Monday, February 8, 2016

Studies in style

Rather than start a large project, I have been doing a series of studies to hone some much needed skills.

This painting was done with acrylics on a roughly 14 x 18 inch Masonite board that I primed with gesso. The young girl sits in a sewing room cutting fabric that piles up by her feet. I wanted to try an indoor painting with a person and work on painting a figure in a space. Overall the painting was good practice and it gives me some things to work on in future studies.

This old wagon was painted using acrylics on piece of Masonite board 14 x 18 primed with gesso. I wanted to practice painting wood and this old discarded wagon provided an excellent reference to practice from.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Artist of the Week: Edward Wadsworth

Edward Wadsworth was a major figure in British art of the first half of the twentieth century. Edward Wadsworth was a painter of marines, marine still-life, landscapes and abstracts in tempera paints. He was also a draughtsman, muralist and wood engraver. A number of his mural decorations were for the ocean liner "Queen Mary". Edward Wadsworth is most famous for his close association with Vorticism and copying the styles of Pablo Picasso.

Edward Wadsworth was raised in a northern industrial environment that was to appear with great forcefulness in his Vorticist work. Like many other Vorticists, Wadsworth's interest in the machine showed itself at an early age. Under the impact of the Post-Impressionists, he turned for a while to portraiture, beach scenes and still-life's.

Edward Wadsworth's painting " The Beached Margin" (shown above) displays nautical objects assembled in bold relief against a marine background of of sea and sand. Using the difficult medium of egg tempera, which Edward Wadsworth mixed himself he is able to show amazing detail. The painting comes close to Surrealism in it's style and clarity. These imaginative geometric creations offer up an intellectual pleasure beyond that of a simple still life painting.

Edward Wadsworth exhibited first with the NEAC in 1911, becoming a member in 1921, and the Friday Club from 1912-1913. In 1913 Wadsworth's work appeared in the second Post-Impressionist Exhibition and he joined the Omega Workshops. When Wyndham Lewis broke from the Omega, Wadsworth followed him and subsequently showed in the Post-Impressionist and Futurist exhibition, Dore Galleries.

In June of 1914, Edward Wadsworth was in a group of artists, including Lewis, who jeered Marinetti's public performance of "The Battle Of Adrianople". Edward Wadsworth was a signatory of the Vorticist Manifesto published in BLAST the next month, and also supplied a review of Wassily Kandinsky's "Concerning The Spiritual In Art" and images to be reproduced in the magazine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Art Styles: Rococo Art

Rococo is an eighteenth century art style which placed emphasis on portraying the carefree life of the aristocracy rather than on grand heroes or pious martyrs. The word Rococo is seen as a combination of the French rocaille, or stone garden (referring to arranging stones in natural forms like shells), and the Italian barocco, or Baroque style. Due to Rococo love of shell-like curves and focus on decorative arts, some critics used the term to derogatively imply that the style was frivolous or merely modish. When the term was first used in English in about 1836, it was a colloquialism meaning "old-fashioned". However, since the mid 19th century, the term has been accepted by art historians. Rococo stresses purely ornamental, light, casual, irregular design.
 The French Jean-Antoine Watteau is often referred to as the greatest of the Rococo painters. Watteau's work began to epitomize the movement with its idyllic and charming approach. He often created asymmetrical compositions. This type of aesthetic balance became not only an important part of Rococo art, but of design in general. Another artist that represented the Rococo period was Francois Boucher, who created paintings and designed tapestries for the French royalty and nobility.  His picture of the Embarkation for Cythera (shown here) demonstrates the elegance of this style. While there is still some debate about the historical significance of the style to art in general, Rococo is now widely recognized as a major period in the development of European art.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Artist of the Week: Hieronymus Bosch

Hieronymus Bosch was one of the late great medieval Dutch painters, born in 1450 as the Renaissance in Italy was starting to flower. Hieronymus Bosch mixed his version of medieval grotesques and Flemish proverbs into an intriguing allegory of man's base nature, which could run amok if not properly cared for. At the time of his death, Bosch was internationally celebrated as an eccentric painter of religious visions who dealt in particular with the torments of hell. During his lifetime Bosch's works were in the inventories of noble families of the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain, and they were imitated in a number of paintings and prints throughout the 16th century.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Artkst of the Week: Henry Tanner

The most distinguished African-American artist of the nineteenth century, Henry Ossawa Tanner was also the first artist of his race to achieve international acclaim. Tanner is often regarded as a realist painter, focusing on accurate depictions of subjects. While his early works, such as "The Banjo Lesson" were concerned with everyday life as an African American, Tanner's later paintings focused mainly on the religious subjects for which he is now best known.

