The art of genius

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800px-Thomas_Girtin_by_John_OpieAndrea here
, I was recently looking at a book on great English watercolor paintings to refresh my memory for a small plot point in my current WIP, and it got me to musing about several things (which happens more frequently than I care to admit—procrastination is often far more fun than actually writing!)

First, it got me to thinking about how if I had another lifetime and could pick one discipline to master, I would choose Ba-obj-2042-0001-pub-print-lgpainting in watercolor. Oil paintings are wonderful, but for me there’s something magical about the sense of spontaneity of watercolors—the eye and hand reacting quickly to the subject. The nature of the medium is that one can’t overwork or overthink a painting, or it loses the translucent beauty of light and color that makes it so special.

Ba-obj-5875-0001-pub-print-lgThat reaction was sparked because I was looking at two of my favorite watercolor artists. J. M. W. Turner is likely a name you recognize, but while he’s far less well known, Thomas Girtin is just as breathtakingly talented—a fact which makes his early death at age 27 even more poignant. Turner, never one to volunteer a kind word about anyone, acknowledged his friend’s rare genius by saying,

“If Girtin had lived, I would have starved.”

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Girtin and Turner were born just months apart, and within a stone’s throw of each other in London. After early art training, they came to work at the same dealer in Covent Garden adding hand coloring to etchings and engraving. They also continued to hone their skills at night at an informal academy held by Dr. Munro, King George III personal physician and a noted art collector.

Ba-obj-5853-0001-pub-print-lgThe two young men developed a friendship, as well as a friendly rivalry. (Girtin was very popular because of his sunny good nature, and it’s said that Turner, an introverted curmudgeon, was tolerated by other artists because of Girtin.)

Ba-obj-5886-0001-pub-print-lgBy 1794, Girtin was exhibiting watercolors at the Royal Academy. It’s important to note here that watercolorists were looked down upon by “real” painters. The medium was considered a craft, not art, as it was used mostly in maps and to record mundane images like houses—the Regency equivalent of a snapshot. But Girtin started to change all that. His atmospheric rendering of landscapes, which celebrated the color and textures of the natural world, helped inspire the Romantic movement in art. And along with Turner, he helped garner respect for watercolors as real works of art.

When you look closely at a Girtin painting you can see his intimate awareness of the weather and the light. Morning mists float up over fields, clouds presage a coming squall, wind ruffles the grasses. The subtle details, the range of colors, the use of dramatic light and shadow all combine to create remarkable images.

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I’m lucky enough to live near the British Art Center at Yale, which has a great collection of Girtin watercolors. And I’m even luckier that the museum, as befits a great teaching university, has a study room where one can actually examine the work in detail. So, inspired by thumbing through the book, I decided to go up and have a closer look at the originals. (Yes, more procrastination, but it’s research, right?) It was truly an amazing experience. I walked in (it’s open to the public and easy to register) and asked to see the Girtins. Five minutes later, out came a box, which was set up for me at a study table. I was asked to wash my hands, then handed a magnifying glass. “Have fun,” said the curator with a smile.

Ba-obj-5878-0001-pub-print-lgI confess, my heart began to race a little as I lifted out a stack of Girtin’s original work and began to look—really look—at the nuances of color and the deft touch which, to me, separates good from great. It’s astounding how a simple line and dot can create the illusion of a person walking in the distance.

Another fascinating thing was to see some of his pencil sketches, which show what an incredibly skilled draftsman he was. But then, his paintings loosen up and he captures the spirit of a scene as well as its structure. (images courtesy of the Yale Center for British Art)

There’s something amazing about actually handling an artifact from history, which helps make an era come alive. What historical item would you like most to hold? And if you could master a skill you don’t currently have, what would it be?

110 thoughts on “The art of genius”

  1. I would love to learn to paint. I have painted a little in the past, but I don’t currently have a place to set up an easel. I would love to take one of the classes offered at our local community college, but something always comes up.
    As for historical artifacts, I would love to hold one of the Lewis chessmen so I could see the detail that is very difficult to see in a museum display (although I have seen them, both in Edinburgh and in London.

    Reply
  2. I would love to learn to paint. I have painted a little in the past, but I don’t currently have a place to set up an easel. I would love to take one of the classes offered at our local community college, but something always comes up.
    As for historical artifacts, I would love to hold one of the Lewis chessmen so I could see the detail that is very difficult to see in a museum display (although I have seen them, both in Edinburgh and in London.

    Reply
  3. I would love to learn to paint. I have painted a little in the past, but I don’t currently have a place to set up an easel. I would love to take one of the classes offered at our local community college, but something always comes up.
    As for historical artifacts, I would love to hold one of the Lewis chessmen so I could see the detail that is very difficult to see in a museum display (although I have seen them, both in Edinburgh and in London.

