31 January, 2007

Free Wallpaper

Here is a free image to use as wallpaper for your screen. I counted it a "failure" as a completed painting, but my wife put it up in a distorted form on her PC screen, and it just looked awesome to me. It is from a project that I started where I want to make van Gogh inspired images of Italian landscapes. See the initial sketch here.
Since I'm temporarily out of my studio, I gave up on that project for the near term.
A few years ago, a college co-ed told me that she had painted one of my images on her dorm room wall. It should go without saying that we don't take or copy images from artists, but today I am offering this colorful and light hearted Italian street sketch as a thank you for your patronage of my blog.
Preview: tune in soon for my return to the van Gogh thread. The Dutch keener and I will be having a virtual drink at a virtual cafe where I hope to straighten him out a little.

28 January, 2007

Open Gallery 1/2007

Casey Klahn

Colorist American landscapes

33763 Moore Road North Davenport, Washington 99122


Every so often, I will throw a special online event. This shin-dig will be titled: A Colorist Art Open Gallery. Pour yourself a glass of wine, and enjoy this collection of the art that I have previously shown on The Colorist dot Blogspot, with an added bonus of one newly posted work.

Pink Forest, 7.3” x 5.3”
Original Pastel
Casey Klahn

Blue Branches on Red, 14” x 10”
Original Pastel
Casey Klahn

Red Barn with Ramp, 12.75” x 9.25”
Original Pastel
Casey Klahn

New Red Corner, 25” x 19”
Original Pastel
Casey Klahn

The Four Seasons, Winter, 14” x 10”
Original Pastel
Casey Klahn

First time posting of this art!

Yellow Sky, 18” x 11”
Original Pastel
Casey Klahn

Red Veiled Forest, 14” x 19”
Original Pastel
Casey Klahn

Contact me at CaseyKlahn@msn.com with any inquiries, or post comments at this blog. Some of the art is displayed for the sake of continuity in this show, but are NFS, or not for sale because they are in the collections of patrons.

The event special? Free shipping within the USA! (over $60.00 value) All art is lavishly framed in matte black hardwood, square profile, with a white linen liner.

27 January, 2007


The Four Seasons, Winter, 14" x 10"
Original Pastel, NFS
Casey Klahn

Let's get back to Colorist Art for a while. Vincent was the first modern Colorist, and we will pull that thread back together in a few more days. My passion is for color, and it's subjective qualities have yet to be fully explored in the world of painting.
My own reasons for exploring color have an interesting history. As a youth I drew with the humble pencil, and over the period from age 5 to age 18 I estimate that I made over 100,000 drawings. Let's see, at least 5 drawings an hour for over 5 hours a day; 350 days a year (with a few days off) times 13 years equals over 100,000. The point is, I got the linear composition thing down pretty well. And values, and shapes, massing, the gesture, etc. These are what artists describe as the formal elements of a picture.
But, my exploration of paint was not as deep, and I had training in color, but only so much. So, when I had the fire in my belly to become a professional artist, I knew that color would be my direction. The reason is simple: growth. Art, to be original, must be new and vital; different and always building - but never tearing down, IMHO.
So, pastel became my "weapon" in my personal color crusade, although paint is probably the pre-eminent choice in the world of 2 dimensional artists. I chose them for their directness, and their link to the process of drawing. The plus side of pastels is their color intensity, purity, and durability.

26 January, 2007

Some Colorists You Should Know

My own art is in the old and venerable medium of pastel. But, by way of transition, I'd like you to have a look at two painters who use the brush (and other tools) to weave magical colorist abstracts.
Take a nice, long gander at these artist's colorful works. Elizabeth Love, at NZ Art (New Zealand), whose Mixed Media canvases are shouting color and texture at the same time. She has a wonderful grasp of intensities, which she manages to make the most of without overwhelming the structure of her abstract image. Where do we see that in another Colorist's work? Hmmn....clue here.
Then, in Florida, there is the busy Martha Marshall of An Artist's Journal.
Her work, Ember II, is an example of intensity of color that really glows. Her burnished look on this work is magic.

