Another Jozef Blok (my own Mr. Blok)

November 30th – the end of the month and the end of many hours of work, sittings, and polishing my little Italian!

This year I chose not to make a case study of a person I know but of one I have only seen in town:  a friendly local chef working a door down the gallery.  His name is not Mr. Blok, neither his first name is Jozef.  Yet, you must wonder why I’ve called this piece “Another Mr. Blok,” and the answer to this question is the story behind this painting.

It was about 4 years ago when I became obsessed with the works of Van Gogh, one of my favorite painters.  I remembered I used to know only his later work:  the starry night, wheat fields, and sunflowers (dead and alive), and his self portraits – the famous Van Gogh’s ear.

Though Van Gogh’s work wasn’t always colorful.  In fact, his early work was gloomy, earthy toned, and on the dark side.  The first transitional – from dark to color- work, is a portrait not many of us know, yet of great significant:  Mr. Blok.  It is a portrait of a black bearded street book seller Van Gogh knew in The Hague.

Jozef Blok *drawing  *5-11-1882  *38.4 x 26.2 cm

Jozef Blok *drawing *5-11-1882 *38.4 x 26.2 cm

It was 3 years ago when I discovered my own Mr. Blok here in Ascona:  a bearded local chef who used to pass by my window on his way to work.  I always wanted to ask him to sit for me but never really had the “nerve”to ask a stranger for such a strange request.  This year I finally did.  I was lucky he didn’t find it unusual to have an artist beg to paint a portrait of his.  He agreed.

“Another Mr. Blok” isn’t a study  of my subject or sitter, but of Van Gogh’s philosophy.  In his eyes, everyone – the postman, the bookseller, the doctor, the prostitute – were of equal value and importance.  With this study, I too stand by this belief.  Not matter where one comes from, what title one holds, what one does…there is always a special story behind a face.

The evolution:

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The beginning.

 

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Taking shape.

 

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The beard.

 

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Background.

 

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The happy ending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Boat of Gandria, Ticino.

I looked through my journal today, to try to find again, the how’s and the why’s,that gave rise to creation of “Red boat.”  This is what I found:

“Red Boat” will be part of my collection, “Ticino through my window.“  Today I discovered a small red boat in the port of Gandria, Ticino. Its beautiful red color wasn’t the only thing that demanded my attention, but also the gentle motion by which it rocked backwards and forward. A motion that made a squeaky sound to the touch of a tree branch just resting next to the boat.  “It looks as if they’re playing,“ I heard my inner voice saying.  “Perhaps the boat likes to be tickled by the arm of the tree, and that squeaky sound is the sound of the boat’s laugh!“ I smiled big. I walked down to the water, grabbed my glass from my backpack, grabbed my watercolors, and started sketching these funny playmates.

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I unhooked this painting, took one last look at it, and said:  “So long!”

“Red boat is going to Australia to be appreciated and pampered by two happy new owners.  I couldn’t have asked for more!

The Birch trees of Val Bavona

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The Birch trees of Val Bavona

There is something spectacular about Val Bavona, and it’s not just its popular 80 meters high waterfall in the town of Foroglio. Val Bavona offers more than that. There are trails with amazing views, and places where experienced and not so experienced climbers can enjoy some steep mountains. For me, Val Bavona has offered me more than beauty and entertainment:  it has given me the inspiration to create a new painting!
The Birch trees of Val Bavona, is now part of my collection: “Ticino through my window.” It depicts a forest of Birch trees along the famous trail of Cristallina.  It’s been fun recreating the colors and overall composition of a tiny ecological part of what’s one of the most beautiful valleys in the canton Ticino.