    Reply
  4. I would love to learn to paint. I have painted a little in the past, but I don’t currently have a place to set up an easel. I would love to take one of the classes offered at our local community college, but something always comes up.
    As for historical artifacts, I would love to hold one of the Lewis chessmen so I could see the detail that is very difficult to see in a museum display (although I have seen them, both in Edinburgh and in London.

    Reply
  5. I would love to learn to paint. I have painted a little in the past, but I don’t currently have a place to set up an easel. I would love to take one of the classes offered at our local community college, but something always comes up.
    As for historical artifacts, I would love to hold one of the Lewis chessmen so I could see the detail that is very difficult to see in a museum display (although I have seen them, both in Edinburgh and in London.

    Reply
  6. As an art school graduate, I learned first hand how difficult it is to do watercolors, which gave me a great respect for those who do it well! Thanks for introducing me to Girton, truly a master. Maybe some day I’ll be able to see some of his work first hand myself. Those Lewis chessmen Sarah Lingle mentioned sound pretty good, too!
    I once had the opportunity to caress an original carved wooden staircase by the famous Grinling Gibbons himself. It was in the vicarage inhabited by friends of my sister. I love touching wood, and he was such a master carver. Lovely!

    Reply
  7. As an art school graduate, I learned first hand how difficult it is to do watercolors, which gave me a great respect for those who do it well! Thanks for introducing me to Girton, truly a master. Maybe some day I’ll be able to see some of his work first hand myself. Those Lewis chessmen Sarah Lingle mentioned sound pretty good, too!
    I once had the opportunity to caress an original carved wooden staircase by the famous Grinling Gibbons himself. It was in the vicarage inhabited by friends of my sister. I love touching wood, and he was such a master carver. Lovely!

    Reply
  8. As an art school graduate, I learned first hand how difficult it is to do watercolors, which gave me a great respect for those who do it well! Thanks for introducing me to Girton, truly a master. Maybe some day I’ll be able to see some of his work first hand myself. Those Lewis chessmen Sarah Lingle mentioned sound pretty good, too!
    I once had the opportunity to caress an original carved wooden staircase by the famous Grinling Gibbons himself. It was in the vicarage inhabited by friends of my sister. I love touching wood, and he was such a master carver. Lovely!

    Reply
  9. As an art school graduate, I learned first hand how difficult it is to do watercolors, which gave me a great respect for those who do it well! Thanks for introducing me to Girton, truly a master. Maybe some day I’ll be able to see some of his work first hand myself. Those Lewis chessmen Sarah Lingle mentioned sound pretty good, too!
    I once had the opportunity to caress an original carved wooden staircase by the famous Grinling Gibbons himself. It was in the vicarage inhabited by friends of my sister. I love touching wood, and he was such a master carver. Lovely!

    Reply
  10. As an art school graduate, I learned first hand how difficult it is to do watercolors, which gave me a great respect for those who do it well! Thanks for introducing me to Girton, truly a master. Maybe some day I’ll be able to see some of his work first hand myself. Those Lewis chessmen Sarah Lingle mentioned sound pretty good, too!
    I once had the opportunity to caress an original carved wooden staircase by the famous Grinling Gibbons himself. It was in the vicarage inhabited by friends of my sister. I love touching wood, and he was such a master carver. Lovely!

    Reply
  11. I’ll also thank you for the introduction to Girton; 27 is so young to die, Andrea, yet he certainly left a legacy.
    What skill would I like to master? I think I’d like to have written a book enjoyed by many. (Note that use of the past tense!)

    Reply
  12. I’ll also thank you for the introduction to Girton; 27 is so young to die, Andrea, yet he certainly left a legacy.
    What skill would I like to master? I think I’d like to have written a book enjoyed by many. (Note that use of the past tense!)

    Reply
  13. I’ll also thank you for the introduction to Girton; 27 is so young to die, Andrea, yet he certainly left a legacy.
    What skill would I like to master? I think I’d like to have written a book enjoyed by many. (Note that use of the past tense!)

    Reply
  14. I’ll also thank you for the introduction to Girton; 27 is so young to die, Andrea, yet he certainly left a legacy.
    What skill would I like to master? I think I’d like to have written a book enjoyed by many. (Note that use of the past tense!)

    Reply
  15. I’ll also thank you for the introduction to Girton; 27 is so young to die, Andrea, yet he certainly left a legacy.
    What skill would I like to master? I think I’d like to have written a book enjoyed by many. (Note that use of the past tense!)

