The artist who paints the emotions creates an enclosed world, the picture, which like a book, has the same interest no matter where it happens to be.  Such an artist, we may imagine, spends a great deal of time doing nothing but looking, both around him and inside him.  – Pierre Bonnard 

If you wanted to understand Bonnard’s paintings, and that might be a good place for a certain kind of artist to begin, well here you have it — straight from the horse’s mouth as it were — that his pictures should be understood not as images of out there – or at least not exclusively as a portrayal of “the world,” the out there  – but as pictures of a world first mediated through emotion.  Bonnard is an emotional painter.  And that confession raises the question of whether it is the intense color that manifests his emotion, or the loose and raw manner of drawing or is it the selection of things that he chooses to represent that gives way to his feeling? 

 It’s noteworthy too that if you decide to approach painting after the manner of Bonnard then you are in some measure becoming an author of things that carry the same interest no matter where they happen to be.

[At the top:  Pierre Bonnard’s “The Palm”  Phillips Collection, Washington DC]


5 thoughts on “The Art of the Emotions

  1. I have prepared a course in pastel painting for the Osher Institute at RIT, which includes one of your paintings (Koi), in the mistaken impression it was by Degas.
    May I have permission to let it remain with correct attribution?
    It is a fine complement to have your work confused with Degas!
    You will finds the picture is on page 2 of Lesson One on the blog (address above).
    Robert Stites

  2. Well, that’s a lovely surprise. That is a really fine compliment, indeed. Thank you for making such a lovely mistake. Yes, you can use the drawing with the correct attribution. — Aletha

  3. I love your posting always. Particularly this posting on Bonnard as an emotional painter helps me to understand him more. I like Bonnard’s works very much and I always wonder how he create his paintings. Thanks!!

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