Thursday, July 9, 2020

Images of 19th-Century Evictions

With bans on evictions expiring in many states, the sad truth is that a great many renters will be forced out of their lodgings. Let's see how artists portrayed evictions in centuries past.
Blandford Fletcher, "Evicted" (1887)

William Teulon Blandford Fletcher (British, 1858-1936) focuses on the powerlessness of the widowed mother. The child clutches an umbrella, as rain will surely come, and she drags a toy horse that has fallen on its side. Villagers look on sympathetically.

"The Sale of Old Dobbin" by John Robertson Reid (1851-1926), 123 x 187cm.

According to BBC: "This picture tells the story of an event that happened in 1874 when a farmer worker, William Bromley, was evicted from his farm at Yalding in Kent and forced to sell off all his belongings, including his faithful old horse Dobbin. William Bromley is seated front left and the young girl next to him, weeping quietly in a handkerchief, is his eldest daughter Emma, who was ten at the time. A few months later the family emigrated to New Zealand." 

Art historians believed this was a fictional image until a descendant saw the painting in a museum and recognized his great-great grandfather and his story.

Erik Henningsen (Danish, 1855-1930) painted “Foreclosure” in 1892. The plight of the family is heightened by the snowy weather. The father is powerless to negotiate with the constable, who reads from the law book. 

There are many photographs of Irish evictions, as many families were forcibly removed from their farms in the decades after the Famine; this one is in County Kerry. See photos and stories of the Irish resistance and the practices of British landlords at this blog post.

In 1844, Adolph Menzel documented a pile of household contents from someone moving out of a cellar. Chairs are stacked at right and a woman sits on the pile at left. I'm not sure if they were evicted or just moving, but the stuff seems piled hastily. 
Read and see more online:
Post-Famine Eviction Photographs (Ireland)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Polenov's Drawing Evenings

Vasily Polenov (Russian, 1844-1927) hosted artistic gatherings at his home where his friends could assemble to draw costumed figures.

Konstantin Korovin. Artists at a “Drawing Evening” at Vasily Polenov’s

Fortunately a few of these "drawing evenings" were documented in quick sketches. The model is visible dressed as a soldier.

For the session below, the model was dressed in a desert costume, probably acquired by Polenov on a trip to Egypt and the Near East when he was researching Biblical paintings. 

Yelena Polenova. Artists at a “Drawing Evening”
at Vasily Polenov’s Home. 1889

The sketch is by Vasily Polenov's sister Yelena Polenova, an artist who became well known for her illustrations of fairy tales. 

Here is one of her paintings, called "The Beast."

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Hans Gude in Britain

Norwegian landscape painter Hans Gude (1825-1903) wanted his work to be better represented in the British art market, so he went to to England, Scotland, and Wales to paint there. 

Hans Gude, Scotland, 1889

He noticed a different approach to plein-air work among British painters. 

Hans Gude, Fresh Breeze off the Norwegian Coast

Among Scandinavian painters in the 1850s, most artists made plein-air paintings on location and then brought the studies back to the studio, where they used them as reference for their larger studio works. 

He noted the practice was different in England, where artists would often paint finished works on location. He wrote: "My English stay was of great benefit to me in that I freed myself from many of the prevailing studio maxims by being alone and in a landscape so new to me that it forced me to observe more keenly."
Hans Gude on Wikipedia

Monday, July 6, 2020

Catacomb Saints

Historical Museum St. Gallen in Wil, Switzerland

Catacomb saints were the bodies of early Christians exhumed from the catacombs of Rome and sent to Catholic churches in Germany and other northern European countries. The skeletons were often lavishly decorated with gold costumes to simulate early martyrs. These figures were created to replace statues and other decorations that had been destroyed during the Beeldenstorm of the 16th and 17th century.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

When to use an underpainting

Paul Lekang  asked on YouTube: "You often, but not always, start by giving the painting an "undercoating." How do you decide IF you should do it ... and how do you decide the color? Does the color shine through in the end - even though you've painted over it (several times?)"

Solar flare underpainting in casein

Paul, you're right, I don't use those undercoatings all the time. I prime a few pages in advance without knowing what painting I may do over them. I use a thin layer of casein or Acryla Gouache, both of which dry with a matte surface that won't reactivate. I use gouache or casein over them, and those opaque colors to shift the color into other realms. 

The priming layer influences all the choices I subsequently make, and that's why I like it. The color of an underpainting inevitably does shine through. Sometimes the underpainting color is similar to the colors I end up using for the finish. 

