moment, showing its artistic side

Beauty is all around us; perhaps it needs a point in the right direction. I certainly did. My background was not such an art appreciative society. I remember a pen and ink drawing my grandfather made of a dog next to his kennel. It hung in grandad’s room; he was a carpenter by trade and had an artistic flare but definitely never had a chance to develop it. His job was to earn money and make sure the family did not starve, although I do believe as a young man a lot of his money was deposited in the local public house, transformed into liquid supports (beer).

In my younger years I enjoyed a visit to the local museum where they had a permanent display of paintings and I would perhaps indulge in a visit to the National Art Gallery in London, so I was not entirely without culture or art. Music was always part of my surroundings, my dad a keen follower of jazz from the 30’s and 40’s, and I grew up surrounded by the birth of beat music. At school we were supplied with a background of classical music, and I even managed ten years of learning how to play the piano. I was a keen opera visitor together with a good school friend and I knew most of the arias, stories and music.

Knowing what Picasso, Dali, and other modern painters were all about did not lay in my education. Anything modern did not qualify as art in my childhood days, it was all airy fairy stuff with eyes in the wrong place, dots and colour squares, something to be compared with a children’s drawing and definitely not worth the money paid. A painting bought on the local market, reproduced in the thousands, perhaps showing an average landscape or a portrait of an unknown woman would qualify as something good. When mum and dad eventually moved because our old house was demolished (so-called slum-clearance) one of their first purchases was a painting for the wall. I think it was the thing to do at the time. They thought it was a nice painting, everyone had one so it must be nice. The problem was that everyone did have one, the same one.

I really have to thank Mr. Swiss for my further education in art. He is a talented artist in my eyes (definitely) and had lessons as a youngster from an artist. He showed me the various techniques of painting and I learnt what an aquarelle is from him. I also learnt that oil painting should not be executed in the apartment, but better outside on the patio. Oil paints do arrive with an accompanying scent.  We have many of his paintings hanging at home. I do not paint myself, cannot paint, have no talent, but he does.

We visited many art exhibitions together. I remember one particular exhibition, the Pablo Picasso exhibition in Bern, the capital of Switzerland. They were showing his “blue” period. Picasso had not achieved his ultra-modern design yet but they were going in that direction; the difference between the expert, like Mr. Swiss, and me when visiting an exhibition. He can stand a long while in front of a painting, noticing its fine details and me? Sorry I do appreciate the paintings, really, but am probably an impatient gazer. How often have we lost each other in a museum or art gallery because I have already moved on to the next room.

We spent a week in Paris. Yes, of course we had a look at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, who does not. This is art, something unique, but surrounded by so many people and encased behind bullet proof glass, a warning system and who knows what else, it does destroy a little of the magic, but we saw it. Centre Pompidou was also on the list, the more modern items, but this visit to Paris seemed to really impress on my cultureless-mind what art is, laid perhaps a solid foundation for my future interest.

I have my favourites, Margritte, Dali, yes everything a bit in the realm of fantasy, the strange, but if we all liked the same, life in the art world would become monotonous and boring. I remember a visit to the Ermitage in St. Petersburg as a 17 year old, a side chance from a school trip including 2 days Russia. If only I had known more at the time, could remember today the works of art I saw, the chance of a lifetime. I will probably no longer have the possibility to revisit this temple of art, but who knows.

My niece is an art historian and she once took us on a tour of a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition held in Zürich, the painter who I believe even lived in the desert and her works are of objects found in the sand, also wonderful paintings of flowers. To have the paintings explained and to see what the artist was achieving opens a new world of understanding. I have never become an expert in an arty direction, but my interest is awakened.

What it feels? A sort of feeling of satisfaction, there is a difference in seeing replicas in print, or looking at reproductions in Internet and being able to experience the real thing. To see the light reflecting on the painting, to see it actually taking life and not just flat paint on a canvas.

Music is similar, although music can go through your body. I love music, but need peace and quiet in certain situations. I remember visiting a modern music concert with my son. I am sure the decibels made permanent damage to my ears, which were still whistling the next morning and I walked home with a strange muffled feeling in my hearing. Of course, visiting an opera or concert is something different. I tend to go with the music, feel it inside and almost transposed into another world. Music is a sort of accompanying background at home. If we are not occupied with concentrating on something else, there is always a rhythm of jazz, classics, or just entertaining music in the background.

Daily Prompt: Eye of the Beholder

Musical and Art Pingbacks

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Daily Prompt: The Artist’s Eye

Is there a painting or sculpture you’re drawn to? What does it say to you? Describe the experience. (Or, if art doesn’t speak to you, tell us why.)

