Monday, May 26, 2008

orange Goltzius circa 1592-1601

first self portrait came from a Internet blog on Artnet 

third portrait is from a Museum in Holland. 

Here are three portraits. The first two are identified as self portraits of Hendrik Goltzius done in three color chalks and some watercolor added to the first one. The last portrait is not proven to be of H. Goltzius but was marked as a possibly him. It was painted in 1601 by Cornelius Ketel  of a man who looks very much like Hendrik. This great orange beard and lovely white ruffs are a delight to see but what do you think? Are all three the same guy? The painting was done nine to eleven years after the drawings and there is a resemblance but I think the nose looks different and the eye brow seems a bit different and the hair line is clearly very different. Was that the style to shave off a widows peak? Or could it have fallen out? Hendrik lived from 1558 to 1617 so in 1601 he would have been 43 and fair haired guys sometimes loose a lot of hair by that age. In any case his red orange beard is as lovely and potent as it ever was if this is indeed him in the 1601 portrait. I bet that turned a nice soft white soon after this was done who ever he was. Check out the Gotlzius 2003 exhibition which is still on the met's website of his masterful engravings and drawings. Leave a comment to let me know if you think Heindrik Goltzius with the orange beard is the guy in the painting. If you find other red beards send them my way and many thanks to Cor in Rotterdam for his help on this post with those links and pictures.  


Saturday, May 24, 2008

being out in the garden

Today after doing my morning pages out in the garden and taking a few snapshots, I find I am delighted with much and have a desire to share it with you.  I wonder if showing pictures really imparts anything? I wonder if the picture lay out is too far from the text to illuminate the narrative? I don't know if I am using all the tools I could be, to make these pictures really speak what I want them to relay. I have a ritual of writing in long hand on three blank pages my first thoughts of the day. I like to do this in the garden in good weather at a table I bought with this in mind for our small back yard. I usually write in mid morning before the sun gets over the roof top to bake the back yard. It is also a good time to see the flowers and photograph before the light gets too strong and contrast disrupts detail. I don't always get my pictures that early.
I take great joy in sitting watching the birds and listening to their songs and identifying which bird is singing what song. Where they are nesting in the area and considering their interactions. For years I have been interested in the house wren for its small size and odd habit of holding it's little tiny tail erect in the air at a right angle to the rest of it's body. I also like it's clear and loud song. I was delighted some years ago while visiting  home in Manassas to discover they took to a small house I had mounted on a big beech tree. That is when I got to know more about this bird and it's habits. I also learned that they nest in houses with small openings to protect their brood and babies from invaders. They also like a cleared out house for spring so I dutifully emptied all the old nest materials out of that bird house in Manassas until it was worn out by time to make it useless. Then I began here in DC to try growing bird house gourds. I got a nice crop the first year and saved and dried them out and in spring cut a hole about the size of a quarter and began the work of cleaning out the seeds and spraying a coating on the gourd to protect it from further rotting in the spring rains. I hung three the first year in various places in our back yard. None very high because there was no place to mount a gourd up high. We have a dying lilac shrub in our yard right in front of the trash cans about ten feet tall. Those thick old wooden trunks seemed to me a good place so I mounted two there and one over by the fence in a small red Japanese maple only about six feet tall. Soon a house wren came to inspect the gourds and began work collecting twigs to fill the gourds. He worked (seems to me the male builds the nest) then a female came and inspected all three gourds she didn't like any of them and left only coming back a couple times to double check. This is part of the drama that unfolds as I am sitting writing my morning pages in the garden each spring. That first year no eggs were laid and no babies born in our trees houses but last year 2007 something clicked and the female chose a gourd right next to the trash and sidewalk that was larger than the other gourds. She laid eggs and raised 3 young house wrens. I delighted each morning to go see the progress. Watched both adults feed and guard the nest. Laughed as the chicks were big enough and hungry enough to hang their little heads out of the quarter sized opening to yell for food! Soon after that everyone departed on wing and I only saw them once or twice more in the yard. This year I made a new gourd and saved the old one and hung them both in the lilac tree. A male house wren has returned and a female has inspected several times. I don't know if there is going to be a brood this year. Seems like something up the street may be more to her liking. I went all out and made that new house too. Sad but it is still fun to wait and watch as this new soap opera unfolds. here are some good pictures of the house wren. A female cow bird tried to get in the house the other morning and the wren chased it off. They lay eggs in other birds nests and then come back to extort the raising of their chicks by other species I think. The threat of raid and destruction of the host birds babies is the motivation for the hostess to treat the cow bird babies as her own. I have never seen brown-headed cow birds in our alley. This morning I saw the male and female so they are in the area hunting for a suitable home for cow bird babies. Sparrows, robins, starlings, mocking birds are common in my yard. Cardinals, blue jay, woodpeckers, crows and sometimes a hawk come by too but so far no nesting in our garden. 
Another delight is to grill in the evenings and wait sometimes at dusk a lonely bat will buzz the yard round and round the big choke cherry tree it flies looking for bugs. You see right at the edge of the table in my photo the old Weber round grill. We have another bird that is called a chimney swift that also flies high above the houses catching bugs all day and evening. They have a distinct chirping call and only alight at night to roost in chimneys and clinging to bricks like bats do in the day. I wish there were more birds and more of each type. Only one bat is pretty sad and the chimney swifts number about four or five in view from our garden. I have two bird baths to encourage drinks and bathing and we chose some plants and trees that some birds really love. The choke cherries draw numerous  northern mockingbirds, many American robins and a few common grackles with their yellow eyes and iridescent blue/green black feathers when the cherries are ripe. Tropicana floribunda rose is a perch next to one bird bath and it was chosen for it's startling bright orange color! Starlings and sparrows seem to bath and drink more than any of the other birds in my bird baths. Smaller birds go to the trays under my bonsai trees for a more protected place to drink if it is holding any water. Lastly this time of year the sky is so blue and the clouds so soft and bright against the new green leaves. I look back at the other yards in our block of apartments and we have the only garden. Every other building has cut lawns and at best a couple shrubs well healed. There is one other feature in our alley way that stands above all others. The enormous oak tree in the middle of the block. It must be big enough to require at least two big men to hug it in unison and it stands three or four times the height of the two story apartment buildings. It is so big I haven't found a way to photograph it in it's entirety. If I do I will post. You see the profile of the giant oak tree in the photo of the long line of yards to the south of our garden. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