Other times I use a contrasting set of colors for the final paint. For example, it's exciting when a blue underpainting peeks through an orange painting, or when you glimpse a red underpainting beneath green foliage. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Mel Brooks Meets Abstract Art

in this 1963 short, comedian Mel Brooks is the voice of a skeptical character looking at abstract moving shapes in a crowded theater. (Link to YouTube)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Botanical Garden Interview

The NYBG posted an interview about painting outside in the gardens. Here are some of the questions and answers:

NYBG En Plein Air (Photo by Ben Hider)

Helena La-Porte Burns asks: "What makes plein-air painting so special?"

JG: I like interpreting the world around me with no filter. It’s just me and my little book and my handful of pigments trying to make intelligible the whirling chaos of reality. As artists it’s hard not to fall back on conventional approaches, but sketching from life helps me discard my expectations about what an “artistic” subject ought to look like.

I try to find something beautiful in a subject that most of us overlook, such as a supermarket doorway or a jet airplane parked at the airport. This inclination sometimes makes me feel ill at ease in places with such obvious beauty and lushness as a garden, because the tradition is so strong, and the standards have been set so high by garden painters such as George Elgood or Mildred Butler.

Cleome, casein on canvas mounted to panel, 11 x 14

Do you have a favorite flower to paint, and why?

JG: One year in the Garden I fell in love with a small group of cleomes, or spider flowers. They were tucked away in the Family Garden. I used an old-fashioned paint called casein, which was popular before acrylic was developed. I was fascinated by the shape contrast between the oval petals and the long, filament-like stamens. I love the way the leaves get smaller and yellower as you go up the stem. You don’t see paintings of cleomes as often as other flowers, but to me they just call out to be painted, because they make such a beautiful silhouette, and they seem so delicate.

HLB: Which NYBG collection is your favorite to capture?

JG: I know roses are the popular favorite, and they’re my favorite, too. There’s so much richness of form and color from an artist’s perspective. And of course on a warm summer day the scent is heavenly, the people are friendly, and there’s a painting just begging to be captured anywhere you look. In the included video I’m painting the variety called “Carefree Beauty.” I’m close enough to see the structure of individual flowers and leaves, but far enough away to allow the individual flowers to group into masses.

What amazes me with roses on a warm day is how much the blossoms change from the morning to the late afternoon. If your painting shows the particular shape of specific blossoms, they will change drastically by the time the session is over, and if you return the next day hoping to find the same arrangement, it won’t be there. Seeing plants in the dimension of slow time is a huge revelation.

HLB: What does the NYBG Plein-Air Invitational mean to you?

JG: When I think of each of the years we’ve done it, I recall the feeling of camaraderie and common purpose shared by a group of friends, each of us trying to carve a slice of the magic that is NYBG. After weeks of anticipation we head out to our chosen spot on a golf cart. As we paint, it’s a chance to meet members of NYBG’s loyal public, many of whom have artistic inclinations of their own. At the end of a busy day of painting, we gather to munch on treats, sip wine, share our tales of triumph and disaster, and check out what each of us created.

HLB: Which seasonal collection do you look forward to painting in the future?

JG: I want to get back to painting the lilacs again. The aroma is heavenly, the variety of colors and types are incredible, and I appreciate being allowed to set up our easels on the grass around them. While studying the lilac flowers, it’s fun to watch the bees busy at their work. I love the way the flowers start out as bulbous buds, each with a tiny “X” at the tip, and the way they open into four-petaled flowers, starting at the base of the spike.


(Link to videoHLB: What is the most challenging aspect of the art?
JG: I’m always fascinated and challenged by the way petals of hollyhock, roses, and peonies can focus and intensify color in the center of the blossom. Nobody described the artistic effect better than Gertrude Jekyll:

“Some of the colour is transmitted through the half-transparency of the petal’s structure, some is reflected from the neighbouring folds; the light striking back and forth with infinitely beautiful trick and playful variation, so that some inner regions of the heart of a rosy flower, obeying the mysterious agencies of sunlight, texture and local colour, may tell upon the eye as pure scarlet; while the wide outer petal, in itself generally rather lighter in colour, with its slightly waved surface and gently frilled edge, plays the game of give and take with light and tint in quite other, but always delightful, ways.”

HLB: As a longtime plein-air artist, have you noticed any significant changes in the environment that affect your work? Do you have any examples?