    Reply
  16. Andrea – Thanks for this fascinating column. I would love to do watercolors. Not happening. I’ve never had a talent for art. Thanks also to Sarah Lingle for mentioning the Lewis chessmen; I’d never heard of them. I went straight to Wikipedia. WoW! And Mary Jo mentioned a staircase. I’ve also been fascinated by wood. My grandfather made me wooden bookshelves and a miniature chest of drawers. But getting back to staircases – if you’re ever in Baltimore, near the Walters Art Museum on Mt. Vernon Place, there’s a building called The Engineers Club. Lots of lovely wood in there. But most impressive is the spiral staircase with its beautifully carved banister. Wooden. And designed by the renowned architect, Stanford White. Fortunately, the design was accomplished before he was murdered. But that’s a tale for another time. In any case, I loved the staircase, loved the feel of the carved wood under my hands. I even used it in my third book, Baby Love, in which the heroine was a woodworker.

    Reply
  17. Andrea – Thanks for this fascinating column. I would love to do watercolors. Not happening. I’ve never had a talent for art. Thanks also to Sarah Lingle for mentioning the Lewis chessmen; I’d never heard of them. I went straight to Wikipedia. WoW! And Mary Jo mentioned a staircase. I’ve also been fascinated by wood. My grandfather made me wooden bookshelves and a miniature chest of drawers. But getting back to staircases – if you’re ever in Baltimore, near the Walters Art Museum on Mt. Vernon Place, there’s a building called The Engineers Club. Lots of lovely wood in there. But most impressive is the spiral staircase with its beautifully carved banister. Wooden. And designed by the renowned architect, Stanford White. Fortunately, the design was accomplished before he was murdered. But that’s a tale for another time. In any case, I loved the staircase, loved the feel of the carved wood under my hands. I even used it in my third book, Baby Love, in which the heroine was a woodworker.

    Reply
  18. Andrea – Thanks for this fascinating column. I would love to do watercolors. Not happening. I’ve never had a talent for art. Thanks also to Sarah Lingle for mentioning the Lewis chessmen; I’d never heard of them. I went straight to Wikipedia. WoW! And Mary Jo mentioned a staircase. I’ve also been fascinated by wood. My grandfather made me wooden bookshelves and a miniature chest of drawers. But getting back to staircases – if you’re ever in Baltimore, near the Walters Art Museum on Mt. Vernon Place, there’s a building called The Engineers Club. Lots of lovely wood in there. But most impressive is the spiral staircase with its beautifully carved banister. Wooden. And designed by the renowned architect, Stanford White. Fortunately, the design was accomplished before he was murdered. But that’s a tale for another time. In any case, I loved the staircase, loved the feel of the carved wood under my hands. I even used it in my third book, Baby Love, in which the heroine was a woodworker.

    Reply
  19. Andrea – Thanks for this fascinating column. I would love to do watercolors. Not happening. I’ve never had a talent for art. Thanks also to Sarah Lingle for mentioning the Lewis chessmen; I’d never heard of them. I went straight to Wikipedia. WoW! And Mary Jo mentioned a staircase. I’ve also been fascinated by wood. My grandfather made me wooden bookshelves and a miniature chest of drawers. But getting back to staircases – if you’re ever in Baltimore, near the Walters Art Museum on Mt. Vernon Place, there’s a building called The Engineers Club. Lots of lovely wood in there. But most impressive is the spiral staircase with its beautifully carved banister. Wooden. And designed by the renowned architect, Stanford White. Fortunately, the design was accomplished before he was murdered. But that’s a tale for another time. In any case, I loved the staircase, loved the feel of the carved wood under my hands. I even used it in my third book, Baby Love, in which the heroine was a woodworker.

    Reply
  20. Andrea – Thanks for this fascinating column. I would love to do watercolors. Not happening. I’ve never had a talent for art. Thanks also to Sarah Lingle for mentioning the Lewis chessmen; I’d never heard of them. I went straight to Wikipedia. WoW! And Mary Jo mentioned a staircase. I’ve also been fascinated by wood. My grandfather made me wooden bookshelves and a miniature chest of drawers. But getting back to staircases – if you’re ever in Baltimore, near the Walters Art Museum on Mt. Vernon Place, there’s a building called The Engineers Club. Lots of lovely wood in there. But most impressive is the spiral staircase with its beautifully carved banister. Wooden. And designed by the renowned architect, Stanford White. Fortunately, the design was accomplished before he was murdered. But that’s a tale for another time. In any case, I loved the staircase, loved the feel of the carved wood under my hands. I even used it in my third book, Baby Love, in which the heroine was a woodworker.

    Reply
  21. Andrea, What beautiful paintings. Thanks for introducing me to a wonderful artist. Think what a body of work he could have created if he had lived longer.

