Monday, February 29, 2016

Artist of the Month: Jan Van Eyck

-By William O'Connor

It is often astounding to imagine that with today's contemporary technology the average person views more images in a single day that a person living 500 years ago would see in a lifetime. Photos, videos, signs, posters, and advertising are ubiquitous in our everyday lives. The ability to make images before the modern age would have seemed like magic. To a person living in a fundamentally spiritual age it could be a life defining experience. Gothic Europe was a perfect storm of deep spirituality and the technology to create images of extreme beauty. Perhaps one of the greatest masters of this pivotal moment in art history was Jan Van Eyck.(1390-1441)

For nearly one thousand years art had been the province of the clergy and craftsmen working for the church. Architecture, manuscript illumination, stained glass and sculptures were produced as acts of piety and faith by the clerical class, and workshops hired by the church. For this reason we know very little about individual artists since almost all the works were huge projects created by teams. The church had a strict canonical monopoly on the "style guides" of artistic work. In this manner the work of the church during the middle ages was very similar to what we see today in computer game and special effects houses. Large teams of artists working under the editorial committee of the church. Deviation from the approved canon of imagery was forbidden. The advantage of this system was that by working with predetermined schema, the language of the church was universal to a mostly illiterate population. A pilgrim could travel from Milan to Manchester and be able to read the Images.

This system of icons began to be challenged in the Gothic period, the transitional time between the middle ages and the Rennaisance. Advances in technology allowed for some of the most beautiful artworks In the history of mankind. Knowledge of engineering developed towering cathedrals, metallurgy breakthroughs created masterworks of jewelry and armor, new trade routes to the east brought dyes and fabrics as well as mathematics, and most influential to the future of art, new pigments and plant oils that would lead to a tectonic shift in painting.

Prior to this time most paintings were tempera on vellum or fresco and rigidly art directed by the church canon. The new sciences beginning at the end of the 14th century brought a confluence of techniques together. Mathematical perspective, anatomy, modern pigments and most of all oil. The use of linseed oil as a vehicle to suspend pigments was as big an influence to making pictures as the camera would be centuries later. Artists now had a highly refined medium that would dry smoothly and slowly allowing them to create infinitely soft gradients and color blending effects, intricate detail, and glowing glazes and varnishes. Although artists like Cimabue and Giotto were creating innovative early Rennaisance works in Italy, these were mostly still using medieval materials specifically fresco. The artist that many consider the father of modern oil painting was Jan Van Eyck.

Living in the wealthy trade center of the Netherlands, Van Eyck was exposed to new materials and techniques from an early age as an apprenticed painter. Quickly gaining expertise and notoriety for his craftsmanship and artistry his minutely detailed works on commissioned altarpieces and private portraits eventually landed him a unique position as one of the highest paid artists in the court of Phillip the Good of France. So valued was Van Eyck that Phillip gave him creative freedom and open deadlines along with his retainer to ensure that the artist would not leave.
This may be one of the reasons there are so few Van Eyck paintings. Freed from The constraints of time, money and church oversight, Van Eyck was able to create some of the most beautiful works ever seen, becoming a master of the new oil painting medium, enthralling both the painter and the viewer for hours and days, anchored in the iconic traditions of the Middle Ages while creating masterful special effects of the Rennaisance.

Today it is easy in our daily binge of online images to become blind to how a single painting could have such an impact. It has become difficult for us to even spend time contemplating a painting for more than a few seconds. Van Eyck's paintings defy the casual glance, they insist that the viewer spend time in contemplation of the work. The details of the worlds created pull us into their reality and engage a metaphysical world beyond ours. A non-linear story telling approach filled with layers of details. In this way today's contemporary video game experience is not dissimilar, allowing us to engage either in details or big picture story lines, to linger on details, or create our own side stories. Imagine the next time you are immersed into your favorite MMPORG, spending an equal amount of time looking at a single painting, then we may begin to appreciate the impact these images had on both their creator and their viewers, then go spend some time with Van Eyck.

Ghent Alterpiece 1432

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Painting Progression: Lady of Mermaid Inn

-By Vanessa Lemen

Lady of Mermaid Inn

Since my posts on Muddy Colors and happen to fall on the same day this month, I thought I'd post a bit about my painting and show some progression images. (thanks to Dan Dos Santos for the suggestion!) This painting is oil on board, 5x7”, and is titled Lady of Mermaid Inn.

