Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.
— Leonardo da Vinci
If two things were ever meant to be together, it’s poetry and painting. One of our favorite artists, Bethanne Cople, is a pro at combining these two elements in the most gracious way. She’s also one of the featured artists in our new show, Oil and Water, which opens Friday, April 22nd.
Bethanne has been painting up a storm in her studio and the new work she has sent us is delicate, elegant and exquisitely painterly. But her titles are just as glorious so we asked Bethanne to tell us how she finds her artistic inspiration.
It turns out it’s all about poetry. Here’s what she has to say:
Bethanne: Leonardo da Vinci – inventor, scientist and artist – expressed what we already know on some level: painting and poetry, as two of the most sublime art forms, together give us even greater enjoyment.
But…with the greatest admiration for the legendary artist, I disagree on one aspect of da Vinci’s comment – painting can often be felt as well as seen.
The poet gives us the lyrical rhythm of words to convey the deepest meanings and sentiments while the painter may capture forever a vivid interpretation of life. This can be particularly true of landscape paintings which can cover the entire spectrum of the artist’s palette.
For the past few years, I have combined a love of poetry with painting. I have sought to title most of my paintings with lines or phrases from poetry expressing in some way the essence or feeling of the painting.
This all began with a favorite and moving poem by Emily Dickinson, Bring Me the Sunset in a Cup. Her poem was both emotional and evoked imagery similar if not identical to what I hoped to express in my painting. To my surprise and even greater satisfaction, the painting and poetry not only fit but flourished together.
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea.”
Another poem Bethanne loves is “It’s A Beauteous Evening” by William Wadsworth:
The holy time is quiet as a nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;
The gentleness of heaven broods o’er the sea.
Bethanne: The landscape can be most anything in my range, whether pastoral scenes, mountains, rivers deserts and seascapes and even landscapes painted in extreme conditions of snow, rain and storms. The titles may be poems we may all recognize, as well as lesser known or even obscure poems and poets, all drawn from the public domain and conveying the scene or inspiring the painting.
Here’s The Best Thing In the World by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
What’s the best thing in the world?
June-rose, by May-dew impearled;
Sweet south-wind, that means no rain;
Truth, not cruel to a friend;
Pleasure, not in haste to end;
Beauty, not self-decked and curled
Till its pride is over-plain;
Love, when, so, you’re loved again.
What’s the best thing in the world?
–Something out of it, I think.
Here’s a few lines from the Robert Burns poem:
The combination of art and poetry aspires to da Vinci’s insight: that a painting becomes poetry to be seen and a poem a becomes a painting to be felt.
Huff Harrington: Bethanne, thank you for that lovely and heartfelt introduction to how poetry and painting go hand-in-hand in every way.
In case you didn’t already know, Bethanne’s a wonderful painter and an enthusiastic instructor who leads painting workshops with us in France. There just happen to be a couple spots available for our 2016 Painting in Provence Workshop so if you’re interested in creating your own poetry on the canvas, give us a ring or click. We promise expert instruction, camaraderie, delicious meals – and maybe a glass or two of rose!
In the meantime, our new show, Oil and Water, will be hanging at the gallery – and it’s full of paintings whose opposite elements make liquid magic. Hope to see you soon.