Sunday, July 15, 2018

Studying Art in Paris, 1902

Around 1900, it was common for young American artists to study in Paris. But not everyone was in favor of it.
Typical Life Class in Sculpture
In an effort to promote American schools, Edmund Talbott painted an unflattering portrait of what it was like for young women studying art in Paris.
"American girls going to Paris have no conception of the life they will be forced to lead: the obnoxious companionship, the antiquated, disease-breeding sanitary arrangements in the dwellings, the scanty food and liability of illness resulting therefrom, the dirt, the dishonesty, etc. These things they cannot, except in rare cases, escape....Idleness, the dissipation of energies resulting from the temptations incident to residence abroad have robbed proud prestige which they acquired in their American schools, and left them worse off than though they had remained at home."
Some Facts About Art Study in Paris, Brush and Pencil, Vol. 10, No. 2 (May, 1902), pp. 122-126
Exhibition in Massachusetts: Women Artists in Paris, 1850-1900 through September 3, 2018

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Mick Moloney in Concert

Last night, Mick Moloney led an all-star group of Irish musicians in a late-night concert at a pub in East Durham, New York. 

The concert was all acoustic and included traditional instrumental tunes, songs and step dancing. 

Mick is a storyteller,  tour leader, professor, and folklorist with a special focus on songs about the Irish immigrant experience in America. As a professional musician, Mick plays the banjo and mandolin. He leads the Green Fields of America and has been one of the cherished leaders of the traditional music revival. 

There was a single light on the wall above Mick, and the rest of the room was quite dark. I waited for him to return momentarily to his pose, immersed in song. I used three colors of gouache (flame red, yellow ochre, peacock blue, and white). I held the sketchbook in my lap in very dim light, making it possible to estimate tonal values, but difficult to guess at the chroma or hue.
The Catskill Irish Arts Week concludes tonight

Friday, July 13, 2018

Abbey and Sargent, Side by Side

Edwin Austin Abbey shared a studio space with John Singer Sargent in England as they prepared their murals for the Boston Public Library. Abbey had worked for years as a pen-and-ink illustrator, but he had a lot to learn about painting in oil at a large scale.

Fortunately he had Sargent to show him the way, as a contemporary account describes:

Detail of Grail mural by Edwin Austin Abbey
"The evolution of Abbey's art at this point is remarkable. Heretofore he had dealt almost entirely in small pictures done in black and white. Now he suddenly 'blossomed forth in a night' as a painter in large, — covering canvas after canvas with powerful figures glowing in color. Yet these sweeping lines were evolved only after painful struggle.

"[William Merritt] Chase, who coached him at one time, says, ' I almost despaired of him: he would persist in seeing in black and white." And Abbey was particularly fortunate in having Sargent at his elbow while the Boston work was going forward, for Sargent was the maturer artist, and had dealt almost entirely in oils. The two men, indeed, were of mutual assistance, having followed different methods all their lives. Sargent was the painter of portraits in one medium; Abbey was the illustrator of stories in many mediums. Being opposites in other respects they naturally became good friends."

"The broad-minded viewpoint of these two strong men is shown by remarks made by them as the years sped by and the work seemed to languish. When Sargent was asked when he would complete his task, he replied, 'Never, unless I learn to paint better than I do now. Abbey has discouraged me.' While Abbey replied to a similar query, 'Give me a little time, and I'll do something worth while.'

Detail of Frieze of the Prophets by John Singer Sargent
What was it like in the Morgan Hall studio where Abbey and Sargent worked side by side?

Study for the Frieze of the Prophets
by John Singer Sargent
"It would have been hard to find a better equipped "laboratory" than the Morgan Hall annex at this time. Here was room for a dozen enormous easels at one time, without crowding, and the whole space was generally in use. Great sections of canvas might be seen in every stage of completion, the busy artist darting from one to another as fancy directed him ; while as for properties —many a theatre might have looked upon this collection with jealous eyes, for they were the real thing."

"Here were rare old tapestries hanging carelessly about, beautifully carved oak doors, heavy panels leaning against the walls, lay figures, bric-a-brac, suits of mail, standards of weapons, —swords, spears, gleaming battle-axes ; while chests of drawers overflowed with silks, brocades, velvets, and other rich fabrics of special weave and design. In another corner might be seen old chairs, settees, and musical instruments of quaint pattern ; and scattered about were studies, sketches of heads, arms, and legs, —all waiting to be melted in the crucible of the palette and transferred to their proper abiding-place. In an adjoining room devoted to the library might be found the finest folios on costume, and manifold works of reference."
Previously on GJ: Abbey, Sargent, and the Big Studio
Part 1: E.A. Abbey, "Greatest Living Illustrator"
Part 2: Abbey's Advice to a Young Artist
Manikin in the Snow
Abbey's Morgan Hall
Online Resources
Quotes are from Famous Painters of America by J. Walker McSpadden, 1916
E. A. Abbey on Wikipedia
Edwin Austin Abbey by E.V. Lucas
BPL's description of each of the Grail mural panels
Book: Unfaded Pageant: Edwin Austin Abbey's Shakespearean Subjects
Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911) Exhibition catalog