    Reply
  22. Andrea, What beautiful paintings. Thanks for introducing me to a wonderful artist. Think what a body of work he could have created if he had lived longer.

    Reply
  23. Andrea, What beautiful paintings. Thanks for introducing me to a wonderful artist. Think what a body of work he could have created if he had lived longer.

    Reply
  24. Andrea, What beautiful paintings. Thanks for introducing me to a wonderful artist. Think what a body of work he could have created if he had lived longer.

    Reply
  25. Andrea, What beautiful paintings. Thanks for introducing me to a wonderful artist. Think what a body of work he could have created if he had lived longer.

    Reply
  26. Thank you for introducing me to Girton! If I could develop a new skill it would be the related skills of watercolors and draftsmanship. I have tried, but higher loves keep getting in my way.
    As for artifacts. In the 1930s there was a Saturday morning children’s program at the St. Louis Art Museum. I remember being allowed touch some of the exhibits. Therefore, thanks to the city and my parents, I have had that pleasure. And I do own some family artifacts that are more than 100 years old.

    Reply
  27. Thank you for introducing me to Girton! If I could develop a new skill it would be the related skills of watercolors and draftsmanship. I have tried, but higher loves keep getting in my way.
    As for artifacts. In the 1930s there was a Saturday morning children’s program at the St. Louis Art Museum. I remember being allowed touch some of the exhibits. Therefore, thanks to the city and my parents, I have had that pleasure. And I do own some family artifacts that are more than 100 years old.

    Reply
  28. Thank you for introducing me to Girton! If I could develop a new skill it would be the related skills of watercolors and draftsmanship. I have tried, but higher loves keep getting in my way.
    As for artifacts. In the 1930s there was a Saturday morning children’s program at the St. Louis Art Museum. I remember being allowed touch some of the exhibits. Therefore, thanks to the city and my parents, I have had that pleasure. And I do own some family artifacts that are more than 100 years old.

    Reply
  29. Thank you for introducing me to Girton! If I could develop a new skill it would be the related skills of watercolors and draftsmanship. I have tried, but higher loves keep getting in my way.
    As for artifacts. In the 1930s there was a Saturday morning children’s program at the St. Louis Art Museum. I remember being allowed touch some of the exhibits. Therefore, thanks to the city and my parents, I have had that pleasure. And I do own some family artifacts that are more than 100 years old.

    Reply
  30. Thank you for introducing me to Girton! If I could develop a new skill it would be the related skills of watercolors and draftsmanship. I have tried, but higher loves keep getting in my way.
    As for artifacts. In the 1930s there was a Saturday morning children’s program at the St. Louis Art Museum. I remember being allowed touch some of the exhibits. Therefore, thanks to the city and my parents, I have had that pleasure. And I do own some family artifacts that are more than 100 years old.

    Reply
  31. Your post gave me goosebumps, Andrea! I have a framed 8×10 print of Girtin’s “Lancaster Church and Bridge” that I received from a beloved 6th grade English teacher over 50 years ago, when she learned that I both loved watercolors and had strong family connections to Lancaster. I loved it then and love it still. On each trip I’ve been lucky enough to make to the UK, I have researched which Girtins I might find near our itinerary, never knowing that there was a collection as close by as Yale! I haven’t been to the British Art Center since they showed Queen Elizabeth’s collection of animal paintings, mostly Stubbs, over 20 years ago, but am definitely planning a trip now.
    As for an artifact and skill, if I had known while growing up that textile conservation was something one could get paid to do, my career might/would have taken a very different turn. I do almost every type of hand needlework, except knitting, and find it very difficult not to reach out to touch embroidered fabrics in historical exhibits. I would love to be able to closely inspect some of the 16th-18th century clothing in the V&A or, nearer to me, the Peabody Essex Museum. And I would love to be able to embroider as beautifully as those who created those pieces.

    Reply
  32. Your post gave me goosebumps, Andrea! I have a framed 8×10 print of Girtin’s “Lancaster Church and Bridge” that I received from a beloved 6th grade English teacher over 50 years ago, when she learned that I both loved watercolors and had strong family connections to Lancaster. I loved it then and love it still. On each trip I’ve been lucky enough to make to the UK, I have researched which Girtins I might find near our itinerary, never knowing that there was a collection as close by as Yale! I haven’t been to the British Art Center since they showed Queen Elizabeth’s collection of animal paintings, mostly Stubbs, over 20 years ago, but am definitely planning a trip now.
    As for an artifact and skill, if I had known while growing up that textile conservation was something one could get paid to do, my career might/would have taken a very different turn. I do almost every type of hand needlework, except knitting, and find it very difficult not to reach out to touch embroidered fabrics in historical exhibits. I would love to be able to closely inspect some of the 16th-18th century clothing in the V&A or, nearer to me, the Peabody Essex Museum. And I would love to be able to embroider as beautifully as those who created those pieces.

