Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Hultgren Cartoons

Ken Hultgren (1915 - 1968) was an animator and a comic artist for Walt Disney and went on to write instructional books about cartoon-inspired drawing.

His construction method emphasizes the three-dimensional solidity, based on ball-shaped forms connected by a line of action.

His anthropomorphic animals adapt the animal types to bipedal poses. 

Underneath cartoon caricatures are simple designs that he lays out as 2D shapes and builds out as 3D forms, complete with centerlines. 

He often shows a drawing in two stages of construction, so that you can see how he carries the gesture into the whole pose, and how he alternates straight and curved lines.
 Books by Ken Hultgren: 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Where We Look at Madame X

Where do people spend the most time looking at Sargent's Madame X? We study the face and hands as expected, but we also look at her chin, neck, and striking decolletage.

Left: John Singer Sargent, Madame Gautreau
Right: Eyetracking heatmap
Dan Hill, the vision scientist who did this study, says: "The mind's eye can go anywhere. In reality, faces command attention. What gets noticed first, typically? The answer is faces and what's in the vicinity, namely people's heads."

Thomas Gainsborough, Mr. and Mrs. Andrews

Hill says, "Faces matter. After twenty-plus years of conducting market-research studies, I can tell you most definitively that nothing changes the underlying pattern. If there's a face involved, as much as seventy percent or more of all the gaze activity goes to the face(s) present."
Previously on the blog: 
Eye Tracking and Composition
Men, Women, and Eye Tracking
Images from the book "First Blush: People's Intuitive Reactions to Famous Art" by Dan Hill

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Photos of Americans at Outdoor Fairs

Person at the Fun Center from Earthsworld
taken by "a human being in Portland"
Earthsworld is a website with collections of candid photos of anonymous Americans taken at outdoor fairs.

It includes a crosscut of individuals, honest and unfiltered. It's a good source of reference for character designers and virtual people-watchers.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Sketches from the Impeachment Trial

Art Lien for New York Times.
Art Lien has been a witness to history as he sketches the impeachment trial in Washington, DC.

Art Lien says: "Some members took up a second activity, like fidget spinning or doodling.”

He says that he is only allowed to bring simple drawing tools into the Senate chambers to produce the line work. He is forced to paint the washes later from memory.

Art Lien's normal beat is the Supreme Court. Here's a video profile (Link to YouTube).

Most professional courtroom sketch artists work in federal jurisdictions, as many state courts have allowed cameras to cover their proceedings. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

What Colors to Take on Vacation?

Tad asks: "I noticed your recommended basic sets of colors are different, depending on the medium. Did your habits change between videos or does the transparency differences between gouache and watercolor require a different set to get the most flexibility?

Hi, Tad, I take a different set of colors each time I travel. I'm always trying new pigments in new combinations. I usually start out with a commercial watercolor pan set, which I customize by replacing some of the colors. I bring along a few tubes of gouache or watercolors, because the paint from tubes is juicier than the paint dried in pans. I carry the tubes in a little plastic snack box or in a plastic bag.

Those extra tubes of gouache are from sets offered by HolbeinM. Graham, or Winsor and Newton. It costs a lot less per tube to buy them in sets rather than individually. I also sometimes pull unusual colors from the big set of Shinhan Pass, which is a watercolor/gouache hybrid. I also have a big jar of Richeson (casein), which I use when I want to work in a broader, more painterly style.

Although the set of colors that I actually bring in my kit evolves or changes on a given outing changes, I typically bring one or two reds, a couple yellows, and a couple blues, plus white. I like to have a high-chroma and a low-chroma version of each one. For example I might have cadmium yellow and yellow ochre, but next time I may want to change out the cadmium for a lemon yellow.

When I start a painting, I select even further from the 6-12 tubes of colors that I have in my kit, because I don't want to squeeze out any more colors than I actually need. If midway through a painting I find I need an additional color that I haven't squeezed out yet, I add that midway through.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Frank Bramley's Preliminary Sketches

Frank Bramley, Saved... 'Oft in a humble home a golden room is found "
1889, oil on canvas, 150 x 196 cm. Durban Municipal Art Gallery, South Africa
Frank Bramley's 1889 painting Saved "depicts a trio of Cornish fish-wives and their children gathered around the fire in a Newlyn cottage to await news of their husbands' boat lost at sea," according to Sothebys.

Frank Bramley Saved, 1889, Tate
"In 1888 Bramley had exhibited 'A Hopeless Dawn' at the Royal Academy, to great critical and public success. The painting showed a young woman inconsolable after hearing that her husband has died at sea, and Bramley conceived Saved as a companion piece, showing a happier ending as the old fisherman in the doorway announces the news of the men's rescue."