breath of fresh air

Greenpeace just came out with this new ad. I came across it on and I am very inspired after watching. Take a look, it is short and to the point, without being preachy. Oceans and those little creatures: phytoplanktons, who don't get much credit, give us oxygen and soak up tons of C2O. The world's rain forests are not the only set of lungs for planet earth.
Try it out, breath in, breath out it is very relaxing....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

gardens and galleries

Another part of my week was going to the museums with my partner Keith and alone to a lecture on Sunday. Two trips to the National Gallery of Art, NGA  in a week are a lot for me but I have not been in months so it was welcome time in my favorite DC Museum. One of my favorite things about the NGA besides the art and the shops is the food. They have a good selection of foods and a great desert counter. Keith and I both couldn't resist a nice slice of chocolate cake as you can see above with our sandwiches. Then we dove into the In the Forest of Fontainebleue exhibition and soaked up a lot of lovely landscapes and big oak and beech trees. The NGA also has an excellent website where you can see a few of the paintings and photographs from the exhibition. Look here on the exhibition page for the exhibition feature and enjoy some digital peeks. It is only open for till June 8th so if you want to see those great forest photos and paintings in person you better move quickly. There is also a huge exhibition of recent acquisitions to the prints and drawings collection that spans the medieval to modern eras. Too much for one trip we discovered about half way through the drawings. Watercolors, pastels, book illustrations were also included in the show which really is a works on paper collection that only excludes photographs. The lecture I attended was on a single painting in Christ church oxford by an Italian master A. Carracci "Butcher Shop" was painted in 1580 in Boglonga, Italy and the lecture detailed many interesting stories about the painting the painter and his family of brothers who all helped run a family painting business and eventually opened an academy of art. We had a lot of rain lately but the garden is still looking great. The clipping of our meadow style grassy areas last week was such an improvement it is hard to believe they left it to grow for so long. We have lovely hostas in shades of fresh greens, iris, and a few roses. The siberian iris came to full bloom this week as the bigger german bearded iris finished their last blooms in our yard. To add a second chance for the house wrens to nest I finished up a second gourd with some green paint and shinny acrylic spray and hung it in the old lilac tree. We also lost all the normal colors on our old TV so now I have to find a new HDTV to replace it and that task has become a real head ache... 

orange beards

I have a great pen pal in Rotterdam, Netherlands named Cor, and he sends emails and all sorts of delights many times in each week. He recently sent me a report on a field trip with some of his friends which he calls "elderlies" who mostly traveled in wheelchairs. They had planned to go to the famous Keukenhof  to see flowers but due to some problem insted they went to Euromast a huge tower that over looks all Rotterdam, a park by the Boijmans art museum and then to the art museum. While on this trip, as is his thoughtful way, Cor took lots of pictures to retell the story of his field trip and he slipped in a little something extra just for me which is posted above. It  is a portrait of a Dutch golden age man with a big bright orange beard! The label says this guy might be one of my Dutch artist heros Hendrick Goltzius who did amazing detailed drawings and engravings. This portrait is painted by Cornelis Ketel in 1601 but I guess there is some doubt if it is actually Goltzius. In any case Cor knows I love orange hair and the golden age paintings from Holland... so this guy with his ruff collar and that long pointed orange beard was a great surprise and a great gift. Thanks Cor! 