24 January, 2007

Content, Subject and Modern Art

Still Life: Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers, 1888, 93 x 73cm. Vincent van Gogh.
I find much of my Yellow House book very interesting. I am happy to know, for some reason, what I will find if I follow the stairs down from the famous bedroom, and enter the little studio in the front. Will I exit the house, turn right and buy some vegetables at the grocery next door? Or, will I turn left, left again at the corner and walk the few hundred yards to the railway trestle? I will spare you the sordid details of what I pass on the left before I get to the railway!

But, I find it tedious to know what people think are the symbols behind the subjects of our artists' works. If VVG wrote the meanings in a letter to Theo, fine - then that is the meaning.

Otherwise, I am more interested in the formal elements of these wonderful paintings. Look at the yellow on yellow color composition! The palette knife impastos of paint upon paint! VVG said that he chose color as his motive in art, and that is a big clue.

Now, we descend into the darker times of van Gogh's days in Arles with Gauguin. Will I be able to face the dementia that poor VVG exhibited, and that Paul Gauguin tolerated only for so long? What will it say to me? Will we discover a key to his genius, or will we simply "cross the street" to avoid the old boy?

Stay tuned, art fans. Same van Gogh channel; same van Gogh time...

21 January, 2007

Lust for Life

I can't read my great book, The Yellow House..., without picturing Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn as van Gogh and Gauguin.

More's the shame, as I thought the 1956 movie, Lust for Life, (Vincente Minnelli, director) had some problems that I just can't get over.

This movie critic disagrees:

"Lust for Life is appropriately titled, for mere passion seems inadequate when describing this superb fictionalized biography (based on Irving Stone's popular novel) of Vincent Van Gogh. In a deservedly Oscar®- nominated performance, Kirk Douglas is physically and emotionally perfect...(He describes this movie as) this blessed project, which centers on Van Gogh's stormy friendship with fellow artist Gauguin (Oscar-winner Anthony Quinn). Minnelli used an outmoded color film process and innovative camera techniques to vividly recreate Van Gogh's paintings, and he filmed on the actual Dutch and French locations where Van Gogh's mastery flourished. The artist's lust for life also fed his madness, and this film deeply understands the fine line in between." --Jeff Shannon

Before I rant on, I will admit that I liked the movie just fine. Take Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin. Not bad casting, since Gauguin cast himself as a man's man, a Breton sailor-type, who had actually served as a French Naval officer. Quinn was a big man, too. Turns out that AQ was a painter and a sculptor, which is an eerie parallel to PG, who painted and sculpted.

Compare for yourself:

My problem is with Kirk Douglas being cast as VVG. Come on! Kirk Douglas is also a man's man, big and virile, even in his current and elderly condition of being crippled by a stroke. The handsome Kirk Douglas is nothing like the diminutive, stinky and ugly wretch of a man, Vincent van Gogh.

You decide:

Similarities between Kirk and Vincent: KD born in Amsterdam, NY. VVG born in Holland. Both have sorta reddish hair. That's all I've got!

Note: I don't really believe the photo above is van Gogh, but it's close enough for the fun we're having here.

20 January, 2007

How Do You Make a Landscape Out of Pinks and Greens?

Pink Forest, 7.3" x 5.3"
Pastel on Board
Casey Klahn

Here's one of the Colorist American Landscapes in my studio. I am certainly liking that new Nikon D80 camera.

19 January, 2007

Italian Street Sketch

Italian Street with Red Clay Pots, Casey Klahn,
Pencil, Colored Pencil, Charcoal and Pastel on Sketch Paper

We're in the middle of a big studio remodel, so I have to work when the kids are out of the house. I have set up on the dining room table temporarily, and am suffering through the bad posture that goes with drawing without the easel.

Can't wait for the springtime, and when we get electricity to the new studio.

Anyway, I have resourced some more images from Italy, as my own are limited. This is a "first go" at an Italian landscape. I started out with colored pencils, but digressed to my comfort zone of soft and hard pastels. This one needs better value range, but I am having fun with it.

This drawing and the self portrait were also uploaded from my scanner bed, just for speed's sake.

18 January, 2007

External Evidence of van Gogh's Appearance

Vincent in Conversation with Felix Feneon, Paris 1888. Lucien Pissarro (1863-1944).

