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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August Paintings.

There was a time when August was water-cooled.
Now we rely on Freon.
Over the past few months, as I've presented on the first day of each month what I call calendar art minus all those bothersome numbers on each double-page spread, I've relied primarily on holidays, landscapes, and weather related paintings for the bulk of some really outstanding art by a number of artists both living and dead. Today, though, I'm up against a month that has no legal holidays. Thus I'm treating every day of August as a holiday, even though, as I pointed out last month, considerably more people take their "holidays" (as the Europeans call vacations) in the month of July. In thinking about it, I'm wondering if that's because August is just to damned HOT to venture out into the sunny great outdoors when we now have air-conditioners to solve that problem. It used to be that our forefathers and foremothers packed up the kids and headed for the cooling breezes of the mountains or the northern seashores of Maine and Canada. Now, thanks to air-conditioning, they head for Florida and Mr. Disney's cooling breezes.

 Fountain Frolic, John Jaster
Quite apart from air-conditioning, August has three iconic elements which make it bearable. Water (and lots of it), ice cream (best consumed rapidly), and baseball (best enjoyed leisurely from the shady side of the stadium. We've already exposed water for what it is...uhh...wet and refreshing. Ice cream is wet and refreshing too, but also sweet and creamy which makes it far better than plain water, even in vastly smaller quantities. Artist Jim Daly (below) reminds us that this proverbial summer treat has been around for quite some time, long before the Good Humor man or Mr. Softee hit the streets.

Ice Cream Peddler, Jim Daly
And of course, what would August be without Norman Rockwell reminding us that ice cream may also have a rather messy downside. It would appear that Rockwell's teen paramour has a problem on his hands. However, whether he realizes it or not, he also holds the solution in his hands--eat the damned stuff, and the sooner the better.

Melting, Norman Rockwell.
I think it would be safe to say that Norman Rockwell adored the summer months. One of his earliest Saturday Evening Post covers, dates all the way back to 1921 when beating the head by hitting the water did not involve lifeguards, chlorine, snack bars, or necessarily (for boys at least) proper swimming attire. It did, from time to time though, involve a daring willingness to ignore signs, not to mention a certain degree of embarrassment.

No Swimming, 1921, Norman Rockwell.
At the time, all Post covers were printed
using only red and black inks.
Inasmuch as Rockwell seems to have covered both the classic August topics of ice cream and skinny dippin', let me submit coverage of the other national summer pastime, seen below in a painting I did some thirty-six years ago, which I titled The Outfielders (below). I'd try submitting it to the Post but they're focus is now a health and medicine; and they no longer use art work on their covers. (Also, I sold it many years ago.)

Copyright, Jim Lane
The Outfielders, 1979, Jim Lane
August also reminds us that there's much more to baseball than outfield bleachers and grown men playing with a ball and a lethal club made of ash, oak, or maple. In case no one has noticed, kids like baseball too, starting with something called T-ball, where the outfielders have been known to sit down and play in the dirt, or perhaps (as our son did one time), gather dandelions. From there I think it's called "pigeon league," then little league, and finally "pony" league for those in their early teens. I titled my tribute to the juvenile sport of baseball, Dog's Eye View (below). I assumed dogs like baseball too.

Copyright, Jim Lane
Dog's Eye View, Jim Lane
Speaking of dogs, we must not forget that
they have their own August holidays--the
"Dog Days of Summer." This one seems
to prefer tennis to baseball.


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