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Reflections in Still Water

The Delaware River near Milford, Pennsylvania, casein, 5 x 8 inches
The surface of the river becomes glassy as the afternoon wears on. Here's what I was thinking about as I was painting the reflections:

• The reflections mirror the colors of the far bank of trees.
• The colors in the reflection are very slightly darker than the colors being reflected.
• Within the area of the reflections of the trees, the detail is stretched vertically downward.
• The bottom edge of the reflection of the trees breaks up into horizontal fragments.
• Slight zephyrs create a blue patch in the middle distance, disturbing the vertical reflections.
• The bridge is reflected in the form of fragmentary strokes.
Previously on the blog: 
Water Reflections, Part 1

Water Reflections, Part 2
Water Reflections, Part 3
More about reflections in my book Color and Light
Join the Facebook group "Sketch Easel Builders"
Take part in the challenge "Paint a Parking Lot"

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Donald McGill's Postcard Art

Donald McGill was a gag writer and illustrator of comic-picture postcards in Britain in the mid-20th century. Each card had a slightly outrageous joke or double entendre.

George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, wrote about McGill's art:
"A comic post card is simply an illustration to a joke, invariably a ‘low’ joke, and it stands or falls by its ability to raise a laugh. Beyond that it has only ‘ideological’ interest. McGill is a clever draughtsman with a real caricaturist's touch in the drawing of faces, but the special value of his post cards is that they are so completely typical. They represent, as it were, the norm of the comic post card. Without being in the least imitative, they are exactly what comic post cards have been any time these last forty years, and from them the meaning and purpose of the whole genre can be inferred."


Read the rest of the essay "The Art of Donald McGill," available online in full.
It is also included in the essay collection All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays

Monday, July 9, 2018

Next up in International Artist: How to Paint More Efficiently

Painting efficiently is not just about painting quickly—it's about getting a lot done in whatever amount of time you've got.

Efficiency is not the main goal in art. Sometimes in the controlled conditions of the studio you might want to throw away the clock. But having those skills can really help when you're facing the rapidly shifting conditions of just about any outdoor motif.

That's what I cover in the next issue of International Artist Magazine, issue #122 (August / September 2018).

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Surfside on the Lake

I assume that the name "Surfside" is semi-whimsical, because there isn't much surf on Lake George.

I want to paint this neon sign showing the lights coming on, so I wait until after sunset to start painting. I try to anticipate the effect of the fading light of dusk by exaggerating the gradation in the sky and darkening and softening the ground areas around the base of the sign. 
• Take part in the challenge "Paint a Parking Lot"

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Civil Rights Protest Drawings on Exhibit

In 1956 Harvey Dinnerstein and Burton Silverman traveled to Alabama to cover the bus boycotts that were sparked by the protest of Rosa Parks. 

Mrs. Rosa Parks by Harvey Dinnerstein
"New York artists Dinnerstein and Silverman spent several days drawing Montgomery’s African American citizens walking and carpooling, listening to speeches by community leaders and civil rights activists, and participating in the trial that challenged the segregation of public transportation. This exhibition features their drawings, ranging from expressive portraits to impassioned courtroom drama, and capture the spectrum of actions and emotions that marked the boycott as a turning point in the struggle for civil rights."
Their sketches are now on view at the Delaware Art Museum through September 9.
"The Montgomery Bus Boycott: Drawings by Harvey Dinnerstein and Burton Silverman" at the Delaware Art Museum.
• Previously on GJ: Sketching the 1956 Protests in Montgomery, Alabama
• Take part in the challenge "Paint a Parking Lot"

Friday, July 6, 2018

Cynthia Daignault's Road Trip

Cynthia Daignault was inspired by the rambling road trips of photographers such as William Eggleston and Robert Frank, and by writers such Mark Twain and Jack Kerouac. But she noticed the absence of women's names from the list.

She came up with an ambitious idea: to drive around America and stop whenever the odometer clocked another 25 miles. The goal was to paint whatever view presented itself. 
"Daignault traced the route she would take on a road map, snaking a thin pencil along the outside border of the continental United States. She drove the loop, on blue highways and back roads, avoiding interstates and stopping every few miles to get out of the car—look, paint, walk, or just sit. Traveling over 30,000 miles, across forests, deserts, mountains, and fields, she followed the road for a year." (Source)

Accomplishing the goal wasn't easy.
"I remember being about 7000 thousand miles into the drive and realizing, what have I done? My back hurt from sitting. I was exhausted from driving 14 hours a day. I was lonely and strung out. I remember looking at the canvases and thinking, “This has already taken months and I’m only at number 60. I still have 300 more to go.” (Source)

Eventually she built up 360 paintings, and called the collection "Light Atlas." 
An exhibition of "Light Atlas" will be on view as part of the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit  at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas through September 2018.

• Take part in the challenge "Paint a Parking Lot"

Thanks, Judy Maurer