Here is a photo of a street scene in Paris showing Emile Bernard facing, and the famous keener's back to us. Darn!

This is very fresh, given our subject of the collaboration in the Yellow House:
Vincent at the easel, Paul Gauguin, 1888.

Toulouse-Lautrec de Henri has given us this very nice drawing of van Gogh. Ritratto di Vincent van Gogh, 1887. It shares, I think, the same pigments VVG used in his self portrait shown in my last post. It is also a pastel, which Lautrec was known to have used.

17 January, 2007

The Mysterious Vincent

Who the heck is this?

You know who
Adding to the mystery the old boy gathers around himself, is the apparent lack of a recognized photo of VVG.

The one above is dated circa the 1880s, and originates out of the Netherlands. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam rejects it's authenticity, as it's provenance is sketchy, at best. And, they get at least one kook a day showing up with a long-lost photo of the keener.

You be the judge.

Vincent the Vile

van Gogh, 1889

If any of us, I think surely myself, were to meet in 1888 poor Vincent van Gogh on the street, I dare say we would cross to the other side to avoid the old boy!

He is described by many as odoriferous, ugly and offensive. I did not know, before, that his manner of speech and his quirky gestures were as odd as described in Martin Gayford's book, The Yellow House… (See a full review of the book in the Independent UK here.)

I did come upon a story in Yellow House that I personally remember reading in a newspaper way back in 1988. It concerns an Arlesienne lady, a centenarian, who was introduced to, and remembered quite vividly, the quirky Dutch painter who used to buy canvas at her husband-to-be's fabric shop. Her name was Jeanne Calment, and she considered van Gogh uncomely, ungracious, impolite, and bad smelling.

Too bad she never sat for a portrait, though. It wouldn't have hurt her posterity at all to have been able to pass on a few million francs to her family.

This story gets me. For the youth among my gentle readers, the year 1988 seems ancient history, I'm sure. But to those of us with a little gray on the noggin, it's just the same as yesterday. And here was someone with a personal memory of the great painter ! No wonder I feel that his art is as fresh today as it ever was.

Postmortem, his profile in the art world grew with time, as exhibits were hung in Paris, Brussels, Antwerp and The Hague. A large retrospective (I think I read @ 30 works) was mounted in Paris in 1901, and then again in 1905. Other shows followed, including New York, in 1913 and Berlin, in 1914.

Today, there is enough on van Gogh in the cyber world to almost make Elvis jealous (VVG: 4.6 million google entries; Elvis Presley: 4.7 million). His art has sold for an excess of 82 million dollars outside of the already out-of-this-world auction market for his art.

You may think that it's too bad that he never saw any of this money. On the other hand, he did see every work as it came off the easel. Who has the last laugh, there?

16 January, 2007

Perhaps You Would Like to Sleep Where Vincent Slept?

Vincent's Chair with His Pipe, van Gogh, 1888

There is a hotel in Arles, France, a short distance from the actual yellow house which apparently was bombed in the Second World War. In it, is a full scale recreation of van Gogh's bedroom.

You, too, can sleep in his bed, and "channel" his genius.

Let's hope they've changed the sheets since VVG's time.

Paul Gauguin's Vision of the Sermon

Vision of the Sermon, Gauguin 1888

This painting, of Breton women observing
Jacob wrestling the angel, was one of the works that fed the collaboration at the yellow house.

The flat plane of red, with figures sort of floating about, the use of pure colors, and the use of imagination are breakthroughs evidenced in this work, and others from this time.

Van Gogh and Gauguin, and also Emile Bernard by postal connections, were creating one the greatest "synergies" of artistic change in history at this "Studio of the South". Read some interesting history (The Art Institute of Chicago) and criticism (author not named, Telegraph U.K.) here and here.

Arles, France residence of Gauguin and van Gogh

15 January, 2007

What is the Correct Tone of the Mountains?

Starry Night, van Gogh, 1889
"That is a little what Bernard and Gauguin feel, they do not ask the correct shape of a tree at all, but they insist absolutely that one can say if the shape is round or square - and my word, they are right, exasperated as they are by certain people's photographic and empty perfection.

