Strength in What Remains Behind

A guest post by Sean Forester

San Giorgio Maggiore by Sean ForesterI hope you enjoy my painting of San Giorgio Maggiore at dawn. Those of you who travelled to Venice with Tom Jones and Ann experienced the calm grandeur of this vista. As I reflect on the scene, I can almost hear Mahler’s Adaggietto from his Symphony no. 5 in my mind—the view of the church goes so perfectly with Death in Venice, the film by Luchino Visconti and novella by Thomas Mann. I joined that Travel Pursuit one afternoon as a guest lecturer. We stepped inside the Gothic basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari to look closely at Titian’s altarpiece and how he uses the mathematical ratio known as the Golden Section to harmonize the earth and heavens.

Those of you who have traveled with me may recall such moments. I have tried to share with you what I am most passionate about. I believe that what I offer as a leader is the ability to help you see the world through an artist’s eyes. I have taken you to places that inspire my painting—Russia, Italy, and France—and I hope they have inspired you as well. For my next Travel Pursuit, I’ve chosen Japan because it is the place that captivates me now. In this spirit, I’d like to share a couple of my recent artworks.

As those of you who were in Russia with me know, I had to leave the tour early because my mother was in an auto accident and passed away. Losing her without being able to say goodbye was incredibly painful. I felt so much support from all of you who were on Russia trip, and from Ann, Melanie, and the entire Classical Pursuits community. Thank you.

We all experience grief in our lives. At such times I take comfort in the kindness of family and friends and in music, art, and literature. I tried to express this in my painting Consolation.

ConsolationwithpoemI depicted two women, one who is grieving or in pain. Perhaps she is ill, or has experienced a loss. Her friend tentatively comforts her. The scene takes place in a dark and calm room, with a door behind leading to another room that is illuminated. On the wall is a scroll with a phrase that can be roughly translated as “Looking again to learn from the old masters.” For me this means learning by following the techniques of master painters. My painting closely follows a work by the 19th-century Boston painter Edward Tarbell that is pictured below.

New England Interior by Edward TarbellThe phrase on the scroll also means opening myself to those from whom I can learn, be they elders today or the great books we study at Classical Pursuits. I feel that when I lead a tour, I learn a great deal from those who join me on it. In my painting, on the wall is also a print by of a ship by the Japanese artist Yoshida. Both the ship and the open door suggest a way forward. For me, consolation and healing are not a one-time thing—they are a process. A friend can support you with kindness and help you find your next steps along the way.

I’ll be showing this painting and a couple of others at exhibitions in Laguna Beach, opening April 8,  and in New York City, opening April 28. The exhibitions will include lectures, artistic demonstrations, wine, and snacks. For more information please visit These shows feature a select group of realist artists, including Aaron Westerberg, whose work is also inspired by Japan.




If you live in the New York or LA areas and can attend, please do. I would enjoy seeing you. I’ll be giving a short lecture; I’ll have brochures about the Travel Pursuit to Japan and look forward to answering your questions. If you cannot make these events, feel free to email me to share your thoughts about my paintings or Japan. I’m very excited to see Kyoto and to share my love of Japanese art and culture with you. I think this is going to be my best tour yet with Classical Pursuits.

– Sean

P.S. I’ll leave you with the two other paintings I will be showing: Emily and Still Life with Silver Pitcher.  Emily is a dancer and a wonderful model and muse. I’ve depicted her in a moment of reflection, pouring herself a glass of water. For this painting I was inspired by Vermeer and Edward Hopper. Emily is holding a silver pitcher I found at an antique market in Florence, Italy. I also painted it in a still life with red and green onions.


Emily by Sean Forester


Still Life with Onions by Sean Forester


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