    Reply
  33. Your post gave me goosebumps, Andrea! I have a framed 8×10 print of Girtin’s “Lancaster Church and Bridge” that I received from a beloved 6th grade English teacher over 50 years ago, when she learned that I both loved watercolors and had strong family connections to Lancaster. I loved it then and love it still. On each trip I’ve been lucky enough to make to the UK, I have researched which Girtins I might find near our itinerary, never knowing that there was a collection as close by as Yale! I haven’t been to the British Art Center since they showed Queen Elizabeth’s collection of animal paintings, mostly Stubbs, over 20 years ago, but am definitely planning a trip now.
    As for an artifact and skill, if I had known while growing up that textile conservation was something one could get paid to do, my career might/would have taken a very different turn. I do almost every type of hand needlework, except knitting, and find it very difficult not to reach out to touch embroidered fabrics in historical exhibits. I would love to be able to closely inspect some of the 16th-18th century clothing in the V&A or, nearer to me, the Peabody Essex Museum. And I would love to be able to embroider as beautifully as those who created those pieces.

    Reply
  34. Your post gave me goosebumps, Andrea! I have a framed 8×10 print of Girtin’s “Lancaster Church and Bridge” that I received from a beloved 6th grade English teacher over 50 years ago, when she learned that I both loved watercolors and had strong family connections to Lancaster. I loved it then and love it still. On each trip I’ve been lucky enough to make to the UK, I have researched which Girtins I might find near our itinerary, never knowing that there was a collection as close by as Yale! I haven’t been to the British Art Center since they showed Queen Elizabeth’s collection of animal paintings, mostly Stubbs, over 20 years ago, but am definitely planning a trip now.
    As for an artifact and skill, if I had known while growing up that textile conservation was something one could get paid to do, my career might/would have taken a very different turn. I do almost every type of hand needlework, except knitting, and find it very difficult not to reach out to touch embroidered fabrics in historical exhibits. I would love to be able to closely inspect some of the 16th-18th century clothing in the V&A or, nearer to me, the Peabody Essex Museum. And I would love to be able to embroider as beautifully as those who created those pieces.

    Reply
  35. Your post gave me goosebumps, Andrea! I have a framed 8×10 print of Girtin’s “Lancaster Church and Bridge” that I received from a beloved 6th grade English teacher over 50 years ago, when she learned that I both loved watercolors and had strong family connections to Lancaster. I loved it then and love it still. On each trip I’ve been lucky enough to make to the UK, I have researched which Girtins I might find near our itinerary, never knowing that there was a collection as close by as Yale! I haven’t been to the British Art Center since they showed Queen Elizabeth’s collection of animal paintings, mostly Stubbs, over 20 years ago, but am definitely planning a trip now.
    As for an artifact and skill, if I had known while growing up that textile conservation was something one could get paid to do, my career might/would have taken a very different turn. I do almost every type of hand needlework, except knitting, and find it very difficult not to reach out to touch embroidered fabrics in historical exhibits. I would love to be able to closely inspect some of the 16th-18th century clothing in the V&A or, nearer to me, the Peabody Essex Museum. And I would love to be able to embroider as beautifully as those who created those pieces.

    Reply
  36. Even my stick figures do not look like people, so art is never gonna be something I could master. I would love to be able to see some of the original works of Shakespeare. He and I share a birth date.
    I loved seeing the works of Girtin. Thank you for sharing with us.
    I love to see all types of art, I do not even have to touch it, just to be able to look as long as I choose. I admire the talent that creates, and I regret the fact I have none.

    Reply
  37. Even my stick figures do not look like people, so art is never gonna be something I could master. I would love to be able to see some of the original works of Shakespeare. He and I share a birth date.
    I loved seeing the works of Girtin. Thank you for sharing with us.
    I love to see all types of art, I do not even have to touch it, just to be able to look as long as I choose. I admire the talent that creates, and I regret the fact I have none.

    Reply
  38. Even my stick figures do not look like people, so art is never gonna be something I could master. I would love to be able to see some of the original works of Shakespeare. He and I share a birth date.
    I loved seeing the works of Girtin. Thank you for sharing with us.
    I love to see all types of art, I do not even have to touch it, just to be able to look as long as I choose. I admire the talent that creates, and I regret the fact I have none.

    Reply
  39. Even my stick figures do not look like people, so art is never gonna be something I could master. I would love to be able to see some of the original works of Shakespeare. He and I share a birth date.
    I loved seeing the works of Girtin. Thank you for sharing with us.
    I love to see all types of art, I do not even have to touch it, just to be able to look as long as I choose. I admire the talent that creates, and I regret the fact I have none.

