|Thomas Jefferson, charcoal copy made from Rembrandt Peal's portrait of Thomas Jefferson|
McCullough's John Adams is sending me off in all sorts of directions. I've suddenly developed an interest in Peale, Trumbull, Copely, Stuart--the colonial portrait painters who were very important in 1776 and well to do back then because of it. They recorded all the special people and events in paint, in color.
I've developed an interest in the Alien and Sedition Acts that cost John Adams a second term in office. He lost to Thomas Jefferson and I wondered why? I'm still not sure, but it had to do with party politics and which supported the French Revolution and which did not. I'm still reading.
I'm also reading a new book I'm very excited about: Paint from Photographs by Tony Paul, an excellent painter, who's alive and well and teaching and painting in England. The phrase 'from photographs' is what caught my attention and got me to order the book. He discusses what makes a photograph suitable for reference and what disqualifies it. He also talks cameras and angles and lighting. Being a strong supporter of the use of photography in painting, I had to read what he had to say. On page 9 in the introduction on Thursday, he had me:
'And what about those who are less fortunate than most of us--the infirm, disabled, elderly or frail--who find going out to paint an impossibility? Without photographs and other two dimensional references, they would be condemned to paint still lifes or views from their windows for the rest of their lives.'Once having a problem knee (just a few days ago), I fully agreed that for many people unable to schlep their easels out into the sunshine to paint plein air, photography is an alternative and knowing how to read photographs and translate them into paintings that look like they were done at the scene is valuable information--indeed, the first thing I did, while reading chapter one, was to pull out my camera and manual. I wanted to know more about its capabilities. I do believe that the painter who doesn't spend some time exploring and perfecting photography techniques is cutting themselves short . They had better be fast or remain fit and able--and none of us do.