Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Chambered Nautilus
James Aponovich
oil on panel , 6" x 6", 2012

This is a study for a larger, upcoming painting. The shell has been sitting on a shelf in the studio for years and since I normally do not paint seashells, I never paid much attention to it. A few days ago, I took it down off the shelf and really examined it. I must paint this.
The Romanian sculptor Brancusi once said that the egg was the ideal shape (see week # 31). That may be true, but I feel that this shell may be the most beautiful shape. It's asymmetrical form is exquisite, the very embodiment of natural elegance and grace. As a realist, I paint the external surface of objects, but it is how they are composed internally that has always interested me. The shape of this shell is a result of an uneven growth sequence...a very precise uneven growth sequence.


Rectangle of the Whirling Squares
with Logarithmic Spiral

Rectangle of the Whirling Squares! Who says this stuff is boring?
Well, It's just another name for the good old Golden Section Rectangle that I have referred to in the past. But if you look at it, you will see that it is composed of squares, one after another, getting progressively smaller and smaller, dancing their way around....ad infinitum. Start adding squares and it gets larger and larger....it never ends. Progressive growth - same shape.
By drawing diagonals in all the squares and inscribing arcs I come up with a logarithmic spiral, or growth pattern for the chambered nautilus.

Copyright 2012 James Aponovich
All content is copyright James Aponovich and cannot be used or reproduced with express written permission.

Friday, February 17, 2012

WEEK # 47 / Still Life with Self Portrait

Still Life with Self Portrait
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 10" x 8", 2012

"I never was good looking
now I'm too old to let that get me down"

Chris Smither, singer songwriter

It had to happen, sooner or later I would have to face reality and deal with the self portrait. The last one I did was perhaps twenty five years ago. Good reason. This painting started as a farewell to the clementine orange, that little jewel from Spain and North Africa. They are now being replaced by an impostor from California appropriately called "cuties". A sales pitch.
Anyway, I decided to include a portrait of me impaled on a 'frog', a barbed florist stand ment to stick flower stems onto. I keep one next to my easel with a reproduction
of a painting, A Portrait of a Man by Hans Memling. I did not want to copy Memling so I painted a reproduction of another man....me.


"......repurposed material folded into larger questions of identity, history, culture and the cult of self."
This is a portion of a review of an artist's show that was published in The New York Time last year. Cult of self? I called my art savvy Boston dealer, Dana Salvo, and asked him to translate that sentence from 'artspeak' to English. He told me not to worry about it.

The Artist In His Studio
oil on panel, 10" x 12", 1628
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


I am often asked which artist is my favorite. That is a difficult question to answer but I would come down on the side of Rembrandt. His humanity, piety and outstanding technical ability puts him on top. I have chosen two self portraits out of the hundreds that he did in his life. Both are in relatively close proximity to me, one in Boston, the other in New York. This small painting shows Rembrandt at the age of twenty two in the full act of painting. He has stepped back from the easel and like a swordsman is about to lunge forward and attack that painting with his brush. His future all before him.

Self Portrait
oil on canvas, 52" x 40", 1658
The Frick Collection, NY

Here sits the Master some thirty years later. He is fifty two and has just lost everything he acquired from his illustrious career. His house and belongings were sold to pay off his debts. He is broke, out of work, and out of fashion. Yet, he says to himself, screw it! I am a painter. So he paints one of the greatest portraits of all time. He is a King and portrays himself accordingly, the black eyes stare at you with the accumulated wisdom of triumph and tragedy. He died at my current age, broke.
Sixteen years later in Germany a child is born who was to bring to music what Rembrandt to painting......Johann Sebastian Bach.

Copyright 2012 James Aponovich
Content and Aponovich images are copyright 2012 J. Aponovich and can only be used with written permission.

Friday, February 10, 2012

WEEK # 46 / Moonrise Over the Gulf of Maine

Moonrise Over the Gulf of Maine
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 10" x 13", 2012

I am very fortunate to live relatively close to the seacoast. Sometimes, particularly in winter I feel the need to wash my eyes clean with the blue of the sea and sky. I have written before about painting on the coast of Maine but now Beth and I are in New Castle, New Hampshire, just east of Portsmouth. ( click on: Aponovich and Johansson, At Home and Away )
We habitually sketch, not always to create art but to train our eyes, minds and hands to, as Beth puts it "organize space". That is the primary role of composition. Be mindful however, that we are always on the lookout for that situation where everything comes together....
...it's right in front of you.

Sketch, Moonrise
James Aponovich
Pencil on paper, 4.5" x 6", 2012


After a long day of looking at drawing sites in Southern Maine, we returned to New Castle and there it was, an outcropping of granite and basalt at high tide. Come two hours later and it completely changed. But for now, for me, this was as basic as it gets. Rock, both in the sea as granite and in the sky as the moon, and water, the sea and clouds. The rocks were leviathan like emerging from a primordial sea. This was earth for billions of years.
The sketch probably took me about twenty minutes to do, but it was enough information. The sea was an electric blue, ice cold, not a Mediterranean sapphire. The rocks were wet and black but the last fading rays of the sunset barely cast a warm light on the very top. The rocks were the fulcrum of sun and moon. The moment was out of time. This is why we always return to the coast, the rhythm of the tide and the screech of the gull is embedded in us.

Coming up next week: Let Me Introduce Myself

All content copyright James Aponovich and cannot be used without permission
copyright 2012 James Aponovich

Saturday, February 4, 2012

WEEK # 45/ Roadside Pansies

Roadside Pansies
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 14" x 14", 2012


Today is February 5th, the first Sunday of the month. About two months ago we decided to host a dinner party for friends of ours from New York who are returning ( they being "summer folk" here) to their Hancock home for a world premier. You see, Robert O., formerly a writer for Jim Henson's Sesame Street, now retired , has taken up the pen and scripted the lyrics to an operetta totally based on the local police log, aptly titled "Police Log".
A month ago it occurred to me that this day could be what is now an unofficial National holiday called Super Bowl Sunday, and the fact that New England and New York are combatants, it's a huge day around here. I say, fare forward fans for I declare this day the Super "O" Bowl in honor of our guests the Oksners! So, I am busy in the kitchen.


Seeing that New England is in the Northeastern corner of this hemisphere, winter comes early and leaves late. The joke is that there are a couple of months out of the year when the skiing is not too good. That means we are always on the look out for signs of Spring.
I was searching for a particular plant for the great "Appledore" painting, that is on my easel. We stopped into a sprawling roadside plant place , it holds the distinction for being open 365 days a year and for having free popcorn. What's not to like. As we pulled in there were racks of pansies outside....in January! I couldn't find what I was looking for, but upon returning home I kept thinking of those pansies. The next day I returned and also discovered, amongst the garden stuff, the Chinese porcelain balls. I could not wait to start the painting. The point is you never know where a painting will pop up, so keep your eyes open, it could be right in front of you.