Happy New Year! How would you like to start 2023 in a new, creative way?
Every Wednesday and Saturday, we will be posting an installment of our book, Through an Artist’s Eyes: Learning to Live Creatively offering you a pathway to art and the vision of the artist. Enabling you to develop your own inner creativity and apply it to the personal cycle of everyday living!
II. The Journey to Art
The Art of Contemplation, Part 3 (continued from February 15)
Artistic Companion: Frederic Church (1826-1901)
Today, just a few hours outside New York City, the Hudson River Valley is still one of the most scenic parts of the United States, preserved for both its beauty and its contributions to American cultural heritage. Here, beginning some two hundred years ago, Frederic Church and his fellow Hudson River School painters lived and worked inspired by the breathtaking panorama of literally their own backyards. A place of spacious river views and rising mountains, the valley is often spectacular when colored by the crisp reds and oranges of autumn.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1826, Frederic Church moved to the Hudson River Valley when still a teenager to study with Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School movement. From Cole, the young Church learned how to interpret the natural world around him, particularly those dramatic moments of transformation such as sunrise and sunset. Precocious as an artist, Church quickly attained fame, renowned for his crowd-pleasing landscapes, depicting not only the Hudson River area, but more exotic sites in South America and the Arctic region. But he always returned to his beloved Hudson River where he built a home, Olana, a combination of Oriental palace and medieval fortress, that still towers over the local terrain.
What is a Frederic Church?
Almost always landscapes, photographic, even cinematic in quality, Church’s paintings instantly draw you into a realm of endless horizons. But it is the sky that dominates his paintings, no matter the locale, from the Andes Mountains to the Arctic Circle to the heart of the American wilderness. Few artists have portrayed as expressively the many stages of the sunset, from the initial fading light to the multi-colored climax to twilight.
The other Hudson River School painters also created on a grand scale, seeking to immortalize the vastness of the New World. The first environmental artists, they began by painting the Northeast, then spread across the country to the West, capturing such unforgettable monuments of the American wilderness such as Yellowstone Falls and Yosemite Valley.
Two other Hudson River School painters were Thomas Cole (1801-1848) who painted the Hudson River, the Catskill Mountains, the Adirondack Mountains, and the White Mountains in New Hampshire; and Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), who depicted the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite Valley, and sites in Alaska.
The Hudson River School Gallery
Twilight in the Wilderness, 1860, oil on canvas, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
You are alone with nature. The intense, even violent red of the setting sun fills the heavens, creating an otherworldly realm, timeless and enduring.
Memories and feelings flow unchecked, transporting you to a new level of consciousness. Is it joy you experience? Peace? Or a general sense of happiness? Or is it the freedom to reflect?
Frederic Church was praised for his depictions of famous places such as Niagara Falls and the Andes Mountains. The site of Twilight in the Wilderness is not known, although it is probably somewhere in the Northeast section of the United States. Painted in the early years of America’s nationhood, the picture represents the still pristine and undeveloped environment, a symbol of the country’s future promise.
COMING NEXT: CREATIVE ROUTINES
Copyright 2010: Joan Hart, Museum One, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented including photocopying, recording and information storage and retrieval without permission from the publisher.