Sunday, November 8, 2020

Art by George

     This is the world as it should be. That was my thought while viewing the portrait of a young woman sitting in a color dappled garden. She has an open book on her lap, a serene, contemplative expression on her face. In these overwrought, cluttered times the scene was just so ... so right, for lack of a better word.

     The woman is at the center of a painting by Cambridge artist George Van Hook. In a recent YouTube video Van Hook demonstrates how he created the work while at the same time engaging in entertaining banter with Eric Rhoads, the video host.


     The painting, the video, the artist ... they are all so uplifting. Van Hook is animated, he bubbles with energy - intellectual, artistic, physical. His love of what he does and the skills developed over a lifetime are on full display. 

      In most years George, along with several other local artists, host tours of their studios offering the opportunity to view and purchase their latest work. In this year of our affliction even the much anticipated Landscapes for Landsakes show went virtual, so I'm not sure if there will be open houses this season. While there is no substitute for in person conversation, for viewing art up close, I am still grateful for the web, for the YouTube experience. Should the windfall I so richly deserve ever materialize, I would buy Garden Repose in a flash. In the meantime I can go to Van Hook's website  and see how the painting would look hanging on a living room wall. 

George Van Hook painting "en plein air"
image from artist's website

     Van Hook is known for his "en plein air" painting. I keep coming back to the idea that art both captures reality while also giving us an idealized vision of what reality could be. In a statement about his philosophy of painting Van Hook has said, "The paintings are a marriage of external and internal forces - what emerges on the canvas should be a reflection of both the beauty of the world and the artist's most inner response."

     I believe Garden Repose was painted in the artist's backyard with a local Cambridge girl as model. There is the pleasurable experience of viewing the painting - its color, its balance, the emotion it conveys. Then there is the impetuous to recreate the scene behind my house, to make a small idyllic spot of tranquility for myself and my family. Don't we all long for Garden Repose

Garden Repose
oil on linen by George Van Hook
image from artist's website


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