Posts Tagged ‘painting’

We Welcome Bob Ross to the Ivory Tower

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

We at UPG are thrilled to announce our newest personality: painter, TV host, and Guru of Calm, Bob Ross.

At first glance, Bob Ross might not seem like an obvious choice for The Unemployed Philosophers Guild cannon.

But, actually, if you think about it…

Bob Ross retired after 20 years of in the armed forces to dedicate himself to painting. He became a popular teacher and ended up landing his own television show.

His gentle demeanor and unabashed delight in painting continues to inspire us.

Got a problem with his presentation?

Got a problem with a guy who teaches that anyone can learn to paint.

Got a problem with his subject matter?

After approximately four minutes, you’ll come to the realization that you are a person with problems!

As a drill sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, Bob Ross did his share of yelling. On his show, he speaks to his viewers in gentle tones. In the service, he spent plenty of time harassing recruits to hurry up, do things right, get tough. On his show, he urges us to paint along, to play, to think of mistakes as part of experimentation instead of terrible obstacles to being correct/right/perfect?

Why do we find it so difficult to accept the realness of art if we’re the ones doing it? Why can’t we believe in the goodness of making things for the sheer pleasure of expression? So maybe we won’t paint anything likely to break records at Christie’s – so what?

The act of creation is one of the most essential human experiences, and though we lost Bob Ross many years ago, he continues to bring countless people to that experience.

It this spirit, we present three brand-new Bob Ross items:

Bob Ross Self-Painting Mug

This mug depicts Bob Ross poised in front of a canvas with brush at the ready. Add a hot beverage, and the entire mug transforms into a lovely Bob Ross painting!

Bob Ross The Joy of Painting Sticky Notes

A collection of sticky notes featuring Bob Ross’ art and quotes from the great man, himself. Includes a canvas sticky note for your own tiny works of art!

Bob Ross Happy Little Mints

Delicious peppermints in a lovely tin featuring Ross and his artwork. A little minty inspiration for your day.

Winter Gardens: The Garden of Earthly Delights

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

It’s January, when things are grey and dead. Around this time, we long for gardens. So this month we’re posting about gardens!

Today’s post is about The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch.

This incomparable masterwork stands in a world of its own. Wildly imaginative, proto-surrealist, and resisting categorization, this triptych has more going on in it than the entire work of other master artists such as Cézanne (granted, Cézanne was mostly interested in painting fruit).

The Garden of Earthly Delights (a title Bosch never assigned to the painting) shows three images: what is presumed to be the Garden of Eden, a garden where all sorts of depraved people and animals seek pleasure, and then Hell, where, presumably, pleasure-seekers are tormented. And there’s a secret 4th image you can see only when the triptych is closed.

It’s easy to get lost among all the cavorting in Bosch’s garden. This is a painting you can spend hours with and find new things. And, thanks to the internet, it’s gotten even easier. Take a moment or 20 and stroll through this beautiful interactive web experience of the painting.

Or if you’re more musically inclined, listen to this piece of music transcribed from the painting (it’s Music transcribed from the posterior of someone being tortured in the Hell part of the painting.

Happy Public Autopsy Day!

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

On April 19, 1619, the Theatrum Anatomicum opened in Amsterdam inside the Waag, ensuring the weighing-house a place in the anals of Western Art.

The 17th century Dutch thought nothing of designating buildings for a myriad of uses – in this case, a weighing house, a guild hall, and a center dedicated to experimentation and study of human anatomy.

The Theatrum was the first place in Europe to feature dissections performed in public, which made a nice change from the illegal dissections – for instance, the one in 1550 at the St. Ursula convent.

But there was to be no sneaking around for the members of the surgeon’s guild who could now dissect the corpses of criminals, and anyone – not just surgeons or medical students, could watch, for a fee. There were cheap seats high up in the amphitheater to make the dissections affordable for everyone. What better incentive to remain a law-abiding citizen than the prospect of public dissections? (And if you missed the point, there was an inscription – still visible – that reads “Villains, obnoxious to the human race while alive, become useful when dispatched.”)

The Waag went on to have many more uses – as a fencing hall, a marketplace, streetlamp workshops and at least one furniture business – but it was the dissection theater where science met art. The subject of Rembrandt’s first major commission was a dissection, and his painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp hung in the surgeon’s guild hall of the Waag.

So today, lift a scalpel to the proud scientists, the public who learned from them, and the artists who commemorated them.


Summer Romance: Wild Nature

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

This Summer we’re posting about the Romantic era. Today’s entry is about the depiction of nature in Romantic art.

The Romantic era embraced disorder and extremity in contrast to the ordered universe of the Enlightenment. This is evident in their artwork, particularly in the visual depiction of nature.

The Enlightenment tamed nature and lived in harmony with her.


Not so for the Romantic era. Romantic painters preferred to depict nature’s uncontrollable power.


The Romantics felt that confronting the terror of nature induced the sublime. As a result, they spent a lot of time in the mountains. Writing poetry, contemplating, heroically braving the elements, their coats fluttering in the breeze, that kind of thing.


This idea of nature as a place of violent upheaval reflected the political and social upheaval of the time, which was a big departure from the age of Enlightenment.

For example, compare these two sea journeys – Enlightenment on the left and Romantic on the right.


And how about this trek through nature?


Composers were inspired by the violent power of nature too. Beethoven’s “Pastoral” symphony includes a musical thunderstorm featuring music that mimics the sound of thunder, wind, lighting, and a torrential downpour.



Happy Birthday, Artemisia Gentileschi!

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

It’s the 8th of July, and you know what that means: time to celebrate Artemisia Gentileschi’s birthday!

Artemisia Gentileschi's "Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting" 1630s

Artemisia Gentileschi’s “Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting” – 1630s

This early Baroque painter was born in Rome to a painting family (her father was painter Orazio Gentileschi and her brothers painted).

Early in life, she suffered a series of misfortunes: she lost her mother at an early age, her painting was so accomplished she was accused of being helped by her father, art academies would not accept her, then she was assaulted by the man her father hired to tutor her (not to mention the many violations and indignities she withstood in the course of the trial).

After she won her case – that is, her father’s case, given contemporary Italian law – Gentileschi went on to marry another artist and have two daughters (both painters).

She moved to Florence, where she was the first woman accepted to the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, and where she found colleagues among the most renowned artists of her time. Commissions followed, cash followed – she was even pen pals with Galileo!

Unfortunately, her art could not keep her husband in the manner (or the manor) to which he had become accustomed and before long, his spending outpaced her income. After the death of her patron Cosimo II de’ Medici in 1621, Gentileschi had a parting of the ways with her husband and left Florence.

Gentileschi returned to Rome, but the years there were not as rewarding – financially or otherwise. In 1630, she moved to Naples, where her paintings were commissioned for cathedrals and museums and the homes of wealthy patrons. She lived in England from 1638 to 1641 at the court of Charles I (where she assisted her father with a commission to paint Queen Henrietta’s residence), but afterward she returned to Naples, where she died in 1656.

Though her early works were Caravaggesque, Gentileschi developed her own painting style and an unusual (for women painters, anyway) forcefulness of expression.

She was one of the most formidable painters – and most independent women – of her time.

Happy Birthday, Artemisia Gentileschi!