I had recently read a bit about haunted pubs and inns in the UK, and came across the ghosts of Mermaid Inn in Rye, and this painting came soon after. She appeared earlier in some marks on the surface, and I was inspired to continue with some new abstract marks in the atmosphere, as if she appears to be emerging from the atmosphere, just as a ghost might appear... Below is a bit about how the image came about...

The painting was initially started a while back, and it was one I've had hanging around my studio. I tend to work that way a lot. I have many abstract starts around me in my studio, and different images tend to form in the surrounding paintings in a way much like we see forms in the clouds. On any given day, one painting in its abstract state may speak to me more than another.

The initial marks made on the surface

This painting had been sitting out in its abstract state for a little while, and I had at one point taken it over to my easel to develop two figures that I saw in the marks one day. I didn't quite like the posture of the figures that I brought forward from the marks, but I liked the painting enough to give it some more hang time and thought I may spend more time with it possibly in the future, so I kept it in that state after having scratched it out a bit with some sand paper.

Finding forms in the marks

As it turned out, my day to post on Every Day Original was coming up, and since the paintings I post on EDO are smaller works, and this was a nice small sized painting (5x7”), I decided to revisit it. As I mentioned above, I had just recently read about haunted inns, and this must've been in the back of my mind when I started to paint this painting. I hadn't intended to erase one figure altogether, but as I made some abstract marks to cover the figure on the right, I decided I liked what was there enough to continue with just the one figure. Also, I saw a face and head tilt in the remaining figure that appealed to me more – the head was tilted back, which made the jawline about where the eyes were. This seemed to flow much better. And the ghost type figure was subconsciously developing...

Changing it up! (a bit different from the previous state)

I had a lot of fun adding some abstract marks for the background. The painting was dry enough underneath that I could add some dark tones with a bit of linseed oil on top of the painting and carve back out with a spatula, splattering a fine spray of turp as well for texture. I wanted to give the painting a feel of outdoor light, as if walking through a patch of trees and seeing a figure in the light and shadows, but as abstract shapes, so as to be interpreted in many other forms as well.

Added some abstracts in the environment

As the painting was in the final stages, I added a bit more glow and color on the outer edges of the hair.  Also, I felt like the face and figure were a bit too cartoony and had too much contrast in some areas which didn't lead to a proper ghost-type feel, so I spent a bit more time on the face and figure to knock back the darks and blur some edges to keep the appearance of the figure moving in and out of the environment.


This last stage is where it felt right, to me, as an all-over image – in mood, composition, color and lighting. It's a free-form process so, to me, when working in this way, it's finished when it feels right.  This painting will be posted and available for purchase here: - Lady of Mermaid Inn, today at 10:00am - (2/27/2016).

The painting in its finished state

Friday, February 26, 2016

WORKING ART: You and Them

-By Greg Ruth


Of the many things that go into being, working, and making a living as an artist in this new world, (and it seems like its a whole new world just about each passing day, I know), is interacting with your audience. Never before has this been such a crucial and wholly involved part of our lives as it is today. Like the old patronage system of old where a select few artists chosen by the aristocracy enjoyed a career under their financial generosity, or the high end private gallery and intellectual social scene that replaced it, we are now in the early days of the internet age as it shapes how we see interact with art. That affords us the artists, a great deal more we have to do to make our way in the world, but it also gives us a level of autonomy and agency, free of gallery owner dictates, that makes it especially exciting. But also with this new tool of ours comes a great deal of responsibility. So kicking off a multi-part series on some gathered advice and I thought I'd get down and dirty with it all, and largely speaking from my own personal experiences. Starting backwards, this week is dealing how we receive input from the public under this new paradigm, and also about giving names to those who may gift us with their insights.

We as creatives are expected to share and promote ourselves more than ever before, and part of that is an unherent interaction with our audience that brings the convention, book signing aspect into our homes and offices via social media. There will be terrible things said by people, both out of meanness but also more often accidentally hurtful that will haunt you for decades. A lot of it stems from a hubris that by given an opportunity to play at Art Director, some assume the wisdom of one and operate as if they understand what they are talking about... when they kind of really do not. This is a sharper point of a kind of effect that frankly scares a lot of us away from working and interacting online, and its understandable. A hundred good critiques still matter less than a single bad one, to your art ego. I can safely say this is true for us all. Yes, I do dream of an arrogance so mighty and invincible as to truly not give a rat's butt about a negative review or critique, but that is never going to happen. It's hard and sometimes overly cruel out there, and rather than wince at it for what it is, I say get out there and wrestle it to the ground. It will make you stronger as being forced defend and reconcile yourself helps further your own ability to do so again, and fortifies your understanding of what you are doing. Just own it and roll with it and you'll be fine.

