Underpainter ebook

by Jane Urquhart

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FREE shipping on qualifying offers. In Rochester, New York, a d artist, Austin Fraser, is creating a new series of paintings recalling the details of his life and of the lives of those individuals who have affected him-his peculiar mother.

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The Underpainter is a novel of interwoven lives in which the world of art collides with the realm of human emotion. Brilliantly depicting landscape and the geography of the imagination, The Underpainter is Jane Urquhart's most accomplished novel to date. It is the story of Austin Fraser, an American painter now in his later years, who is haunted by memories of those whose lives most deeply touched his own, including a young Canadian soldier and china painter and the beautiful model who becomes Austin's mistress.

Boyle anywhere near the collection hand.

Boyle anywhere near the collection hand, disapproval written all over her face. You’re a grown man, for Gods sake, she said to me. What on earth do you want to be doing playing like a child with pieces of china?. I told her it was absolutely none of her business how I spent my time. None of my business, is it? she retorted. And me the one that keeps you going day after day. You’re such a strange one, you’d.

She is the internationally acclaimed author of seven award-winning novels, three books of poetry and numerous short stories

The Underpainter book. Jane Urquhart is the daughter of a prospector/mining engineer, which explains the mining motif and landscape she uses so fluently in several of her books

The Underpainter book. Jane Urquhart is the daughter of a prospector/mining engineer, which explains the mining motif and landscape she uses so fluently in several of her books. And Urquhart uses a keen blend of environment and social observance to render her landscape.

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Austin Fraser's painting teacher had indoctrinated him with the view that unless something could be turned into art, it simply was not worth his time. And in this he included people. Austin certainly applied the principle to Sara Pengelly, who lived alone on the edge of Lake Superior.
The strange title of this prizewinning novel is explained gradually over the course of the book. Its protagonist Austin Fraser, a highly successful American artist, has adopted an unusual approach to his mature works. Although he begins each painting in the realistic style of the landscapes and nude studies of his Canadian model Sara Pengelly with which he originally made his name, he now paints over this underpainting with concealing glazes and even white impasto, so that only the faintest outlines of the original remain. Although Urquhart has several real artists appear in the book, among them the great teacher Robert Henri and that Hemingway of the frozen North, Rockwell Kent, she does not identify Austin Fraser with any real-life original, but it is not hard to imagine his new style fitting in with mid-century Abstract Expressionists such as Clyfford Still or the painted-over images of Robert Rauschenberg. Trained as an art historian herself and twice married to artists, Urquhart knows art; the insight into the painter's craft is one of the deep pleasures of her book.

More importantly, though, Fraser's painting style is a metaphor for his emotional detachment. What he would describe in Robert Henri's words as the necessary distance between the painter and his model, is in fact a refusal to allow himself to feel, deliberately removing himself from a situation until there is almost no connection left. Not for nothing are his late paintings known as "the erasure series"; it is himself that he is rubbing out. Nowhere is this more clear than in his relationship with Sara Pengelly, a waitress in a hotel in the Canadian village of Silver Islet, at the tip of the Sleeping Giant peninsula jutting out into Lake Superior. Even though Sara becomes his model, lover, and companion over the course of fifteen summers on the Canadian shore, and he knows every inch of her body, he is more reluctant to penetrate her mind, and deflects all her attempts to reach his own. While we can understand Fraser as an artist, and perhaps (if we are honest) recognize a similar need for self-protection in ourselves, he nonetheless comes over as the least warm of Urquhart's protagonists, though one of the most fascinating.

The novel is contained entirely in memory with no significant action in the present time. This is unusual for Jane Urquhart, although her most recent novel, SANCTUARY LINE, comes close. Memory, however, is one of the persistent themes in Urquhart's work, as are art, imagination and the supernatural, immigration, the Great Lakes landscape, the disappearance of former lifestyles and places, and the effects of war, all of which have a place in this story. As in THE STONE CARVERS, the novel that would follow this, the war in question is World War I, which draws in the two other members (with Austin and Sara) of the quartet around whom the novel revolves. These are George Kearns, a young Canadian china painter, and Augusta Moffatt, a wartime nurse who becomes George's lover. George is the antithesis of Austin as an artist, painting charming miniatures on cups and thimbles; it is only gradually that Austin realizes what his friend has to teach him as a human being, and by then we have already reached the searing climax of the book. Augusta is a less clear figure at first, though she eventually emerges with more clarity than Sara, with features that distinguish many of Urquhart's heroines: strength, sensitivity, a lonely childhood, and the power of second sight. Though pursuing obscure occupations in a Canadian backwater, George and Augusta have been thorough the mill of experience, and thus act as a contrast to Austin who remains on the sidelines throughout.