Certainly they will not ask the correct tone of the mountains, but they will say: In the Name of God, the mountains were blue, were they? Then chuck on some blue and don't go telling me that it was a blue rather like this or that, it was blue, wasn't it? Good - make them blue and it's enough!

Gauguin is sometimes like a genius when he explains this, but as for the genius Gauguin has, he is very timid about showing it, and it is touching the way he likes to say something really useful to the young. How strange he is all the same.

van Gogh, 1889

Postscript: One has to like Emile Bernard, who got kicked out of art school in Paris for insubordination!

14 January, 2007

Bump! Originality

Gauguin at His Easel, 1885
Self Portrait

There is a good conversation going on my previous post about originality.
In my "Yellow House" book, on Gauguin and VVG, the author is calling the style of Cezanne the "default" style of Gauguin.

13 January, 2007

The Yellow House, Van Gogh and Gauguin

Garden in the Snow, 1885

My book arrived yesterday from Amazon. It is The Yellow House, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent weeks in Arles, by Martin Gayford.

It is a funny thing, too. I enjoyed trying to write something original about the artist Bob Dylan, and giving my own opinions achieves that, I think. As a result, I was searching for someone else to write about, this time a visual artist. Van Gogh came to mind, and I had posted these "originality" posts, and here comes my book in the mail. Synchronicity.

The book treats you to every detail of the situation involving a moment and a place in time. An event that informs western art forever. What was their arrangement? What would you find if you turned left out the front door of the yellow house, and went one door? One mile?

What did VVG eat for breakfast? (Coffee, bread and butter)

If this kind of minutia drives you crazy, wait til we get to Van Gogh's unraveling! Don't worry, I shall treat you, dear reader, to just the salient points.

Well, maybe a few trivialities, just for spice.

Here's one I found entertaining. Ever wonder how to pronounce Van Gogh? If you aren't Dutch, just forget it. On that, I was in Italy last year, bumping along a high road with my host, a Dutchman named Lorenzo. Of course, I asked him to pronounce "Van Gogh". Go here to hear it for yourself.

I just poured myself a cup of French press coffee. VVG was addicted to the stuff. Not me, though. I can quit any time I like. I just don't feel like quiting...

Back to my book, now.

12 January, 2007

Hard Life of Van Gogh

There used to be a saying in the USA back in the eighties. It went something like: "It's hard to get happy after (fill in the blanks)".
I read a well put together brief on Vincent van Gogh's life the other day. It's hard to "get happy" after reading the very tragic outline of his last few years, which culminated in his taking of his own life, on July 29th, 1890.
Then, after a while, I look (really look!) at his wonderful colorist art. Then, I am able to see the world-changing legacy that he left us. Intensified color, without losing sight of his subject. Rich, high chroma yellows. Dark, deep blues.
Bravo, Vincent! You changed the art world's use of color more than anyone else in modern times.

Van Gogh and Gauguin

I decided to revisit this VG portrait, because of the similarity to the portrait that his roomie did. Also, recall this from a previous post.

Portrait of the postman
Joseph Roulin,
Vincent Van Gogh.

1888, o/c 65 x54 cm.

Van Gogh News

Check out this item over at Artdaily. Guess I have company in my love for the Dutch artist's work.

11 January, 2007

10 January, 2007

Bob Dylan, Artist (Part Two)

“It rubs me the wrong way, a camera... It's a frightening thing...Cameras make ghosts out of people.”

“Don't know how I got to write those songs. Those early songs were almost magically written."
Bob Dylan, in a recent interview aired on the documentary
No Direction Home, Martin Scorcesee,Director, 2005.

Does Dylan look back in time upon his early days as a cultural icon, the spokesman of the sixties generation, and sense detachment now from his body of work? I don’t know, but then again, what do any of us “know” about this mysterious and enigmatic artist?

After a near death motorcycle wreck in 1966, when the keen was considered to be at the height of his powers, Bob Dylan retreated from the constant and overbearing glare of public attention. He still has barely let the adoring public see his private self. This mystery lingers, even though he has remained on almost endless tour for the entirety of the 90s and 00s (100 dates a year), and published his memoir, Chronicles: Volume 1, in 2004.

