September’s Paintings

The paintings that grabbed me this month and made it into my classroom.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, in my Advanced Math class, I show my students a “daily painting.” These are mostly self-serving, breaths-of-fresh-air in the midst of humorless, colorless numbers, but my students seem to appreciate them as well.

I’d like to make a habit of sharing these paintings with the broader world each month, so here are September’s choices.

  1. At Sea by Charles Dupre (1870)

For this first painting, I think the things that stood out to me were the composition, contrast, and sense of movement. Although the larger ship is placed squarely in the middle of the canvas, my eye is drawn to the smaller boat in the foreground. In all of the painting, dominated by blues and grays, here is a small drop of red. The lonely fisherman beats on, boat against the current, etc.

2. A Provencal Stream by Henry Herbert LaThangue (1903)

This guy is becoming one of my favorites. His brushstrokes and the movement of light they’re able to communicate are really impressive.

3. View at Tintagel by Samuel Palmer (1848)

Just the name “Tintagel” gets me going. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at this image, trying to determine what exactly I am seeing. I love it.

4 and 5. Echo (1888) and Forest Troll (1906) by Theodor Severin Kittelsen

T.K. is becoming another one of my favorites. I showed two of his paintings this month: Echo, on the left, is an innocent celebration of being dwarfed by nature; Forest Troll, on the right, is spooky in a way that I think every child in us recognizes. In both, I see a youthful awareness of the wonder of the natural world. I didn’t originally present them as a diptych like this, but I do think I prefer them this way now.

6. The Iceberg by Frederic Edwin Church (1891)

Speaking of being dwarfed by nature…

7. The Iron Rolling Mill by Adolph Menzel (1875)

So many things in this painting work for me. I read a good analysis of the painting here, which I’ll let you read for yourself.

8. Rip Van Winkle Illustration by N.C. Wyeth (1921)

Nobody does it like N.C. Wyeth. I’ve been feeling like a child all month, hence the trolls and echos and icebergs. This painting just needed to be included.

I hope there’s at least one painting here that spoke to you in some way.

All of these paintings can be found at

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