JG: I live in the mid-Hudson Valley, and I’ve noticed the effects of invasive plants such as Japanese stiltgrass in the understory, and I’ve certainly noticed the effects of the big die-off of pine forests when painting mountain landscapes in Colorado. During this recent lockdown period, I’ve noticed some encouraging signs of nature bouncing back, with far more native wildflowers, such as trillium, in our local forest. I don’t know why they haven’t been browsed by the deer, but I appreciate seeing them again.

HLB: What tips do you have for budding plein-air artists?

JG: I would suggest that young artists who want to paint from life should always keep a sketchbook for pencil sketches and quick color studies. Building up a practice of regular sketching excursions with friends is a great way to get started. There are Urban Sketchers groups and plein-air meetups in almost every city. Every once in a while I think it’s important to slow down and spend more than one session on a work of plein-air, perhaps at least three or four hours on one study. And you don’t have to do it in a busy, public location if you’re nervous about people watching or judging you.

Look for non-touristy places where artists rarely go, and where no one would expect to find someone painting. You’ll have it all to yourself and you’ll really be able to concentrate.

HLB: Is there anything else you would like to share with us and the readers at this time?

JG: I’m grateful to the NYBG for its sponsorship, both of botanical illustration and plein-air art. While both may result in attractive images of flowers, the botanical artist is more concerned with portraying individual flowers with a scientist’s perspective, removing a plant from its context to understand form and function while still seeing the beauty in it. The plein-air artist pays attention to the whole living ensemble as influenced by light, air, atmosphere, spatial depth, and that intangible element of life and change. A goal of mine is to combine the two perspectives, to see both the forest and the trees.

Watch my video "Flower Painting in the Wild,"available as a DVD from Amazon and as an HD download from Gumroad and Sellfy.   
Also sample my Gumroad tutorial: "Casein Painting in the Wild." 
Musicians in the garden were members of the Dolce Ensemble.                                                             

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Teaching Art, Pre- and Post-Pandemic

Art teachers: What were your biggest challenges pre-pandemic? What new issues have you faced in recent months? (Sketch from a symposium of art profs in Pennsylvania)

Monday, June 29, 2020

Limited Palettes and Constrained Writing

With no yellow and no green, this limited palette knocked me out of my color mixing habits and forced me to improvise in an alternate universe that felt alien, but still harmonious. Colors: ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, pyrrole red, and titanium white.

Writers have played with self-limiting challenges, such as E.V. Wright, who wrote the 1939 novel called "Gadsby" as a lipogram, without using the letter "e." Here's an excerpt: "Now, any author, from history's dawn, always had that most important aid to writing:—an ability to call upon any word in his dictionary in building up his story. That is, our strict laws as to word construction did not block his path. But in my story that mighty obstruction will constantly stand in my path; for many an important, common word I cannot adopt, owing to its orthography."

There are other examples of constrained writing, such as sonnets, limericks, and haiku, all of which thrive within strict limitations of form and meter, or palindromes, where the sentence reads the same forward, such as "Never odd or even."
Limited palettes are discussed in my book Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Unfinished Portrait of Roosevelt

Elizabeth Shoumatoff started working on her watercolor portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt at about noon on April 12, 1945. 

During lunch, the President complained that he had "a terrific pain in the back of my head" and he slumped forward unconscious. FDR died later that day of a stroke. The painting was never finished.

Hank Green includes this story in a thoughtful video about what unfinished paintings can show us about their creators and subjects.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Hopper's Light: Evocative or Illogical?

Did you notice that something is missing in this picture? It's the cast shadow from the horizontal sash of the window. Also, the shaft of light is far wider than the window, and the rays of light aren't parallel.

Sun in an Empty Room, by Edward Hopper

Hopper also ignores the effect of the secondary source of soft blue skylight that would influence the base of the wall adjacent to the shadow, and he leaves off the baseboard moulding at the edge of the shadow.

John Walsh of Yale University gave a lecture on YouTube, which discusses Hopper's manipulations of light and geometry. The bottom image shows a digital reconstruction Wash commissioned to show the window shape necessary to achieve the light patch. To skip ahead, visit the video at about 12:00 and 47 minutes.

Are these faults or are they fair choices to make a more striking picture? I can see why Hopper didn't want to make the sun patch smaller or to cut it up with cast shadows. The painting is about emptiness and it's a big statement of light and shadow. There's not much else to look at here. 

Rooms by the Sea by Edward Hopper, collection Yale Art Gallery

There are a lot of things wrong here, too. He shows a slanting shape of light cut off on the left, as if it's limited by the top of the doorway. That's OK. But the bar of light across the floor has a similar angle. Something feels wrong about that.

