The Loss of Titanic by Albert Pinkham Ryder C 1912 1915


Eric Longo

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Hello All,
The title is a bit of a tease as Ryder never painted it - but I just might. I don't know how many of you are familiar with the work of America's maritime artist Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847-1917), but with him living and working in NY/NJ in 1912 and considering his love for dramatic maritime subjects, such as his incredible Flying Dutchman, it occurred to me - "what if he painted Titanic?" I include below a photograph of three of his best marines in the MET in NY - Moonlit Marine, Toilers of the Sea and Under a Cloud. Most all of his miraculous paintings have an undescribable moonlit quality that evokes both day and night, or a dream or memory. He was fond of working on wood in oil mixed with wax, resin, solvents, water, tobacco juice, dirt and all manner of organic substances. I have been hired to copy his work before and have studied his technique from various technical papers published during the difficult task of stabilizing his works, many of which have failed to dry and remain liquid under the skin of paint - sometimes a half inch thick. These methods resulted in a very specific surface appearance of cracks and other "problems." Anyway, I did the composition study below to get a feel for the subject using his typical strong diagonal vectors. Ryder would have used any 4 stacker for reference and could likely have used Cunard colors for the funnels, which would be more dramatic and something I'll likely do with the "original" if I paint it. Also, the four stackers (besides the German vessels) he would have seen most at that time were the Cunard liners Lusitania and Mauretania. It is known he did take long moonlit walks by Battery park and the piers. He also would have seen the newspaper headlines which would have influenced him greatly. Assuming I paint this, this will be done with all period materials (including the lead and mastic resin) on solid mahogany - he once cut his own headboard up to provide panels to paint on. The second image I produced is also digital - an example of what the finished product might look like framed. He often took many years, sometimes a decade or more, to finish his works as he just kept overpainting and wiping with water or alcohol in between. For this reason I "date" the image to 1912-1915 although it is likely he would never have finished it. He was a painter of dreams and atmosphere - he would not really have cared about the source of light or the perspective or the rivets that many count on the paintings of others. I would appreciate any and all opinions. Thanks in advance. These are merely digital sketches so don't burn me alive folks

Thanks,
Eric Longo

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Eric Longo

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Hello All,
With the wonders of Photoshop I was able to "hang" my imagined Ryder on the wall with originals at the Met to see if the composition and style hold up. Opinions most welcome.

Best,
Eric
 

Eric Longo

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Hi All,

thought I'd repost this - opinions and criticism on this quick sketch most welcome. Please ignore the previous links above and apologies for the small scans - will try to find the larger versions. This is the mock-up image and the "Met mock-up" for style/compositional comparison as described in the above posts.

Best,
Eric
 
Feb 18, 2006
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Eric,
For a "nonexistent" painting you've done a magnificent representation. The subject is not at once obvious, but that's what give it its power. Even the "Cunard funnels" are in the work's favor, and for the reasons you cite. Good work!
 

Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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Dear Ann,

I thank you for your response. Pardon the delay in mine. Your considered opinion is most appreciated
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I am pleased you liked the rendering. I really ought to do it in paint one of these days. As you might imagine, some of the most fun to be had while recreating his work is in the final stages - cutting in the fissures, recreating the crack patterns, staining with ink and dirt etc.. And of course, finding a believable frame.

Best,
Eric
 

Eric Longo

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Hello again Ann,

thought you might like a look at the original rough sketch of the composition which I just ran across. This is much more representative of my own work. I like it and consider it rather strong.
The actual mock-up linked above has started to deteriorate from over-work but you'll get the idea. I will likely start again from the original sketch linked below.
Opinions on this composition? Jim?

Best,
Eric

Original digital sketch

PS - The older links above, from 2006, do not function anymore, but those from 2007 work just dandy.
 
Feb 18, 2006
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Very dark and moving. I like it no matter whose style it is. Makes me think of Titanic under a full moon. Either way, the original or the finished, the painting works well, and I have seen my share of representations of the sinking.
 

Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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Hi Ann, Hi George,

Thanks for your opinions. I really appreciate it. I thought you might like to see one of my own marine paintings.
This small panel was painted in July 2002 after a trip to Maine. The colors I used are French, Italian and Greek Earths (except the Blue - I have a small stock of Sar-e-Sang Lapis from the Badakshan but would not use it for this sketch so I used a high quality synthetic Ultramarine instead). The white is Chamber process white lead. All were ground on Porphyry in the minimum of cold pressed German Flaxseed oil and applied without a medium. The support is 1/4" African Mahogany. I painted it with a single handmade Indian Mongoose round over the course of perhaps 3 or 4 nights. I am fascinated with permanence, quality materials and their simple use.
It is a tremendous scan so allow a little download time. Please click on the lower right to see the detail accomplished with sgraffito using English graphite.
The panel is actually only 3 inches by 9 inches. I guess the parts I like are the warm colors on the left which are mostly just bare Mahogany. This area of Maine has changed since I painted this - the Seagate Tower left of the house closest to the water has been demolished.
I really hope you like it.

High Cliff West 2002

Best,
Eric
 
May 27, 2007
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Sure did.
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It reminded me of a grey foggy day on the Mississippi back in Iowa when I was a boy. Keep up with you painting. I usually don't like landscapes either. I'm more into Georgia O' Keefe or 1960's Pop Art or renaissance painting.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Opinions on this composition? Jim?

Sorry I missed this! Let me jump in late.

I'll begin by saying that I've only just discovered Ryder and so I am not as, shall we say, conversant in discussing his technique as I am...say...Cropsey, or Church, or Winslow Homer, or even James Bard.

Having established that, I'll continue by saying that I like your tribute to Ryder a lot. I'D hang it in my own home, had the Met not beaten me to it to judge by the above post.
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It has what is, to me, the most important element of a successful painting~ the entire composition seems to exist on the same 'plane' so to speak. Sky, ship and water, are united. More difficult to do than many imagine- often we see a technically proficient ship sailing through crudely rendered water or beneath a solid looking unrealistic sky, that gives an unfortunate 'collage' look to the work in question. As if the ship belonged in one painting and its surroundings in another.

Continuing- I like your choice of color in both the Ryder tribute and landscape. There seems to be a growing, and disturbing, ignorance of the significance of color in artwork. What works in a Klee or a Rothko tribute looks ridiculous in a Homer, and often vice versa. I would most heartily recommend, nay, insist that every painter of REALISTIC sea and landscapes hie themselves up to The Met and spend weeks, if not months, studying the wide array of realistic tones used in the Hudson River School collection. I am, personally, irritated by the over-use of metallic-looking blues used to paint water. They look great on a 1965 Chevrolet, are certainly evocative when used in a stylised seascape, and cheapen beyond belief a would-be realist work since they are so seldom found in nature and even less frequently in water.

Myself- I only worked in black. Below are three pictures I did out in Texas almost a decade ago- current wherabouts unknown. I used to have a great deal of fun doing demi-pointalliste, realistic works. Largest I ever did was about 20 by 25 feet, of a certain actress, that was nothing but a bunch of hash marks until you stood at least 75 feet back from it. It was done on interlocking panels, of equal size, that could be fit together randomly for a rather disturbed collage effect if I was feeling artsy-fartsy. Current whereabouts unknown. I ceased drawing and painting ca 2000. This sort of stuff was very time consuming, and as my inner extrovert began to reassert himself, found that liner research suited me better as it kept me in constant contact with other people.
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This was a series I did of Western Country/Jazz performers 1925-1945. I ended up finishing about 14 panels, the largest of which was 5 by 8 foot and which is the only one I still have.
 

Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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Hi Jim,

Thanks for the kind words! I apologize for the small size of the Ryder mock-up. I will try to find the original that was linked up top. I am of the opinion that Ryder was knowingly painting organically - he did not have incredible technical knowledge but in his rather long period of activity he must have known his work was unstable if only by observation. I believe he wanted to imbue his paintings with life by having them change - hence all the organic substances. Generally way ahead of his time. The MET had bought several of his works by the Memorial show of 1917 and they look quite different now - many were changing in his lifetime and were reworked by "a good friend" upon his death.
I also find color-cohesion to be all important in any realistic work, and that has even influenced my rather limited palette. Many works today, especially marines, display unnatural pastel blue/salmon color choices that are just not found in nature. A good/bad example would be the overtly dramatic cottages of Kinkade (absurd subjects aside). Then there is light source and reflected light...and logic.
The Maine landscape is among my better small scale works and it pleases me that you don't find the colors garish. Those colors are pretty accurate as I have sat and viewed that scene, which can only be had when sitting in one exact spot in Prouts Neck about 300 feet to the left of the path that leads up from the rocks to Homer's "factory" (He was using that term way before Andy). You mentioned Homer - his "High Cliff" of 1894 was painted from quite close to the Sea Gate now sadly gone looking towards the viewer of my little mahogany panel.
I'd like to see more of your own work - have you got anymore to share? They emit true life in expression.

Thanks again, it means a lot to me!

Eric
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Many works today, especially marines, display unnatural pastel blue/salmon color choices that are just not found in nature.

Crowd pleasing, 'though. It gives the paintings the vibrant, eye appeal, of the artwork one associates with Little Golden Books or the paintings one buys from local 'artisans' on the beach while vacationing in the tropics. Such paintings will just never make the jump into the 'fine art' world, except, perhaps, in the Antique: Primitive market several generations from now. What sells on greeting cards or calendars does not necessarily make the jump into the competitive auction world, but then those are two different audiences.

>have you got anymore to share?

Very little! Here is Unfinished Self Portrait With Edsel And Stonewashed Denim Jacket. I think that the horror of admitting that I once owned a stonewashed denim jacket is what kept me from finishing this rough sketch.
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Feb 4, 2007
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Hey Jim, I know I've said this to you before, but I like your Edsel drawing very much as-is.
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Eric, your "High Cliff West 2002" reminds me a little bit of some of Van Gogh's work ~ and I don't mean that statement to be cliché, I mean it truthfully. Very nice!
 

Jim Kalafus

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Thanks. But I'm wearing stonewash in it. At some point it will be revamped into something less, shall we say, fashion heedless.
 
May 27, 2007
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I remember stonewash denim. Great picture Jim! Don't worry I think the stonewash doesn't really show.
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Eric-
Keep up with the painting. I still love your landscape High Cliff West. Takes me back to a foggy day on the shore of the Mississippi back in Iowa.
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Jim Kalafus

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Here is another. Two unfinished panels of a four panel portrait. This one took about two months of 24/7 to complete. My big mean cat, cleverly named Big Mean Cat, gives a sense of scale.
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Jim Kalafus

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And another. This is a rough "idea" sketch of something that was eventually painted onto VERY tightly stretched fabric. Twas a hair under 20 feet high, almost as wide, and was displayed but once. I know I did not sell it, but I cannot find it, either. The finished picture was nothing but a bunch of blobby horizontal lines which, when viewed from half a block back, became a fairly realistic portrait. Stand as far back from your terminal as you can, and you'll sort of see the effect.
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The title was:

There's a Man We All Know in Malta. He's Got a Butterfly Tattooed On Him- He's Really Quite Terrifying. Anything You Need, Anything At All, He Can Get It For You- A Friend For the Night, Some "Snow"; Spanish Fly; An Abortion. Anyway, Lover, I Asked Him How Much It Would Cost To Have You Done Away With, And He Said "You'll Have To Tell Me All About Him" Which I Did. "Oh, He Doesn't Sound Too Important- About $300" He Said. "Well" I Said "Well" I Said "Well" I Said, "$300- That's Too Much." So, You See, Lover, That's How Much You Are Worth~ And He Didn't Think I Ought To Be Married to You Anyway.

The short title was

Bitch I Am, But Rich I Am.

Both are quotes by Norman Mailer.
 

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