The sideline aspect is something that may make some readers enjoy THE UNDERPAINTER less than Urquhart's more active novels, such as AWAY,CHANGING HEAVEN, or A MAP OF GLASS. It is an interior book in which very little happens. But Austin Fraser's journey into the frozen depths of his soul will have results: in his final work, the underpainting will remain uncovered.
I didn't like this book at all, very confusing and not a satisfactory ending.
Well written and intellectual. Possibly a little much for me. I'm more inclined to lighter fare. My brain needed a rest when I finished it.
Lonesome Orange Kid
As an artist, I did not appreciate it. There was no thought about underpainting and why the painter was recognized and sold his work. It touched on too much and explained very little. Rockwell Kent was a wonderful artist, and there was no thought and appreciation there, just peculiarities.
Abandoned Electrical
it was a good read I would say read it
Jane Urquhart's fourth novel is a staggering yet restrained portrait of an emotionally cold and withholding American minimalist (fictional) painter, Austen Fraser, now 83 years old and reflecting on his life. Born in in Rochester, NY, around the turn of the twentieth century, his fertile experiences took place in New York, Ontario, and a tiny island called Silver Islet on Lake Superior in Canada.

He was influenced by two eminent artists with diametrically opposed views; Rockwell Kent, who believed that art and life were exuberant mirrors of each other, and Robert Henri, who had the most austere philosophy toward art--isolate, don't share your vision or your heart, keep it all for your art. Fraser's turmoil has roots in his internal struggle to choose which artist to emulate philosophically.

The novel, written from Fraser's point of view, resonates with a haunting, glacial regret and deep sorrow, a Munch scream in the gloaming of his life. The layers of the novel are stunning, astonishing, and cohere and accrete in an evocative inversion to the artist's style of painting. Urquhart's writing commands this novel so eloquently, so exquisitely, I felt Fraser's old bones nearly shatter on the icy, boreal frontiers of his life.

Each character is finely, lucidly drawn, nuanced men and women that pierce the landscape with immeasurable poignancy and stoic hearts. They are so well-developed that they live in my heart like imperishable ghosts. Sarah Pengelly was Fraser's model for fifteen years, a steadfast miner's daughter living in obscurity in an outpost island. Fraser stole from her while never giving of himself-- her flesh, the muscular sinew of her calf, the soft vulnerability of her wrist, her mouth, her color, her shadow.

He met George Kearns in Ontario, a painter of china who managed his father's china shop. Fraser held George in mild contempt, accusing him of not being a "real" artist. Fraser barely scratched the surface of his dearest friend, so busy was he being an arrogant artist and self-made enigmatic recluse. He never knew the carnage that Kearns witnessed in WW1, but George's friend, Augusta Moffet, knew. Kearns shares a deep, melancholic suffering with this war nurse that underscores the story with a lethal glow that, ironically, haunts the reader with its almost imperceptible defiance of the narrator.

Jane Urquhart is the daughter of a prospector/mining engineer, which explains the mining motif and landscape she uses so fluently in several of her books.

"Art is a kind of mining...The artist a variety of prospector searching for the sparkling silver of meaning in the earth."

And Urquhart uses a keen blend of environment and social observance to render her landscape.

"There is always a moment of wholeness, recollected when the world is torn, raw-edged, broken apart, a moment when the tidiness, the innocence of landscape--sometimes of the society that created the landscape--allows you to predict with accuracy the discord to come."

This is a complex, gradually disclosing story of epic loss, and also a terrifying confession of a man who, over the course of the novel, discloses himself intimately, all his ugly, disturbing truths, so that you know him, hate him, pity him, in all his superciliousness-- and you will be moved, possibly, to forgive him.
Underpainter ebook
Jane Urquhart
EPUB size:
1275 kb
FB2 size:
1880 kb
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1151 kb
Trafalgar Square; First edition (September 18, 1997)
288 pages
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