Monday, January 23, 2012


           Ivan Aivazovsky, The Billow, 1889, oil on canvas, The Russian Museum.                               

BAY ART BLOG:  The Russian Museum,
                                             near the Azov Sea

   Inspired to paint bays? Then dive into the stormy waters of The Billow painted by one of the greatest maritime painters of all times, Ivan Aivazovsky. This masterpiece is one of 6,000 works created by the famous Russian painter known for his powerful and realistic seascapes. He painted a tragic story, with violent winds and churning waters beneath a dark, angry sky. The waters rage as the surge engulfs the vessel leaving a feeling of helplessness and respect for nature.

Ivan Aivazovsky by Aleksey Tyranov, 1847.
   Born in Feodosiya, Crimea, Aivazovsky was the son of an Armenian merchant and mother known for exquisite embroidery. His talent for drawing was seen at a young age as he drew with charcoal on the family's walls. His talent opened doors to prestigious art academies, travel and opportunities to paint for royalty. He won the Gold Medal at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts and became a wealthy man. He spent most of his eighty-three year life devoted to seascapes and painting the Russian Navy. He was also known as an art professor and eventually founded an art school in Feodosiya. Aivazovsky believed in painting from memory and was exceptional in marrying realism and romanticism.  

The Azov Sea near Aivazovsky's home.
Feodosiya shoreline.  
  Feodosiya, sometimes spelled Theodosia is located in Ukraine between the Black Sea and the Azov Sea known as the shallowest sea in the world with depth from 2'11" to 46". The 200 mile sea is affected by neighboring rivers pushing sand, silt, shells and freshwater into it's benthos resulting in small lagoons, low salinity and the perfect environment for green algae blooms. It is home to over 80 fish species and 300 invertebrates. In the past dolphin frequented, but the river flow has changed over time due to construction, dams, overfishing and high levels of pollution due to the booming cotton industry.
  The Russian Museum, located in St. Petersburg, is Russia's first state museum of fine art. It was established in 1895 by Emperor Nicholas II and opened to the public in 1898. It houses over 400,000 works and is famous for it's paint galleries.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Ralph Curtis, Drifting with the Tide, 1884, oil on canvas, private collection.
                                             near the Massachusetts Bay

  Imagine gently drifting down the Grand Canal in Venice, admiring the Italian scenery while a young gondolier abandons his usual stance and lays back effortlessly steering to an unknown destination. You gently hold onto a rope as the vessel rocks side to side in a gentle breeze. He whispers in your ear stories of his family working in the shipyards building thousands of these ancient flat bottomed vessels, icons of Venetian history. His story is embellished with exquisite details as is customary of the gondolas decor. The hull is black by law, but the interior is adorned with hand-woven carpets, gold guilded furnishings, cushioned seats and a linen-draped roof cutting the water's reflective glare.

Ralph Curtis painting

Palazzo Barbaro once home to Ralph Curtis an American painter.
  Although born in Boston, Ralph Curtis, an American painter lived in Venice on the Grand Canal in a palace known as Palazzo Barbaro in the San Marco district. It was frequented by famous artists, musicians, writers and socialites of the time including Monet, Whistler, Henry James, his second cousin John Singer Sargent and Isabella Stewart Gardner, founder of Boston's 15th century Venetian style museum that houses over 2,500 paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture, manuscripts, rare books and decorative arts.  

  The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is certainly on my bucket list to visit, but fortunately it has one of the best museum websites I've seen.  A true treasure! You can explore the galleries, see an amazing collection and view past exhibitions such as the 2004 Gondola Days, Isabella Stewart Gardner~The Pallazzo Barbaro Circle. Want to be inspired? Start 2012 by visiting to view Curtis's wonderful oil on canvas along with other breathtaking works of art.  

  I'm inspired by Curtis's color palette of blues and golds contrasted by his use of bold black. It immediately drew me in. I especially love staring at the dark blue linen drapes kissed by the sun. His brilliant choice of perception makes me feel like I'm sitting at the other end of the gondola listening, gazing and marveling at the beautiful city. Lovely.

  I first learned about the museum by watching a documentary called, Stolen, The Film. Not to spoil this true story, but in 1990 the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was part of a heist and stolen were amazing works of art including Vermeer's, The Concert, known today as the world's most valuable missing painting. I highly recommend you watch it if you love a good mystery.  

Massachusetts Bay

Werner Kunz, Boston Harbor
  Boston, near the Massachusetts Bay, is one of the largest bays on the Atlantic Ocean. Since 1990, it has been part of the U.S. National Estuary Program. The Massachusetts Bays Program is working to improve its health and empower the communities to help with restoration efforts. Baylife includes horseshoe crabs, herons and striped bass.

  What's a bay?  Bays are bodies of water mostly surrounded by land on three sides. Many are calm and provide vessels safe anchorage. Diverse animals call it home, while others simply visit during grand migrations. The world is full of beautiful bays with the largest, Bay of Bengal (India) and the longest, Hudson Bay (Canada). There are even fictional bays like J.R.R. Tolkein's Bay of Belfalas in the Great Sea.

  A large bay may be called different names such as gulf, sea, sound, cove, strait, mouth, harbor, bayou, loch, inlet or estuary. Estuaries are where the river meets the sea. They are often influenced by tides and are protected from the full force of ocean waves and foul weather.

  Want to protect bays? Bays have seen a vast loss of habitat resulting in fewer fish and wildlife. One of the biggest challenges is runoff from the watershed. To support restoration and conservation efforts, consider not using fertilizer, pick up pet waste, use mass transportation, recycle, fix vehicle leaks and wash your car in the grass or where they recycle water. Most of all get inspired, learn about your local bodies of water, join and support local efforts and include stewardship actions in you daily lifestyle.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Marc Gabriel Charles Gleyre, 1868, oil on canvas
Marc Gabriel Charles Gleyre, The Bath, 1868 oil on canvas.
Image courtesy of The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia.

  One of my favorite painting is the 1868 oil on canvas by Marc Gabriel Charles Gleyre, The Bath. Gleyre, a Swiss artist and teacher, taught young artists like Claude Monet, Pierre Renoir and James Abbott Whistler. He was known for spending years on his paintings and only a few are in the United States today.

  The Bath depicts a Roman household of two beautiful women bathing an angelic baby boy. Gleyre derived the subject from a terra-cotta relief and produced several sketches.  It was painted for John Taylor Johnston, first president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a well-known New York art collector.

  I'm inspired by Gleyre's hard work ethic and his color pallette. The peaches and cream skin tones are gorgeous. This painting offers wonderful details to fill my imagination of a time long ago.  I encourage you to visit Bay Babies and the Chrysler Museum to discover more treasures.