Tatiana and Olga 2010

Tatiana and Olga  2010

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Evolution of Alexei

Evolution of Alexei : over  2  1/2 years

As I have said  my current portrait of Alexei  was happy and laughing for years. I liked the laughing Alexis.  He was unaware of the future and was happy,   as he was in life during this time .

Or it could be seen as  a portrait of his Spirit. A portrait of redemption , a statement of " death where is thy string ? " Certainly  I  thought that the number  3 image above would basically be  the final one in any case

However when I finished his father's portrait ( after an epic battle)  Tsar Nicholas was  so good, that Alexis was no longer good enough; some improvements were called for. After a few strokes,  I was tumbled  back to square one, a blank.

Though I would rather not have to do it and I certainly lamented the loss, square one is not always a bad place to find oneself. One is no longer in a position of having  to " save" something that's not working anyway. One is  free to go another direction, and that's what happened. But how I got where I am today, this extra level of accomplishment , I can't say. I just kept painting

If I had or was able to envision these portraits from the start, perhaps it would all have gone faster? Lord knows. But I  have had to grope all along the way  and that takes time.

All I know is the panting keeps improving , so I keep painting. When it's done, it  will be a vastly better painting than I could have ever foreseen and I'm grateful.

Papa Brontë Video

Rev  Patrick Brontë

I recently read a letter by Rev.Patrick Brontë that had been hidden in a library for well over a hundred years; only rediscovered  in 2006.

It was written in 1855  to his Bishop at the time of his daughter's Charlotte's passing. She was his last reminding child out of six.

It's a remarkable document. It shows the greatness of this much maligned man. He bares his own sorrow, with dignity and  bears tender witness to his son in law, Arthur Bell Nicholls's " very great" grief as well 

It's to be remembered Patrick  Brontë was adamantly  opposed to Charlotte's marrying Mr. Nicholls. However well  before Charlotte's passing, Patrick had  learned to rejoice in the happiness she and Arthur found.  

Here is Rev Brontë's letter

My Lord Bishop,

Amongst the various letters of kind sympathy which we have received, Your Lordships Letter gives us especial pleasure – It is worthy of One who is justly esteemed the Father of His Clergy, and I will retain it amongst my most valued treasures, as long as I shall live.

 “A word in due season, how good is it”. And most assuredly, if a season of sorrow, needs a word of consolation and support ours is that season.

I have lived long enough to bury a beloved wife, and six children – all that I had. I greatly enjoyed their conversation and company, and many of them were well fitted for being companions to the wisest and best. Now they are all gone. 

Their image and memory remain, and meet me at every turn – but they themselves have left me a bereaved old man. 

I hoped and wished that the Lord would spare them, to see me laid in my grave, but the Lord has ordered it otherwise, and I have seem them all laid, in that place “where the wicked cease from troubling And the weary are at rest”.

I have not only my own sorrow to bear, but I am distressed for Mr. Nicholls whose grief is very great. His union with My Daughter was a happy one. They were well fitted for each other, and naturally looked forward, to future scenes of happiness for a long time to come – but the Lord gave, and the Lord took early away. 

May we both be able from our hearts to say blessed be the name of the Lord. But I have often found and find in this last sad trial, that it is frequently extremely difficult to walk entirely by faith, and sincerely, to pray, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”. 

Mr. Nicholls, who is every thing I could desire, to the Church and to me, intends to stay with me, during the brief remainder of my life.

 May we beg that your Lordship will sometimes remember us in your prayers?

I remain, My Lord Bishop,
Your Lordship’s Most
Obedient Humble servant,

Patrick Bronte


I was moved to make  a video of Rev Brontë's   letter

The Brontës. Patrick Brontë. All that I had

The music is  from " Hart's War"  
composed  by Rachel Portman


   The Duke  and The Clergyman 

 The Duke of Zamorna and  the Rev Arthur Bell Nicholls

As an artist, I notice patterns. Lately I noticed a similarity between the young Charlotte's drawing of The Duke of Zamorna, her greatest love interest creation in youth and Arthur Bell Nicholls, Charlotte's  eventual husband.

 In an era of prodigious sideburns, both had extra amazing mutton chops. Charlotte seem to favor them;particularity coal black ones 

While Arthur was no  Duke of Zamorna ( one has to read CB's  juvenile  writing to even believe what a thorough going rake and blackguard her love hero was )  Arthur most likely was as close as one could get  in the West Riding of Yorkshire....at least physically

In the 8 years leading up to his proposal, Charlotte always complained of Mr.Nicholls's  narrow views. But she never derided him physically. That is remarkable. Because part of her genius was an extraordinary talent for creating comical word pictures of those around her.

 Once Charlotte called a person,for example," A little Welsh pony " it was impossible not to laugh and remember it ever afterwards. Poor James Taylor  especially came in for such  treatment. Charlotte seemingly  could not write about him at all without adding telling word pictures of, what were to her, his physically short comings...and she liked the fellow!

But about Arthur's looks Charlotte never said a word. If she did not like them, I believe she would have treated him as she did most others .

The first words we have from her about Arthur was in  a letter from 1845 to a Mrs Rand, the wife of the master of the National School at  Staley Bridge . For CB , when speaking of curates, this is fairly glowing lol

Papa has got  a new curate lately a Mr Nicholls from Ireland ---he did duty for the first time on Sunday---- he appears a respectable  young man, reads well, and I hope will give satisfaction.

 Well eventually Arthur certainly did. Charlotte may have  liked Arthur as a man , but she felt great annoyance when ever Arthur  opened his mouth to speak. 

In exasperation Charlotte  wrote  to her friend,  Ellen Nussey 

  I cannot for my life see those interesting germs of goodness in him you discovered. His narrowness of mind always strikes me chiefly 

 The significance of Arthur's narrow mind faded when he proved to Charlotte he could be as overcome with love as herself; suffer greatly for love's sake and be as determined as the Duke of Zamorna  ever was in gaining his love interest. 

Okay! Back to work!