Lars Book Club: June

Daily rituals: How Artists work

By Lars contributor Julie Richardson

Every month here at Lars we announce a book at the beginning of the month and discuss it at the end. We just started an Instagram account for the Lars Book Club. Come follow along there! 

Maybe you have a full time office job. Maybe your job is to create things. Maybe you’re at home with your kids and trying to teach them, clothe them, and basically keep them alive all day. Or maybe you’re in between. If I’ve learned one thing about having four children, it’s that my daily routine (especially mornings!) need to be planned out beforehand if I want to carve out some time for myself each day. Choices turn into habits, which hopefully become subconscious or instinctive actions, in other words, a routine. We’re all busy individuals, but I know that routines are beneficial in keeping chaos to a minimum, so I can be at my best for a good chunk of the day. (Some days that’s only in theory though. Ha!) June’s book is called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Curry. It’s a fascinating read about artists and their (sometimes quirky) routines that enable them to create. These are writers, painters, poets, musicians and more! Maybe you can get an idea or two. 😉 Enjoy and be sure to join May’s discussion of The Artist’s Mother!

So? Spill your thoughts! I know some of you are following along. Did you guys enjoy this type of book? Or would you prefer something more “meaty” like April’s book? We definitely want a diverse, fun mix of books, so we’d appreciate any feedback. I enjoyed The Artist’s Mother for what it is – a slim collection of artwork in which each artist portrays their mother. And of course each mother would be a willing subject for a portrait, since she was often each artist’s biggest champion, advocate, and supporter. The text included with each work of art was brief and succinct. Maybe too succinct. I don’t know about you, but each short excerpt on the artist and his/her mother left me wanting more! For example, I want to know more about the mysterious Gemma de Chirico, the Warhol family and their Slovakian roots, and Henry Ossawa Tanner’s experiences excelling in a “white” profession as an African American. I guess that’s what the bibliography is for, right? 😉 There are some great references listed there for further reading. Portrait Of The Artist's MotherOk, here are some thoughts and questions for you:

1. In the intro, author Judith Thurmann states, “A mother’s gift is, ultimately, the example of steady, impartial discernment that each of us needs to create a self-portrait…the artists on these pages gratefully returned that deep gaze.” There’s nothing like spending hours observing and recreating a likeness of your mother in a “pose of patient resignation”(p.36) – I love that phrase – to discern who she is: loving? hard-working? intelligent? devoted? Do you feel these artists successfully reversed this gaze, truly saw their mothers, and painted the essence of who they really are?

2. Time and time again, it is repeatedly mentioned how and what each artist’s mother sacrificed to help their child achieve their artistic dreams. These mothers encouraged, had faith in, and were often the “emotional lodestar” (p. 80) of their talented children. Artist Mark Gertler said of his mother Golda,”Her entire happiness is bound up in my progress.” (p.84) Do you think this was true for each of these mothers? Were you impressed by them and the type of women they were?

3. Which was your favorite portrait, and why? I truly loved the portrait of Maria Picasso (below), painted when Pablo was just a teenager. To me, it’s reminiscent of a Rembrandt work, with that striking contrast between dark and light, and a very beautiful rendering of her form, features, and clothing details. I also liked Henry Ossawa Tanner’s portrait of his mother. It’s composition is very similar to Whistler’s (the image on the cover), yet differs from it with a dark background yet again and his mother’s illuminated face as the focal point. Both of these images struck me as serene, yet I felt a sense of strength coming from these women. You?? Again, please share the portrait that struck you most and tell me why you did/didn’t love it! Maria Picasso

See you next month as we discuss Daily Rituals!Daily rituals: How Artists work

by Julie Richardson  |  Photos by Anna Killian

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