Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Painting at Great Falls, Auburn Maine
I've been absent from Blogworld for awhile, but with good reason.
A very unexpected visitor came to stay with me last week. The Russian artist I mentioned recently in my post about the traveling painting, Stas Borodin, phoned me out of the blue announcing he was in Providence, RI and had some free time to come to Maine. It's been three years since I've seen or heard from him. How odd that at the moment I mention him, he contacts me.
Stas has never stayed with me before, though I've painted with him many times. This was a new experience for all of us. Being with Stas means one thing. Every day, no matter the weather, you go out to paint all day long. If you recall my last post, I was telling you how exhausted I've been. I wasn't in the best condition for the start of a Stas visit. I have to say, keeping up with Stas nearly killed me. My typical day of sitting at the computer blogging with morning coffee and standing in front of my easel in a warm house with Luka Bloom serenading me was a far cry from Stas's normal day. That said, my time with him was very precious and though tiring, I wouldn't give it up for anything.
Stas is a master.
I've been talking to you lately of the importance of fundamentals and how they're no longer taught in today's schools and universities. To really learn them, one must do so from the masters of today. If they don't pass down this knowledge, it will be lost forever within a few decades. That sad thought ripples up my spine. So no matter how tired I was, when a master offered to come paint with me, there was no hesitation to say yes!
If you've been reading any blogs from other Mainers, you already know the weather has been windy, rainy and cold. What was predicted to be a warm sunny week, turned quite differently when a large storm stalled out in the Atlantic, turning and churning the clouds overhead. I only froze on day one. Afterwards wearing my modern day long-john's became daily attire.
Stas is a wonderful person. Don't let the things the government taught us about Russians years ago scare you. If you've had the pleasure to know any, you already know how nice and gentle they really are. Stas is no exception. His kind soul pours out on canvas. His paintings are timeless, brilliantly orchestrated with layers of colors that vibrate the eye and shine with similar luminosity of the inside of a shell. His strokes are broad and rigid, like mosaic tiles scattered atop the canvas. His compositions are unusual. Not the typical lead in with pointers to direct the eye. His paintings grab you with something, some object, and once in, your eye dances a happy vibrating dance bouncing around pleasurably throughout flecks of color. His work is impressionistic. The light it emulates is captivating and entrancing. His work is not always understood at first glance, but get into a roomful of his art and you find yourself touched with a flood of emotion. A rainbow of pastels and grays surround you and with such softness speak the emotions of a well traveled man.
Stas is a unique artist in today's world. It's never about money. It's always about painting. He travels for months at a time with minimal baggage. His art supplies and a few clothes. From country to country, staying with friends he's made along the way, he hops around the world with magnificent stories and a smile on his face. He'll sell a painting right off the easel to a passerby. A few dollars in his pocket help him hop the next bus out of town. He arrives without notice and leaves like the wind blowing pass.
It feels like a quick dream. There is no contact. His cell phone is a Russian number. He doesn't have a laptop. You pinch yourself wondering if it was even real. But photos and a few paintings left behind are proof that he was really here.
He left for NYC where his paintings from Providence and Maine are being exhibited as I write. I got a sneak peek at the entire body of work. It's magnificent. I can't even tell you the venue. Communication is choppy and sometimes difficult. All I can tell you is it's a former synagogue turned art center on Manhattan. Also on view there is an exhibit of the famous Russian artist, Ilya Repin. If you can decipher this code and are nearby, do yourself a favor and go visit.