Friday, January 24, 2014

Colors of childhood - São Paulo

O Pescador (the fisherman). With apologies to Tarsila.

My kids have been on summer vacation for literally FOREVER. Oh, all right, since December 18.  Normally I would have used some of this time to drag them off to the US to ski or see their cousin or many other things. But this year we decided to stay because of BH's grandmother, now 94 years old, and because my parents needed to escape Chicago in January. They traded a month of below-freezing for a month of beyond-boiling--it's the hottest January on record here, and the coldest on record there. Which would you rather? 

On one of the days last week, I tried to get the twins into painting with acrylic paints. My dad took up painting when he retired ten years ago. Copying masters' works and making them your own is one of his (and my) favorite ways to pass a day. So, I decided to outline a painting from a Brazilian master and get the twins to paint it.

Here's what actually happened. The kids painted that little green plant on the orange mountain to the left. Okay, one kid. The other didn't touch it. It wasn't that they weren't interested, it was that this painting wasn't theirs. At 7 years old, they want to do their own art: dinosaurs and dragons and spiders and bugs. Tarsila was not going to hold them.

This painting is indeed based on a Tarsila do Amaral, who is perhaps tied for my favorite Brazilian artist with Candido Portinari. Tarsila has a slight advantage because she is (was? She died in 1973) a woman, and that's just unusual around here. Here is the original painting on which I based my "masterpiece." Yes, you can see I owe her an apology for my poor knock-off.

If you don't know Tarsila, as she was known, I would highly recommend a look. I am not so interested in her earlier works which are dark and not fun. I like the works where she re-discovered the colors of her childhood, as wikipedia puts it. They are primitive, colorful and bring to me a feeling of relaxation and rest.

Here is her most famous work, given by her to her husband Oswald de Andrade:

Abaporu. Photo credit:

If you are interested in an exhaustive catalogue of her work, you can look here--it is available in English and Portuguese. If some of them don't make you want to pick up a paintbrush and attempt it yourself, nothing will.

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