His gnosis is present in his manner of “stream of consciousness” speaking. The quotes are powerful and sharply pointed, but seldom placed in any direct context. And there are volumes upon volumes of words attributed to Bob Dylan, both in the form of lyrics, and in prose and poetry, interviews and autobiographical writing.

Partly, his spiritual side, which was openly and boldly evangelical Christian from his conversion in 1979, is little understood by his generation at large. The sixties and seventies were, after all, not known for the religious piety of it’s art or youth cultures.

“I got in through the door when noboby was watchin’ it. Now that I’m in, they’re gonna’ have a hard time getting’ me back out.”

Artistic courage is taking the stage at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and going electric; being booed and still taking the same direction because you know it’s what you have to do. It’s your direction. Bob Dylan was all but crucified for standing from his rare perch and uttering something new and original. The Folk music intelligencia were sure that it was blasphemy, but Dylan kept selling tickets and touring and selling records. He knew that his hecklers were still hungry for whatever it was he was bringing, and he carried the day.

Artistic growth and originality is mixing folk and rock, Gaelic and rockabilly. Growth is coming from where he was, and making a country album. Before country was the most popular music of our day. Way before.

And a career that has spanned forty-five years is still vibrant and strong. His new album, Modern Times, just came out. Google XM Satellite Radio. The number 2 post, today, is the show:Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan.

It’s about “Themes, Dreams and Schemes.” Dylan talks about hair, this week. His hour on baseball is sure to be talked about for some time. Go figure the Bob to take an old venue and create something original and fresh from it.

"The picture you have in your mind of what you're about will come true." Bob Dylan in an Ed Bradley interview in 2005.

What picture do you have in your mind of “what you’re about”? If you can only keep the faith of the artistic spirit embodied by Dylan and his work, I know good things await.

Next Post: back to visual art.

09 January, 2007

Dylan Quotes

"I define nothing. Not beauty, not patriotism. I take each thing as it is, without prior rules about what it should be."

"If I wasn't Bob Dylan, I'd probably think that Bob Dylan has a lot of answers myself."

“Just because you like my stuff, doesn’t mean I owe you anything.”

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two of my post: Bob Dylan, Artist.

08 January, 2007

Bob Dylan, Artist (Part One)

"The memory of you keeps callin' after me like a rollin' train."

Bob Dylan, Artist

Although comparisons of fine art (painting, sculpture) to music don’t do much for me, I do find a great deal of inspiration in the life story of Bob Dylan. His commitment to the creativity and originality of his art form is a legacy that all of us should appreciate.

Last year I happened to be on the road and in San Francisco, to take down my one-man show. What better thing to do than to pick up a new Bob Dylan CD for the long road trip back to Spokane? And, luckily, a Fisherman’s Warf Starbucks happened to have it. The new “double album” set that co-released with Martin Scorcesee’s movie of the same name about the bard is called No Direction Home.

The director chose, wisely, to limit the scope of the documentary to the period of Dylan’s meteoric rise to fame, 1961 – 1966. In the early sixties, I was the same age as my own children are now. In the fever pits of Greenwich Village, the young Dylan was absorbing the currents of modern culture and music. He “saw” (or heard) with clarity unmatched, the direction that popular culture was taking. Moreover, he saw where it needed to go! In the old days, we called that a leader. Another phrase would be individual creativity, or maybe even originality. Dylan was, and had, all of that.

Well, I said I don’t do analogies of painting to music. But it isn’t hard to see the parallels between what artists call the “formal” qualities of art, that is shape, form, line, and color, and Dylan's focus on his words and his music. Everything that is decidedly not the subject. Bob Dylan wouldn’t let anyone pin him down to the subjective nature of his work. He was all about the art, the form of the song. He said he was “a song and dance man.”

He claims to have slowed down on cutting edginess, but to my mind he has continued to be the same creative person, if not in the super-popular vanguard.

Next Post: Tune in here soon for the second half of Bob Dylan, Artist, in which I play art critic and quote-monger, and update you on the recent Bob.

07 January, 2007

Free Art Screensaver

Thanks to William Lehman over at Artist Hideout for doing this great, free screensaver project. See my wonderful pastel, Red Veiled Forest, on it along with a very eclectic assortment of fine art and fine craft works. Here is the link for you to get this freebie.

