What is your first art memory? At what moment in your life did you first encounter and become aware of art?

Suzie Baker, “Veil of Morning 15×30”, oil on linen panel

The question is what plein air painter Suzie Baker calls a “tabletop question,” something that gets the conversation going. It’s a provocative one, and worth asking not only other artists, and non-artists, but oneself as well. Mine is either a print of a romantic, Hudson-River-style landscape on the wall of my childhood home or the ceiling painting at my hometown Post Office.

ARTHUR STURGES CEILING Depicting allegory of North America receiving mail from around the world, fresco at the U.S. Post Office, Oyster Bay, NY. Photo: Idoysterbay Creative Commons

“If you’re a plein air painter and you’re going outdoors, we have countless conversations with people who didn’t see art as an integral part of their life or something they could connect with,” Baker says. “They see someone painting in their hometown, which is something they can identify with, and I think we may be giving them their first experience of art in a lot of ways.”

During the course of the conversation, important aspects of why artists make paintings come up. Emotion has to be there, as well as sound technique. And there are other less talked-about aspects as well:

“There is a historical aspect to it,” Baker says. “There are things we are painting that, in ten or 15 years won’t be there anymore, and we will have recorded that, and it feels like a privilege in some ways.”

Suzie Baker, Brasstown Falls 12 x 16″, oil on panel

Baker goes on to share her thoughts on what makes a good art workshop student, the business side of art, and much more.

Listen to the whole episode here:

The Photogenic Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh at age 19, 1873. Wikimedia Commons (public domain). Detail.

Most anyone who knows a bit of art history has seen the self portraits – they’re burned into our brains. But there are actual photos of Vincent van Gogh as well (not without some mystery surrounding how they came into being), and it’s amazing to compare them with the painted images we know so well.

See more at this link, part of a larger story on the controversy surrounding van Gogh’s death (or possibly his murder).