Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Macchiaioli at the Caffè Michelangelo

Giovanni Boldini loved to paint his fellow artists at work. Here is Giovanni Fattori at work on a landscape painting.

Giovanni Boldini, Giovanni Fattori at the easel, 1866-67, Gallerie d'Italia, Milán.

Fattori was one of the founders of the movement of Italian plein-air painters known as the Macchiaioli. Like most art movements, this one grew out of a social setting, where artists could exchange ideas. Wikipedia puts it this way:  

"In the1850s Fattori began frequenting the Caffè Michelangiolo on via Larga, a popular gathering place for Florentine artists who carried on lively discussions of politics and new trends in art. Several of these artists would discover the work of the painters of the Barbizon school while visiting Paris for the Exposition of 1855, and would bring back to Italy an enthusiasm for the then-novel practice of painting outdoors, directly from nature." 

Macchiaioli at the Caffè Michelangiolo c. 1856

"In 1859 Fattori met Roman landscape painter Giovanni Costa, whose example influenced him to join his colleagues and take up painting realistic landscapes and scenes of contemporary life en plein air. This marked a turning point in Fattori's development: he became a member of the Macchiaioli, a group of Tuscan painters whose methods and aims are somewhat similar to those of the Impressionists, of which they are considered forerunners."

Monday, July 4, 2022

The Soup Machine

This oily, steaming contraption caught my eye one morning as I walked past a construction area. The guys on the road crew called it the "soup machine" and they used it to spray a layer of glue-like tar for joining sections of the road surface.

Gray markers on bristol board, 11 x 15 inches
published in 1982 in The Artist's Guide to Sketching

I came back on a Sunday when the site was deserted. I picked a low angle and silhouetted it against the sky, with the lines of perspective leading back behind the blackened engine mounted on the tank.

To convey the feeling of the smoggy day, I lightened the values of the more distant area. To create the sky gradation, I used a cotton rag that had been charged with black marker dye and gently rubbed across the surface.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Will and Cirrus Explore the Ruins

During a mission to protect a convoy traveling through the Rainy Basin, Will Denison and his skybax Cirrus discover ancient ruins. 

The ruins contain evidence of the ancient civilization of Poseidos and the weird deities they seemed to worship.

From Dinotopia: The World Beneath

Saturday, July 2, 2022

How I Label My Sketchbooks

I have a bunch of sketchbooks types and sizes, but these are the 5 x 8 inch watercolor books.

I write the title of the sketchbook and the date range on the spine of the book and I number them to keep them in order.

I also paint a fancy title on the front cover of the book using sign-painter enamel. The title is whatever phrase you find on the first page of the book.
This photo appears in the next issue (#146 Aug/Sept) of International Artist Magazine. The article is called "The Artist as Archivist," and it includes top tips on taking care of your original artwork for future generations, conserving it, organizing it, and connecting each painting with key information to help future family members, customers, or curators understand what you've created.

Friday, July 1, 2022

The Stamp Art Was Almost Lost in the Mail

Funny story about these stamps: the original art was almost LOST IN THE MAIL.

To kick off the assignment I did my research in Australia, but I painted it in oil back at my studio in New York. After months of work it was time to send in the original art to Australia to be scanned and placed in their archive. I asked Australia Post how they wanted me to send the painting to them. 

Should I use Fedex, DHL, UPS, or (ahem) the U.S. Postal Service / Australia Post?

They thought about it, and decided to have me send it by the national postal service. It might be bad publicity if they used a private carrier. 

Besides, what could go wrong? 

I shot the art first with my digital camera and then wrapped it carefully and brought it to my local post office. They sent it with all the tracking numbers and insurance. 

For all we knew it sailed along well for a few days, but then got stuck somewhere. Tracking went dark after it left the USA. Deadlines were looming. 

They sent a postal inspector to investigate. He asked officials in the postal network but they had no answers. Was it damaged? Stolen? Forgotten in a warehouse?  No one knew. 

We had to assume it was lost in the mail. The presses were waiting. I sent my digital files, but they were inadequate for the high resolution printing standards they required.

Finally the inspector discovered the art was stuck in customs, which Australia Post didn't control. They cut through the red tape, recovered the painting, and averted the disaster.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Checking Messages

Henry William Banks Davis, R.A. (1833-1914), A Spring Morning, oil, 30 x 60 inches

Is that shepherd checking his phone?

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Day the Desert Lab Caught Fire

Something must have blown up in his desert lab out on Route 23. The fire burned for days with strange colors. Sketch for a sci-fi paperback cover, oil.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Alma Ta-drama

Unpublished concept sketch for magazine cover, oil, 6 x 9 inches.


Monday, June 27, 2022

Baby Sketch and 35 Years Later

On a hot, humid night 35 years ago, I sketched my new son as he slept, wondering where life would take him. 

Here's a video of him now. He's an Irish accordion player as well as a coder. He helped do the computer work for a new digital exhibition that will launch on June 29 called "From the Bridge: A View of Irish Traditional Music in New York."

ITMA is committed to preserving, digitizing, and presenting valuable recordings of Irish music.