Monday, March 28, 2011

Sky Conscious

Here’s a fine head painting by the American artist Harry Anderson, known for his illustration and gallery work in opaque watercolor, (also known as tempera or gouache).

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Rather than point out all the excellent handling of edges and drawing, I want to point out the sky behind the head. It’s a very pale, low-chroma blue, almost matching the value of the light side of the form. What’s wonderful about the sky is how it steps back and provides a setting for the interesting area of the picture. 

Harry Anderson once said, “I imagine you might say that I am definitely sky conscious,”

"I can’t tolerate skies that force themselves on the viewer’s attention. Ordinarily the sky should be a foil for the rest of the design. It must retire, but many artists fail to grasp this truth. The source of light is always the lightest area in a picture. On a bright day this is the sun itself, when a white expanse in full light might be lighter than the sky, but on a gray day the sky is the source of light, and in this instance, the sky will be the lightest note—lighter even than pure white objects.”
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“Harry Anderson Discusses his Painting in Tempera,” American Artist, May, 1956
See more Anderson images at Leif Peng’s “Today’s Inspiration” Flickr Sets.

5 comments:

Moish said...

This guy is good! they should have his art in museums.

tinoradman said...

There is a nice article on Anderson (with good reproductions) in Illustration #12.

JonInFrance said...

The picure by him you chose for "Color and Light" grabbed me straight away! Lot of thought in his paintings (in a good way)

Mario said...

Anderson is so masterful and infallible that I always get a small "shock" when I look at his paintings. He controlled tones so well that he could use any "crazy" color without weakening the solidity of the image (this seems particularly difficult with gouache, as tones shift randomly when it dries).

I wonder if his writing from 1956 is still protected by copyright (I'm not an expert on all the subtleties of this subject).

Libby Fife said...

Amazing that the picture is done in gouache. I just read another discussion about the sky in my John F. Carlson landscape book. The sky is always a trouble area for me so thank you:)