Painting of the Month

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The Moment by Paula Martiesian

I was six when I first trudged up the stairs of the Waterman Building to take Saturday morning classes at RISD. On and off for the next few years I continued to take classes, my mother and two aunts driving me into the city, then dropping me off to go shopping at Shepards and the Outlet. I was petrified of the glass block floor on the third level, put off by the taxidermic creatures in the Nature Lab and fascinated by the sinks with their decades old patina of paint.

Older, along with a bus load of other students, I visited the RISD Museum. My fellow students were attracted to the Buddha and Egyptian Sarcophagus, but I was enamored of Edouard Manet’s painting of Berthe Morisot. I couldn’t get over her flowing white dress anchored only by a thin black belt.

There was another painting that drew me, but not because I like it. Instead, it bothered and offended me. It was an oil painting of the ocean by Winslow Homer. The sea looked like cement and I couldn’t understand how something that symbolizes constant movement could be portrayed as an inert, unmoving object.

This was the beginning of a lifelong obsession for me, evoking motion in painting. I love color and I have an affinity for it, but it is movement that draws me, inspires me and is the real basis for my painting. I had learned an important lesson – nature can be quiet, but it is never still.

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