Category Archives: Art reviews

On Cloisonnism – to make your paintings “pop…”

Vincent van Gogh‘s painting of “Père Tanguy” – done in what the French call Cloisonnism

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Donald TrumpI’m taking a break from doing posts on politics (As currently illustrated at right.)  Instead, this post will be on painting, as in oil painting and/or acrylic painting.  That’s what I do when I’m not working on my blogs.

I recently skimmed through the book, Van Gogh (Gramercy Great Masters), and ran across this on page 25.  It was about two paintings Van Gogh did in 1868:*

In the first of these, he used the technique of cloisonnism, the name of which was derived from a French word meaning “divided.”  This approach was typical of [Paul] Gauguin, but was also used by many Symbolist painters, and consisted of surrounding every object with a distinct outline.

Anyway, the basic idea is – as noted – to “surround every object” in the painting “with a distinct outline.”  And on the theme of great minds think alike, I thought to myself, “That’s what I’ve been doing!”  Or at least that’s an idea I’ve developed in my recent painting.

I’m 66 and semi-retired, and so can now spend my time on things I enjoy doing, rather than things I have to do to make a living.  I was a public defender for 24 years in Florida, but I was originally an art major.  (For my bachelor’s degree.)  But as graduation grew near I thought it would be better to major in something that would help me get a job.  (Rather than, “You want fries with that?”)  And ultimately I ended up in law school.

But I never totally gave up on my art.  The problem?  I wondered why my paintings always looked so blah, and – in the fullness of time – finally found out why.  I never outlined anything, so all the objects in my paintings pretty much blended together.

Gauguin Il Cristo giallo.jpgFor example, if you look closely at Van Gogh’s “Portrait of Pere Tanguy” – at the top of the page -you’ll see that Père* is surrounded by bright red outline.  Or – speaking of Paul Gauguin – you can see a much more exaggerated version in his The Yellow Christ (“one of the key works of Symbolism in painting.”)

Gauguin relies heavily on bold lines to define his figures…  The bold outlines and flatness of the forms in this painting are typical of the cloisonnist style.

And just as an aside, some sources say the word – “after the French for ‘partition'” – was a style of expressionism featuring large patches of bright color “enclosed within thick black outlines, in the manner of medieval cloisonné enamelling or stained glass.”  Also, “The word ‘Cloisonnism’ is used interchangeably with the term ‘Synthetism,'” although artists “like Gauguin did not use the thick black outlines which are the hallmark of cloisonnist paintings.”

Whatever          (But only in the sense that “it’s about time this post came to an end.”)  

So anyway, that’s what the French call Cloisonnism.  Which leads me to say,”Boy, those French have a fancy name for everything.”  Or as Professor Henry Higgins said in My Fair Lady, “The French don’t care what they do actually, as long as they pronounce it properly!”

Words of wisdom to live by…

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The upper image is courtesy of Portrait of Père Tanguy – Wikipedia.  Other sources – for paintings and text – include Cloisonnism: History, Characteristics – Art EncyclopediaArtworks by style: Cloisonnism – WikiArt.orgCloisonnism – Wikipedia, and 124 best Art – Cloisonnism images … Paul Gauguin.

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the two paintings Van Gogh did in 1868:  They were L’Arlésienne and Portrait of Armand Roulin.  (One of several versions.)

Re: Père.  According to Wiktionary, the term can mean either a “priest of the Roman Catholic Church, especially a French one,” or in the alternative the term is used “after a proper name that is common to a father and his son to indicate that the father is being referred to rather than the son; juniorfils.”  See also Père | Definition … by Merriam-Webster.

The lower image is courtesy of Rex Harrison: Professor Henry Higgins – IMDb.

“If you’re here from the art show…”

“If you’re from the art show,” you’ll probably want to find out if Ashley Wilkes was really a British spy, working with the likes of Conchita Montenegro? (She’s the one at left…) 

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

If you’re from the art show, you’ll probably want to check out The mysterious death of Ashley Wilkes.

There’s more on that post below, but first note that I modeled this blog on the Carolina Israelite.

That was a personal newspaper, done up by Harry Golden back in the 1940s and ’50s.  Harry was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (That’s another way of saying he told good stories.)

Which means if Harry was around today, “the Carolina Israelite would be done as a blog.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  He got older but didn’t turn sour, as so many seem to do these days.  He still got a kick out of life.

For that and more, he was considered a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals…”

Which is now my goal as well.

In the meantime:

Like I said, “if you’re here from the art show,” you’ll probably want to check out The mysterious death of Ashley Wilkes.  Which is being interpreted:

I just published a collection of posts from this blog.  The title comes from the [post] I did on September 1, The mysterious death of Ashley Wilkes … but first an explanation.  I’m an artist as well as a blogger, and there’s a big art show coming up in December.  But aside from showing off my works of art – mostly oil paintings – the show also presents a chance for me to get the word out on my two blogs, including this one.

