Posted by: birdmaddgirl | 18 January 2013

visual meditation

this morning i am irritated. i’ve done my venting and need to get back to work and to find calm. so i was delighted that my inbox provided me with just the thing for both (and now i’m distracting myself by blogging, but hey).

where did i first see a frederic edwin church painting? maybe the MFA? or the Met? i’m not sure. but i’ve come across his landscapes at various times and been struck by the delicate beauty of light and singularity of vision. he was well-traveled and his work draws on a variety of places, but whether his canvas shows the andes or the aegean, there’s no doubting who’s doing the looking.

today i researched permissions for this painting:

“The Iceberg” by Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), 1891, Oil on Canvas, 20 x 30 inches, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA.

there’s so much to love. the warm light on the arctic seas. the playful relationship between the ship and the iceberg. the fullness of the sails against the unexpected softness of ice. the colors! the ocean speaks to me as much as the clear bright tropical blues that are my automatic concept of sea. all that dark gently growing bright to white. or is it the other way around? the white diffusing into dark. church captures the bits of 19th century exploration that we admire and romanticize: the bravery and daring, the lure of natural beauty and scientific discovery, the thrill of isolation from civilization and the companionship of survival, the imagination and craft.

where am i, as the viewer, in this painting? on another ship? it feels too solitary for a crowded horizon. instead, it’s as if church has granted me, for the space of this painting, the power to float, to walk above water. and although the winds blow and the waves break and the cold blasts, i have this small space of quiet from which to simply see.


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