Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In Anticipation...

We're very pleased John Morra will be spending time with us this summer. Besides teaching a couple of NYC still life workshops, he's painting landscapes with the Hudson River Fellows in New Hampshire. GCA student Leeanna Chipana caught up with John this week:
 John Morra Mertz Series
I first met John Morra at his solo show in 2012 at the Eleanor Ettinger Gallery. Inspired by artists like Vermeer, Chardin and Corot, John Morra continues the tradition of realist still-life painting with carefully composed and complex arrangements of ordinary objects.

~ Leeanna Chipana

Leeanna: John your still-lifes are lovely. They remind me of 18th century Spanish painters like Luis Melendez. Who do you find most influences your work?

"Memories of Ibiza" by John Morra

John: Thanks Leeanna! Yes, of course I love Melendez, and also the Spanish painters from the century prior to him. But I would say that the great Chardin is my favorite, if I had to name someone. He is in many ways the beginning of the modern still life, in both spirit and design. He is one of those shining moments in the history of art where a new vision is clearly born, and continues to shine up until now. Someone like Walter Murch was a big influence on me too, as he seems to continue much of the same ideas that were born with Chardin. His vision  does for a carburetor what Chardin’s would do to an old barrel or copper water urn.

"Hobart" by John Morra

Leeanna: Speaking of Chardin, you are offering a new workshop this year. Aside from sampling some delicious French wine and cheese at the end, what insight can you give us into what you hope to explore with your class on Chardin and his style?  

John: The boozing happens at the END of the workshop, so as to not induce post-WWII abstract expressionism. But here is one thing I keep noticing about Chardin over the years — his delight with the shapes in his paintings. It is very interesting to compare his rivals (Oudry, Desportes ) and see that they generally lack Chardin’s obvious delight in the way a painting jigsaws together. Of course we will be going after a whole list of things I love about Chardin, but his shape-loving is unique, especially for his time. 

"Big Underwood" by John Morra

Leeanna: John I am delighted that you will be painting with us during the Hudson River Fellowship this Summer. Can you also tell us a little bit about your landscape painting process and materials?

John: Materials? I like my Ala Prima Pochade box. It has lots of magnets. As for technique, when painting outside I try to shoot first and ask questions later. I think it is wise, when painting directly from the great outdoors, to try to forget what you have admired by Monet, Corot, or Moran. I remember reading somewhere that Sargent would set up his easel and just jump in, and sometimes he would land on target and sometimes he would not. I like that approach — if you have even a hunch about something as a possible picture, then that should be enough to load up your palette and floor it. As for your studio recollections later on , that is a different affair altogether, and at that point your sketches, drawings and imagination all start to combine. But when outdoors, I think a more objective approach is best, which is why it is good to try sight-size sketching when possible.   

John Morra will be teaching two workshops this Summer:

The Spanish Still Life with John Morra
June 9 - 13, $625 ($325 deposit)
10:00am-5:00pm (lunch 1-2pm)
Monday - Friday

Exploring Chardin: The Origins Of The Modern Still-life with John Morra
June 23 - 27, $625 ($325 deposit)
10:00am-5:00pm (lunch 1-2pm)
Monday - Friday

To learn more about our workshops please click here.

To view works from previous workshop participants click here.

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