Monday, June 6, 2011

Eva Gonzales and a Beachscape

This will be the first post of I hope a number of posts about women artists, both past and present. I would like to introduce you, or perhaps reintroduce you, to Eva Gonzales. There should be an accent over the last "e" in Gonzales. Eva Gonzales was a Parisian artist born in 1849 and died at the early age of 34 due to what is believed to be puerperal fever after the birth of her son. Before I continue, here is one of her beautiful paintings,
I have seen two different titles for this one. One is Early Wakening the other is Morning Awakening. Either way it is beautiful. Like so many women artists in the past that I have read about, Eva faced the obstacles of gender bias and just plain not being taken seriously (?!!). She was the only student, after achieving wonderful proficiency as a student of the portraitist Charles Chaplin, of Edouard Manet. She studied with him for three years and, as was often the case, became his model as well as his pupil. She was unfortunately overshadowed by Manet, and was not always taken seriously as an artist. Some of her paintings had stylistic elements of Impressionism but she never really belonged to that group. She had some success and recognition toward the end of her short life. I imagine like so many painters who have had their lives cut short, her work would have continued to grow in recognition and development.*
I admire Manet's paintings but when looking at Eva's next to his, I feel that Eva Gonzales had a more refined and delicate touch that I find much more appealing. That is my personal opinion of course!
Now for my own humble work. We had one incredibly beautiful and warm day on Saturday. I took advantage of it to go down to the beach in the evening to paint Neahkahnie Mountain where it reaches into the sea. This is my favorite area of our beach. Our town is nestled at the foot of this beautiful mountain. The views from the top of it are breathtaking. This is an oil sketch I did in two hours. I was a bit frustrated as I didn't take a small enough brush with me to capture some of the detail I wanted to get but I am not displeased with the sketch.

As I was packing up when the light changed too much, a mist came up and became a fiery haze as the sun set. I want to go back when I have the chance and try to capture those colors and effects. Of course, being on the coast, when the inland area becomes warm it generates mist and fog here at the beach so we don't usually get several days of clear sunny weather here in the summer. I was going after some of the afternoon light effects on the cliffside. I was intrigued by the way the shadows kept changing. I didn't spend a lot of time on the water and sky. I will be painting this mountain many times.
With any luck, I will have another chance at plein air painting this week. Work continues on the still life.
Until next week,

*Most of my information on Eva Gonzales comes from the book 50 Women Artists You Should Know by Weidemann, Larass, and Klier. I did a bit of online searching too but found the best info in the book.

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