Recently, I saw the landscapes of Anna Mary Robertson Moses, aka Grandma Moses, at the Bennington Museum in VT. After trying my hand at plein air painting, I have a better appreciation for her landscapes. Although to be accurate, Moses did not paint out doors; she worked from printed images. Not to take anything away from the woman: she started painting at age 76! Arthritis had made it too difficult to create her scenes in needlework. You could say she settled on painting when the lady-like craft of needlework was no longer an option. I say she had determination as well as skill. A lesson for all artists.
The primitive style and casual busy-ness of her landscapes dotted with rural structures is what we generally admire. But on this day, as I took photos of my "favorite" paintings throughout the museum, the theme that emerged was about color.
Below are two landscapes with delicate palettes by Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses.
(My apologies for not noting the titles of Grandma Moses' works.)
This painting, "Old Mountain," is by another Vermont painter, Milton Avery, whose work is also shown at the Bennington Museum. It bears a striking similarity, palette-wise, to the snow scene by Grandma Moses above.
|Old Mountain ©1943 Milton Avery|
The painting immediately below is Grandma Moses, and below that, another Milton Avery which feels almost like an abstracted version of the Grandma Moses painting. So interesting that both drew me in!
|Mountain Meadow ©1960 Milton Avery|
|Indian Summer ©1904 Lorenzo Hatch|
|May Palmer ©1901 Frederick MacMonnies|
The real reason I photographed this painting was that I admired how simply he indicated the glittery sparkle of her jewels. Not that I'm a figure painter, but the same effect is sometimes needed in still life.
Looking closely at the woman's white dress in the insert below, you can see how non-white it actually is.
I sampled the dress color in Photoshop and the square of taupe is the same color as her dress in that area. Totally grey-brown. And yet, looking at the figure, it still reads as a white dress. That darker background is what allows the pearls and gold to shine in contrast. Voilà!
This painting is in the Bennington Museum's Gilded Age of Vermont exhibit, a lovely room in their permanent collection that includes furnishings as well as sensitive portraits by William Morris Hunt and trompe l'oeil by William S. Reynolds. If you are heading north for "leaf peeping" this fall you should put the Bennington Museum on your list of destinations. It's worth a visit.
Thanks for joining me on my painting journey.