Perhaps he remembered seeing the light effect and constructed it in a way that felt right to him geometrically. But it's completely impossible.

I set up a quick cardboard maquette to show the problem. That shadow across the floor shouldn't have an angle to it. It must be a straight line from the edge of the door to the base of the wall.

Do these criticisms seem trivial or pedantic? I hesitate to share them because I like Hopper's work.

But art should stand up to hard looking. Once I start noticing how illogical the light is (not to mention the perspective and the carpentry details), it's harder to appreciate the sentiment of the picture. It's like trying to walk with a pebble in your shoe. 

An artist has freedom to do anything he or she can get away with if the resulting painting communicates more effectively. But its probably best to make a statement that's consistent with truth.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Zinn's Chalk Paintings on Sidewalks

David Zinn found an art form that doesn't need to begin with a blank canvas.

He draws chalk characters that interact with manhole covers, lampposts and other street fixtures. He's not only an ingenious artist, but he's also an excellent public speaker.
David Zinn's Ted Talk 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Transforming Objects into Creatures

Sometimes the veggies in my still life start arguing with me. 

(Link to YouTube). How do you transform a household object or vehicle into a creature or character? James collaborated with YouTuber Stan Prokopenko to launch a concept-art design challenge. Over 1000 of you responded. I had the honor of judging the competition and in this video I share my reaction to some of the most notable entries.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Customers First

Customers First! Thanks to all of you who have been using my books to teach yourself color, light, and imaginative painting. Link to signed copies. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Henry Wheeler's Barn

Henry Wheeler’s barn has a horse weathervane. The electrical line goes to a small electric milker. 

I've sat in the hayloft on a summer day. It's peaceful and quiet up there with a bright sunbeam slanting in the hayloft door. 

One of the sheds has old wagons and carriages parked inside it, almost as if they're ready to return to the roads again in case those newfangled automobiles give up the ghost. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Seascape Sketchbook of William Trost Richards

William Trost Richards (American, 1833-1905) filled this sketchbook with remarkably detailed watercolor studies of English coastal scenery. 

The medium is graphite and watercolor on beige, medium thick, smooth wove paper, 5 1/4 x 7 3/8 in. (13.3 x 18.7 cm). 

The Brooklyn Museum, which owns this sketchbook, says: 

"Richards was a prolific artist who, as a leading member of the American Pre-Raphaelites, embraced the Ruskinian principle of truth to nature. Sketching outdoors played a significant role in his quest for accuracy of representation. Throughout his long career and extensive travels, he seems to have always carried a sketchbook with him, filling the pages with drawings of the places he encountered. The Brooklyn Museum owns more than twenty-five of Richards’s sketchbooks, including the ones on view here. Serving as pictorial diaries of his journeys, they also demonstrate the variety of his working methods, ranging from quickly rendered outlines to carefully modulated tonal compositions to finished color studies."

Sunday, June 21, 2020

New App Adds Detail to Blurry Image

New software is able to take a low resolution image and add missing detail. 

The tool supplies missing information using a generative adversarial network. It draws on a big data set to generate a plausible looking face that matches the pixellated version.

Researchers at Duke University who developed it describe the process this way: "The system scours AI-generated examples of high-resolution faces, searching for ones that look as much as possible like the input image when shrunk down to the same size."

The resulting face is photographically detailed, and it fits the initial pixellated image, but it's really only one of several possible solutions.
Articles about the process from Hypebeast and Techxplore

Saturday, June 20, 2020

How do you mix a color you're looking at?

Malcolm Marcus asked: "I would really like to see a video on how to understand what colors you are looking at. Sounds kind of nutty, but for those of us relatively new to painting, it's often hard to figure out what color something actually is."

Oil study by Charles Hawthorne (1872-1930)
Answer: The color you're looking at is a consequence of four main factors: 

1. The local color (or surface color) of the object.
2. The relative color of the light shining on it.
3. The relative amount of light shining on it.
3. The quality of atmosphere between the observer and the object.

You have to mentally combine all those factors in order to arrive at the color you will have to mix for that paint stroke.

For example, the girl's hat at left is a medium-value blue because it's a white hat lit by blue skylight which is less bright than the sunshine, and there's much atmosphere intervening.

The underside of her sleeve is a medium dull orange because it's in shadow, too, but this time the white material is picking up some bounced light from the warm-colored ground surface below her. Her skin is a dark brown because it's a light-skinned tan local color in relatively dim illumination. Backlit white subjects are popular with impressionist painters because they make make Factors #2 and #3 vividly clear. 

