Monday, October 29, 2007
One Hundred Years of Illustration
Would you like to see some great examples of 20th century poster art? There’s a web site highlighting illustration from the 20th century, featuring Cheret and other masters of posters, plus works by Maxfield Parrish. For those of us old enough to have experienced a good part of the last century, some of the images on this site feel nostalgic. For those of you who haven’t, you’ll see from some of the type selections that “everything old is new again.”
Check out: 100 Years of Illustration. You’ll see that the artists’ names are linked to a multitude of other sites, so you can get a better feel for their work and understand their life stories better.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
An Expansive Art Encyclopedia on the Web
Looking for a web site to find information about fine artists, artistic movements, museums and more? You’ll probably find what you’re looking for on artcyclopedia.com.
This expansive site has information about over 8,500 artists among 2,500 art sites, with over 100,000 links. Visitors can search artists by name, medium, subject and nationality. Art History buffs might appreciate the area to search Masterpieces. There is an array of interesting articles, and its Art News section picks up stories daily from various newspapers and other outlets. It’s quite a broad compilation.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Download Free Images
Need a source of images for ideas and inspiration?
Then check out imageafter.com
It’s a site offering thousands of free downloadable hi-res photos and textures. Photo categories include landscapes, architecture, animals, people and anatomy, plants, food, vehicles, text, signage and more. Downloads are available for free commercial and personal use.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Doug Higgins: Attracting the Viewer’s Eye
By Linda S. Price
Call it the focus, the focal point, or the center of interest. For Doug Higgins it’s a crucial part of planning his paintings, a process that begins with a morning drive around his hometown of Santa Fe looking for places to paint. Once a scene strikes him and he has a clear image of the composition in his mind, he sets up his easel. Painting in such a beautiful area of the United States, there is rarely a lack of inspiring scenery, but Higgins says he never accepts nature as she comes. “I know I can change the scene—make things up, eliminate some things, simplify others, move elements, brighten or neutralize colors—to serve the idea of the painting,” he says. “I carefully balance and design the elements. My goal is simplicity. Complexity is easy—anyone can achieve that through thoughtless copying of details. You need intelligent strategies to keep it simple.”
Because Higgins begins with an image of a painting in his mind, he has no need for thumbnail sketches. His first considerations are establishing the focal point, locating the horizon line, and placing the largest masses. “A painting is not a collection of parts, but a construction,” he says. “I establish masses early on, stick to those decisions, and retain those masses by using close values.” Although the arrangement of masses is abstract, it still must be accurate. Squinting allows the artist to see the masses, patterns, and edges of the scene more easily.
Having made these key decisions, Higgins next sketches in the main elements with a small, soft brush. The next step is applying a thin turpentine wash with a big brush using transparent colors—alizarin crimson, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, and viridian for the shadows and warm local colors in the light areas—to establish the major shapes. With this step done, the artist wipes down his board with a paper towel, creating an interesting variety of colors. Using thicker paints, he begins with the focal point, completing that before moving on to other areas. By establishing his lightest light, darkest dark, and highest level of detail and contrast in the center of interest, he sets standards by which to judge the subordinate parts of the painting. To deal with changing weather conditions Higgins first establishes the elements that are most likely to change, then makes sure the rest of the painting follows those preliminary decisions, in particular the direction and quality of light.
Because he considers spontaneity essential to the creative process, Higgins initially works rapidly, being what he calls “carelessly careful.” He’d prefer to make mistakes at this stage—mistakes can always be trimmed or scraped out and restated—than lose the vitality of the paint. As he progresses, he starts paying closer attention to drawing, values, edges, and color variations. Only toward the end does his technique become slower and more accurate.
Although the focus of the painting is his most important consideration, Higgins stresses that it can’t be painted in a heavy-handed, obvious way. Because the eye is attracted by contrast, he uses the strongest contrast in values, colors, edges, textures, and degree of detail in his center of interest. Linear elements lead the viewer’s eye toward the focal point. To keep the viewer from being distracted by the foreground he simplifies and abstracts that area.In August Afternoon, for instance, Higgins wanted the viewer’s eye to go to the figures, so he used the most careful drawing and the brightest whites on them, suppressing all other whites in the painting.
By softening the edges of the trees he not only created aerial perspective but also made the sharp edges of the figures stand out. The ruts in the road provide the linear element that further directs the eye toward the center of interest.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Nature captured in the glassmaker’s art
The current special exhibition at the Corning Museum of Glass, “Botanical Wonders: The Story of the Harvard Glass Flowers”, introduces viewers to two artists whose names are probably not familiar to most. Leopold Blaschka (1822-1895) and his son, Rudolf (1857-1939) were glassmakers in Dresden who together spent 46 years creating thousands of fragile, exquisite glass models of plants and flowers for the Botanical Museum of Harvard University. For this exhibition, seventeen of Harvard’s glass models are displayed along with preparatory drawings and a demonstration of the flameworking method of glassmaking.
