Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Shishkin Landscape

The landscapes of Ivan Shishkin (Russian, 1832-1898) are notable for their truth to nature. He knew a lot about botany and painted outdoors on a regular basis. This autumn landscape in oil is about 16 x 26 inches.

 A detail suggests three things to my eye.

1. The sky must have been dry or nearly dry from a previous session, rather than painted all wet together. If it was previously painted, it then have been "oiled out" with a very thin layer of painting medium to make it receptive.

2. He must have had a wide variety of brushes, and switched between them as he built up the foliage and branch textures. A big old, splayed brush, dabbed against the canvas, could have provided the foliage textures.

3. The branches are painted with a very thin round brush, and some of the lighter branches in the lower right of this detail seem to be scraped out of the wet paint with a knife or a brush.

4. The foreground leaf masses are laid on quite thickly. The full effect is loose and direct, but not "brushy"—that is, it doesn't look like a collection of brushstrokes.
The Shishkin painting is Lot #1 in an upcoming Sotheby's sale of Russian pictures in London on June 2.


rock995 said...

Nice analysis of Shiskin's technique Mr. Gurney, your blog is the best out there!

RM said...

interesting view from a practitioner. Love your blog.

Tom Hart said...

Excellent and very helful analysis James. I wonder how much editing he did - if any at all - in translating what he saw to canvas. It would be great to be able to compare the scene he saw to what he painted. What I mean is, a group of vegetation like that, in life, seems like such a jungle and tangle that some degree of editing seems to be required. Though maybe not. His painting is extremely convincing as a real place, in real light at a real time.

Tom Hart said...

...amending what I just wrote. Of course there's always some editing. Leaves, for example, would be generalized clusters. I just wonder how much he did here of the larger elements - branches, for example.