A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 46: A Kiss is Just a Kiss

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“Here’s Looking at You” Ronald Kok, 2016, Charcoal on paper

Though it is February 15, I thought it might still be okay to stay on the Love theme of Valentine’s Day! Here are some famous romantic images from the history of art (and one not-so-famous that I drew myself – my wife and I on our wedding day). You’ll see the tenderness, emotion, passion, ridiculousness, clumsiness and mystery of love in these artworks. A kiss is just a kiss… unless it is preserved forever on paper, canvas or in stone, of course.

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“The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt, 1908. Certainly the most famous of all of Klimt’s work, infused with his trademark eroticism.

 

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“Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Leon Gerome, 1890. This painting depicts the story by Ovid of Pygmalion, the statue created by Galatea, which is brought to life by the goddess Venus.

 

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“In Bed: the Kiss” by Henri de Toulouse-Latrec, 1892. For its time period, this is a shockingly intimate moment to be portrayed in art.

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“The Kiss” by Constantin Brancusi. One of four versions of this sculpture that Brancusi created. This work makes me laugh as it reminds me that most of us don’t have that Greek god/goddess body: We look more like one of these two!

The Kiss 1901-4 by Auguste Rodin 1840-1917

“The Kiss” by Auguste Rodin. And then there are those with those Greek god/goddess bodies… In this famous sculpture, the lovers’ lips never actually touch, symbolizing a story to two lovers who were killed before they had the chance to consummate their love for each other.

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“The Birthday” by Marc Chagall, 1915. Chagall pictures himself and his wife Bella in dreamy and playful bliss on the occasion of her birthday. As others have remarked, Chagall illustrates how he could bend over backwards for love.

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“Kiss V” by Roy Lichtenstein, 1964. I love Lichtenstein’s comic book-inspired art. This embrace leaves room for ambiguity: Is this joy, sadness, or grief? We can’t be sure. However, we can be sure of the genuine affection and empathy of this piece, despite the graphic art nature of it.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 45: Silly Little Love Poem

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Ah, Valentine’s Day! The flowers! The chocolates! The passion! The absurdly ridiculous expressions of love! What is it about romantic love that makes us feel like a god but act like Pee-Wee Herman? You can take the most sane, rational, level-headed person on the planet, smite them with Cupid’s arrow, and they become instantly stoopid. This day is full of silly and inane ways of gloriously and garishly showing the one you love just how much they turn you into a strangely cartoonish version of yourself, clad in full red, pink and lavender hues.

I have certainly been guilty of the wackiness of love. Perhaps there is good reason for this. Love makes you giddy. Love lifts you out of yourself. Love gives you wings. So you flit and float like a drunken pigeon, crash landing into the window pane of L’Amore.

To the many, many people who endure Valentine’s Day as someone without a partner (i.e., those who consider it “Singleness Awareness Day”), this day is enough to make them ill. You can’t blame them. Love makes us all look bonkers and do bonkerish things.

In the spirit of that weird and wonderful side of love, that Pee-Wee Herman side in us all, below is a ridiculous poem I composed for my wife, Monique, on Valentine’s Day five years ago. It is very hard to rhyme anything Valentine-appropriate with “Monique” (freak? geek? leek?) so I decided to use the nickname she was known by many, many moons ago in our college daze…

I Love Mo

Written Feb. 14, 2012

I love Mo, you know

When cold winds do blow

When down comes the snow

Yo! I love Mo

I love Mo, you know

When the ice melts and goes

When the grass starts to grow

Yo! I love Mo

I love Mo, you know

When the sun smiles down below

When the flowers put on their show

Yo! I love Mo

I love Mo, you know

When trees go orange, red and yellow

When cool wind again does blow

Yo! I love Mo

I love Mo, you know

Through times of joy and times of woe

Together in life hand-in-hand we go

Yo! I love Mo

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 34: Flowers in February

I am such a hopeless romantic that I let my wife buy flowers for herself whenever she wants to. I know – I’m an amazing man. She loves flowers and pretty much every other growing thing. I have never met someone with such a green thumb. Even when she discards one, it thrives in the compost bin. The gardens around our house are her oasis in the Spring, Summer and Fall. But in the dead of Winter? It is her dozens and dozens of houseplants and the fresh cut flowers she brings home that give her life.

In the spirit of bringing a bit of color and life into the bleak midwinter of February, here are a few flower still life drawings I have done over the last few years. One of them was a gift to my wife on Valentine’s Day (yes, there is some romance in me, after all).

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“Pitcher with Roses” Chalk Pastels

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“Roses with Oranges” (Valentine’s Day 2015) Chalk Pastels

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“Two Blue Pitchers” Art Markers, Pen & Ink

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“Tulips in Pitcher 1” Art Markers, Pen & Ink

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“Tulips in Pitcher 2” Art Markers, Pen & Ink