 Henry's first artistic efforts were marine scenes and animals painted at the Philadelphia Zoo. In 1878 he painted several Adirondack landscapes while convalescing from an illness. In 1879, Tanner enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he joined Thomas Eakins's coterie. Tanner moved to Atlanta in 1889 in an unsuccessful attempt to support himself as an artist and instructor among prosperous middle class African-Americans.

Bishop and Mrs. Joseph C. Hartzell arranged for Tanner's first solo exhibition, the proceeds from which enabled the struggling artist to move to Paris in 1891.Henry moved to Paris France to escape the racial prejudice that was an impediment to the aspirations and ambitions of all African Americans in that era. Paris was a welcome escape for Tanner; within French art circles the issue of race mattered little. Tanner acclimated quickly to Parisian life.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Artist of the Week: Georgia O'Keeffe

Among the great American artists of the 20th-century, Georgia O’Keeffe stands as one of the most compelling. For nearly a century, O’Keeffe’s representations of the beauty of the American landscape were a brave counterpoint to the chaotic images embraced by the art world. Her cityscapes and still life's filled the canvas with wild energy that gained her a following among the critics as well as the public. Though she has had many imitators, no one since has been able to paint with such intimacy and stark precision. With exceptionally keen powers of observation and great finesse with a paintbrush, Georgia O'Keeffe recorded subtle nuances of color, shape, and light that enlivened her paintings and attracted a wide audience.

Georgia O'Keeffe was married to the pioneer photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) in 1924. Alfred Stieglitz was 54 when Georgia arrived in New York, 23 years her senior. Educated in Berlin, he had studied engineering and photography before returning to the States at the turn of the century and opening the 291 gallery. He pioneered the art of photography, and single-handedly introduced America to the works of Picasso, Matisse, and Cezanne at the gallery, along with publishing his well respected "Camera Works" magazine. It was at Stieglitz's famed New York art gallery "291" that her charcoal drawings were first exhibited in 1916. The union lasted 22 years, until Stieglitz's death.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun

Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun was a French painter, and is recognized as the most famous woman painter of the eighteenth century. Her style is generally considered Rococo and shows interest in the subject of neoclassical painting. Marie-Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun was one of the most famous painters during her time. During her eighty seven-year life, which spanned from 1755-1842, she created well over 600 pieces of artwork. In a time period where it was uncommon to be a female artist, Marie-Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun put her best effort forth to overcome this adversity.
Elisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun is considered a role model, especially to female artists, because of her wide recognition of skills and gained admittance to academies that were closed to her sex. Her plethora of work ranges from history paintings to landscapes. But, the majority of her work were beautifully colored portraits of the most prominent aristocrats and royalty. Her unique and exceptional talent made her one of the most sought out painters of her time. Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun was blessed with a natural ability that people adored, even centuries later. During her career, according to her own account, she painted 877 pictures, including 622 portraits and about 200 landscapes.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Artist of the Week: Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha used position, sensuous curves derived from nature, refined decorative elements and natural colors. The Art Nouveau precepts were used, too, but never at the expense of his vision. Bernhardt signed Alphonse Mucha to a six year contract to design her posters and sets and costumes for her plays. Mucha was an overnight success at the age of 34, after seven years of hard work in Paris. Mucha produced a flurry of paintings, posters, advertisements, and book illustrations in what came to be known as the Art Nouveau style. Alphonse Mucha's works frequently featured beautiful healthy young women in flowing vaguely Neoclassical looking robes, often surrounded by lush flowers which sometimes formed haloes behind the women's heads.
 Alphonse Mucha shared a studio with Gauguin for a bit after his first trip to the south seas. Mucha gave impromptu art lessons in the Cremerie and helped start a traditional artists ball, Bal des Quat'z Arts. All the while Alphonse Mucha was formulating his own theories and precepts of what he wanted his art to be. On January 1, 1895, Alphonse Mucha presented his new style to the citizens of Paris. Called upon over the Christmas holidays to created a poster for Sarah Bernhardt's play, Gismonda, (shown here) he put his precepts to the test. The poster was the declaration of his new art. Spurning the bright colors and the more squarish shape of the more popular poster artists, the near life-size design was a sensation. Overnight, Mucha's name became a household word and, though his name is often used synonymously with the new movement in art, he disavowed the connection.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Art Styles: The High Renaissance

