PAINTINGS — to see, to inquire, to buy — talk to Henry 805 331-3233
Why this WEBSITE?
By HENRY NULL
This website is a catalogue preview of paintings I've collected over the last 35 years. During this time I was a gardener and landscaper in Santa Barbara. (See theromanticgardenco.com)
My collection has around 75 paintings. There are a few coming attractions being restored and cleaned. After an appraisal the collection will be for sale. Right now I want people to see the paintings and comment on them. I'm hoping additional insights and info will emerge, and I'm looking for more bio data on artists, most of whom are dead. A special interest is Antonia Greene, Santa Barbara portrait artist from 1929 to 1957, the year she died. There is a separate navigation page for her work and I left a link at the end of this text for any info on her life or her paintings, many of which remain in Santa Barbara.
This website also allows me to play Sister Wendy. I was a big fan of her TV traipsing through the Tate and National Portrait Gallery, dressed in her Carmelite habit and holding forth on the obvious and not so obvious meanings in paintings. Sister Wendy was a TV personality and surely had a distinctive and telling way, explaining what is there for everybody to see. Yet not everyone sees what she does. Nor do I have a TV crew and audio assistant to tell my story. I'm just going to make the best of it with the written word.
How it began
My first painting, around 1985 was not a purchase, but given to me in an odd and surprising trade. I owned a 19th century metal type cabinet which was on consignment to a Santa Barbara antiques store. The store's owner sold the store without telling me. I forgot about the type cabinet, remembered it later and went to the store and found the new owner. Who said sorry, I sold that without knowing it was yours. To make amends, she said take any one item in the store you want. I picked a 19th century portrait of a man who vaguely reminded me of me. Which led to research on that painting. Which piqued my curiosity and motivated me to become my own curator.
The Sister Wendy impulse
From that painting on I expanded artistic understanding by observing internal pressures on my curiosity. I was after meaning or info that contributed to meaning. I never had a specific collection goal, like stamp collectors who must fill in those printed perimeters with the right stamp. I never felt a need to acquire art as a compulsive obsession. But I did want to fill in some blanks of understanding. Which brought on the Sister Wendy impulse. I own no abstract expressionist art, but I appreciate it generally. Its just that I never saw abstract art around here that spoke to me (or that I could afford.). I've been to Butterfield auctions and felt comfortable there but never bought anything. I simply reacted randomly to art sightings, mostly in Santa Barbara. Art dealers would call me once in a while and say "I have something you might be interested in." I did buy a few paintings during the early days of eBay but that ended pretty quickly when eBay became too crowded for my taste.
Collecting as a concept
I became attracted to these paintings as a kind of evolving sideline. I admit I am a collector but I'm not sure exactly what that defines, beyond the obvious. Sometimes I think of collecting as a telescope looking at the past. Paintings speak of connections to times past and stories unknown. They often are revelations that connect me to creativity by someone somewhere. If so, my connection to it has been an impulse at a single moment. Once I saw an item in the Santa Barbara Art Museum news bulletin. It suggested that those interested could join an Art Collectors club affiliated with the SBMA. I had a friend who then was the Museum's 19th century art curator. I asked him what the Art Collectors club was. "You don't need them," he said, a single sentence of judgment. That's the closest I've been to organized art collecting. My approach has been impulse buying, then efforts at understanding what I bought.
Innocent X and Girl With a Hat
I have no masterpieces. Wait a minute: I do have an artist's study of Pope Innocent X, a copy of a famous Velasquez portrait. Check out his eyes in my painting. And by the way, he wasn't so innocent. Plus a painted copy of Renoir's girl with a hat.
What I do have: paintings skillfully done that emit distinctive psychological and graphic messages. I became interested primarily in portraits, and not much at all in landscapes. I have a couple intriguing cityscapes and a remarkable U.S. luminist school seascape. I came to appreciate artistic skill and style far more than thematic or subjective ideas.
Click on the gallery paintings that interest you and the close-up photo will appear.