Young Pianist

DSCF2413I had a tenant that skipped out on the rent. Not unusual in the art world. But we did not lose out entirely. He left a baby grand piano in his space.

I have a musical son who teaches at Parsons in NY City , but I am tone deaf. It cost a couple of hundred bucks to move the piano one flight up to our living loft. It sits there looking very elegant but nobody plays it. Then along came my grandson Oliver. He is five . A year ago, he became interested in the baby grand and began tinkling away. I have been getting my granddaughter to do little acts. She writes out a play and performs it. I thought I would incorporate into the act and have Oliver accompany her with music . He loves the idea. She acts the play, I read the lines and conduct him. He watches me like a hawk . If I say here comes the rain he plays gentle notes. If it is ‘here comes the thunder’, ┬áit gets louder. He is a sort of natural.

There is talk in the family of getting a piano teacher. I’m not against it but at the same time I am worried about nipping his natural enthusiasm┬áin the bud from the strictures of lessons. I know at some point he will have to learn to read music . I also know that in art kids are so free about expressing themselves . When working with the grand kids doing painting, I never direct them. I only make stuff available and let them go at it. This inclination to create in children can be smothered by teachers showing them how to do it properly, like drawing a hand properly. Kids do a circle with three, four, five or six stick fingers coming out of it . This can be far more interesting than a hand drawn properly.

Most grandparents probably think their grand kids are special , and in so many cases they are right . All kids in the formative years absorb stuff like sponges and like it says formative , and we have to pay close attention to those years and not be over attentive or under attentive and make what they are going to absorb available.

So I find myself debating the pros and cons of early instruction . Oliver loves the piano . I would like him to go on loving it as a magical instrument and feel that we have to be very careful as to who instructs him. There are millions of people who play the piano but how many of them can make it reveal the magic hidden away inside the player?

The old artist

My beautiful pictureRembrandt has always been one of my favorite artists. This painting was inspired by an etching that was on the cover of a drawing pad I bought thirty years ago. It was a self portrait by Rembrant. This painting is not like the etching but it made me think of the old masters. Back in the seventeenth century there was no indoor lighting as we know it today and one had to have a good north window with a steady and constant light. I guess when the sun went down that was it, you where through for the day. Vincent van Gogh defied the dark and went out at night with candles stuck to his hat.That must have been a real sight. I beleive he did a self portrait in that mode.It was a straw hat and he was lucky not to set his hair in fire, as if it were not red enough. He was so aware of his colours that it hardly mattered what light he painted in. I wanted to have a painting that would have the feeling of what it was like painting without electricity. One time 1956 I was out for a walk across the dunes in Provincetown Mass when I came across an artist painting away. He had sunglasses on and I had the nerve to ask him how he could see the colours properly. He said. “When you have been painting as long as I have you know all the colours out there”. So does it matter how good the light is
when one paints? Well it’s good to have good light but as van Gogh proved it does not have to be perfect. I think solitude is one of the important things for me and this painting shows how peacefull and thought provoking painting can be.