The High Renaissance is widely viewed as the greatest explosion of creative genius in history. Even relatively minor painters active during the period, such as Fra Bartolomeo and Mariotto Albertinelli, produced works remarkable for their perfect harmony and total control of the painterly mediums. Simply put, this period represented a culmination.

Since the essential characteristic of High Renaissance art was its unity, a balance achieved as a matter of intuition, beyond the reach of rational knowledge or technical skill, the High Renaissance art style was destined to break up as soon as emphasis was shifted to favor any one element in the composition. The High Renaissance art style endured for only a brief period, 1495-1520, and was created by a few artists of genius, among them Leonardo da Vinci, Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian.

Leonardo da Vinci is considered the paragon of Renaissance thinkers, engaged as he was in experiments of all kinds and having brought to his art a spirit of restless inquiry that sought to discover the laws governing diverse natural phenomena. The High Renaissance is generally held to have emerged in the late 1490s, when Leonardo da Vinci painted his Last Supper in Milan. Michelangelo has come to typify the artist endowed with inexplicable, solitary genius.

Monday, October 12, 2015

M.C. Escher Dutch Artist 1898-1972

M. C. Escher was fascinated by every kind of tessellation – regular and irregular – and took special delight in what he called “metamorphoses,” in which the shapes changed and interacted with each other, and sometimes even broke free of the plane itself. By his method of coloring this tessellation, M.C. Escher has made it easy for us to understand how the tessellation was created. You can divide the design into two portions: equilateral triangles defined by groups of yellow creatures and equilateral triangles defined by groups of red creatures. These two types of equilateral triangles tessellate in a predictable manner.

"By keenly confronting the enigmas that surround us, and by considering and analyzing the observations that I have made, I ended up in the domain of mathematics, Although I am absolutely without training in the exact sciences, I often seem to have more in common with mathematicians than with my fellow artists."The laws of mathematics are not merely human inventions or creations. They simply 'are'; they exist quite independently of the human intellect. The most that any(one) ... can do is to find that they are there and to take cognizance of them."
 M.C. Escher is one of the world's most famous graphic artists. He created unique and fascinating works of art that explore and exhibit a wide range of mathematical ideas. M.C. Escher is most famous for his so-called impossible structures, such as "Ascending and Descending" (shown here), "Relativity", his Transformation Prints, such as "Metamorphosis I", "Metamorphosis II" and "Metamorphosis III", "Sky & Water I" or "Reptiles". Apart from being a graphic artist, M.C. Escher illustrated books, designed tapestries, postage stamps and murals. In "Ascending and Descending" lines of people ascend and descend stairs in an infinite loop, on a construction which is impossible to build and possible to draw only by taking advantage of quirks of perception and perspective.

"Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it's in my basement... let me go upstairs and check."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Conceptual Art

Conceptual art emerged in the 1960’s. The term was first used in 1961 by Henry Flynt in a Fluxus publication. It later evolved into a different meaning when the Art and Language group, headed by Joseph Kossuth, adopted it. This group believed that Conceptual art was created when the analysis of an art object succeeded the object itself.

 Land art is an art movement which emerged in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in which landscape and the work of art are inextricably linked. Sculptures are not placed in the landscape, rather the landscape is the very means of their creation. The works frequently exist in the open, located well away from civilization, left to change and erode under natural conditions. One example is the Spiral Jetty, considered to be the central work of American sculptor Robert Smithson. "Spiral Jetty" (shown here) is an earthwork sculpture constructed in 1970. Built of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks, earth, and water on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake near Rozel Point in Utah, it forms a 1500-foot long, 15-foot wide counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the lake which is only visible when the level of the Great Salt Lake falls below an elevation of 4,197.8 feet.

