September 30, 2010
I had a wonderful opportunity to visit one of my favorite cities this week when husband had meetings scheduled in Chicago. My first destination when left on my own was, of course, the Art Institute. What memories I have of that place, which I first visited with other senior art students from Iowa State College back in 1958. That Chicago art tour, which included the Merchandise Mart, a visit to a design studio, a Frank Lloyd Wright House and a performance of “My Fair Lady” made us feel as if we really were artists who could function in this exciting world. And I did. While husband attended Northwestern University as a graduate student from 1959-1962, I worked in the field of advertising art in downtown Chicago.
I’ve been back a few times since and always visit the Art Institute. I especially remember the huge Impressionist exhibit in 1995. But the Art Institute always has a lot of Impressionist art on display and in the limited time I had, that’s where I headed. It’s great to see paintings I’ve only seen in my art books, such as Renoir’s painting of the two little circus girls picking up oranges. While Georges Seurat’s paintings are not my favorite, who would not be impressed by his gigantic (6″ 9″ x 10′ 1″) “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” composed of all those tiny little dots of paint. The Art Institute also has several of Monet’s luminous paintings from his haystacks series. I think of that when I return to a place I’ve often painted and wonder if I’ll be able to find a scene to paint.
This time I also had a new experience when a friend of husband arranged for us to join a walking tour of the architecture of the downtown area. What a wealth of different periods and styles are represented.
Back home, finally an opportunity for plein air painting. The weather was perfect on Wednesday, cool and sunny, and I painted outdoors with three country artists. The trees haven’t turned yet, but there was plenty of color in the Maxmillian sunflowers and zinneas growing along the driveway on the property where we painted. I’ll finish it and post it one of these days.