The other thing to realize, is that the pain of good and bad opinions is an ego pain. There is actually no bruising nor bones breaking, no one dies... It can feel like the world changed, but it did not. Getting overly worked up from a positive review can be just as treacherous as falling into a puddle of sadness over a negative one. The trick is to ride the middle in all things, but especially in this thing. Keep your perspective and never ever respond in haste or anger and you can keep these sparks from lighting up forest fires. It's not easy but you will emerge stronger from it, and at best you will also acquire an ability to self art-direct that can really serve you professionally later. SO here below is a guide to some of the creatures of the forest you are about to encounter:


Benny Mousolini
This is a common creature who has always lived among us, but since the advent of the interwebs and all its knobs and tubes, has burst upon our collective landscape like a plague of locusts. The Superionator is a man or woman who through the magic of the megaphone social media provides is a sudden genius in all things and has no qualms about letting everyone know. Their opinion is mighty and they will never be convinced of ever being wrong not ever, no never. Learning is a one way street that flows from them to you. Now this is not to say that sometimes there are gems hidden all the avalanche of poop-nuggets, and while yes, it is often painful to read their screeds, those gems can come in handy if you don't let your emotions get the better of you. Harder still to achieve in the face of a Fix-O-Tron, (see below).

THE ART DIRECTOR (also sometimes your EDITOR)

Jim Woodring
This unlike the others is an actual name for an actual person's actual job. Art Directors usually do, and always should, know their business. At the very least they bestow these things all day long and as such can get right to the point and get you sorted out. These are pros and what they can do is speak to you professionally about how to do what you're doing better. Or rather, how you are doing or not doing well enough for your client, which is someone they are also subjects of in this kingdom of art making. You get hold of a good art director, you hold onto them like grim death. They are gold and not to be tossed away. It doesn't mean everything they say is helpful, but they have the highest percentage of anyone in this collection of types. And despite what your peers may say, especially int he alt comics scene, you need an editor and want an AD when you can get a good one. A bad one can be a disaster, but like a bad apple, it doesn't mean you should eat apples forever as a response. These are and can be deeply intimate and effective relationships. They are in effect the only other people who will be there right along side helping you craft your baby. And unlike you they have likely birthed a lot of babies before you, or currently, and as such have some real wisdom to mine. If you're suffering from anxiety because some troll said you drew feet badly, these folk can make you feel better about it with some necessary perspective. Plus because they are pros of the business, their word in this instance carries more heft even that a hug from Mom.


He sees your soft parts
He sees your soft parts. Of them all these can be the roughest to wrestle with. The Surgeon isn't necessarily mean or cruel but is able to with xray vision poke at exactly the things you yourself fretted or struggled over. They can see exactly what's wrong and aren't afraid to say it. If they were mean or rude about it, they would be easier to dismiss but largely they drop their truth bombs and walk away casually like an 80's action hero from car going boom. Trying to get sympathy from them is like trying get praise from a mountain. But the thing is, the mountain if listened to, can teach you things. This is where you should most employ the ego-dampener and make sure the feels don't obfuscate the wisdom of the mountain. 


Elvis Attack
A.k.a. The Love-Maker, or The Ego-Stroker, & The Cheerifier. The Gusher essentially ranges from nice mom or dad who just loves to death everything you do no matter what, to stalking uber-enthusiastic superfan nutcase. They are non-parental ones all over Facebook, and I confess to being one myself there often. There;s a lot of great stuff to gush about and no one ever got hurt by being supportive. Seriously- really earnest and nice comments make a difference to all of us, and especially to us as artists. Its pure love like a mother's love. These can be easily dismissed by the jaded, but they can also be the pieces of wreckage you cling to after a rough bout with a troll or an incisively negative review. These lovelies are also known as The Momifiers- essentially loving you for being you. It can be goofy and of course a grain of salt must be had, lest one becomes self deluded. But these folks are both harmless and likely, encouraging.


aka The Evil Gulliver Syndrome
Kissing cousin to the Troll, the Crusher-Downer is just there to make themselves happy by making you sad. If identified as a true Crusher-Downer, these people and their opinions are to be wholly ignored and dismissed. Really. Just flush the commode. The place from which these reviews come is not a place that has anything to do with you, and you and your work are merely the nearest puppy they want to kick. Unfortunately, the only real way to sniff these folk out is to have suffered the, enough to know them by their odor. Sniff and run, my friends. Sniff and run.


