Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Russian Master

On Monday January 26, I had the great fortune of hearing, Mikhail Kugach, a living master painter from Russia give a short talk (in Russian and translated by John Wurdeman) about his life and art. The talk was given at Lazare Gallery in Charles City Virginia, about an hour from my home. For many years, Russian art has been a great inpiration to me. During the last century Russian artists were dedicated to beauty, nature and the pursuit of excellence while the rest of the western world had abandoned these timeless principles for more political and temporal concerns.

Mikhail Yurevich Kugach was born January 2, 1939 in Moscow. He is the son of the famous Russian artists Yuri Petrovich Kugach and Olga Grigoryevna Svetlichnaya. In 1949 he enrolled in his first art classes at the Moscow secondary art school, which was affiliated with the Surikov Institute. He studied here until 1956 when he was accepted into the Surikov Institute. He graduated from the Institute in 1962 and began to actively exhibit his works.

From 1987 to 1989 he was the director of the "1905" Moscow Art Institute. Since 1988 he has been the chairman of "Moskvorech'e", the creative union of artists. In 1995 he was selected to be the member-correspondent for the Russian Academy of Artists. He is also an active member and has been the president of the legendary Moscow River Group. Mikhail continues to paint today primarily in the Tver' region, along the Msta River. This Russian countryside is continuously a theme in the artist's work. His works can be found today in galleries, museums, and private collections around the world.

Yuri Kugach , Evening Sun

Yuri Kugach , In the Village

Yuri Kugach , June Green
Mr. Kugach spoke of his youth and growing up with artists for parents. He talked of the fertile environment of the group of artists surrounding his parents and the advantages of artists in community sharing ideas and helping one another. It was not an easy life but a fulfilling one dedicated to his art and surrounded by such talented artists and some of the legends of Russian art.
I asked him about his philosophy of choosing and handling of subject matter. He said that it was not enough just to correctly paint the information of a tree or whatever subject you choose. He stated that God made creation and nature and the artists job is to honor Him. "To be a slave to God and nature." An artists job is to live deeply and to feel deeply and describe in his art the emotional content of the subjects he paints. He also spoke about the need of the artist to fail and feel the pain of these shortcomings and how these faults and the role of humility spur us on to create better paintings.

Mikhai Kugach, Calm River

Mikhail Kugach, Spring Day

Mikhail Kugach,, Lake Stino
I am inspired to have met this great artist and to hear from him his thoughts on painting and its meaning. The lineage of great western art is unmistakeable. Great art does not occur in a vacuum and we artists are indebted to the great artists that have come before us. Without them the state of the arts would suffer immeasurably.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Winter is Hard

Wildflowers, Gray Day 11x14 oil

I had to post this painting of some flowers, that I finally got around to photographing, painted back in August on the back of our property. It is to remind me that the flowers will probably bloom again in the spring and the sun will once again shine warmly. The next several weeks are the hardest of the year for me and I look forward to going back outside and painting the beautiful and cheerful colors of the warmer months. Just when I think I can't take the short, cold days any longer, spring comes around again. I seeded these wildflowers back last spring.

First Glimmer 16x20 oil
I am not a morning person, but I have learned to have a great affection for morning. Taking the time to get out early and paint the sunrise are my most cherished moments. The most interesting colors and moods happen in those first flickers of light. The morning has a quiet, calm feeling that gives me such a sense of peace.

Black Scarf 24x18 oil
I try to paint at least one figure from life a week. Here is the latest, of Roxanne, a model I have painted many times. It has been cold, so the scarf is not a prop. Figure painting is infinitely interesting. People are so diverse and compelling.

Friday, January 9, 2009

New Works: Figures

Derrick 20x16 Oil

Red Velvet 24x20 oil

Here are a few new figure paintings I have done lately. I truly enjoy painting from the live model. It is very challenging and exciting to try and capture something of the model and still try to make something artful.

Here are a couple of funny quotes from my favorite painter, John Singer Sargent, about portrait painting:

“A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth.”

“Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend.”

“I have now got a bombproof shelter into which I retire when I sniff the coming portrait or its trajectory.”

Years and years ago I used to do some commissioned portraits, and learned what Sargent is talking about. Now I do paintings of people and then someone can purchase the work whether it is the sitter or not.
To view more of my figure works click here:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Fresh Snow Oil, 24x20 by Andre Lucero

Happy New Year!

For 2009 I have decided to create this blog to journal my thoughts on painting, art and my travels. I hope you enjoy reading my entries and seeing the art that interests me and the places and subjects I paint.
Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave comments,