Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Esther Ritz, A Breath of Fresh Air




*Esther Ritz, "The Wedding", acrylic

One of the biggest advantages of doing it [painting] at this time in my life is that I don't need to show the art. I don't have the financial pressure there or the pressure of needing a day job. Creatively, it frees you up tremendously.--Esther Ritz

l.w.roth, The Ticking Clock,  pen and ink, 1986 
A friend sent me an article from the Huffington Post on the art of Esther Ritz, a woman who saved the best for last,  became an artist after the kids left the nest, after she retired from her job, after she  turned fifty. Sound familiar?

This quote hit home. For a while now, I've been wondering why have I've  been trying to achieve a high degree of skill in  portraiture I really don't have the time to achieve?   It's true,  I get a kick out of  capturing likenesses. Portraiture is satisfying, but it's no where near as much fun as letting go with the paint with nothing more in mind than seeing where the marks will lead.  Seeing Esther's incredibly original work reminded me of that freedom, the fun of playing in the paint--and that the clock is ticking louder at seventy four than hers did at fifty five.

It's hard to be original.  We are a herding species. Originality takes guts and a devil-may-care attitude. The only way to  originality is to not give a damn about what others are doing, to not care what they might think about what you're doing, to stay away from museums and art books and art classes and just do what you do.   I forgot that these last years while intent upon gaining skill in the traditional ways of painting and lost the love I felt holding a fresh jar of my favorite color of the moment facing a pristine white canvas brush poised in the air ready to make the first strike without a clue to what the second would be. I lost my child.  I got old. Stodgy. Ho-hum boring. Became no one Picasso would spend ten minutes with! The hell with that! I need a breath of fresh air.

L. W. Roth, And Snoop Dog Too, Acrylic, 2010


*To read all about Esther Ritz and others who saved the best for last go here:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/03/esther-ritz_n_7497470.html?utm_hp_ref=arts

13 comments:

  1. I think learning and growing in any way is a good thing, but what you describe sound a lot like me. I know that there are plenty of artist that have painted all their lives, and got a skill I will never get, haven't the time, the urge or the patience. Took up painting seriously very late, around when I started my blog and some time after that, I misunderstood someone, thinking she meant that my art wasn't contemporary/relevant. It was a good thing, I question myself what I was doing and realized that I was just doing the same thing, without any thought about growth or personality.
    I try to explore who I am as an artist, learning from others, but staying true to myself, being the best I can be at the things I do.

    I hear from time to time (at home) why I don't do trees like I did a few years ago (for an example). I usually reply that I am not that person today and been there/done that. I am sure that there is people that wonder why I keep doing a subject for a while, like my flower abstraction that I have been doing, but I know that I at some point will move on and perhaps never visit that concept again. As long as I feel that it is fun, are room for exploration and growing, I keep on doing it. Then I move on.

    I admire you. You got a lot of things I lack. As long as it is who you are and what you want to achieve, keep doing it. Big hug!

    Sorry for the rampling and bad English (hope it made any sense) ;).

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    1. You did make sense. Blogging is how I got back to it too only I was in my late sixties. Now, in my early seventies, I have confirmed what I had always told people: I can draw--and not only can I draw, I but I can draw well. I proved to myself, over the last three years I've been concentrating on portraiture, that I could possibly have done that for a living had I stuck with it way back when I was seventeen, but not now. Ritz's work and the rest of the Huffington Post article gave me a clue as to why I've been reluctant to finish those three portraits, start Anything new or even go into the studio. I am not having any In fun there. I have gotten way too serious for where I am in life. It's time to fool around again with no restrictions. --The most fun I had these past five years was painting those chocolate mice and the intermingling colors in my clothes closet, my unit paintings. I also love doing graphite drawings of the people I've photographed the first thing in the mornings... Conclusion: It took me five years to prove myself to myself. I can relax now.

      I think you are going somewhere Roger. I told you that a long time ago. And you'll get there too. You found yourself early enough. I was too busy to look before 2009/10.

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  2. Where Roger and your ideas chime together ... I'm a million miles away, which strangely may give the three of us a lot in common. Whereas you want to see where the paintbrush takes you, with a wild abandonment, I have no such desire. I don't want to be original because it never crosses my mind to do anything other than what I want do. In the unlikely event that I produce an original, it will be an accident and the odds are I won't even notice!

    Whereas you see "The Wedding" as original, it does nothing for me at all. Abstract art in general does little for me, which has led to me being labelled as 'non-artistic', simply a draughtsman ... even a philistine. But I don't give a fig because if people feel the need to label me, they must be the ones with the problem. Although I welcome honest critique - and get it from you :) - my object is to do what I do, and the greater the challenge the greater the fun.

