Monday, August 6, 2012

Painting Gravagna

This past weekend I celebrated the fact that 11 years ago I managed to talk an implausibly beautiful and intelligent girl into marrying me. I was a boy who had little to offer beyond vague aspirations toward being an “artist,” or maybe an “adventurer.” She was nineteen and a sophomore in college. On paper it looked a little rash.

But our friends came from far and wide for the wedding, some even arriving unannounced and camping on my parents lawn. They celebrated our rash vows. And you know...

...everything turned out okay.

For this 11th anniversary I gave Anna this painting of Gravagna, our beloved little village. (It’s the biggest landscape I’ve ever painted). For the rest of you I offer Chesterton’s essay “In Defense of Rash Vows."

Creating this painting was an interesting and sometimes challenging experience. Most of the work was done in late afternoon sessions, over the course of about 3 weeks, on a hillside about a mile or so from the village. Each day I wrapped the painting in an old sheet and walked to the hilltop to contend with the sun, snakes, and curious passers by. And the wind. Oh, the wind. A large canvas is really not much different than a sail...

But there really is no substitute to painting a subject from life. You learn more. Spend time really looking at a subject and, if you’re lucky and attentive, you might start to really see it. And that always feels like a miracle to me.

As one of my favorite teacher’s told me, “You can teach your hands to do anything. Art is in the eyes.”


advenus said...

Congratulations for your anniversary, and for a beautiful painting!

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary, beautiful preparation for beautiful girl.
Laurence and Arnaud

Ben Hatke said...

Aw, thanks guys!

Tim Canny said...

"On paper it looked a little rash." Great line. I look forward to reading the Chesterton link.

Congratulations on your anniversary! May you have many more.

Red Herring Jeff said...

Congratulations on 11 years! Thank goodness nineteen-year-olds are suckers, right?

Ben Hatke said...


SamG said...

Happy Anniversary. The painting is beautiful.

anna said...

E' meraviglioso!
tanti auguri

Anthony VanArsdale said...

Awesome! Fantastic! I love the blue in the distant hills and mountains. Wonderful job! and Congratulations to you and Anna!!!

Sarah-Bodera said...

So beautiful... Congrats on 11 years!

I know what you mean about the wind sail... That's when a little duct tape comes in handy!!

Gwen said...

The towering flame will rise! A toast to BenAnna Republique. Glad to be in your story.

"This is Anna Bertolini," said Paul Kucharski that morning. . . .

"Anything could happen this year," said Ben that night.

To the painting, Gravagna, four kids later, and a great marriage!

Ben Hatke said...

Ah! Here's someone who remembers the beginning! Thanks Gwen!

Anthony! Thanks for the comment! Your adventures in painting have been an inspiration to me lately.

Sarah- duct tape... what I need is to make a little MacGyver kit to pack along with my painting stuff. Some painters go out prepared for any eventuality. I've waked a mile to a painting site and realized I've forgotten my palette.

Kristina sitanggang said...


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