Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Oldest Figurative Art Discovered

The Smithsonian says: "This painting of a cattle-like animal in a Borneo cave has been dated at at least 40,000 years old, making it the oldest-known figurative rock art in the world." (Image via: Luc-Henri Fage)
Read more: World’s Oldest-Known Figurative Paintings Discovered in Borneo Cave

Monday, November 12, 2018

Stan Lee, 1922-2018

Comics writer and editor Stan Lee died today at age 95. He was best known for co-creating many of the famous Marvel characters, and he appeared in cameos in most of the Marvel movies.

I first became aware of him through his how-to book How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way. It is still one of the best books on drawing figures from imagination.

In the closing chat at the end of the book, Lee says:
"To be a great artist, you've got to draw! Draw! Draw! Wherever you go, whatever you do, whenever you have a spare minute—draw! Sketch everything you see around you; sketch your friends, your enemies, relatives, strangers, anyone and everyone. Become as facile with a pencil, pen, or brush as you are with a knife and fork. The more you draw, the better you'll be. And we want you to be—the best! Excelsior!"

How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way
Stan Lee on Wikipedia

A Gouache Landscape by Moran

American painter Thomas Moran (1837-1926) used gouache for many of his landscape paintings.

Thomas Moran, Summit of the Sierras, 1872–1875, 360 x 250mm, about 14" tall.
Gouache over graphite on cream laid paper, Chicago Art Institute
Typically he worked over a tan or cream colored paper. Because he covered most of the surface with darker or lighter washes, it's not always easy to see the paper through the paint.

Up close you can see a few of the pencil guidelines showing through the delicate washes. 

Thomas Moran, Summit of the Sierras (detail)
Moran loved the convenience of watercolor and gouache for his field sketches. His primary intent wasn't to exhibit or sell them, but rather to use them for reference in his studio work. But as the 19th century progressed, watercolors became a popular medium for collectors too.

A pamphlet on watercolor painting from 1867 said that "for luminous qualities, for purity of tint and tone, for delicate gradation especially in skies and distance, their favorite style of painting has decided advantages over oil."
Book: Thomas Moran: Watercolors of the American West
Wikipedia: Thomas Moran

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day

Italian-born British illustrator Fortunino Matania captured the frenzied joy as news of the end of the "Great War" echoed through Europe on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, one hundred years ago today.

Resources and Links
Previous posts: 
Fortunino Matania on Wikipedia

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Adventure Illustrators at the Rockwell

Left: Frank Schoonover (1877–1972) Canadian Trapper
Right: Greg Manchess, Above the Timberline (detail) ©Manchess
Two exhibitions have opened at the Norman Rockwell Museum which highlight illustrators of adventure. One focuses on Frank Schoonover, a Howard Pyle student who painted scenes from history and outdoor life, and the other show features the oil paintings by Greg Manchess for his recent book Above the Timberline
Books: Above the Timberline and Frank Schoonover, Illustrator of the North American Frontier
Speaking of adventure illustrators, the recent Tom Lovell book is going into a second printing if the publisher can get enough subscriptions on Kickstarter.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Rico Lebrun teaching animal drawing

Rico Lebrun (1900-1964) was an Italian-born painter / sculptor who made important contributions in teaching animal drawing. 

He studied mural painting in Naples and Florence before coming to America. He taught at Chouinard Art Institute and then at the Disney Studios. 

Joining another great teacher, Don Graham, he helped animators understand animal anatomy as they worked on the film "Bambi."

To help Disney's artists, Lebrun created model sheets simplifying the skeleton to a mannikin. He put the mannikins through their paces, emphasizing the flexibility of their spines and the line of action of the poses.

Lebrun was concerned that the animators ground their work in reality. He said, "You really have to go to nature. The little fawn is a pretty big handful in the sense of grace. It's all there. . .the real thing has got it. What you have to do is make a poetical translation of it."
Previously: How to Train an Animator/ A Memo from Walt Disney
Two good books: Walt Disney's Bambi: The Story and the Film
and The art of Walt Disney
Rico Lebrun Model Sheets at Michael Sporn Animation blog
Bio at Rico Lebrun website
Oddly enough, Lebrun's Wikipedia page makes no mention of his time at Disney

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Appearance Transfer

Computer networks are able to generate photographically realistic images from a simple written description. They can recognize and distinguish the various elements in a photo. And they can alter the weather or the time of day in a video clip.

In this post, we'll see how they can start with a simple outline drawing and complete it to match the appearance of another object. So, for example, a line drawing of a purse can be rendered to match the color scheme of a shoe.

The input is a simple outline drawing of a handbag (top row). The network fills them in using the colors from a photo of a shoe (left-most image).

Even more remarkably, the system can start with the basic input of a mannikin pose (top row in array below), and then transfer to that pose the appearance of a photo of a model in a completely different pose (left column).

The system will generate a plausibly photographic image of that model in the desired pose.

This video by Two Minute Papers summarizes the research (Link to YouTube)

For those of you who are interested in how these computer innovations will affect creative jobs, check out this talk by Andrew Price of Blender, who sounds an optimistic note. (Link to YouTube)
Previously: Text to Image Synthesis
Image Translation
Semantic Image Mapping

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

International Artist Issue #124

The next issue of International Artist Magazine has an article I wrote on my recent painting trip to Maine and a cover feature on Morgan Weistling. (Video on Facebook)

The article on Weistling focuses on his new book: "A Brush With History: The Paintings of Morgan Weistling," a large format collection of his artwork that evokes a nostalgic view of bygone times.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Toulouse Minotaur

The street theater company La Machine has introduced a giant spider and a minotaur in Toulouse, France. (Link to YouTube video)

According to the New York Times:
"The goal of the project is to make the 'city and its residents all part of a vast work of art by giving them a common topic to react to so that they would 'talk to each other' and 'the whole city becomes a place of theater.' The Toulouse Minotaur, who has been named Astérion, arrived on the evening of Nov. 1 and slowly made its way down the streets as people stood and gawked. It was transported to the vast square in front of the majestic building that houses the city administration."
The Deep Sea Diver
The Sultan's Elephant

Monday, November 5, 2018

Give a Dog a Bone

I want to paint a portrait of Smooth, the husky mix. I give him a bone, and maybe he'll stay in one place.

Well, he doesn't hold still, but the bone occupies his attention.

Here's a video showing the process. Video link to YT
Tutorial video downloads: Painting Animals from Life  and Casein in the Wild 
How to Make a Sketch Easel (DVD) Pentalic 5 x 8 inch Aqua Journal
Casein Explorer's Set (12 colors)
Casein 6-pack with brushes