Saturday, April 25, 2020

You're the Man, Prince Charles.

Village Majorca, 1990 Prince Charles

I had a moment of panic this morning. I could not find my book of Prince Charles's watercolors. I bought this book in the gift shop at The Morgan in New York City a few years ago. I love this book. I love the Prince of Wales and not because I am not one of those fans of the crown or anything like that. When I finally found the book, rather than taking it over to the table, I opened it here on the floor by my bookshelf and drank my coffee on the rug. like that he signs his work "C." I'd like to know him and call him C

The text that accompanies the paintings describe the landscape the weather, technical challenges he encountered and his childhood memories of some of these places. He frequently describes his body in space. For example, he "sheltered pathetically under a leafless tree." Or, "the setting winter sun created the sort of dramatic display that had me fumbling for my paint box." And this, "I was sitting on a grass slope amongst a large quantity of sheep droppings with my back beginning to give out and with pins and needles in my bottom...!" Don't you want this guy to be king?!? Look at this picture of him painting. 

He likes Turner; I like Turner! Who doesn't like Turner. Prince Charles writes, "Turner was one of those geniuses of English art who understood so well and whose sketches and paintings betray this deep and unstoppable passion for the beauty of God's creation." His watercolors show he likes Turner but of course he is not as good. No one is. Turner's paintings are other-worldly. Prince Charles's are worldly. This is something I like about them, about this book. 

I like the way Prince Charles writes, the language he uses. I wonder if he talks like this. I hope he does. The way he articulates why he loves painting. He is so sentimental. Despite the ascot on the language and exclamation points (which convey passion as they neuter it) I am right there with him in the way he is moved by what he sees, by his desire to articulate it in paint. In these texts he cannot contain his deep love of painting, nature, and being present with them both. I have not come many painters who express such a juicy love of it. "The wonderful thing about painting is that it provides you with an excuse to sit in one spot long enough to appreciate the quality of changing light and the theatrical effects of the weather on the landscape." Dang right, bruh. 

I like when he mentions the intersection of being Prince Charles and painting. The accompanying text to one painting of a beach describes how just after he settled himself to paint he discovered that a bunch of paparazzi were "crouched in the sand dunes pointing their ridiculously long lenses in my direction." It's funny in this passage he switches to the second person, as if using I would somehow be too revealing. "your imagination plays on the predictable captions to accompany them..."Beach Boy Charlie Paints Alone" or, better still, "Beached Wales – the Potty Prince Revealed!" His comments on being a prince and a painter that make be feel lucky to be a painter and not a princess.

HRH The Prince of Wales Watercolors Jacket Photograph, by Lesley Donald
And while, no C, I cannot relate to your concerns about tabloid headlines, I think I do understand something about you and the way you look at the world. Did I already say I wish we were friends? 

For the past couple of years I have been trying to do something similar than is done in this book: I have been looking at paintings and drawings I have made, and trying to say where they come from. Prince Charles describes how they come from within a person and without. This is the intersection of living and art. Part of me wishes he could get even more personal but the future king can only be so candid. Oh well. All I can say is, no you cannot borrow this book, and Long Live Charles, The Painter of Wales! 

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