Most beginning painters see only the local color, because they don't yet recognize how their perceptual systems are filtering out the effects of the next three factors.

Learning to paint involves recognizing how those perceptual filters work. Once you understand them, you can analyze a subject in terms of the the relative influence of the four factors. 

I would recommend setting up a backlit white object on a sunny day and painting what you see. You could use a volleyball, skull, white cardboard box, or t-shirt. The experience of mixing the resulting colors will make these principles vividly clear.
There's a lot of beginning painting instruction on my new Gumroad tutorial "Color in Practice: Black, White, and Complements." and in my book Color and Light, available signed from my webstore or from Amazon. There's also a lot of information in my book: Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Frederick Walker's 'Old Farm Garden.'

Frederick Walker (1840-1875) started learning to draw by copying prints in pen and ink, and he studied in the British Museum. Later he studied at the Royal Academy and worked as an illustrator.

‘The Old Farm Garden (1871) by Frederick Walker (British 1840-1875)
Watercolour and Gouache, 30.2 × 40.6 cm (11.8 × 15.9 in)

He painted in oil and in watercolor/gouache. In this example, a solitary woman in a patterned dress knits in a backyard garden, her cat about to pounce on her ball of yarn.  

Note the brickwork, the lilacs and tulips, and the tiny weathervane on the barn. 

The detail above is only about eight inches wide, showing the precision and delicacy that's possible with gouache.  

Frederick Walker died of tuberculosis in 1875, at a mere 35 years old.
The painting is in the collection of the Courtlauld Institute, London.

Thursday, June 18, 2020


What does your childhood home look like? How many windows across the front?

Can you imagine what a fortune cookie looks like? Can you visualize a ten-speed bicycle?

People who can't conjure up any images of these things at all may have a condition called aphantasia, the inability to visualize images in the mind.

My mental images are usually hazy at best, almost never vivid and clear. I've noticed that when I've had a very high fever, very clear images arise in front of my mind's eye, but they're largely involuntary. 

I'm better at visualizing things when I attempt to draw them. There seems to be a feedback loop between drawing something and visualizing it. 

An action that I've done with my body, such as splitting firewood. is also easier to visualize. I have a harder time visualizing milking a cow, because I haven't tried it, even though I've watched someone else do it. 

According to Wikipedia, aphantasia is only recently named and not well studied. Here are some questions about it:

• What's the relationship between drawing something and imagining it?
• Does actual tactile experience with the world (like waxing a car) aid in visualizing?
• How does virtual interaction, such as in a video game, compare to actual experience? 
• How is visualizing an object different from visualizing an action?
• Are the same parts of the brain active when mentally visualizing as when actually seeing?
• How is the condition related to inabilities to recognize objects or faces (prosopagnosia)?

Ed Catmull, one of the founders of Pixar, surveyed employees about their ability to visualize things, and discovered that the artists didn't visualize things as strongly as the production managers. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

John Sharman's "At the End of the Porch"

John Sharman, At the End of the Porch, about 1918, 
oil on canvas, 36 x 34-1/4 in., Indiana Museum of Art

John Sharman (1879-1971) was an American artist who studied with Frank Benson and Edmund Tarbell at Boston’s Museum School. There he honed his ability to capture effects of light. A writer for the Boston Transcript describes this painting as a:
“a beautiful, luminous and joyous picture of a place where one would like to be. It represents a glassed-in porch, in the summer, and a lady sitting at her work; through the windows may be seen masses of shrubbery and white blossoms. An admirable canvas, it has the quality of reserve, but that does not prevent it from conveying with singular aptitude a most artistic impression of a lovely scene.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Compared to Hummingbirds, We're Colorblind

Birds can perceive colors in parts of the electromagnetic spectrum beyond what we humans can see. 

Costa Rican hummingbird, from Ask a Biologist

Humans have only three color receptors, but birds are tetrachromats, with four color receptors. In addition to birds, many reptiles, fish, insects, spiders, shrimp, and other invertebrates can see colors beyond our range of awareness. The scientists estimate that as much as 35 percent of the color experience of birds includes colors we can't even imagine, not just additional colors, but combinations of colors such as ultraviolet plus green. 

