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Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Paintings

Rain in the City, Stanislav Sidorov
Several years ago, long before anyone had really invented blogging (or at least long before they started calling it that) I was sending out daily biographical and art history items to a mailing list of painters called Paint-L. I never did find out what the "L" stood for, but in any case, it was a lot of fun putting together little three-paragraph blurbs (no pictures allowed in those days) for my friends and fellow painters to read, sometimes laugh at, comment upon, and sometimes berate me for something I said with which they didn't agree. I guess I was in the mood for revenge, so one April first I wrote up a biographical piece on a totally fictitious artist. I've searched high a low, even under my computer but I've not been able to locate it. At any rate, not one of the thirty or forty members of the mailing list questioned the validity of my "Artyfact," even though I'd left several clues as to why they should. Days later, when I "fessed-up" to my little April Fools ruse we all got a good laugh out of it, but from then on, my days of unquestioned reliability as an art history expert were over.
Can you find all the errors in Rockwell's paintings?
The upper painting has 57 errors to search for.
I think I could safely say, the single greatest practitioner of April Fools art would have to be Norman Rockwell. His April Fools Day Saturday Evening Post covers were anticipated year after year starting in 1943, though actually, he did only three, 1943, 1945, with the final one appearing April 3, 1948. Rockwell deliberately painted "mistakes" into his April Fools Day paintings then asked his fans (and there were millions of them) to find all the errors. Some people even found errors Rockwell didn't intend to be errors.
Easter Morning, April, 1961, Norman Rockwell
I was too young to remember any of Rockwell's April first covers at the time, but one April Post cover I do recall had to do with Easter (above). Titled Easter Morning, it's dated April, 1961. I would have been fifteen by that time. America was a different place back then. Rockwell's subtle dig was a masterpiece of color choices, light, but dull outfits on mom and the kids, as well as the rest of the scene in general, but a bright, glaring, sinfully red robe on dad.
The Empty Tomb
Of course April Fools Day is not the primary April holiday and most Easter art is considerably less humorous than Rockwell's little parade. One of the most subtle, yet striking Easter paintings I came across is titled The Empty Tomb (above), though in fact, there seem to be several slightly different versions of it by several slightly different artists. Normally I'd choose the most likely attribution as the original, but in this case, the scene and it's spiritual implications, relegates the artists to the realm of "what matter does it make?" My own "Resurrection Day" creation is below, a triptych titled The Death, Burial, and Resurrection. It dates from April, 1999.
Copyright, Jim Lane
The Death, Burial, and Resurrection, 1999, Jim Lane.
Easter Bunny Rabbit, Royce McClure.
Can you find the hidden Easter egg?
April also means spring, which has different associative images depending upon ones age and outlook. April Movement (below), a 2012 watercolor by Joseph Raffael, is kind of an adult vision of spring in an Abstract Expres-sionist mode. April is usually though of as bringing showers as seen in Rain in the City (top), by Stanislav Sidorov. April showers may bring May flowers, but they also usher in a broad variety of April flowers too, as seen in Royce McClure's Easter Bunny Rabbit (left).

Copyright Jim Lane
April Fifteenth, 1974, Jim Lane.
At least the cat stayed awake.
And finally, parked right smack in the middle of April is everyone's least favorite holiday, April 15th (if you're an American, that is). This date has a great impact on my April in that my wife works as a tax preparer for H & R Block. That is to say, I get my wife back after some four months of "Hi and Bye." I've done two paintings on the subject. April Fifteenth (above), and a second painting by the same title featuring a father and his pre-school-age son hovering over their receipts and 1040s. Unfortunately, the color is so washed out in the only slide I have of the long-ago-sold painting as to make it unpresentable.


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