    Reply
  40. Even my stick figures do not look like people, so art is never gonna be something I could master. I would love to be able to see some of the original works of Shakespeare. He and I share a birth date.
    I loved seeing the works of Girtin. Thank you for sharing with us.
    I love to see all types of art, I do not even have to touch it, just to be able to look as long as I choose. I admire the talent that creates, and I regret the fact I have none.

    Reply
  41. I appreciate the introduction to this artist as his pieces are wonderful. I will leave the art to others in my family who have been blessed with that skill
    I would love to learn a few more instruments and have the skill to do well with them. My favorite is the bassoon or the cello. I would love to be in a room with a mix of old and unusual instruments and to try them all. I may need someone to show me how to play them and then let me have some fun. I took piano and violin as a child but could not keep those instruments so have forgotten how to play them.

    Reply
  42. I appreciate the introduction to this artist as his pieces are wonderful. I will leave the art to others in my family who have been blessed with that skill
    I would love to learn a few more instruments and have the skill to do well with them. My favorite is the bassoon or the cello. I would love to be in a room with a mix of old and unusual instruments and to try them all. I may need someone to show me how to play them and then let me have some fun. I took piano and violin as a child but could not keep those instruments so have forgotten how to play them.

    Reply
  43. I appreciate the introduction to this artist as his pieces are wonderful. I will leave the art to others in my family who have been blessed with that skill
    I would love to learn a few more instruments and have the skill to do well with them. My favorite is the bassoon or the cello. I would love to be in a room with a mix of old and unusual instruments and to try them all. I may need someone to show me how to play them and then let me have some fun. I took piano and violin as a child but could not keep those instruments so have forgotten how to play them.

    Reply
  44. I appreciate the introduction to this artist as his pieces are wonderful. I will leave the art to others in my family who have been blessed with that skill
    I would love to learn a few more instruments and have the skill to do well with them. My favorite is the bassoon or the cello. I would love to be in a room with a mix of old and unusual instruments and to try them all. I may need someone to show me how to play them and then let me have some fun. I took piano and violin as a child but could not keep those instruments so have forgotten how to play them.

    Reply
  45. I appreciate the introduction to this artist as his pieces are wonderful. I will leave the art to others in my family who have been blessed with that skill
    I would love to learn a few more instruments and have the skill to do well with them. My favorite is the bassoon or the cello. I would love to be in a room with a mix of old and unusual instruments and to try them all. I may need someone to show me how to play them and then let me have some fun. I took piano and violin as a child but could not keep those instruments so have forgotten how to play them.

    Reply
  46. A lovely post. I had heard of Girton but didn’t know he died so young. What a waste! I would love to have been a writer. Alas I can make as many stories up as I like in my head but can never get them to paper.

    Reply
  47. A lovely post. I had heard of Girton but didn’t know he died so young. What a waste! I would love to have been a writer. Alas I can make as many stories up as I like in my head but can never get them to paper.

    Reply
  48. A lovely post. I had heard of Girton but didn’t know he died so young. What a waste! I would love to have been a writer. Alas I can make as many stories up as I like in my head but can never get them to paper.

    Reply
  49. A lovely post. I had heard of Girton but didn’t know he died so young. What a waste! I would love to have been a writer. Alas I can make as many stories up as I like in my head but can never get them to paper.

    Reply
  50. A lovely post. I had heard of Girton but didn’t know he died so young. What a waste! I would love to have been a writer. Alas I can make as many stories up as I like in my head but can never get them to paper.

    Reply
  51. Binnie, though I dabbled in watercolors, I’m afraid that getting any good at them is not going to happen either! It’s such a difficult medium to master. I’m happy that people like Girtin and Turner did so, allowing me to enjoy their genius.
    The Sanford White staircase sounds amazing. Wood is very special, and I love seeing and touching well-crafted pieces, too.

    Reply
  52. Binnie, though I dabbled in watercolors, I’m afraid that getting any good at them is not going to happen either! It’s such a difficult medium to master. I’m happy that people like Girtin and Turner did so, allowing me to enjoy their genius.
    The Sanford White staircase sounds amazing. Wood is very special, and I love seeing and touching well-crafted pieces, too.

    Reply
  53. Binnie, though I dabbled in watercolors, I’m afraid that getting any good at them is not going to happen either! It’s such a difficult medium to master. I’m happy that people like Girtin and Turner did so, allowing me to enjoy their genius.
    The Sanford White staircase sounds amazing. Wood is very special, and I love seeing and touching well-crafted pieces, too.

