Artist of the Week 66
Jean Lightman is best known for her vibrant and luminous floral still life paintings. Working in the Boston School tradition, her work combines the color and light of the French Impressionists with the accurate drawings of the 19th Century European Academies. She delights in arranging dynamic compositions that suggest movement in the flowers in order to capture the delicate forms and subtle color shifts in the petals.
The Boston School–which is not a physical school– is a painting tradition that’s been handed down from teacher to student for over 100 years.
The Boston School painters are essentially Impressionists in the sense that they paint what the eye sees, with particular attention to the lights and the shadows and the colors. Because they paint what their eye actually sees, some areas are more distinct and others are more diffused. They are sometimes called optical realists. This should be distinguished from photorealists, where in photorealism painting, every square inch of the canvas is painted in precise detail– everything in the exact same focus. But the way that we actually see is some areas are more defined, others are more diffused.
The most important trademark of the Boston School painters is that all of the parts must relate to the whole, giving the paintings unity or breadth.
“I enjoy doing portraits of kids– children because they have nice, round forms in their faces, and I love that.I also like doing landscapes. But my passion is flowers, and in particular peonies.
What I love about them are the round shapes. I get very excited by all of the colors that I see in the half-tones between the lights and the shadows. So these white peonies have an infinite variety of color in those half-tones. I also love the variety of shapes in the peonies, and colors, and sizes. And most of all, for me peonies have a real life force about them.”
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