Even if you can’t visit the exhibition itselt, there’s a wealth of material on the Corning Museum‘s website. And if you live near Boston, a large portion of the Blaschka collection can be seen at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Color in Shadows
Techniques of the Impressionists: What Colors are Shadows?
From Marion Boddy-Evans,
Your Guide to Painting on about.com.
How the Impressionists changed the colors we use to paint shadows.
Once you start painting and closely looking at colors, you soon realize that simply reaching for a tube of black paint whenever you need to put in a shadow doesn’t work. The result isn’t subtle enough to capture a realistic shadow. The Impressionist Renoir is quoted as saying “No shadow is black. It always has a color. Nature knows only colors … white and black are not colors.” So if black was to be banished from their palettes, what did the Impressionists use for shadows?
The True Colors of Shadows
Working from the then-relatively new theory of complementary colors, the logical color to use was violet, being the complementary of yellow, the color of sunlight. Monet said: “Color owes its brightness to force of contrast rather than to its inherent qualities … primary colors look brightest when they are brought into contrast with their complementaries.” The Impressionists created violet by glazing cobalt blue or ultramarine with red, or by using new cobalt and manganese violet pigments that had become available to artists.
Monet painted his moody interiors of Saint-Lazare station, where the steam trains and glass roof created dramatic highlights and shadows, without earth pigments. He created his astoundingly rich array of browns and greys by combining new synthetic oil-paint colors (colors we today take for granted) such as cobalt blue, cerulean blue, synthetic ultramarine, emerald green, viridian, chrome yellow, vermilion, and crimson lake. He also used touches of lead white and a little ivory black. No shadow was considered as being without color, and the deepest shadows are tinged with green and purple.
Ogden Rood, the author of a book on color theory that greatly influenced the Impressionists, is reputed to have loathed their paintings, saying “If that is all I have done for art, I wish I had never written that book!” Well, I’m sure am glad he did.
Trying to Observe Color
Monet described his attempts to observe and capture the colors in nature thus: “I’m chasing the merest sliver of color. It’s my own fault, I want to grasp the intangible. It’s terrible how the light runs out, taking color with it. Color, any color, lasts a second, sometimes three or four minutes at a time. What to do, what to paint in three or four minutes. They’re gone, you have to stop. Ah, how I suffer, how painting makes me suffer! It tortures me.”
Monet also said: “It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.” “When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives you own naïve impression of the scene before you.” Doesn’t he make it seem easy?!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Renoir gets a breath of fresh air
In a current exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Renoir Landscapes: 1865-1883”, we are introduced to an aspect of Renoir’s work that may be somewhat unfamiliar. At least, it’s not what we picture when we think of Renoir’s most famous paintings: sensitive portraits of adults and children, lush still lifes, demure but voluptuous nudes. This exhibition is the first large display of Renoir’s landscape paintings, which received relatively little attention even from the artist himself, who seems to have undervalued them.
However, even dedicated Renoir fans may be pleasantly surprised by the range of painting styles revealed in these works. His technique in creating textures, for example, varies considerably from painting to painting, and he seems to choose his approach according to his subject matter. His own brand of realism was at odds with Impressionist technique, in that he had a naturalist’s eye for detail and was able to evoke not only light but movement and atmospheric changes.
Some of his paintings even give us a glimpse at his influence on later artists. There are echoes of pointillism and, in some cases, an abstract quality that reminds us of Cezanne.
This exhibition gives us a new and surprising look at a painter who may previously have seemed completely familiar.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Helpful Hints for the Artist #9
Creating the Illusion of Three-Dimensional Form and Depth in Your Landscapes
Parallel lines, such as railroad tracks, the edges of a straight road and the furrows of a freshly plowed field, appear to close in on each other as they move away from us, and to finally converge at the horizon.
A faraway object looks smaller than the same thing nearby, even though they are actually the same size. You can use this illustion to put distance betwen three trees and give depth to your picture.
When we see one object in front of another, we know that it is closer to us than the object it partly conceals. That is why the overlapping of shapes in a picture creates the illusion of space.
Objects you see in the distance not only look smaller, they are grayer, hazier and less detailed than objects near you. They are blurred and softened by the atmosphere that is betwen them and your eyes.
The way light falls on objects and landscape areas can give a strong illustion of space. One interesting and effective device is to let the shadow of one object fall on another. This creates a space relation betwen them, in addition to unifying the picture design.
Point of view
Before you start to draw or paint, spend a bit of time viewing your subject from different angles to see which is best. This will help you find the point of view that shows the forms to best advantage.
Page 1 of 1 pages