These folk are kissing cousins to the Superionator, in that the walk into any room full of  opinions, but go a smidge farther by way of telling you how you should change your piece to make it better for you.... As they see it. They see you as a glove in which they can and will insert their mighty hand to exact their own brand of genius. They want to make you better for them. They tend to ignore praise and get right to telling you what you should have done and sometimes in the end confuse the situation more by telling you nice things as an afterthought. Ultimately, like learning that fire hurts when you touch it, being able to identify fixes comes from being more self aware about what you are doing. Also not to be confused with solicited wisdom, which can help you fix what you are asking for. 


One of the more psychologically tricky ones to wrestle with. The Timid Squirrel will often begin ti say what they see as needs fixing, but when probed for more or some level of clarity, will instead retreat into their shell rendering you alone with all the mental daggers sorting out what the worst thing you could have heard is in fact true. They are not necessarily intending anything but help, and often such folks simply have no idea they might be causing you distress, but... By poking and running, the Timid Squirrel leaves the true critique to yourself, and believe me, you are the meanest person you know. 


Someone who say, only knows about fantasy art, but nevertheless speaks volumes about why abstract art is bad, or why cowboys are unbecoming why photography is dead. Essentially they aren't from your planet, don't really get at all what you are doing, but render a cut throat opinion on the subject anyway. We all have a little Travelling Alien within us just bursting to get out. This is a creature whose size and population has been most fed by the internet as this sort also requires very little to affirm their own predisposed idea about a thing, no matter how dubious the source. It can sometimes come off as weird or disjointed. Think... your grandmother preaching the merits of Fetty Wap. Nod and smile and be on your way. They are soon to visit another planet anyway, and will shortly not be your concern. 


We all know this one. The soulless cruel bastard, or bastardess who simply wants to burn the world down. They just want to delight in your sadness and bring nothing of value to the conversation, or to your work. Trolls feed off your response, and the more they see they angered you, the more the love it and grow bigger. They flourish in reply threads and on message boards like mosquitoes in a stale pond of water. In short they are THE WORST. But the thing is, they are so bad, they can be dismissed more easily by the ego. Being cartoon villains leaves little room for the essential element of effective cruelty: merit. The only medicine to stop these terrible beings is to ignore them. No bully wants to be irrelevant, and no troll wishes to be made silent. You cannot reason with them, you cannot befriend them. Everything you do to try and make things better only makes it all worse. Like with bears, do not feed the trolls. You'll want to. But don't. The endgame is their game, and the only way to win is not to play. 


These are your friends, your colleagues and your mates. They know you and know how to talk to you. They also know your work and essentially what you are trying to do with it, so they can offer some real insight into it all. If they are working professionals, they can really be of aid, and if you have an honest truthful and bravehearted relationship, they can bring insight and understanding to your work unparalleled by any other. These are the folks in the trenches with you and you can learn a lot from your brothers and sisters in the foxhole. Return the favor by being good in the same way to them when they need it. These folk are your best defense against any of the terrible horribles you'll hear from others. These are the people in your neighborhood and your art family. Love them and they will love you back. The rest of the weirdos can go take a long walk off a short bridge. 


Yes I mean your actual Mom or Dad. If you do lovely purely and truly uplifiting children's lit work, like as not they will simply be so damned proud of you, this will be the easiest thing ever. Granted they will likely be proud of you no matter what you do, unless something is really wrong with them, but if you're like me and pursue a more darkening path, or enjoy political or adult themes in your work as well as the earnest kids work, you will have to sometimes brace for disappointment or worse. It's not that your folks re dicks, but more that their opinion matters too much to you on a near cellular level. Even a sigh followed by an overlong silence can throw you off a building, and sometimes you could very simply piss them off or offend. I know you say "they're old and barely know how to use a remote!" which is true for some I suppose, but really not so much overall. Proof: why are so many very young people Snapchatting or Tumblrizing as opposed to Facebooking? Because parents are all over that thing, and I bet yours are as well. Even if they just google you name they will see you out there doing your thing... though likely alongside some other interweb weirdness that combines cats, boobs, and Hitler's penis, which oddly by comparison may actually help your case. Simply put just know they are out there, the same way if you do racy work, know your wife or husband is out there, and take a quick sec to think about how it might make them feel.

