Saturday, August 13, 2011


Hydrangea in a Japanese Vase
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 10" x 8", 2011

We are still on the coast of Maine, slowly making our way back. They call this "gunkholing",
putting in at one port after another. This painting however, began in Blue Hill. I arose early one morning and while my friend Bob was busy painting a watercolor I sketched this flower on a spare canvas I had. Beth and I are now in Cape Porpoise, near Gooserocks. The landscape here is a soft estuary, much different than "downeast". ( see week #19)


If red is passion and blood and yellow is clarity and intellect than blue is calming serenity and the spiritual.

Pol, Hermann or Jan Limbourg
May-Day Excursion, "Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry", 1410
Tempera on Vellum, 5" x 8"
Chantilly, Musee Conde

Along with pure gold, blue was the most costly color to use until the 18th Century. It was mainly acquired by grinding the semi-precious stones, azurite and lapis lazuli. When the old Duke of Berry commissioned the Flemish Limbourg Brothers to illustrate his prayer book he spared no expense. Along with lapis lazuli for the blue, malachite was ground to create the beautiful greens that adorn the noble women in this May Day jaunt. Because the book was mainly closed, the colors have remained as pure as when they were painted. That is very rare, many mistaken assumptions of color have been made without taking into account the destructive affects of light and atmosphere on paint.


We call it the sky. Sky blue suggests a certain abstract, remote majesty. It descends from its imperial neighbor, purple which represents immediate, concrete but temporal dominion.
Purple was only for the Emperor's toga, not mine. So blue was passed on to the Queen of Heaven as a symbol of maidenhood. In Christian iconography, Mary's color, one of dignity, spirit, and oddly, wealth.

Fra Filippo Lippi ( 1407-1469)
The Coronation of Mary
Santa Maria Assunta, Choir Apse
Spoleto, Italy

In Southern Umbria, lies the city of Spoleto, now famous for it's festivals and jazz concerts. If you find yourself there, go to Piazza de Liberte, grab a gelato and descend
to the Duomo, Santa Maria Asuunta, to see the most spectacular fresco
by my all time favorite painter / monk / father and overall ladies man, Filippo Lippi.
Here is lapis lazuli, gold leaf, malachite and vermillion all coming together in Lippi's last work. He died here at the age of 63, some say poisoned by enraged family members of a youg woman whom, let us say, he had interest in. He is buried here in the Duomo with this:

Here I, Filippo, the glory of painting, lie buried.
There is none who does not know of the extraordinary grace of my hand
with the fingers of an artist I managed to bring the colors to life
and for a long time to deceive those who hoped to hear them speak
even nature, which had found expression in my figures.
was amazed, and admitted that my art was equal to Hers.
Lorenzo de Medici placed me here in this marble tomb
where before I was covered with common dust.

copyright 2011 James Aponovich

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