There seems to be a nifty trend going on. I guess I might call it: "Mass Internet Participation Projects". Well, if you've got a better name, I would like to hear it!

In that vein, see the Sargent project going on over at Mark.

05 January, 2007

Van Gogh News

Check out this item over at Artdaily. Guess I have company in my love for the Dutch artist's work.

Portrait of the postman
Joseph Roulin,
Vincent Van Gogh.
1888, o/c 65 x 54 cm.

Bob Dylan, Throwin' Bricks

I'm working on a post about Bob Dylan. I don't get into popular culture, much, but somewhere
along the line I got hooked on Bob. His art involves a lot of shakin' up of conventions.


I saw him at The Paramount, The Gorge ( that's a venue in the remote Columbia Gorge), and the Tacoma Dome. I missed the Key Arena concert, last year in Seattle. Read the acclaimed review of it by Regina Hackett, here.

Tune in in the next few days to see what I have to say about the iron clad artistic ethic of the bard.

Book Report 2006

What art related books did you read last year? Here is my book report for 2006.

I have already posted about my favorite, Abstract Expressionism, by Barbara Hess. Here is the U.K. resource, by the way, for this book.

The Collins Big Book of Art, Wilkins and Zaczek is a broad reaching and large reference volume that is more about image than text. It does highlight major moves forward in art history, and is, typical for our modern tastes, inclusive of non-western cultures. The level of realism that ancient man used was what struck me.

I also enjoyed a book about a late artist from my small, coastal hometown of Hoquiam, Washington. Elton Bennett, His Life and Art, Satterfield, is about the talented silkscreen artist who came out of logging and harbor work in this hard-scrabble frontier boom town.

You were not well advised to aspire to be an artist when there was man’s work to do in the woods. But Bennett really did see his sleepy and rain-soaked landscape for the visual treasure that it is. I also bought a couple of giclees from his estate this year.

Another TASCHEN book about my favorite artist of all time, Van Gogh, The Complete Works, by Walther and Metzger, has kept my interest. I’m going to do a whole post someday about the publisher TASCHEN who offer meaty art books for downright low prices.

Because my home lies at close to the same latitude as Southern France, and shares much of the same physical geography, I plan to emulate more of Van Gogh’s work. The rural landscape and light here, complete with wheat fields and crows, sun and vineyards match his environment quite well. Eat your heart out, fellow artists :-P

Try 500 Self Portraits, compiled by Julian Bell. The idea is another image-centric volume of works by famous artists through history.

Then, Degas, By Himself, compiled by Richard Kendall, had me reading the letters of the man himself. Degas, many are not aware, was the Impressionist whose most known works were not done in oil paint, but rather in soft pastel. Pastellists consider him their “patron saint” for this reason.

I’m seeing a real trend by art historians here to keep their perspective art-centric or artist-centric. That’s a happy departure from a lot of the goofy redactionist work that is written today in other fields of history.

Here’s a prize that I tripped over at the gun show/flea market in Spokane: the classic 1953 Carslon’s Guide to Landscape Painting, John F. Carlson. It is, to the best of my knowledge, out of print. First published in 1929, it is a wholesome primer on the subject.

Although McMichael’s Anthology of American Literature is not about art, you may deduce my particular interest in it by looking at it’s cover ;=) Clue: that's my own painting, Red Barn with Ramp.

I am still reading the next two short books.

Art’s Prospect, The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity, by Roger Kimball, concerns art criticism and art critics themselves, within their historical contexts. It is a collection of essays by this editor of The New Criterion magazine

Art History, A Very Short Introduction, is by Dana Arnold, and studies the “naval” of art history as a discipline, rather than the actual history of art.

I started the year 2006 with a very big volume on art history, and closed it out with a very small one on the same subject. That does not sound very promising for me, does it?

Administrative note: The extremely annoying HTML writing that appears above and below these book images, that says: "if !support Empty Paras", etc., does not appear in my Firefox pages, but does appear on I.E. and MSN. I won't take the trouble to clean it up, since the whole thing looks very good on my computer with Firefox.

Abstract Expressionism, Art Criticism, Artists, Colorist Art, Drawing, History, Impressionism, Modern Art, Painting, Pastel, Post Impressionism