In any case, while I am very old now and out of date as each second passes there is certainly a lot I have no missed or gotten hilariously wrong. We are after all creatures of our time, and there does come a time as you become more... seasoned, where this kind of stuff matters less and less. Time and experience can be a blessing and allow us to roll with the hard licks and manage our expectations of the good ones in ways that were previously impossible. So there's that.

Good luck out there, and don't fear the animals of the forest!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Wave

I was browsing my emails a few days ago, trying to catch up with my backlog, and stumbled upon this link to an interesting article regarding Chinese Art students applying for a school in China:

Just last month I was approached by a Chinese company looking to have me participate in a lecture and discussion on entry policies of the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City, and American art schools in general.  This would be broadcast to multiple locations in China through an online forum with live translation and questions and answers afterward.  As I am not on the admissions board at SVA, I could not truthfully provide details regarding their policies, thus politely declined last month.  Seeing this article this weekend struck home the potential wave of interest directed at our creative culture here in the States and Europe.

As a teacher, I have had students from Europe to South America to Asia, and have always opened my door to those eager to learn, and will always do so.  What hit me was how this Chinese company assumed there was some kind of 'process' to creativity which could be explained, evaluated and then mimicked for their client/students to then use.  Or maybe they truly did not know how creativity can be assessed (or how it almost can never be assessed!)

Take these pictures as you will, but remember they are just a single snap shot of a moment and do not reflect the entire entry process for this Chinese Arts University.  But it is disappointing to see students evaluated on how they approach an identical subject/content/composition given from an art school without the freedom to come up with a still life on their own.  What an abundance of imagery could come from those thousands of students if given the chance to think on their own!

It is for this reason I do not offer 'rules', nor rigid process orthodoxy, nor focus upon technique in my teaching, but rather push my students and mentorees to experiment, be prolific, and expose themselves to multiple forms of art and solutions to find their artistic voice. Orthodoxy leads to stagnation and uninspiring works.

Be creative today.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Living Posers

-By Jesper Ejsing

Part of Blizzard's Gamecom2015 poster illustration.

Lately I have been thinking about what makes a good character figure portrait. I have been painting a lot of concept art figures this last year, and have been more or less conscious about what makes a good one. More conscious now, that I think about it retrospectively and less conscious when I drew them. I think, when I look at the ones that work best, the red line is that they all have personality and clear gesture. But they also have a naturalness to the pose and a slightly little gesture or everyday pose, that makes them more believable. The whole hero pose, striking a sword in the air, legs wide and solid, looking mean into the camera is sort of worn out now. At least for me. Searching for that little awkward pose or face expression that makes a character alive is so much more rewarding, but also harder to pull off.

I think searching for these small details adds a whole lot of mood and personality to the figure. I hop ethat if I continue to search and make up these realistic poses, that with the years they will come naturally and without thinking about it.

Gesture poses that I think turned out nice and alive.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How to Repair a Damaged Painting

-By Dan dos Santos

Just last night, I was putting the finishes touches on the underdrawing for my next painting commission. As I stepped away from my table to inspect my work, I accidentally tipped my portable drawing board over, knocking it, along with my painting, and a glass of water, onto the hard floor below. The whole thing came crashing down in a mess of water and broken glass. I cringed not knowing what I was going to find beneath when I lifted my drawing board off the floor.

Luckily, the damage to my painting surface was minimal... just a few gouges here and there where the glass impaled the surface. (My real fear was that I had bent the surface in half, a MUCH more difficult repair.)

Weirdly, this has happened to me enough that I didn't freak out. Fixing a gouge like this is a relatively simple process and I've done it more times than I can count.

I figured this would be a nice opportunity to share with you how to repair scrapes and gouges in a painting surface. This method will work on pretty much any common painting surface other than canvas, be it wood or illustration board.

Fortunate for me, this happened in the drawing phase of my painting, making the fix extremely simple. But if I had already been laying paint down, the process would still be much the same.