See Introduction to “Ashley Wilkes.”  That’s another way of saying December 5 has come and gone.  (Or will have come and gone by the time most readers see this.)  That means my church’s December 5 Combination Art Show and Christmas Bazaar has come and gone as well.

art show 110This annual “Christmasy” event gave me a chance strut my stuff.  (In more than one sense of the word.)  Not only did it let me show some progress in my oil paintings – like the one at right – it also gave me the chance to “let the public know” about my blogs.

But getting back to Leslie Howard.  He played Ashley Wilkes in 1939’s Gone with the Wind.  Less than four years later his commercial airliner got shot down by eight Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88C6 fighters.

Under suspicious circumstances.  And 500 miles west of Bordeaux, over the Bay of Biscay, on a flight over supposedly-neutral waters from Lisbon to London.

Some said it was an accident of war.  Others said it was deliberate.  That German spies in Lisbon mistook Howard’s companion for Winston Churchill.  Or that Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels personally ordered the shoot-down.  (He called Howard “Britain’s most dangerous propagandist.”)  Yet another theory was that Howard was a British spy.

I wrote over 3,000 words on the mysterious death, many of them in footnotes and/or end-notes.  So for the full set of answers your best bet is to check the post yourself.

But note also that that post is just one of the “collection of posts from this blog.”

Others include “Johnny YUMA was a rebel,” and “When adultery was proof of loyalty.”  The first was about Nick Adams – who played Johhny Yuma – and how he too died mysteriously.  (At age 36, a mere seven years after the show ended.)  The other one led off with a painting of “Nell Gwynn, ‘the Protestant Whore,’ a favorite mistress of Charles II…”

art show 112So anyway, the main text of mysterious death ended with this:  “And some people think those were better and simpler times…”

That was pretty much the theme of Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited.  (That people “who ‘wax poetic’ on the Good Old Days usually forget what it was like actually living then.”)  But that post too ended on a positive note, “in the spirit of Harry Golden.”

The positive note was that: “Maybe these days today aren’t so bad after all…” 

So in that spirit of “accentuating the positive,” I’ll close this post by noting the oil painting above left, showing my “favorite grand-niece.”  (Or one of them anyway.)

And of course Ashley Wilkes, as shown below:


Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind trailer cropped.jpg

(“Ashley Wilkes,” anti-Nazi agitator?)

The upper image is courtesy of  Wikipedia added this:

Following a rare interview with [Conchita] Montenegro shortly before her death, Spanish author José Rey-Ximena claims that British actor Leslie Howard used her to get close to Spanish dictator Franco after being given the special mission by Winston Churchill.  She claimed that she used her husband’s influence to secure [the meeting with Franco]. “Thanks to him … Spain was persuaded to stay out of the war.”  (E.A.)

Re: “two blogs.”  My other blog is DOR Scribe – Expand your horizons – Read the Bible with an open mind.  Among other things, that blog explores the “mystical side of Bible reading.”

Re: positive outlook on life and/or “accentuating the positive.”  Referring to “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” the 1944 song written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

See also curveball, defined in part as a “particularly difficult issue, obstacle, or problem.”  The point being that life seems to have a habit of “throwing us curveballs.”  See also the alternate definition of dinosaur, assomeone who resists change or is old-fashioned.”

Re: “favorite great-niece.”  As with my seven grandchildren, the usual phrase in such circumstances would be “my favorite grandson named Joe,” to fully cover my bases and avoid showing partiality. Most of those grandchildren heard only the “favorite” part, and didn’t catch on to the “Joe” part until their teens.  (And keeping in mind of course that the “names were changed to protect the innocent.”) Accordingly, the “other favorite great-niece” shouldn’t take offense… 

The lower image is courtesy of sites including but not limited to

On leaving a legacy

An intense man with close cropped hair and red beard gazes to the left.

Vincent Van Gogh, who left an extensive legacy…


As I approach my 64th summer, the idea of leaving a legacy looms larger and larger.

Don’t get me wrong.  Even though I had to retire early (due to unforeseen circumstances), I’m enjoying the heck out of this not-having-to-go-to-work-every-day.  But I still want to leave something to future generations, even if it’s only some musings in a blog like this.

Your legacy is putting your stamp on the future.  It’s a way to make some meaning of your existence:   “Yes, world of the future, I was here.  Here’s my contribution, here’s why I hope my life mattered.”

See 4 Smart Ways To Leave A Legacy – Forbes, and also Quotes About Legacy – Goodreads, which included these:  “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.  A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”  Or consider this:

Our days are numbered.  One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day.  The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now?  The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.

That was by Bill Graham (1931-1991), the noted “impresario and rock concert promoter,” shown at left in 1974.  Then there are the “I write” quotes from Shannon L. Alder, which include these: “I write because God loves stories,” and “I write because one day I will be gone, but what I believed and felt will live on.”

