Paint table today
I like painting horses but don't like painting cavalry, mostly because of all the fiddly bridles and horse furniture. I was going to get on with my Perry ACW cavalry horses today but then noticed my box of Mexican lancers looking a bit bare so thought that I could progress some of the horses of both at the same time, although it will slow the ACW cavalry down a lot. I will just be doing the horses on the Mexicans and will leave the riders until another time.
So here are the shaded coats of the chestnut contingent with three Union and two Mexican cavalry. The light is awful again and I struggled with these. I have decided to not go mad on the quality of these so am going to be rather impressionistic on the horses. That said, it is still five colour shading! Hopefully tomorrow I can do some of the bays, although the Old Bat has got the day off work and is going to make me go on a walk/jog (mainly walking, I suspect). I am encouraged by the progress on my much needed diet, although I haven't been so good the last two days, having succumbed to a reduced pork pie, egged (no it wasn't a gala pie) on by my daughter while out shopping for the weird (and expensive - they do frozen shiitake mushrooms?) vegetarian stuff she eats. it's alright for her, though as she is 5' 10" and weighs 7 stone 10lbs, despite eating like a horse. Never mind, I have been good again today and I have lost eight pounds since I got back from Liberia.
Today's inspirational wallpaper is of a non-American theme, Ariadne asleep on the island of Naxos (1815) but is by an American artist, John Vanderlyn. Vanderlyn, a New Yorker, was the first American artist to study in Paris and the first to have a painting accepted by the Paris Salon. This was really the first major nude by an American painter. Needless to say, when it was first displayed in America in 1815, its sensual approach caused controversy and as late as the 1890s, when it was firmly esconced in the Pennsylvania Academy's collection, there were protests against its "flagrant indelicacy" and calls for it to be removed from display. The Legatus saw this painting in the Pennsylvania Academy on a visit to Philadelphia (a city with a fine artistic tradition) a few years ago.
In artistic contrast I have been listening to an American inspired piece of music by a European composer; Dvorak's New World symphony. It is odd how some pieces of music become so familiar that you can't stand to listen to them any more (Beethoven's 6th, Mozart's Symphony Number 40, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto) but some remain fresh, despite repeated hearings. I never get tired of the New World, even though I have been listening to it for nearly half a century and it was one of the first five records (with Beethoven's 3rd, Revolver, Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt Pepper - all of which I still enjoy) I owned. I was given them by my aunt when she got married in 1968, as they were duplicates with her new husband's collection.
This piece reminds me of my days of doing ACW wargames with Arifix plastics and I used to play it when setting up my wargames board in the dining room. This always stressed my mother out as I manoeuvered two 7' by 3' 6" boards through the French windows onto her precious dining table. The version of the New World I had inherited was an old mono recording by Otto Klemperer which featured this painting, The Old Stage Coach by another American painter. Eastman Johnson (1824-1906). It is a very evocative piece and when looking at it on the glory of a 12" record cover it used to quite transport me (despite the lack of wheels).
Imagine how excited I was, when wandering around the Pennsylvania Academy the same day as I saw the Vanderlyn painting, to see this detailed oil sketch by Johnson of the same painting! Today, the version I have on CD is by George Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and it is one of the oldest CDs in my collection. Solti and the CSO are on their finest form and he conducts it as if it was a new and exciting work, not an old favourite. A fabulous recording! When I play it I can still smell the evergreen shrub clippings I used as trees as I built a version of Devil's Den from Gettysburg out of stones from the garden and lichen.