If the painting was done in acrylics, nothing about this process would change.

If the painting was done in oils, I would first need to wipe off or sand down the damaged area, removing as much of the oil layer as possible to revealing the ground beneath.

To repair something like this, you will need:

-Modeling Paste
-Primer (the same kind you used to prime the surface)
-Fresh razor blade
-Palette knife
-Extra-fine sandpaper

The first step is to take a fresh razor blade and scrape the damaged area clean. This way, you can better see what you're really dealing with. Simply scrape off any extruding parts. Try to make it nice and level. It's better to have a larger hole than it is to have parts that jut up from the surface.

Once you remove the extraneous bits, the damage is often not as bad as it first seems. I paint on a 20-ply illustration board. I would guess that this gouge went through about 6 or 7 of those plys.

Next we fill the hole with Modeling Paste. Be sure to apply a very liberal amount, being certain that you really get it deep into the cracks. I used a palette knife for this, but you could just as easily use your finger, pushing the paste into the gouge.

Using that same palette knife, smooth out the surface. This is the part that takes some finesse. The tendency is to want to really scrape as hard possible, but doing so tends to leave you with a divot. Try to drag the knife across the surface very gently. You don't need to push down on it, the weight of the palette knife itself is more than enough pressure. When you're done, leave it alone. Don't fuss with it too much. It's better to have too much paste left on the surface than too little. And don't fill just the holes, try to leave some paste covering the surrounding areas as well (think of it like a band-aid).

Once the paste dries, about 5 minutes or so depending on how deep the gouge is, go over it with very fine sand paper or a sanding block. Be sure to get those edges of the board where extra paste spilled over. Once this phase is done, you will be able to tell if you need to apply another coat of paste or not. Deep cracks may require 2 or even 3 passes before it's completely filled due to the modeling paste shrinking a bit as it dries. In this particular case, one coat was fine.

Modeling paste is quite abrasive, and isn't the most ideal surface to work back into. It's also a bit fragile, so it's a good idea to seal it afterwards. Since I draw on a primed surface, I simply applied a fresh coat of gesso to the affected area.

Once the gesso dries, give that another light sanding. Sometimes acrylic primer can get a little rubbery when applied too thickly, so I chose to use a slightly more coarse sanding block than the previous one to really get rid of any texture, but that's just a personal preference.

And that's it! Easy, right?!

Above you can see the repaired board. The surface is smooth and strong again, and just as absorbent as it was before. The only real difference would be a lack of flexibility in that area. If I bend the board too much in that spot, the repair may crack.

Once I begin to paint on this surface, the damaged area should be completely undetectable.  If I had already begun painting prior to the damage, I would simply need to repaint the affected area as it was before.

You'd be surprised at just how extensive of a repair you can pull off with quality paper, primer and modeling paste. I've actually cut out whole sections of paintings before, inserted new board into the gaps, and filled in the seams. The next time disaster strikes, I'll be sure to document it for you. ;)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Free Figure Model Resource

-By Arnie Fenner

Back in 2014 I did a post about a free resource for nude models on YouTube. Since there are always new visitors to MC and blogger doesn't make searching the archives particularly easy, I thought it would be helpful to remind everyone of these invaluable videos.

If you don't have access to live models or figure drawing classes (or the funds to hire or attend either) the Croquis Cafe: The Artist Model Resource is a lifesaver. At this point there are several hundred videos with new additions posted fairly regularly. Poses are held from 1 to 5 minutes, you can freeze frames for as long as you might need, and the various videos feature men and women of all ethnicities and body types.

These videos are not the least bit salacious—but obviously are "not safe for work" or intended for the easily offended or for kids. Or for immature mooks looking for a cheap thrill. Using models (nude and clothed), of course, is an important part of being an artist; anatomy is a life-long study and if the artist doesn't know what the body does—in action or repose—they can't understand why clothes hang or fly or drape the way they do. If the artist understands the body—knows their anatomy as best they can—they can convincingly make their characters do anything.

Friday, February 19, 2016

5 More Artists

-By Howard Lyon

I have done a couple posts highlights artists that might not be well known (and a couple in there that definitely are) and I thought it time to do another. I will start off with a fairly contemporary portrait artist that is very new to me...

