Sunday, June 17, 2018

How to Apply the Warm-and-Cool Approach

Gary asks about the warm-and-cool approach: 

"I can not see if there is, or should be, a rationale for when a warm or cool tone is used. I believe that this approach brings life to a drawing but do not understand how to best apply it."

Jim asks: "I would also love a good explanation of the warm/cool approach. Obviously the value must be correct, but how does one decide to use a warm or cool color? Is it based on local color of the object? Is it based on light vs. shadow? Is it based on a combination of both? If so, which trumps the other when they conflict? That is, what color should be used to depict a cool shadow on a red ball? What elements are portrayed as gray (an even mix of warm and cool) within a picture? It's worth figuring out, because it's amazing how much "color" can be achieved with just Burnt Sienna (warm) and Ultramarine Blue (cool)."

Richard Parkes Bonington
Gary and Jim, The way I think of warm and cool is that I'm basically doing a value study, but just taking the first step toward color. The warm pigment might describe an area lit by a warm light source, or you might use the warm color to suggest a local color that is intrinsically warm, such as an orange building. If the warm-cool exercise is a preliminary study for a painting that you intend to paint later with full color, the study will give you an impression of what the final will feel like. The limitations of chroma and hue choices keeps you from straying too far away from making primarily value-oriented decisions. 

It's very similar to the way musical composers will figure things out on the piano and then build their orchestration. A composer might work out the melody, rhythm, and chord structure before deciding on the instrumentation.

A simple warm and cool palette such as ultramarine vs. raw sienna is also a worthy approach for finished works. Many painters of the past sought the muted harmonies of warm and cool to achieve a feeling of quietude, dignity, or austerity.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Keepers of the Flame

NC Wyeth, illustration from Treasure Island
The new exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum explores the lineage of academic painting and how its branches connected to the Golden Age of American Illustration.

The show, called "Keepers of the Flame: Parrish, Wyeth, Rockwell and the Narrative Tradition," traces teacher/student lineages going all the way back to the Renaissance.

Dennis Nolan is the curator of the show and the author of the 216-page catalog. A teacher himself for half a century, he is interested in how the skills and knowledge needed to make storytelling pictures were passed from one generation to the next. 

Maxfield Parrish
The Art Students League and the Philadelphia Academy were important schools for training American illustrators. Many teachers there had spent time in Europe under the tutelage of French academic masters. 

For example, Maxfield Parrish studied under Thomas Anschutz, who was a pupil of Thomas Eakins, who enrolled with Jean-Leon Gérôme, who was taught by Paul Delaroche, who learned from Antoine-Jean Gros, who studied under Jacques-Louis David, who was in the studio of Joseph-Marie Vien. 

Gerome, Bouguereau, Laurens
It takes a lot of concentration to keep track of all the didactic genealogies, which call to mind the begetting streaks in Genesis and Matthew.

Mowbray and Benjamin-Constant
The teacher-student lineage story leaves aside important forces that shape and define an artist. Nolan ignores other formative influences, such as the inspiration that Rockwell took directly from artists he never met, from his contemporaries, and from Modern movements. 

When Rockwell listed the artists he studied in his student days and who he admired later, he didn't mention his teachers (George Bridgman and Thomas Fogarty):
"Ever since I can remember, Rembrandt has been my favorite artist. Vermeer, Breughel, Velásquez, Canaletto; Dürer, Holbein, Ingres as draftsmen; Matisse, Klee―these are a few of the others I admire now. During my student days I studied closely the works of Edwin Austin Abbey, J.C. and Frank Leyendecker, Howard Pyle, Sargent, Whistler.” (from My Adventures as an Illustrator by Norman Rockwell)
Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, The Language of the Fan
The curatorial approach of focusing on these teacher/student lineages also unfortunately leaves out a lot of women artists and self-taught artists, and it leads to the impression of all this art being created by a stodgy, backward-looking old-boy's club, when it's really not true.

American illustration was inclusive, inventive, popular and progressive. It embraced new technologies such as color printing, gave birth to new art forms such as comics, movies, and animation, and expressed the drama of contemporary life.

But these minor quibbles don't get in the way of appreciating the extraordinary artwork on display in this exhibition.

"The Byzantine Emperor Honorius" - Jean-Paul Laurens, 1880
The artist/teachers William Adolphe Bouguereau and Jean Leon Gérôme are central to the story and they're well represented in the exhibition, and there are many lesser-known artists who are worth seeing.

