California Artist by Robert (Bob) Arneson

Robert Arneson was born in Benicia, California in 1930. He received his MFA in 1958 at California College of the Arts: Oakland, California. In his early employed life he was a cartoonist for a local newspaper. He was a professor of ceramics in the Art department at UC Davis for 40 years.

It’s safe to say Robert Arneson was a Californian Artist.

In the 60s, as a lot of radical artistic movements were explored, Arneson developed a new movement in art called the Funk Movement. For Arneson, this meant pushing away traditional ideals for ceramics, in that they must be utilitarian or decorative. This led Arneson into non-functional ceramics like portraits with feeling, humanity, and humor… almost whimsical.

Arneson was influenced by many artists in California and abroad with radical and blunt ideals. This included writers like Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, Tom Robbins and William Burroughs, or artists like Peter Voulkos.

California Artist was created in 1982, and is stoneware with glazes measuring 68 1/4 in. x 27 1/2 in. x 20 1/4 in. It currently sits in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). It was a mocking response to an art critic from New York who felt Arneson was too easily pleased with his own jokes. The critic was not impressed by the cultural life of the Californian artist.

It is interesting to note that if one peers into the eyes of California Artist, they can see into the empty head of the stoneware.

California Artist by Robert Arneson | Source:

California Artist by Robert Arneson | Source: Richard Pelletier

Continue Reading →

Rhine River, Germany and Burg Reinfels

Rhine River Sights
Burg Reinfels

Burg Reinfels | Photo source: Ned Tobin |

One of the big rivers of Europe is the Rhine river. It runs from the Alps in Switzerland, along the edge of France, through Western Germany, up to Netherlands and then out to the North Sea. Continue Reading →

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, Gamla Stan

Stockholm, Gamla Stan. Photo credit: Ned Tobin |

Stockholm is a city on the water. The core of the city is along the harbour, and various bridges go this way and that taking city goers from one island to the next. If walking is not the ideal solution, there are always the little harbour shuttle boats scattered along the docks that can take you this way and that. Continue Reading →

Christ in the House of Levi by Paolo Veronese

1573 - Paolo Veronese - Christ in the House of Levi

In 1573 one of the great Venetian masters Paolo Veronese (Paolo Cagliari of Verona) finished Christ in the House of Levi. The painting depicts a merry scene, with courtly jesters and the elite of Venice surrounding Christ for a marvelous feast.

Originally this painting was titled Last Supper, however, since the painting was created in the height of Counter Reformation it received much criticism from the Holy Office of the Inquisition because it showed creatures so close to Christ. This prompted accusations of Veronese for impiety, and demanded he make the necessary changes at his own expense. Unwilling to solve this problem by destroying the painting, Veronese simply changed the name of the painting to Christ in the House of Levi which implied a much less formal evening.

The painting depicts an open loggia with giant columns and three monumental arches. In the background through the arches one can see more magnificent buildings of Venice cityscape.

Christ in the House of Levi is 18’6″ x 42’6″, clearly a colossal sized painting, and is painted with oil on canvas. It resides in Galleria dell’Accademia, Venice.

1573 - Paolo Veronese - Christ in the House of Levi

1573 – Paolo Veronese – Christ in the House of Levi

Architectural Abstractions of Martin Golland

Martin Golland - Billboard - 2012

I immediately think of Paul Cézanne, the master Post-Impressionist, when I see the work of Martin Golland; his directional hatching / brush strokes create depth and volume. This is something which Cézanne explored, some may even say pioneered.

What strikes me as beautiful in the works is Gollands choice of pallet. I enjoy the natural feeling of the colours, they seem to fit together in the paintings to create a feeling of natural blending, rather than abstract or surreal contrasts that don’t mimic what we actually see in the real world. So, in this respect again, Golland follows the leads given by the Impressionists by painting what he sees of his romantic surroundings in his own eyes, rather than exactly replicating the way it looks like a photograph.

Martin Golland - Facade - 2010

Martin Golland – Facade – 2010

Continue Reading →

Photographer Lee Jeffries

Lee Jeffries has found a way to capture some of the most emotional and spiritual iconographic images I have ever seen. Yes, he does it well. Mostly in black and white, he focuses on homeless; people with skin so textured, with fingernails permanently stained, with scars and wild eyes… Lee Jeffries takes photographs of people who have so much character and definition that stories instantly flow forth from the photographs he takes.