David Jagger - 1891 - 1958

Jagger was a British artist who painted many high level politicians, royalty and celebrity.  There is a great photo of him painting Vivian Leigh.

I think the thing that stands out when looking through some of his paintings (hard to find good images) is the composition.  Simple, but strong.

I love the composition of the piece below.  The red of the feather and gloves are the perfect accents of the black silhouette against the beige curtain.  What a gorgeous portrait.

Lady With a Fan

Lots of drama and beautiful emotion in this portrait.  I am not sure if the woman is hopeful or mourning, but I is impactful.  I love her hand too.  It reminds me of Bronzino's hands.  Great composition too.


Lady in Green

Edouard Louis Dubufe - 1819 - 1883

I include Dubufe mostly because of the painting below that I have had on my machine for a while.  I love the play of light and dark and the variety of textures.  Wonderful satins and velvets as well as beautiful skin.

Princess Mathilde

Look at how masterfully he handled the different materials, especially the gold embroidery.

Princess Mathilde - detail

More beautiful fabric rendering.  I also love the palette of the piece below.

The Turkish Coffee

Gustave Jean Jacquet - 1846 - 1909

Jacquet was one of Bouguereau's top students.  If I had a time machine, I honestly think I would travel to 19th century France and go to art school at the Julien.  Anyways, I really love this painting below.  I can't stop looking at it.  It is my desktop image right now.  I love how understated some of the lower elements of the painting are, keeping the high area of contrast around her face, but it is balanced nicely with the large black shape against the red dress.  The composition seems simple at first, but there is so much great work going on here.

Girl in a Riding Habit

Compare the first two images of this artist with the last two.  It is interesting to see the different styles.  Another composition built around big shapes and another beautiful hand.  Be sure to click on the image below and really give it a close look.  The file is quite large and you don't get a feel for the bravado of the brush work at the small size.

La Coquette

I included this one for the embroidery on her stay.  I hope to see this in person some day.  The seashells look quite remarkable too.

Treasures of the Sea

The model for the painting below seems to be the same as in the painting above.  I love the richness of the colors and the masterful rendering of the gold lace against the red dress below.  The pearls are beautiful too.  Look how convincingly they reflect the skin of her chest and the perfect bits of cast shadow place them right against the skin.  These 19th century artists could sure render such a broad range of textures with such great skill.

Girl with Red Dress

Federico de Madrazo - 1815 - 1894

Federico was born in Rome and was the son of a painter.  He trained in Spain and his work was purchased by the crown, but later moved to Paris to study and received the Legion of Honor award.  His brother was a successful painter as was his son (see the last artist in this post).

The palette and drama of the piece really catch my eye.  I love all the colors in her shawl at the bottom of the painting.  Another very large image, be sure to zoom in.

Gertrudis Goméz de Avella

I love this!

More gorgeous rendering of fabric and embroidery

The painting below is a rendering of Federico's son, Raimundo

El pintor Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, hijo del artista

Raimundo de Madrazo - 1841-1920

Son of Federico above.  All three of the paintings below are of the same model, Aline Masson.  It appears that she was by far his favorite muse when you look through the body of his work.  She was his mistress as well.

The efficient rendering of the lace on the painting below is inspiring.

Aline Masson, with a White Mantilla

The painting below is lighthearted depicting the model on break painting a funny cartoon of the artist on his canvas.  The real beauty of this painting for me, lies in how simply the dress is rendered.

Model Making Mischief

This is on par with the best of Sargent in my opinion.  Look at all that satin with embroidery gathered in and painted with the minimum of brushwork.

I will end with another one of my favorites.  I love the expression and beauty of this painting.  The surface looks rich and full of texture and it feels as if a real moment were captured

The Model Aline Masson

Take a close look at her ear.  I also love how her eyelashes are catching the light.  You can really feel the structure of the nose and painting a smile, with teeth, can be really tricky, but he hits it perfectly.  The model reminds me of Marion Cotillard quite a bit, don't you think?

The Model Aline Masson - detail

Thank you for giving this post a read.  I hope you found some new artists, or enjoyed images from some artists you are already familiar.

On a side note, I started a new Instagram account just for sharing great art and illustration that I find.  I will include some of the big names, but try to dig around and focus on those artists that might be lesser known.  If you are in Instagram, come follow this new account and let me know if there is an artist that you think I should be featuring! You can check it out here:  Best Art Illustration

Thanks for giving this post a read!