Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog. It's a journal of sorts. It gives me a place to show my work-in-progress for my painting and photography. Comments are welcome --- add one at the end of an entry or email me at BarbBlumer@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Winston Churchill was a Painter

Did you know Winston Churchill was a painter?  I didn't until I ran across his little book, Painting as a Pastime,  last week in a used bookstore. 

He wrote the book -- it's really just an essay --- to describe the joy he derives from painting and why it came into his life at a time when he needed it most --- as an escape from the pressures of his life as a civil servant.  It was written in 1932. 

I came across his words just at the right time.  I needed to remember why I love to paint ---and to forget all the politics and pressure that come along with showing what you paint.  Here are excerpts from his book which struck a chord with me. 

A Vase of Flowers by Winston Churchill

"Everyone knows the feelings with which one stands shivering on a spring-board, the shock when a friendly foe steals up behind and hurls you into the flood, and the ardent glow which thrills you as you emerge breathless from the plunge."

The Blue Room, Trent Park, exhibited at The Royal Academy, 1948

"Just to paint is great fun.  The colours are lovely to look at and delicious to squeeze out.  Matching them, however crudely, with what you see is fascinating and absolutely absorbing.  Try it if you have not done so, before  you die.  As one slowly begins to escape from the difficulties of choosing the right colours and laying them on in the right places and in the right way, wider considerations come into view.  One begins to see, for instance, that painting a picture is like fighting a battle; and trying to paint a picture is, I suppose, like trying to fight a battle.  It is, if anything, more exciting than fighting it successfully.  But the principle is the same.  It is the same kind of problem as unfolding a long, sustained, interlocked argument."

The Goldfish Pond at Chartwell, exhibited at The Royal Academy, 1948

"And I had lived for over forty years without ever noticing any of them [colors and details in the landscape] except in a general way, as one might look at a crowd and say, 'what a lot of people!"" 

 "I think this heightened sense of observation of Nature is one of the chief delights that  have come to me through trying to paint." 

St. Jean, Cap Ferrat
"The whole world is open with all its treasure.  The simplest objects have their beauty.  Every garden presents innumerable fascinating problems.  Every land, every parish, has its own tale to tell.  And there are many lands differing from each other in countless ways, and each presenting variants of colour, light, form and definition.  Obviously, then, armed with a paint-box, one cannot be bored, one cannot be left at a loose end, one cannot "have several days on one's hands."  Good gracious!  what there is to admire and how little time there is to see it in!"

"One cannot go back day after day without the picture getting stale.  the painter must choose between a rapid impression, fresh and warm and living, but probably deserving only of a short life, and that cold, profound, intense effort of memory, knowledge and will-power, prolonged perhaps for weeks, from which a masterpiece can alone result.  It is much better not to fret too much about the latter.  Leave to the master of art trained by a lifetime of devotion the wonderful process of picture-building and creation.  Go out into the sunlight and be happy with what  you see. "

"Even if you cannot portray it as you see it, you feel it, you know it, and you admire it for ever....The painter wanders and loiters contentedly from place to place, always on the look out for some brilliant butterfly of a picture which can be caught and set up and carried safely home." 

  --- Winston Churchill