Nolan and the museum worked for years to negotiate loans of the paintings and drawings from both public and private collections. Unfortunately the show won't be able to travel to other venues, and will only be at the Norman Rockwell Museum.

NC Wyeth

Nolan dedicated the catalog "to my teachers, who taught me how to be an artist, and to my students, who taught me how to be a teacher." For visitors who are either students or teachers of art, this exhibition will be particularly affirming.
The exhibition will at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts through October 28, 2018.

The catalog "Keepers of the Flame: Parrish, Wyeth, Rockwell and the Narrative Tradition"
Previously: Dennis Nolan and the Hartford Art School

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Edweard Muybridge perfected the technique of capturing motion in a series of separate photographs.
Chronophotograph by Étienne-Jules Marey
But around the same time, Étienne-Jules Marey pursued a slightly different photographic technique  for representing movement called chronophotography. We might call it stroboscopic photography today.

Instead of breaking down the action into a series of separate images, he superimposed all the phases of the action into a single image. That makes it harder to study each pose, but it's easier to see the overall path of action and the arcs of movement of the smaller forms.

Marey also created sculptures that show the pattern of movement in three dimensions.

Chronophotography was a big inspiration for Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase" and it also inspired the emerging field of animation.
Wikipedia on Étienne-Jules Marey
New Scientist: Art and science in motion
Marey's Movement Sculptures

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Salon des Refusés

The Palais de l'Industrie
The Salon des Refusés (Exhibition of Rejects) was held in this building in Paris in 1863.

Among the works exhibited was "The White Girl" by James McNeill Whistler. The painting had previously been rejected by both of the more prestigious venues, the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon. 

Other artists who exhibited in Salon des Refusés included Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and Johan Jongkind.

There's a related story in the news today. Anonymous-English-graffiti-artist Banksy, using the pseudonym Bryan S Gaakman, entered an Brexit-themed piece in this year's Royal Academy. It was rejected. When the show coordinator contacted Banksy about entering the exhibition, he resubmitted a revised version of the rejected work under the Banksy name. This time it was accepted, and it's hanging there now.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Waterfall City Demo

Photo: Irene Gallo
At the IMC workshop, I'm painting an impressionistic color sketch of Waterfall City using a rough maquette made of styrofoam.

The sketch is in casein over watercolor paper. I'm casting a shadow over the far side of the city with a piece of cardboard.

Monday, June 11, 2018

IMC-Illustration Master Class, 2018

I'm at Illustration Master Class in Amherst, Massachusetts, a week-long workshop for about 90 attendees. 

The students arrive with sketches and the team faculty are critiquing them today. Here's Greg Ruth and Kent Williams, painted as they talked in gouache over a green casein underpainting.

Other faculty include Tara McPherson, Greg Manchess, Dan Dos Santos, Julie Bell, Boris Vallejo, Scott Fischer, Irene Gallo, and founder Rebecca Leveille Guay. Students will be working on their projects throughout the week: refining their compositions, shooting reference, and launching into their paintings (both analog and digital) by mid-week.
Illustration Master Class (IMC)

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Meredith's Sketch Easel Innovations

Meredith Moles shared her build of a sketch easel:

"I wanted a perfectly flat easel made from only two pieces of wood. I chose 1/4" cherry plywood, which was a fraction thicker than the oak plywood at my local store. The T-nut for holding the quick-connect plate would have protruded, so I cut it shorter with a Dremel. It still holds the quick-connect quite securely.

"My solution for the hinges is inspired by the one on your blog from Paul Savoie. I used nylon flat head screws, and deepened the holes for the screws with a countersink drill bit (very gently, with a hand crank drill, after breaking a hinge with a power drill!). Here they are installed.

"The combination of countersinking and the give in the nylon allows the easel to close, even without recessing the hinges. The easel sits a bit open naturally, but closes all the way with gentle finger pressure, which I figure means that whatever happens in my backpack will be fine.

"Here is the easel all set up. Two cup-holder binder clips hold five things: Brush cup, water cup, paper towel, test paper, and cloth towel. The cup-holder clips happen to fit 4 oz and 8 oz Nalgene containers perfectly. A modified merchandise sign clip, using the wide parts of two clips, holds a light diffuser. It's probably not sturdy enough for windy days, but works great otherwise, providing a completely adjustable angle. I built the easel with a tab for holding the diffuser clip, so the rest of the panel fits my sketchbook precisely and the clip doesn't get in the sketchbook's way. The diffuser itself is made from translucent corrugated plastic, which lets more light through than white corrugated plastic.

"This easel -- and probably most other folks' builds as well -- can simply be turned 90 degrees to work in portrait mode, using the two panels side by side."