Frank Bramley sketch for Saved
The preliminary oil sketch for Saved "shows Bramley's rugged style, inspired by French art whilst the subject is typical of an artist who sought to show the hardship of contemporary life in Cornwall without resorting to melodrama or anecdote." (Source Sothebys)

Frank Bramley, compositional color study
Bramley's color studies make clear his design philosophy, which show great awareness of value organization, with each area treated as a relatively flat shape and a minimum of modeling. The influence of French painters, particularly Manet, would have been evident to viewers.

Frank Bramley, Every One His Own Tale, 112 by 179.5 cm., 44 by 70 in. 1885
Sothebys says that Every One His Own Tale "depicts an everyday scene in the lives of the local Cornish people, who are gathered around the fire of an inn to hear a tale of adventure and danger. Firelight glows in the sturdy iron hearth that has given warmth and comfort to generations of fishermen over the many years that the inn has stood on the Cornish coast. A young mariner, sprawled in his chair has put aside his cider to regale a spell-bound young fishergirl with his tales of the open sea. She is dressed in a white work apron and her sleeves are still rolled up from her work preparing the catch for market, but all thoughts of toil are forgotten as her imagination rushes out over the seas, inspired by the words of the young man. Her jovial grandfather, amused by her enthusiasm and familiar with the stories told by the younger members of the fleet, rests a loving hand onto hers in a gesture of pride and affection."
Previous posts about Frank Bramley 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Deadline for Spectrum 27 Is Thursday

Tomorrow, Thursday, is the final day for submitting your artwork to Spectrum 27, the annual of contemporary fantastic art. You can submit by uploading your images online, and the fee is reasonable.

The jury changes every year, and jurors are always leaders in the field of imaginative art. This year they include Alice A. Carter, Craig Elliott, Anthony Francisco, Courtney Granner, Forest Rogers, Chie Yoshii
Here's a quick link to the submissions page.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Why is Old Glass Wavy?

Old glass has wavy imperfections because of the way it was made, not because it continues to flow. That's a commonly repeated myth.

Plein air painting from Montgomery Place, New York
Very old glass was made by spinning a glass crown disk from a central rod, flattening it, and cutting rectangular pieces out of it. Later, in the early 1900s, glass was made in tall cylinders which were reheated and flattened. After the mid 20th century it has been made by floating molten glass on molten tin, which results in perfectly smooth glass. Whichever way it's made, it doesn't change shape appreciably after being installed in a window.

Antique glass, with its wavy imperfections, distorts both the view through the window, and the reflection of anything behind the viewer. Those distortions are minimal if objects (like the bust) are close to the glass, but the ripple effect grows as objects are farther from the glass. 
Read more:
The Craftsman Blog All About Wavy Glass
Corning Museum of Glass Does Glass Flow?

Monday, January 20, 2020

Foveated Rendering

In this new study, a neural network compresses video data by concentrating the fine detail only in areas where we're looking with our foveas, the central area of our vision where we perceive more information. (Link to YouTube)

There are two ways of achieving foveated rendering. One ways is to use an eye tracking system connected to a virtual reality headset to guide the reduction of rendering data by focusing the detail only where we're actually looking. 

A more primitive method is to make educated guesses about where people are likely to look in a scene and put the detail there.

Obviously this has strong applications to what we do as painters. We don't need to put detail everywhere in a picture. A painting will look super detailed as long as the fine-grained information is concentrated in the faces or other key areas. 
Facebook research paper: DeepFovea: Neural Reconstruction for Foveated Rendering and Video Compression using Learned Statistics of Natural Videos

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Leibl and Sperl: Artistic Team

Wilhelm Leibl and Johann Sperl teamed up on nine paintings. Sperl (1840-1914) painted the landscape....

Detail of painting above
...and Leibl (1844-1900) contributed the figures. Here, a local man tells a hunter where to find his quarry.

This little grouping of figures worked so well that they placed them into another landscape.

According to a catalog of German painting, "Leibl and Sperl met when they were students, but a strong friendship developed only in 1873. Leibl left Munich that year and lived in a succession of Bavarian villages. After joint painting campaigns in 1875 and 1878, they lived and worked in Bad Aibling from 1881 to 1892."

In 1914, Sperl collapsed while painting a blooming meadow and died a few days before the outbreak of World War I. His final wish was to be buried next to his friend Leibl.
Book: German Masters of the Nineteenth Century
Wikipedia: Wilhelm Leibl
Johann Sperl