    Reply
  54. Binnie, though I dabbled in watercolors, I’m afraid that getting any good at them is not going to happen either! It’s such a difficult medium to master. I’m happy that people like Girtin and Turner did so, allowing me to enjoy their genius.
    The Sanford White staircase sounds amazing. Wood is very special, and I love seeing and touching well-crafted pieces, too.

    Reply
  55. Binnie, though I dabbled in watercolors, I’m afraid that getting any good at them is not going to happen either! It’s such a difficult medium to master. I’m happy that people like Girtin and Turner did so, allowing me to enjoy their genius.
    The Sanford White staircase sounds amazing. Wood is very special, and I love seeing and touching well-crafted pieces, too.

    Reply
  56. So glad you enjoyed them, Carolyn! Yes, every time I look at his art, I feel a pang of sadness at what marvelous work never had chance to see the light. Turner inspired the Impressionists, and I’ll bet Girtin would have experimented with pushing the boundaries of representational art, too, as he explored light and color.

    Reply
  57. So glad you enjoyed them, Carolyn! Yes, every time I look at his art, I feel a pang of sadness at what marvelous work never had chance to see the light. Turner inspired the Impressionists, and I’ll bet Girtin would have experimented with pushing the boundaries of representational art, too, as he explored light and color.

    Reply
  58. So glad you enjoyed them, Carolyn! Yes, every time I look at his art, I feel a pang of sadness at what marvelous work never had chance to see the light. Turner inspired the Impressionists, and I’ll bet Girtin would have experimented with pushing the boundaries of representational art, too, as he explored light and color.

    Reply
  59. So glad you enjoyed them, Carolyn! Yes, every time I look at his art, I feel a pang of sadness at what marvelous work never had chance to see the light. Turner inspired the Impressionists, and I’ll bet Girtin would have experimented with pushing the boundaries of representational art, too, as he explored light and color.

    Reply
  60. So glad you enjoyed them, Carolyn! Yes, every time I look at his art, I feel a pang of sadness at what marvelous work never had chance to see the light. Turner inspired the Impressionists, and I’ll bet Girtin would have experimented with pushing the boundaries of representational art, too, as he explored light and color.

    Reply
  61. Sue, I know what you mean! We have only so many hours in the day, and have to make choices . . .
    (As the wonderful little Nowhere Man in Yellow Submarine said, “So little time, so much to know!)
    That’s wonderful that your museum recognized the power of letting people touch history. It really does make it come alive. And having family heirlooms is also very special. Such a wonderful connection.

    Reply
  62. Sue, I know what you mean! We have only so many hours in the day, and have to make choices . . .
    (As the wonderful little Nowhere Man in Yellow Submarine said, “So little time, so much to know!)
    That’s wonderful that your museum recognized the power of letting people touch history. It really does make it come alive. And having family heirlooms is also very special. Such a wonderful connection.

    Reply
  63. Sue, I know what you mean! We have only so many hours in the day, and have to make choices . . .
    (As the wonderful little Nowhere Man in Yellow Submarine said, “So little time, so much to know!)
    That’s wonderful that your museum recognized the power of letting people touch history. It really does make it come alive. And having family heirlooms is also very special. Such a wonderful connection.

    Reply
  64. Sue, I know what you mean! We have only so many hours in the day, and have to make choices . . .
    (As the wonderful little Nowhere Man in Yellow Submarine said, “So little time, so much to know!)
    That’s wonderful that your museum recognized the power of letting people touch history. It really does make it come alive. And having family heirlooms is also very special. Such a wonderful connection.

    Reply
  65. Sue, I know what you mean! We have only so many hours in the day, and have to make choices . . .
    (As the wonderful little Nowhere Man in Yellow Submarine said, “So little time, so much to know!)
    That’s wonderful that your museum recognized the power of letting people touch history. It really does make it come alive. And having family heirlooms is also very special. Such a wonderful connection.

    Reply
  66. Oh, Constance, how wonderful to learn you’re a Girtin fan! You MUST go the the British Art Center and see their collection “up close and personal” Talk about goosebumps! As I said, the Study Room is very welcoming, and it takes only 10 minutes to register as a user—and then you’re welcome to look at anything in the collection. The Girtins are right there in the room, and you’ll have them within minutes! (Check on their website for the hours.)
    Embroidery is such a beautiful art . . . one I admire very much as I have NO skill with thread and needle!

    Reply
  67. Oh, Constance, how wonderful to learn you’re a Girtin fan! You MUST go the the British Art Center and see their collection “up close and personal” Talk about goosebumps! As I said, the Study Room is very welcoming, and it takes only 10 minutes to register as a user—and then you’re welcome to look at anything in the collection. The Girtins are right there in the room, and you’ll have them within minutes! (Check on their website for the hours.)
    Embroidery is such a beautiful art . . . one I admire very much as I have NO skill with thread and needle!