The Italian movement Arte Povera, or poor Art is another type of Conceptual Art. The term Arte Povera was introduced by the Italian art critic and curator, Germano Celant, in 1967. His pioneering texts and a series of key exhibitions provided a collective identity for a number of young Italian artists. Poor Art emerged as the Italian economy collapsed into chaos and political instability. The word poor here refers to the movement's signature exploration of a wide range of materials beyond the traditional ones of paint, canvas, bronze, or carved marble. Arte Povera is art made without restraints, a complete openness towards materials and processes.

Some Conceptual art consisted simply of written statements or instructions. Many artists began to use photography, film and video. In 1953 Robert Rauschenberg exhibited "Erased De Kooning Drawing", a drawing by Willem De Kooning which Rauschenberg erased. It raised many questions about the fundamental nature of art, challenging the viewer to consider whether erasing another artist's work could be a creative act, as well as whether the work was only "art" because the famous Rauschenberg had done it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Artist of the Week: Toulouse Lautrec

Toulouse Lautrec was a French painter, printmaker, draftsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colorful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times. Toulouse-Lautrec is known along with Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin as one of the greatest painters of the Post-Impressionist period. The French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec depicted the Parisian night life of cafés, bars, and brothels, the world that he inhabited at the height of his career.

Through the seriousness of his intention, Toulouse-Lautrec depicted his subjects in a style bordering on, but rising above, caricature. He took subjects who often dressed in disguise and makeup as a way of life and stripped away all that was not essential, thus revealing each as an individual, but a prisoner of his own destiny. The two most direct influences on Toulouse-Lautrec's art were the Japanese print, as seen in his slanted angles and flattened forms, and Degas, from whom he derived the tilted perspective, cutting of figures, and use of a railing to separate the spectator from the painted scene, as in At the Moulin Rouge. But the genuine feel of a world of wickedness and the harsh, artificial colors used to create it were Toulouse-Lautrec's own. He incorporated into his own highly individual method elements of the styles of various contemporary artists, especially French painters Edgar Degas and Paul Gauguin. Japanese art, then coming into vogue in Paris, influenced his use of sharp delineation, asymmetric composition, oblique angles, and flat areas of color. His work inspired van Gogh, Georges Seurat, and Georges Rouault.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Artist of the Week: Grant Wood

Grant Wood painted simple scenes of the land and people he knew best. Wood was an active painter from an extremely young age until his death, and although he is best known for his paintings, he worked in a large number of media, including lithography, ink, charcoal, ceramics, metal, wood and found objects. Grant Wood is most closely associated with the American movement of Regionalism that was primarily situated in the Midwest, and advanced figurative painting of rural American themes in an aggressive rejection of European abstraction He helped create an important, all-American style of art. Grant Wood’s paintings show the love he had for the people and customs of the Midwestern United States. Grant Wood particularly loved the farmland of Iowa.

From 1920 to 1928 Grant Wood made four trips to Europe, where he studied many styles of painting, especially impressionism and post-impressionism. But it was the work of Jan Van Eyck that influenced him to take on the clarity of this new technique and to incorporate it in his new works. From 1924 to 1935 Wood lived in the loft of a carriage house that he turned into his personal studio at "5 Turner Alley" (the studio had no address until Wood made one up himself). In 1932, Wood helped found the Stone City Art Colony near his hometown to help artists get through the Great Depression. Grant Wood became a great proponent of regionalism in the arts, lecturing throughout the country on the topic.

Grant Wood's best known work is his 1930 painting American Gothic,(shown above) which is also one of the most famous paintings in American art, and one of the few images to reach the status of cultural icon, along with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Edvard Munch's The Scream. It was first exhibited in 1930 at the Art Institute of Chicago where it can still be found today; It was given a 300 dollar prize and made news stories country-wide, bringing the artist immediate recognition.