Thursday, May 15, 2008

brooks' innocent by stander

This afternoon I watched the new short film interview of Scott Brooks via the Internet! I have been a devotee of Scott's figure work for many years now watching and being inspired. I have been over to visit his studio many times in the afternoons when others are at work and we have time to look over the paintings and drawings he creates at home in his North West DC studio. I always am amazed at his ability to draw the figure fast and accurately. It is always fun  when he comes to my figure drawing group to see him in action. Scott exudes confidence with his ability to draw and paint. This film shows work from his current show "Under the Skin" at Longview Gallery on 9th St. NW here in DC which Keith and I visited on Saturday just before the opening began. I am really partial to the one painting of a model I believe I introduced to Scott,which is titled Innocent by Stander. Birds and Bees being endangered and the environmentalist Jon as the model with his handsome red/blonde beard! It is one of my favorite paintings by Brooks. The wide eye look is a Brooks trademark stylization and it always amazes me how he can distort the eyes and still get a likeness. 
You can see the movie of Scott talking about his work and painting below.

Scott Brooks - Under the Skin from Brandon Bloch on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

may begins with iris

This has been a busy week much of which was swallowed up by a virus I caught that kept me in bed for the past 3 days. I won't bore you with the details but it was debilitating and I am very happy it is past. Before the illness, I had the pleasure of a nice spring walk in my neighborhood and I took along the camera to capture a few sights that I knew would be worth recording. Iris are in bloom in our yard and all around town. I love the old fashioned lavender blues that seem to be everywhere in old Washington, DC and they came out around the beginning of May. We have a nice stand of them here in our yard that were here when we moved in to this apartmen. It was my delight because many I had rescued from a lot in dead of winter years ago were lost over the years due to dogs and the other homes I have left behind. I love them because of the delicate color and the wonderful scent which perfumes the air. It is a very fruity sweet smell that reminds me a little of grape soft drinks and is a little more sweet in this old variety than in the larger variety called german bearded iris. I was visiting a neighbor a couple weeks back who had just transplanted a big patch of old purple iris in his yard to stand along his fence and he offered me a few of the left over iris he didn't find room to plant in his new landscape. I hope to drop by and pick them up today. I also had a delight this week just before all the spring rains that have been falling while I have been sick, which was the first blooms on my gift from another neighbor on 12th Street. I was out walking one summer day two years ago and found the gardener of one of my favorite corner gardens in Brookland outside at work. She had just had a new garage shed built and had dug up a bunch of her fence plantings to make way for the bigger building. I stopped to admire her garden. She mentioned that she had no time to replant the stuff that she dug up and if I wanted some of them I was welcome to take them. I did and now they have finally bloomed. Pure white iris and I took a few to my mother who also has blooms out in Virginia this week. The other plants were day lilies she said were orange but as I found out the first summer after transplanting them they were pink and a lovely cadmium yellow deep. I will have pictures of those when they come back later this year. I had some bad news this week too besides me getting sick my father went back to hospital with more seizures and was sent home pretty fast. He is now bedridden and mother is trying to find a way to get him back on his feet and finally reaching out to the local service for the aging in their community. I think my father loves iris as much as I do but for different reasons I am sure. I was amazed once years ago he ordered a box of about 36 different iris tubors and we ended up setting them out together in a new iris bed we created just for them alone in full sun. It was a long wait for the flowers but after a couple years we had a lovely display of full size german bearded iris of many colors. It was like a patchwork quilt of colors. Some bloomed earlier than others. I have a few I bought sitting on my back porch in water hoping to bring them back to live and get them in the ground this week. There are red and orange which are new colors we found last fall but never got in the ground here before the winter cold came. Another iris story that comes to mind is when in the mail I recieved a box full of iris from France! My pen pal and friend from Holland who gardens at his retreat in the mountains of southeastern France sent me some of his pretty blue german bearded iris.  It took two years but we got a beautiful bloom on them last spring. This year many of them are gone but one survived and is blooming from these and I hope they will recover from something that hit them last summer. The excitement about that shipment of iris was we found out the next time he tried to send me live plants from Holland that it is not permitted by customs to send your friends any kind of plant material in the mail. His next shipment was delayed opened and all the plants were removed and a bunch of papers inserted and stamps put on the package explaining what they did to the box.  So I cherish the one iris plant that I have left from that first gift. There is a color of iris I call root beer I found in a garden near by that I also posted taken last spring. It is one of my favorites colors for the dark warm tones that don't show up well in photos. If you know anyone with these I would love a transplant for our beds.