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Sunday, 27 June 2010

My Heroes (27) : Vincent van Gogh

"And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me."  Genesis 39:7

It is known that Vincent van Gogh was deeply religious but it is not known for certain if the eleven stars in this iconic painting are a merely a coincidence. The artist, who only ever sold one picture in his lifetime, was true to his beliefs his whole life through. No artist has ever displayed the passion that he was able to do on canvas.
"They did not listen, they're not listening now. Perhaps they don't know how."

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Carvoeiro on the Portguese Algarve (Part Two)

The weather in Portrugal was not as brilliant as usu
al for the first few days but I didn't mind - I'm not a sun-worshiper. I was quite happy to spend my time painting (It was the first time I had remembered to take painting equipment with me).
While the others were muttering and cursing and shaking their fists at the sky I was happily reading or drawing. The villa where we always stay is on a cliff top over the small former fishing village of Carvoeiro. Today the Algarve (Portugal's southernmost province) is largely about golf; that's not something I can get interested in but lots of my friends go there to play. I find it to be more unspolit than Spain and a bit more friendly. Because of the Euro-Stirling exchange rate, prices seemed expensive for us but I don't usually worry too much about those things when on vacation; I just bite the bullet and pay the price. That's my philosophy at all times anyway because there is no point in spending ones life complaining and moaning; better to simply enjoy life.
This was a hedonistic holiday mostly centered on eating, drinking, talking, walking, lazing in the heated pool, reading and, for me, painting. I'm not very good but it's a hugely enjoyable pastime.
My first book was  'Pictures at an Exhibition' by DM Thomas. It was a very 'difficult' read and ultimately unsatisfying. It deals with the same subject as his earlier masterpiece, 'The White Hotel', that is  - the holocaust, Freuidian pyschoanalysis and human sexuality. Much more enjoyable is a book I am still reading. 'Ordinary Thunderstorms' by William Boyd opens like an good but standard type of man-on-the run thriller buts seems to be developing deeper more meaningfuul themes.

Ferragudo with Portimao across the estuary in the distance.
Picture from
The coastal towns we visited this time were Ferragudo, Portimao, Alvor and Quintera. They are all interesting and hospitable places in their own different ways. For example Ferraguda is full of old, narrow, cobbled streets that lead down to the harbour lined with whitewashed buildings and fish restaurants directly in front of where the fishing bosts unload. There are even vendors grilling sardines right on the quayside. The village is overlooked by a ruined castle.
The area has been settled for more than two thousand years, having been variously occupied or settled by the Phoenicians, Romans and the Moors.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Carvoeiro on the Portguese Algarve (Part One)

I'm off again! This time with some friends to Carvoeiro (pronounced: carv-where-oh) in the Algarve which is the southernmost province of Portugal. In fact it's near the extreme south-west corner of mainline Europe.
We have stayed many times in the same large private villa. I'll spend most of the time by the pool, in the shade, with a pile of good books from the Villa's own library (we add some volumes every time we go).
I suppose I'll be sipping a drink or two while I read and dipping a toe in the heated pool. Back in a couple of weeks!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Painting(s) of the Month (6) June 2010: Bridget Riley

This month I am showing several of British artist Bridget Riley's optical paintings and not saying too much about them. They are for pure visual enjoyment.
For me, the interesting point about her work is, although abstract,  they do convey a lot via one's emotional and physical responses. She has said that the journey that the eye makes over her paintings is similar to that of a natural scene. The optical effects convey a strong vibrancy via their constuction or colour.
Look how the picture above appears to shimmer! It seems to be on the move constantly and the last one begins to dance if you run your eyes over it. (Or is the Belgian beer still running around my brain?)