Tag Archives: sketch

December 2001

Van Gogh and I

When I remember that time it’s kind of blurry… A lot of new pain, the self realisation that I’m going to be soon old and sick (just discovered I had the diabethes) and very probably neither rich nor famous, the growing up of the children, teenagers now, each of them with his own life and problems, a physical job which payed some bills but gave me no satisfaction… In a word: mid-life crysis. So called mid-life because I knew it then and I know it even more clearly now, I was way over the middle of my life, 3/4 gone or more… When you are 25-30 you don’t think a lot of death and old age and misery. But when you are 45-50, well, it begins to enter your skull the fact that you are far from being immortal. That, in fact, nobody is immortal, not even your children… Everyone…

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A Portrayer (III)

New portraits, a couple a days ago:

Paul, an expressive and street smart guy, worked in Toscany (sienna) as a waiter...

Paul, an expressive and street smart guy, worked in Toscany (sienna) as a waiter…

Paul's Portrait

Paul’s Portrait

nd Paul’s girlfriend, Andra:




Andra's portrait

Andra’s portrait





Self-portait, Why Do We Do it?

I counted about 37-38 self -portraits Vincent Van Gogh painted of himself. There are only 2-3 images of him, painted by others, one a regular portrait made by Van Rappard, another one that I know, a sketch by Toulouse Lautrec… Why this proportion? and why, finally, why did he (or Rembrandt or any other painter) would paint self-portraits?

At the Easel Van gogh self-portrait

At the Easel Van gogh self-portrait

One reason (valid for Van Gogh and for Rembrandt – the two greatest Dutch painters…) would be the ready availability of the “model”. You just need a mirror and here you are, the model is ready to be painted… and Vincent complained constantly about the difficulty to find models…

Of course, this is a rather mundane reason even if a valid and true one. Usually, even when initially this was the reason, the results are almost always more than that… You want it or not, when you do your self -portrait something more gets through, always… Consciously or not, you do more than just making a portrait. You witness a definite moment of your life, you consciously or unconsciously put more in it than the physical features of your mug…

Self Portrait said "a flamenches"

Self Portrait said “a flamenches”

When you consciously testify of your life (the thing André Malraux said it’s the best you can do with you life, “testify of your life” (témoigner de son vécu”), the results are always interesting. It could be a great painting (or not) but it will always be an interesting psychological document.

Yesterday, for instance, I did discovered in the cupboards where my father keeps just about everything (which is an annoying but sometimes useful habit) an old self-portrait of mine which I was convinced was lost. As so many of my paintings and drawings which are sold (for peanuts, usually), given, lost and thrown away or destroyed … Not only mine; weren’t the parents of the now famous Dr. Felix Rey from St. Remy de Provence filling a hole in their chicken house with the portrait Vincent made after the good doctor?

But this one I found again and in a surprisingly good state, almost perfectly preserved after about 38 years (a life time!). Which is a praise and an encouragement to use the tempera technique, a technique I liked then…

Here it is:

Self portrait nov 75

Self portrait nov 75

(to be continued)

Fascinating fire…

fire 1

A fire must have some primeval fascination to it. It happen back in November, 2001, at Magog, where I was living, at the time… It was almost dark (4-5 pm) and I was coming from downtown and I saw this big light and heard sirens and saw people running and gathering there, 100-200 m from this house in fire, on Sherbrooke street … The flames were bright and everything was ablaze. All the firemen could do was to try to localize the fire and not let the flames get to the houses around. Fortunately, it was a corner house (some shop or other, no people inside) and not very close to any other… In 1/2 h tens of people gathered to watch, hypnotized… and myself, even if interested by the fire I started drawing them, the watchers… It was like a medieval feast or something… people all ages, children and teens, old people and whatnot… I draw perhaps 1 h, 1 1/2 h, almost without stopping, not feeling the cold, like in a trance, until my sketching book was full and my black oil pastels finished… Of course, not all sketches were good. But some were… and I will remember that fire all my insignificant life: the flames (high wind), the darkness, the firemen, and especially, the other people, watching…and myself, drawing… Too tired to translate, today. Sorry!

fire 2

Le feu doit avoir quelque chose de très ancien et de fascinant… C’était en novembre 2001, à Magog, ou j’habitai… La noirceur de la nuit était déjà là, peut-être 4-5 de l’après-midi… Je revenais de centre ville quand j’ai vu, sur la rue Sherbrooke, toutes ces lumières, les gens qui couraient, j’entendais les sirènes des pompiers et je me suis rendu compte que c’était un incendie… une maison (probablement un magasin ou quelque chose de pareil, il n’y avait plus des gens à l’intérieur…) Puis j’ai vu les flammes qui étaient brillantes et vives (il y avait du vent et le feu crépitait) et faisait la nuit plus noire. Pleines de gens de toutes âges s’étaient ressembler pour regarder, fascinés… Il y avait des petits enfants avec leur parents, des adolescents, de vieux… Il regardaient le spectacle du feu, fascinés, et mois je les regardais, eux… J’ai dessiné peut être 1h, une heure et demie, sans sentir le froid, comme en transe, jusque mon cahier d’esquisse a été pleins et mon pastel d’huile noir, terminé… Bien sur, pas toutes les esquisses était bonnes. Mais il y avaient de pas mal… pompierset je vais me souvenir cette incendie toute ma insignifiante vie: les flammes et le vent, la noirceur, les pompiers et surtout, les gens qui regardait… et moi qui les dessinait….

fire 3

Focul are ceva primordial, ceva foarte vechi si fascinant… S-a întamplat în noiembrie 2001, la Magog, unde locuiam… Era deja aproape întuneric iar eu ma întorceam din centru când am vazut toate comotzia aceea, pe strada Sherbrooke… Lume care alerga înspre o casa în flacari…pompierii, cu sirenele care urlau… flacarile vii, foarte luminoase si zburatacite de vant, care pocneau…întunericul noptzii, parca intensificat de lumina flacarilor… Erau oameni de toate vârstele: parintzi cu copii mici, adolescentzi, batrâni… Toata lumea privea fascinata la foc… Am desenat poate 1 ora, o ora si jumatate, fara sa simt frigul, ca în transa, pâna cand hartia mi s-a terminat, ca si pastelul gras negru… Binentzeles, nu toate schitzele erau bune…dar unele erau. si eu îmi voi aminti toata viatza mea neînsemnata acel incendiu: flacarile si vantul, întunericul dimprejur, pompierii si, mai ales, oamenii care priveau focul fascinatzi… si eu care-i desenam…

(copyright©dan iordache, 2008, texte & images)

Playing “artist” in the army…

My last few months in the army very quite nice… Unusual nice, because, as a rule, they don’t do that… But the socialist contest “Daciada” was close and they needed paintings to compete with… So, I was appointed, as a librarian of my unit, to choose some “artists” among my collegues and to produce the best paintings possible… So, we were 4-5 “soldiers-artists”, excused from the usual army duties and drawing and painting for the “Daciada”national contest… We did what we could and enjoyed every single day till the end of our term…

Sleeping was always a problem (I mean sleeping MORE; after the others get up at 5:00 AM)

We sneek out from our dorms and try to catch a few more hours, or even minutes, of sleep… We slept on old collections of newpapers and magazines… or, as I represented here one of my collegues, in baskets… Just another sketch I like. The year is 1977 or begining of 1978… The technique is “calumet” (roseau in French) with black ink on paper… I was young, full of energy and hoped I could be a professional artist soon…

La boheme in the army