    As I'd never painted until I was 75, I feel I am leaving it a bit late to be a great painter. All I know is I get a lot of fun out of trying to capture an image, even if I never really achieve. Which is what the three of us 'seem' to have in common: is enjoying what we do, whether we call it fun, a breath of fresh air ...or whatever.

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    1. Wild would never happen, not to worry; I've too many years of training. My education couldn't be by the wayside with 'wild abandonment' even if I wanted it to. Original can also mean imaginative. I see Esther's work as imaginative. Her style is original, uniquely her own. I admire that. I admire abstraction as much as I admire realism. I like to do both--though I've noticed I have never abandoned subject matter In any of my abstraction. I do think that abstraction is more fun than realism. The painter can take greater liberties with the subject. I do appreciate artwork that steps out of the box.

      Painting after retirement allows painters greater freedom to explore. Painting to pay the bills can be, and often is, inhibiting. That's what Esther was saying and I agree. I have no idea if she's a draughtsman, but she is a designer given her use of color and and how she breaks up space.

      Esther's creative, imaginative, abstract portraits are courageous. I like them.

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    2. POST SCRIPT: why would anyone think you are a philistine? You are an excellent draughtsman. Your drawings are amazing in their precision. I admire precision too. I go for it as much as needed with my graphite drawings of heads and lately using the Flemish approach. And it is absolutely required in architectural drawings of cathedrals and stately mansions. I think philistines 'knock stuff out' just to sell them. They don't do what they love to do. They do what Peter P. Public likes to buy. As different as Esther's work is from yours and mine, she's honest in her approach. She's not painting anything just anyone would buy. To me who hasn't been having any fun in the studio with all my seriousness, it looks like she's having fun, but I'll bet she gets hung up somewhere in the process just like the rest of us. I respect all art John EXCEPT the guy who won the 5K award for Best In Show with his chicken wire and plastic shopping bag 'sculpture.' He is the Emperor with no clothes! Love your comment. Good food for thought.

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    3. Your posts always give food for thought, I look forward to them

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  3. Yes, yes. yes...........NOW you're talking! No painting! But you do have to know how to do it before you can unravel and go with your flow. You go, girl!

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    1. What do you mean no painting? There will always be painting. I agree, good abstraction requires an ability to draw. I hope I didn't imply I was moving towards abstraction. i just admired Esther's aesthetic. At the moment, I have no idea which way I'm moving. I just know I'm bored with portraiture and have to play a bit. A Sargent I will never be, so I might as well have some fun in that studio. ( I'm a little sad I'm not a Sargent). Maybe I'll get out the plasticine being that I don't have a cherry tree to chop down? :-))

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    2. POST SCRIPT: How did your sculptures do? I love them and wish I had a cherry tree In my backyard. How's the portrait from hell going? We'll have to Skyp. I'm going to call as soon as I pour my coffee.

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  4. Linda, thank you so much for this wonderful post! I am going to keep it handy to read every time I start to feel that damn pressure.
    Hugs to you!
    Kathryn

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    1. Esther's words and her work gave me a jolt. I had to share.

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  5. Wow!! Awesome post Linda....and so true! I guess that's why I'm trying portraits in oils...why not? Trying new things is the way to go. I only wish I started painting many years ago AND going to school for Art. But it wasn't "time" since I was too busy with raising children and working.... So I will enjoy it now with my painting and blogging! Love your new art Linda!! I hope to see more of these abstracts! (Not easy!)

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    1. Thanks Hilda. They are not so new. The black and white was done in 1986 after a hard day at work where nothing was going right. There are nine more in this series. I consider them my best work for they are uniquely mine. And Snoop Dog Too took a numer of days. It developed from me doing 'prints' one on top of the other with paint left on my palette from whatever I had been working on. Eventually, hints of images appeared and I went on to develop them. There seems to be a parade here. I do love parades. These spontaneous 'doodles' are most amazing to me and the most fun for they were made with no thoughts in regard to artistic restrictions.

      I too raised my children and worked with Ellis to support the family using my artistic skills. My expressionistic art was a filler till I retired, felt a void and filled it with this blog and art which turned out to be a strong interest in portraiture, the most challenging of the genres which suited my affinity to dimensions and measurements. Esther's words got me thinking that I had actually created a job for myself using the skills I used on the job and in doing so lost the kid in me who adored playing in the paint for relief of life's tensions. I want to get that kid back. I miss her.

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