Friday, May 27, 2005
An artist’s visit to 19th century London
When we think of Impressionist paintings, we picture sun-drenched landscapes, rippling river scenes, churning seas, and flowers blooming abundantly. But Claude Monet, for one, was inspired by a broad spectrum of images. A current exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, Monet’s London: Artists’ Reflections on the Thames, 1859-1914, takes us to an urban setting which Monet found exciting to paint.
In fact, as the exhibition’s title indicates, the Thames – that vital artery of the London cityscape – inspired a long list of artists in the last half of the nineteenth century. The American artist, James McNeill Whistler, was among them. Describing the artist’s intimate and exclusive connection to this river, he wrote:
And when the evening mist clothes the riverside with poetry, as with a veil, and the poorer buildings lose themselves in the dim sky, and the tall chimneys become campanili, and the warehouses are palaces in the night, and the whole city hangs in the heavens, and fairy-land is before us—then the wayfarer hastens home; the working man and the cultured one, the wise man and the one of pleasure, cease to understand, as they have ceased to see, and Nature, who for once has sung in tune, sings her exquisite song to the artist alone, her son and her master—her son in that he loves her, her master in that he knows her.
This exhibition offers yet another opportunity for a virtual escape—time-travel to another era and place.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
A passion for fonts
I’ve always loved typefaces, or fonts. Most people don’t spend much time thinking about them—but they’re everywhere. Everything you read—every sign, book, and logo—is in a font. Most of the time, if they’re doing their job well, fonts send a message—either overt or subliminal. The rest of the time, they’re discreet, succeeding at not being noticed.
An article in yesterday’s New York Times pointed me to a couple of websites that are fun to visit for anyone with an eye for design. You can turn your own handwriting into a font at www.fontifier.com; at Spell with Flickr you can enter any word you like and have it spelled back to you in a variety of letters borrowed from street signs, Scrabble, and shapes in nature; or you can play the “Retail Alphabet Game”.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Building bridges between animals and humans
There’s a fascinating exhibit in New York right now, called Ashes and Snow. Gregory Colbert, a Swiss photographer, spent ten years on expeditions throughout the world, photographing the wonderful interactions between animals and humans. His travels took him to such places as India, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Antarctica. The chronicle of his experiences is this marvelous traveling exhibition of large-scale photographic artworks, housed in a building by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. Made of shipping containers and paper tubing, this Nomadic Museum can be easily assembled in any port around the world.
Monday, May 09, 2005
A graduate reflects on his art studies with FAS
Larry Gibbs, one of our graduates, recently sent us these comments about his experience as a student of Famous Artists School:
The vast amount of information on each area of art and commercial art has always been my main impression of the FAS texts. I would say that there is a thoroughness and a determination by each artist depicted in the texts and the “narrator” instructor if you please, to teach the student the lesson at hand. These observed qualities always took me to the limit of my abilities to do each lesson well. There was one more observation over the length of the Course: invariably I would make a key mistake which would be pointed out by the lesson critique, and in the next lesson there would be an “enlightenment” on how to avoid these key mistakes—which I thought was a good way to teach.
We’re always glad to hear from our alums!
Friday, May 06, 2005
Helpful Hints for the Artist—#2
Dong Kingman, a watercolorist who was a member of FAS’ Guiding Faculty for many years, had this advice for artists about the value of on-site sketches combined and enhanced with imagination and whimsy.
I like to begin my paintings on location, then complete the work later in my studio. Most often, I begin this process with an on-site sketch, which gives me necessary design information and helps me firm up my compositional ideas. Once the composition is in place, my imaginary characters take the stage.
Be aware of the surprising ideas coming out of your subconscious mind. Bringing these ideas to the surface takes persistence and hard work. Sometimes they come; sometimes not. The important thinkg is to keep trying. Starting with a design/value sketch assures a satisfying underlying structure for the embellishments that bring each scene to life.
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