Thanks, Meredith!
Check out our Facebook group, "Sketch Easel Builders"
Download the video "How to Make a Sketch Easel"
DVD: How to Make a Sketch Easel

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Kilauea Volcano

Kilauea, oil, 9x12”
When I visited Hawaii some years ago, the lava from the Kilauea volcano was cool enough to walk on. I set up my easel to paint a view across the moonscape. That’s a van and two scientists at left in the distance.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Book Review: Coby Whitmore: Artist and Illustrator

The Illustrated Press has released Coby Whitmore: Artist and Illustrator, the newest volume in its landmark series of art books immortalizing the leading 20th century illustrators.

America was booming and confident during the postwar era, and the women's magazines were overflowing with what they called "boy-girl" stories. 

Coby defined the look of glamour, along with his contemporaries Al Parker, Jon Whitcomb, Tom Lovell, and Harry Anderson

Born in 1913 in Dayton, Ohio, Coby was still a teenager when he decided to be an illustrator. He apprenticed with the mercurial but talented Haddon Sundblom in Chicago before moving to New York to work for Cooper Studios, a stable of top talent that did both advertising and editorial illustration.

Coby Whitmore, gouache on board, 15.25" x 20" Saturday Evening Post
Coby painted in casein and gouache, often combining well rendered face and hands with areas of flat color. His compositions were always fresh and surprising, with interesting cropping and color ideas inspired by one of his heroes, Edgar Degas.

The book is 224 pages, 9 x 12." After a brief introductory bio, the remaining 200 pages are devoted to color reproductions of the art itself. Some of of the reproductions are from the originals, so that you can see the colors and paint textures in detail. Other reproductions are taken from magazine tearsheets, letting you study how the art interacted with the headlines and type.

Here's the webpage at the Illustrated Press about the book, which comes in a standard hardcover edition for $44.95. It's limited to 900 copies, but don't wait, because other books in this series have sold out.

Publisher Dan Zimmer's next book will be about Haddon Sundblom.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Dinosaur Science Painting in Gold Medal Show

My oil painting "Kosmoceratops" will be one of the paintings in the Gold Medal Exhibition of the California Art Club, which starts this weekend.

The painting was published in Scientific American magazine and received a Jury Award at the Focus on Nature XIII exhibition in Albany, NY. It was also the subject of my first downloadable tutorial video, "How I Paint Dinosaurs."

(Link to video on Facebook)

The Gold Medal Exhibition takes place at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. The collector's preview and the artists' gala is Saturday, June 9 and the show opens to the public from June 10 through July 1.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Dinotopia painting to be exhibited in Los Angeles

"Light on the Water," an important oil painting from Dinotopia, will be part of the show and sale at the Gold Medal Exhibition of the California Art Club starting this weekend.

The painting was published in Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara and Color and Light and has been exhibited in many museums exhibits around the USA and in Switzerland, France, and England.

The Gold Medal Exhibition takes place at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. There are a lot of wonderful paintings in the show, and I'm proud to have my paintings among them.

The collector's preview and the artists' gala is Saturday, June 9 and the show opens to the public on June 10.  I won't be able to attend the opening. The show will be up through July 1.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Book Review: How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist

Are you looking for the perfect gift for that art school graduate in your life?

How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself without Selling Your Soul offers practical and encouraging tips to help a young artist build a career selling paintings.

The author began as an artist herself, and is a career coach and advocate for artists.

There are many aspects of running an art business, such as: creating presentations, promoting and marketing, handling public relations, pricing a painting, dealing with galleries, and applying for grants.

She begins the book talking about psychological blocks, a place where many people get stuck. She addresses being intimidated by others, feeling insecure, requiring validation, and overcoming rejection.

The book is mainly concerned with gallery art. She reminds young artists that they have a lot of leverage in negotiations, and she recommends having a written contract, rather than trusting to a handshake. There's a discussion of discounts, artist statements, market values, pay-to-play, and mailings.

No single book can cover every aspect of the art business. In this volume, there's not much coverage of illustration, concept art, or other studio or commissioned jobs. Also, the coverage of social media is not very thorough. It also doesn't get into much detail about publishing contracts or other legal matters. For that, I'd recommend Tad Crawford's Legal Guide for the Visual Artist.

The back of the book is has a very well-stocked Appendix of Resources, with a list of publications, organizations, websites, and mailing lists.
How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself without Selling Your Soul 358 pages, $24.99 list.
Related Post: 72 Tips for sharing art on social media 
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