Then too there are the closing lyrics to It Was A Very Good Year, the 1961 song first recorded by Bob Shane and The Kingston Trio, but later made famous “by Frank Sinatra‘s version in D-minor, which won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male in 1966:”

But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of my years
And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs, from the brim to the dregs
It poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year…

See also It Was a Very Good Year – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and for the audio-visual version, Frank Sinatra – It Was A Very Good Year (with lyrics on screen).

And just as an aside, this July I’ll be traveling to Hoboken, New Jersey.  It’ll mostly be a home-base for day trips to the Big Apple.  But Hoboken is also home to the Sinatra Museum (and/or birthplace), at 417 Monroe Street, and well worth a visit by itself.

But getting back to those closing lyrics…   Note that in 1966 – when he won the Grammy for Good Year – Frank was only 51 years old.  (A mere pup by present-day Baby boomer standards.)  So his saying both that his “days are short” and that he was – in 1966 – “in the autumn of my years” has turned out to be a huge anachronism, 49 years later.

(An anachronisim is among other things, a “chronological inconsistency.”  But see also Better Living Through Chemistry, a phrase originally designed to praise or promote new products like “chemicals and plastics,” but now often used to imply “the sarcastic criticism of the same.”)

So anyway…   To make a long story short, for us in the 64-YOA-and-up range, a better musical allegory might be The Best Is Yet to Come.  As Wikipedia noted, this was “the last song Sinatra sang in public, on February 25, 1995, and the words ‘The Best is Yet to Come‘” are etched on his tombstone.  (Which opens up a whole ‘nuther metaphoric can of worms:)

But we digress…

A vase on a table with about a dozen flowers of varying shades of yellow, tan and beige; a few at the top have darker centers and one on the left is greenGetting back to the theme of this column:  That theme is “on leaving a legacy,” exemplified by Frank Sinatra and – in an earlier age – Vincent Van Gogh.  (Of whom more below.)  In my case, the legacy I’m working on includes these blog-musings, and also my art; paintings in the oil and – more recently – acrylic genres.  (Of which more below.)

That legacy also includes things like pushing the envelope when it comes to the physical adventures still available to me, before I get too old and decrepity.  Adventures like last November’s eight-day primitive-camping canoe trip 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi.  (See On achieving closure and “I pity the fool!”)  And like hiking the Appalachian Trail, though in segments and not “the whole dang thing.”  (Of which more later this spring.)

Which brings up how John Steinbeck approached his “getting up in years.”  In Part Two of Travels with Charley, he noted men his age who – told to slow down –  “pack their lives in cotton wool, smother their impulses, hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood.”  (Men who “trade their violence for a small increase in life span.”)   But that wasn’t his way:

I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage…  If this projected journey should prove too much then it was time to go anyway.  I see too many men delay their exits with a sickly, slow reluctance to leave the stage.  It’s bad theater as well as bad living.

On the other hand I do want to make sure I stick around as long as I can, for reasons including the art legacy that I’ve only recently started getting up to speed on.

I’ve always wanted to paint, but only since retiring have I had the time to figure out the best artistic expression for me, “painting-wise.”  One thing I’ve learned is that – in a way – painting is like raising a kid.  You start out exercising near-total control, but – if you’ve done your job right – in the fullness of time the painting develops a life and character all it’s own.  Eventually you exercise less and less control, and instead watch it “blossom” before your eyes.

But again we digress…  I’ve always admired Vincent van Gogh and his unique style, which you can spot almost-literally a mile away.  And perhaps someday – if I do the job right in the time I have left – I too can leave behind an artistic legacy like his.  (Though I wouldn’t mind making a few shekels for myself in the process.)  Which brings up the fact that Van Gogh left a huge legacy – as noted – even though he died as poor as a church mouse:

In just over a decade he produced more than 2,100 artworks, including 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints…   Van Gogh’s works are among the world’s most expensive paintings ever sold…  [For example,] his Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear was sold privately in the late 1990s for an estimated US $80/$90 million.

Now that’s a legacy!!! guy who left a pretty good legacy…


The upper image is courtesy of Vincent van Gogh – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The Wikipedia caption is “Self-Portrait, Spring 1887, Oil on pasteboard.”  The caption from the link provided is:  “An intense man with close cropped hair and red beard gazes to the left.”  Wikipedia further noted:

Van Gogh’s works are among the world’s most expensive paintings ever sold…  Those sold for over US $100 million (today’s equivalent) include Portrait of Dr. Gachet,Portrait of Joseph Roulin, and Irises.   A Wheatfield with Cypresses was sold in 1993 for US $57 million, a spectacularly high price at the time, while his Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear was sold privately in the late 1990s for an estimated US $80/$90 million.

The Bill Graham image is courtesy of Bill Graham (promoter) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The “sunflower” image is courtesy of Vincent van Gogh – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the caption:  “Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, August 1888, Neue Pinakothek, Munich.”

The lower image is courtesy of, vis-a-vis the audio-CD original recording remastered and released in 2008.  For more on Frank Sinatra see the Wikipedia article, and/or (Frank)