Other artists painted Spanish tavern scenes, but Velásquez, being the great artist he was, saw and painted deeper truths.

Velásquez’s The Waterseller is far from only observational. Removed from the stream of circumstance, this a theater, a darkened stage on which Velásquez quietly and subtly enacts the drama of the human condition.

Watersellers were common in Europe but especially in Seville, where the summer heat can be brutal. The knee-jerk reaction would have been to repeat the cliché of the lower-class cheat bent on extracting maximum profit from other peoples’ needs. Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (baptized 1599 – died 1660) does the opposite.

In this painting, Velásquez bears witness to the man’s poverty, yet he lifts him up and honors his inherent worth and dignity. His face is burnt and rough from years of exposure to the sun and wind, pensive and deeply scarred with the wrinkles of age. His short shaved hair and plain garments suggest a monk, saint, or an eccentric philosopher. The directional light is such as was usually reserved for religious paintings of holy figures.

Velázquez, The Waterseller, 1618-1622 (detail)

Then there is the grouping of the figures, each isolated by not making eye contact: a rather doughy, upper-class boy is being served by the time-ravaged “commoner,” while a non-descript adult between them looks vacantly on. From left to right we can read the remorseless flow of time, from childhood through midlife to old age.

In this far-from-ordinary image, Velásquez offers us not only his personal insight into the human heart but insight into the human condition itself: the three strata of society, and the three stages of life – youth, adulthood, and age – it is all there just under the surface of one “ordinary” moment, right before our eyes.

A few months after finishing this picture, Velásquez was ordered to paint a portrait of King Philip IV, and so began the rest of Velásquez’s life as court painter to the king and one of the most influential artists of all time.

Velásquez gives us a gorgeously observed and rendered still life in the earthenware vessels and water glass of this painting. Fun fact: the fig inside the drinking glass is intended to freshen the water’s taste, and I hear this is something that’s still done in Seville to this day.

Classic portraiture, forever changed by Velasquez, is still taught in ateliers such as the Florence Classical Arts Academy, with which artist Oliver Sin is associated. Sin teaches his method of simplifying the portrait on video.

New Mexico Lifts Restrictions on
Plein Air Convention Attendance

(Santa Fe) The state of New Mexico has lifted all mask and social media restrictions in the state. Management at Buffalo Thunder Resort, where the PleinAir Convention & Expo will be held, has just notified PleinAir Magazine that they no longer need to restrict the number of attendees allowed to attend, will no longer require social distancing, and will no longer require masks.

“This is huge news,” says Eric Rhoads, founder of PleinAir Magazine.” There were a lot of people concerned that maybe New Mexico wasn’t safe yet because of those restrictions, but this proves that we can all feel confident attending. This could cause a flood of new registrations.”

As of yesterday the conference had less than 100 seats left to offer, which meant almost 50% reduction in available seats. Now more people can attend.

Because of the limitation a price increase was scheduled for April 17, however Rhoads stated that he will keep the current low price available until May 12, 2022.

The Plein Air Convention & Expo is a live, in-person gathering, where plein air (outdoor) painters gather to paint and learn together. A faculty of 60 artists teach on four stages with giant screen monitors. Additionally, faculty work with individuals while painting together outdoors.

The event is scheduled for May 17-21 with a pre-convention workshop with artist Kevin Macpherson on May 16th and a beginner’s day pre-convention workshop on May 17th.

To learn more, visit www.pleinairconvention.com.

Click here to view the faculty.