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Paintings Old and New

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

One of the incredible gifts of the Internet is being able to correspond daily with artist friends who might otherwise be seen once every three to five years. My dear friend Debby Kaspari of Norman, Oklahoma, is one such treasure. She sent me a link to a web site featuring Frederic Remington's amazing nocturnes.

These paintings just take my breath away. Part of their appeal is the limited palette, dictated by low light. But most of it, I think, is that the center of interest of the painting--that to which the subjects' attention is drawn--is usually out of the frame. What a concept!

Remington was unusual in his time for relying heavily on photography for reference. It shows, a little, especially in the uncanny accuracy of his skinny horses and Indian ponies. But the painter's skill and subtlety override the photographic aspect of his work.

Debby's work is amazing; her field sketches from Panama rival anything I've seen. Such a natural draughtsman; her line is free and bold and her grasp of form irreproachable. Not only that, but she's a top-flight banjo player, great singer, and all-around amazing human being.

Such are the blessings of having your friends at your fingertips.


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