not typical that an oil painting can stir up lots of contradictory emotions,
but when I look at certain works it seems like the artist is able to capture
not just one or two feelings but the whole emotional spectrum. When you see one
of these works, you know--it's like an exhilarating wind rushes over you.
me, Rembrandt will always have this effect. As an oil-painting artist, he was a
master of nuance. Often, you'll look at one of his paintings and think you've
got it--all in one glance. And that can be true. But the more time spent with
Rembrandt's works, the more they reveal themselves to you.
|The Mill by Rembrandt, oil on canvas, 1645-1648.
I first saw The Mill, I thought I
understood it immediately. The majesty of the moment as the golden twilight
tipped the arms of the mill was obviously a kind of homage to the artist's
past--his father was a miller, so this oil painting may depict a cherished scene
from his childhood. But then you look
further at the oil painting and you see the figures nestled at the base of the
hill, almost hidden by the dim light of oncoming evening. Their presence
enlarges the narrative, possibly encompassing the Dutch people as a whole, who
battled for the lands the artist depicts. The moment could be an homage to
their sacrifice and a reminder of what was won.
painting is also a little sad, if not slightly foreboding, as it shows the
night claiming the day. Almost like something is being lost. Perhaps this is
not what the artist intended, but I certainly react this way to the painting.
And the fact that a single oil painting is able to encompass so much is
testament to the artist's skill in slowly and subtly revealing a narrative
through color choices, composition, and where he places figures.
Looking at Rembrandt's application of mere oil on
canvas turned into such diversity of emotion is cause for rejoicing. Knowing
that oil-painting art is capable of all this is incredibly inspiring for me--and
I'm sure for you as well. For more from the true masters of this art, see which
of our Annual CDs--like the American Artist 2005 Annual CD--do it for you. Right now they are all available at 60% off, so enjoy!