Monday, October 26, 2020

Can Reënactors Match a Battle Painting?

Anton von Werner (German, 1843-1915) painted this battle scene.

A group of reënactors tried to match the painting pose for pose as closely as possible.
Anton von Werner on Wikipedia
Winners of the Sunny Still Life Challenge will post tomorrow.


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Voter Line

Yesterday the line for early voting went on for two blocks. The line moved very slowly because poll workers had to disinfect the stations between each voter. 

Still, from the point of view of people-sketching, I could only capture only an impression of each person. I used watercolor with a brush, no pen or pencil. I think I got the spacing wrong—folks were spaced apart responsibly. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Return of Spitting Image

Political satire has a vibrant tradition in Britain, and one of the most dynamic recent programs was a puppet show in the 1990s called Spitting Image

From the point of view of puppeteering, the characters are caricatures come to life, with a tremendous range of hand, mouth, and eye movements. The scripts and performances are crisp, over-the-top, and rude.

Spitting Image has returned with all new episodes lampooning the current crop of politicians, including Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Prince Charles, and Meghan & Harry. 


New Season of Spitting Image, Episode 4


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Waldmuller Study

Tree Studies from Rome by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, 1846

Thanks to everyone who entered the Sunny Still Life Challenge. I'm going through the results now and am impressed with what you've all done. Results will be announced on the 27th.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Rose O'Neill: Kewpies and Monsters

Rose O'Neill (1874-1944) was an illustrator, cartoonist, and writer who created hundreds of drawings of cute babies and young animals, and she invented the Kewpies. 

She called them "Kewpies," a term she invented as a variation on "cupids." 

They became immensely popular as illustrations, paper dolls, and then actual dolls

O'Neill became famous and rich, living a rather eccentric life and sponsoring a variety of artists to live in her grand house. 

She read widely from literature and mythology; she imbibed the work of William Blake and Gustave Doré and she studied with the sculptor Rodin, and was acquainted with Elihu Vedder, and Kahil Gibran. All that exposure inspired her to produce a series of charcoal drawings of monsters, which she described as "a different kind of fun."

For the most part, they were not horrific or cruel monsters but rather androgynous, sensuous creatures who lived lives of passion outside of the strictures of religion and civilization. 

Her friends urged her to publish these works, and finally she shared them with the world but didn't want to intellectualize them. According to 41 Masters of American Illustration, "these things were made for the maker's own delight, and are given to the public only under pressure of people who think it should be done, so the maker feels that she should not be put to the trouble of justifying her whimsies."


Toy collector Mel Birnkrant's Kewpie collection and bio

Rose O'Neill on Wikipedia

The Story of Rose O'Neill: An Autobiography

Kewpies and Beyond

Masters of American Illustration: 41 Illustrators and How They Worked

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

My Taboret Top

Here's my taboret setup for oil painting.

1. The tube colors are squeezed out on the floating bar at left, but I don't use them straight from the tube.
2. Instead I pre-mix value "strings" of five colors and only draw from those colors . That way I stay inside the gamut (triangle in color wheel, above)
3. I use Liquin for a medium, which speed drying, plus mineral spirits, but I may do away with the latter for health reasons.
4. The brush wash tank is a peanut butter jar with a little plastic cup dropped in the lid, with holes drilled into the bottom of the cup.
5. The whole thing sets on a rolling cabinet. In the top drawer are pencils, lots of pencils.
6. A take-out container with a slot cut through the lid holds paint scrapings, discarded on hazardous material days.
7. Old cotton T-shirts make great paint rags. A wiggly wire holds the handles up a little.
8. Paint mixing area tips up on hinges. The polyethylene-coated mixing paper is hidden behind the left edge. I tear off old mixtures as I pull the paper through.
9. Brushes: Nylon flats, long bristle filberts, and watercolor rounds are my favorites.

Sunday, October 18, 2020


The giant ovoid heads have toothy grins, but they have no eyes. 

However, I wasn't primarily interested in the forms of the monsters when I did this little on-site painting. (Watch the YouTube video)


It's mainly a study of mise-en-scène. The term comes from the world of theater and film, and it means literally 'putting on a stage.' Informal workspaces like this one are an ideal place to find interesting examples of mise-en-scène because of the elements are placed without aesthetic intention. 

Mise-en-scène is a crucial element of picture making. Traditional theory defines to include many aspects that a director, production designer, or cinematographer would deal with, such as point of view, framing, cropping, placement of props and characters, lighting, and color. In film, it also includes how elements move throughout the shot, and even frame rate and lens choices. 

Such a broad definition waters down the meaning for me. When I think of the term in relation to painting, I usually think more narrowly of the original sense of how elements are arranged in relation to the viewer. Are there foreground elements? Are some things cropped off the edge? Are they neat or messy? 

Here's a video that explores the topic from the point of view of film. (Link to video)


Wikipedia on mise-en-scène

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Painting in the Wild Things Workshop

In October, 2019, giant 'Wild-Thing' puppets participated in the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. 

 (Link to YouTube video)

They were created from simple materials in a barn in the Hudson Valley, and that's where I set up my easel to paint the workshop where the Wild Things were created.