11/16/14 Jacob Van Ruisdael / by Philip Tarlow

my favorite 17th c. dutch landscape painter is jacob van ruisdael. if you've ever been to the netherlands, you will recognize these distinctive clouds. he is a painter's painter in that his handling of oil paint is unparalleled: very painterly and fluid. the painting below is a perfect example of his handling of light in the painting; that fugitive ray makes it all come alive. his way of including ruins always touches me and seems more than simply descriptive. this is where an appreciation of the history of art makes the difference between a "pretty landscape" and appreciating it for what it is: a masterfully executed composition, beautifully painted, bordering on the immediacy of plein air painting.

I completed transferring the drawing of best left unsaid 11 to the canvas this morning, and am ready to start painting tomorrow morning. as always, i'll give you periodic glimpses into my process, with two or three shots of the stages of this new painting. we have dinner guests, so i'm going to leave the studio early and help mikela prepare.

in case you don't want or are too lazy to scroll down & see the photo upon which this new painting will be based, i'm inserting it below the ruisdael. the girl in the chair in the green jacket is one of about 15 middle school kids who mikela gave the assignment of wandering the school  in search of the perfect spot to present their project in may. many of them don't know yet what the project will be, and some have unrealistic projects like finding a cure for ebola. the ideal was, to use the space as a trigger for for discovering or going deeper with what their project might look like in 6 months. as with the rest of the best left unsaid series, this painting will have "unfinished" bits, creating pregnant spaces and gestural brush marks reminding the viewer that this is not a painting of a girl in a chair. ceci n'est pas une pipe!

An Extensive Landscape with Ruins. 1665-1675 (?). oil on canvas. 34 × 40 cm (13.4 × 15.7 in). London, National Gallery.