Some birds that look plain to our eyes have patterns that can only be revealed by translating those extraspectral colors into visible light. According to NatGeo:
"This extra level of discernment might also have been a trait of dinosaurs, which are thought to have sported colorful feathers. Mammals evolved as nocturnal beings that did not need to see the rich hues of the daylight world, so most—like your pet dog and cat—are dichromatic, and have only blue and green cones. People evolved a third cone (red), possibly because early primates developed an appetite for ripening fruits."
More online resources
Science Friday Podcast: A Bird's Eye View of Color

Monday, June 15, 2020

Painting a Spotlight Effect

New YouTube video (Link to YouTube) explains how to focus sunlight on one part of a plein-air painting using a spotlight underpainting. The car is a 1962 Chevy Impala.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

'We want no imitation'

"It is not the business of the artist to express what is obvious to every one," said Sir Alfred East (1849-1913). "If it were, he would prefer the actual fact to the painted one." 

Sir Alfred East (1849-1913), Opulent Autumn, 57½ x 87 in. (146 x 221 cm.)

East continues: "We want no imitation, even if it were done to the point of deception; but what we do look for is the strong, vivid and frank impression of a cultivated mind." 

East imagines Turner looking at a scene in nature and saying to himself: "'What does this convey to me, and what great phase of nature does this material serve to express?' What was useless for his purpose he deliberately ignored, and aggrandized the material which was to justify the purpose he had in view. So that nature to the painter, as well as to the builder, offers the material by which great things can be built; and we can read between the lines of the artist's work the exact mental attitude he held when he painted any particular scene."
—Sir Alfred East, introduction to Sketching Grounds, 1909

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Drawing of English Inn

In 1921 Cecil Aldin (1870-1935) sketched the Talbot Inn in pencil and watercolor. It was used as an illustration for "Old English Inns."

Art and Ideology

Word clouds are a graphic representation of how often certain words are used in a text. Words that are shown larger are used more frequently.

Here's the word cloud for my book “Color and Light: A Guide for Realist Painters.” It appears the title accurately represents what's inside.

Here's “Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist.” The reason the word "imagination" doesn't appear in the cloud is that the book is focused less on where ideas come from and more on practical methods for how to take a vague idea and make it real.

Finally here's John Ruskin's "Modern Painters." Even though he was a practicing artist, Ruskin doesn't really discuss the nuts and bolts of practical picture-making, but instead dwells in loftier realms of abstract, ideal principles. Art is almost a religion for Ruskin. 

If you're interested in the ideology that drove realist painters, I would recommend reading The Art Spirit by Robert Henri, The Classic Point of View by Kenyon Cox, or Aims and Ideals of Art by George Clausen (Also available on Any other books on art and ideology that you would recommend — or not recommend?
Read more
Color and Light: A Guide for Realist Painters
Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist
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Friday, June 12, 2020

A Sci-Fi Cover with Classic Vibes

Here's a cover painting for The Pandora Stone, a science fiction paperback novel by William Greenleaf about the search for a powerful amber crystal of alien origin. 

I spotlit the bottom edge of the power cone and let the top half fall into the shadow. That way, the glowing orb could read as light over dark. I also introduced the blue and gold smoke on the sides of the cone, and carried the blue and gold theme throughout the picture. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Mildred Butler

Mildred Anne Butler (1858 - 1941) was an Irish painter who specialized in images of nature, farm life and gardens.

Mildred Anne Butler, R.W.S. (1858-1941) Flowers by the roadside

She was associated with the Newlyn School and became a member of the Royal Academy in 1893.

Mildred Anne Butler, R.W.S. (1858-1941)
A cockerel and hen in a cluster of marguerites
pencil, watercolour and bodycolour with scratching out
10 x 6¾ in. (25.5 x 17.2 cm.)

She painted outdoors from life, a practice that was unusual at the time.

Mildred Anne Butler, Studies of birds

She did quick studies of animals and flowers in watercolor, but she also painted in oil.

Mildred Anne Butler (Irish painter) 1858 - 1941
Willow by the Water's Edge, s.d. watercolour
36 x 52.2 cm. (14.17 x 20.55 in.)

In 1857, The Athenaeum wrote: ‘The young lady knows how to look at her subjects with the eyes of a well trained artist.’

The Wanderers, Mildred Anne Butler, 1898, Ireland, watercolor
Location: Dublin City Gallery, 53.3 x 36.2 cm

Much of her early training came from her father who documented the exotic plants and animals he found on his travels.

Mildred Anne Butler

Butler's life and work was mostly centered on her family home in Kilmurry, though she traveled to England and France as well.
Mildred Anne Butler on Wikipedia