    Reply
  68. Oh, Constance, how wonderful to learn you’re a Girtin fan! You MUST go the the British Art Center and see their collection “up close and personal” Talk about goosebumps! As I said, the Study Room is very welcoming, and it takes only 10 minutes to register as a user—and then you’re welcome to look at anything in the collection. The Girtins are right there in the room, and you’ll have them within minutes! (Check on their website for the hours.)
    Embroidery is such a beautiful art . . . one I admire very much as I have NO skill with thread and needle!

    Reply
  69. Oh, Constance, how wonderful to learn you’re a Girtin fan! You MUST go the the British Art Center and see their collection “up close and personal” Talk about goosebumps! As I said, the Study Room is very welcoming, and it takes only 10 minutes to register as a user—and then you’re welcome to look at anything in the collection. The Girtins are right there in the room, and you’ll have them within minutes! (Check on their website for the hours.)
    Embroidery is such a beautiful art . . . one I admire very much as I have NO skill with thread and needle!

    Reply
  70. Oh, Constance, how wonderful to learn you’re a Girtin fan! You MUST go the the British Art Center and see their collection “up close and personal” Talk about goosebumps! As I said, the Study Room is very welcoming, and it takes only 10 minutes to register as a user—and then you’re welcome to look at anything in the collection. The Girtins are right there in the room, and you’ll have them within minutes! (Check on their website for the hours.)
    Embroidery is such a beautiful art . . . one I admire very much as I have NO skill with thread and needle!

    Reply
  71. Love the connection to Shakespeare, Annette. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see some of the original productions!
    So glad you enjoyed Girtin’s art. You’re right—one doesn’t really need to touch painting to appreciate them. But with the Girtins, they are so small, and the detail is so incredible, that wit was special experience to handle them and get to examine them with a magnifying glass without guards coming to haul me away!

    Reply
  72. Love the connection to Shakespeare, Annette. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see some of the original productions!
    So glad you enjoyed Girtin’s art. You’re right—one doesn’t really need to touch painting to appreciate them. But with the Girtins, they are so small, and the detail is so incredible, that wit was special experience to handle them and get to examine them with a magnifying glass without guards coming to haul me away!

    Reply
  73. Love the connection to Shakespeare, Annette. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see some of the original productions!
    So glad you enjoyed Girtin’s art. You’re right—one doesn’t really need to touch painting to appreciate them. But with the Girtins, they are so small, and the detail is so incredible, that wit was special experience to handle them and get to examine them with a magnifying glass without guards coming to haul me away!

    Reply
  74. Love the connection to Shakespeare, Annette. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see some of the original productions!
    So glad you enjoyed Girtin’s art. You’re right—one doesn’t really need to touch painting to appreciate them. But with the Girtins, they are so small, and the detail is so incredible, that wit was special experience to handle them and get to examine them with a magnifying glass without guards coming to haul me away!

    Reply
  75. Love the connection to Shakespeare, Annette. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see some of the original productions!
    So glad you enjoyed Girtin’s art. You’re right—one doesn’t really need to touch painting to appreciate them. But with the Girtins, they are so small, and the detail is so incredible, that wit was special experience to handle them and get to examine them with a magnifying glass without guards coming to haul me away!

    Reply
  76. It would be wonderful to see a Stradivarius and to hear someone play it – not sure they let just anyone touch them any more as they are so vulnerable and precious. I would love to play in an orchestra performing one of Beethoven’s symphonies – not sure which one I would choose as they are all so dramatic.

    Reply
  77. It would be wonderful to see a Stradivarius and to hear someone play it – not sure they let just anyone touch them any more as they are so vulnerable and precious. I would love to play in an orchestra performing one of Beethoven’s symphonies – not sure which one I would choose as they are all so dramatic.

    Reply
  78. It would be wonderful to see a Stradivarius and to hear someone play it – not sure they let just anyone touch them any more as they are so vulnerable and precious. I would love to play in an orchestra performing one of Beethoven’s symphonies – not sure which one I would choose as they are all so dramatic.

    Reply
  79. It would be wonderful to see a Stradivarius and to hear someone play it – not sure they let just anyone touch them any more as they are so vulnerable and precious. I would love to play in an orchestra performing one of Beethoven’s symphonies – not sure which one I would choose as they are all so dramatic.

    Reply
  80. It would be wonderful to see a Stradivarius and to hear someone play it – not sure they let just anyone touch them any more as they are so vulnerable and precious. I would love to play in an orchestra performing one of Beethoven’s symphonies – not sure which one I would choose as they are all so dramatic.

    Reply

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