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Concord Grapes (& My Thoughts on D.C.'s National Gallery)

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Last week, I spent the day at the National Gallery in D.C. (more on that below), and today's painting is inspired by my curiosity about a somewhat unassuming Joseph Decker painting I saw there. As I was painting this, I found myself also connecting to something else -- quite different -- that I created almost ten years ago when I was a student at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. It's an unexpected connection that I will probably continue to think about.... See for yourself here.

I love the "vibe" at the National Gallery (the atmosphere reminds me a little bit of the Uffizi in Florence) and, as I'm sure we all do, I hope that the inspiration I felt there stays with me as long as I can hold onto it. Today I'll share a bit about the John Frederick Peto works I saw (background info here), and I'll write about the works by Dutch painter Willem van Aelst in my next post.

John Frederick Peto's paintings continue to capture my attention. (I've been told that Peto is the best inspiration that a still life painter can have -- I'm still mulling that one over.) A definite highlight of the day was a tiny room full of still life treasures, including five Peto paintings (pictured right). Peto's compositional decisions challenge me a great deal, but I admire his ability to embrace and harness tension. I also admire a type of restraint present in his paintings: they are reserved, yet also overflowing with a genuine and sincere approach to the subjects. When I look at this paintings, I feel a sense of discovery that Peto must have felt.

His paintings are "filled with so much affection and no affectation" (I'm told). Therein lies a challenge for many of those who walk on the long path of the classical 'still life.' I know I will need to spend my life painting to even begin to understand this. In the meantime, I'm humbled and very thankful that painting makes for joyous days.

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