Make no bones about it, the photographs are portraits. They’re close cropped, shallow depth, superbly lit, mostly black background, slightly vignetted images that talk about history in one single shutter release.

lee jeffries - 3

Photo source: Lee Jeffries |

Continue Reading →

Voices by Jack Shadbolt

jack shadbolt voices
One of my favorite images I’ve ever seen is Jack Shadbolt’s Voices from 1986.

Shadbolt was born in 1909 in England, but developed himself as a prominent artist and teacher in Vancouver in the 1930s, retiring in 1966. Shadbolt has received honourary LL.D. from Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Victoria. He received the Order of Canada in 1972, and was made Freeman of the City of Vancouver in 1990.

Shadbolt’s early influences came from Emily Carr, but his travels and studies have also given him inspiration from various other artists and groups, most notably Joan Miró and Picasso. However various others like: the schools of Paris, British Surrealists Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland, Cézanne, Mexican muralists, American Social Realists and Abstract Expressionists have also influenced Shadbolt in various stages of his career.

Throughout Shadbolt’s career he has use Coast Indian imagery, sparked by Emily Carr, but also due to the fact that it is a visual narrative, a story telling.

The painting is acrylic on canvas with dimensions:
left panel: 117 x 94.5 cm
centre panel: 128.5 x 94.5 cm
right panel: 117 x 94.5 cm

This piece is part of the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of RBC Dominion Securities.

I highly suggest reading a bibliography of Shadbolt off the VAG site:

jack shadbolt voices

Death of Sardanapalus by Eugène Delacroix

Death of Sardanapalus by Eugène Delacroix

Inspired by Lord Byron’s 1821 poem ‘Sardanapalus’, Eugène Delacroix painted Death of Sardanapalus in 1826.

However, the scene painted by Delacroix is much more tempestuous and busy compared to what Lord Byron had written.

In this painting, the King watches as his harem is slaughtered before his eyes, after the loss of battle. One throws herself at his feet in her dying moments.

This scene is very exemplary of the Romantic movement, with rich tones, emotional body gestures and expressions… creating generally epic scenes of human tragedy.

It is interesting to note how Delacroix, and other artists were frequently influenced by literature. Théophile Gautier said: “the artists read the poets, and the poets visited the artists. We found Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe, Lord Byron, and Walter Scott in the studio as well as in the study. There were as many splashes of color as there were blots of ink in the margins of those beautiful books which we endlessly perused. Imagination, already excited, was further fired by reading those foreign works, so rich in color, so free and powerful in fantasy.”

the Death of Sardanapalus by Eugene Delacroix

the Death of Sardanapalus by Eugene Delacroix


Ridden Down by Frederic Remington

Ridden Down by Frederic Remington

Ridden Down by Frederic Remington from 1906.

Remington accompanied the US Military on many exploits, including the last great battles against the Native Americans. Theodore Roosevelt was a great fan of his work, and Remington was invited personally by Roosevelt to accompany him to some battles. After returning from the Spanish-American war Roosevelt was given one of Remingtons early sculptures as a gift from the Rough Riders.

Remington also wrote western novels, and as already mentioned, sculpted. His first full page published artwork was for Harper’s Weekly on January 9, 1886.

Ridden Down by Frederic Remington

Oiran (Grand Courtesan) by Takahashi Yuichi

Oiran (Grand Courtesan) by Takahashi Yuichi

Oiran (Grand Courtesan) by Takahashi Yuichi from 1872.

This is an early oil painting from the Meiji period in Japan and is significant because it shows one of the early adaptations of oil paint by a Japanese artist. Represented here this Grand Courtesan is painted in the European portrait manner which diverted from the classic ukiyo-e ‘idealized’ manner, but still wearing classic Japanese attire.

It is interesting to note is that although Takahashi took initiative to develop the first fine art magazine in Japan, and was critical in the development of the modern painting there, he died relatively unknown in Japan.

Oiran (Grand Courtesan) by Takahashi Yuichi