Photographers, artists, poets: show us ART.

I was never really into art until I met Mr. Swiss. He paints, aquarells mostly, but also in oil. Me that cannot even draw a straight line married to a “hobby” painter. As a boy he had lessons from a painter and brought some very nice paintings into our marital home. We have paintings on our walls, mostly original Mr. Swiss paintings.

Now and again a painting might be bought as an addition so over the years I have learned to appreciate painting. I was always keen on visiting museums and art galleries when going to another town or country. I was fascinated by the Louve, saw Mona Lisa which was so protected by alarm systems, that you were lucky to see anything between the people stealing a glimpse of the lady with the strange smile. One of my Swiss nieces studied art and gave us a sort of private tour of a Georgia O’Keefe exhibition which once took place in Zürich. That is the lady that lives in the desert and likes to paint animal skulls and other things she finds in the desert sands. I quite like her paintings.

I suppose I am drawn to the surrealists basically. Salvador Dali, Miro, Man Ray etc. my favourite being René Margritte, although I am not really sure if he qualifies as a 100% surrealist. I am not here to discuss art, that is beyond my knowledge, I just know I like Margritte paintings especially this one.


I like this one so much that I tried it myself with a little help from Photoshop and one of our neighbour’s felines. The feline goes by the name of Rosti, is not one of my felines favourites.

“Yes Mrs. Human, that is true. He is permanently treading on our territory and why you had to feature such a stupid cat as a work of Mrs. Human art, we do not know.” Spoke my feline trio infernal Nera, Tabby and Fluffy.

“Felines I am writing this blog, not you and the only art you understand is a plate of tuna fish or still life in the form of departed mice.”

“OK Mrs. Human, message taken. We will leave you to your blog ramblings.”

At last some peace and quiet. They have now circled into a sleeping dimension, so now I can continue. And here is my example of surrealism in the style of René Margritte with an apple, but this time with Rosti the feline.

roschti and apple

Being in Switzerland my attention was also drawn to the work of Meret Oppenheim. She designed a fountain for Bern, which I like very much (see link). I also had the pleasure to see her Fur Cup in the New York Museum of Modern Art. It is really an experience to see an original of work that you admire.


So I decided to have a go with this one as well in Photo shop. Here is my humble result.

cup, spoon and fur

Not the original colour or texture, but I had to borrow some photos of my cat’s fur and colour them for the picture.

Of course I also appreciate the “old masters” especially William Turner, but surrealism seems to be the comfortable place for me in the art world.

Daily Prompt: The Artist’s Eye

Daily Prompt: Art Appreciation

Do you need to agree with an artist’s lifestyle or politics to appreciate their art? To spend money on it?

Me in front of Centre Pompidou

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is art, whether a painting, sculpture or even a building. Many years ago we were in Paris and on the photo I was appreciating the statues by Niki de St. Phalle in the fountain outside the Centre Pompidou (me, the tall one on the right next to the fountain).

Of course it would be very easy to say the way the artist lives his life has nothing to do with his paintings or creations. I was going to write a short piece but then I remembered that Adolf Hitler tried his hand at painting as a young man and even wanted to become an artist. His paintings became valuable, although they had no real artistic value. It was more sensationalism. He was never actually recognised as a great painter, but I must admit his results were better than mine would have been. Would I really like to have an Adolf Hitler painting in my possession, on my walls? No thank you, there I must admit I did not agree with his lifestyle or his politics. I would be ashamed to own one of his paintings.

I am not a great art connoisseur, but I do know what I like: Picasso, Van Gogh, Henri Rousseau, Marc Chagall, René Margritte, Salvador Dali, just to mention a few. You can also add Ferdinand Hodler, Paul Klee, Cuno Amiet, Albert Anker, and Jean Tinguely some Swiss artists. We have an art gallery in the town of Solothurn where I live and they often have art exhibitions.

All the artists I have mentioned are a mixture of lifestyles, politics and appearances, but they were not responsible for harming others. A few of them might have had mental problems, perhaps did not have a serious life style, but their paintings were good. It might be that if they had been different, more establishment friendly and had a perfect life style, their paintings would not have been so good.

Spending money on art means that you have to have the money to spend. You go to a local market and suddenly see the perfect painting and you buy it, at a reasonable price. It might be worthless, or it might be discovered as an original Picasso that had been lost. Buying paintings is not for every man. You cannot eat a painting, drink a painting, or wear it, you hang it on the wall and look at it. I have never been moved enough to actually buy a painting. I would just not trust my taste.

Daily Prompt: Art Appreciation