Thursday, July 16, 2009

Midday Near Moscow

Russian landscape painter Ivan Shishkin (1832-1898) painted Midday in the Outskirts of Moscow after doing countless plein-air studies in the countryside.

According to Henk Van Os, “In it laborers are seen returning home through the fields of rye at the close of day. In the distance we see houses, a country church and a winding river….The painting is an awesome experience of the liberating effect of space.”

The painting dates from 1869, soon after the group of painters called the Peredvizhniki (Itinerants or Wanderers) declared independence from the constrictions of the academies, and brought their work to the common people by means of traveling exhibitions.

Few in Russia had painted landscape on such a grand scale before—and rarely with such deep feeling. The work had a galvanizing effect on later generations of Russian landscape painters, who realized all at once the potential for landscape to be the vehicle for expressing the deepest stirrings of the human soul.
160 images by Ivan Shishkin at The, link.
Essay by Henk Van Os appeared in in the exhibition catalog Russian Landscape, (2003), edited by David Jackson, link.
Wikipedia on Ivan Shishkin, link.
Illustrated essay, "The Immortal Itinerants," link.


Steve said...

Wow! Thanks for introducing this artist to me.

Mary Bullock said...

Thanks for the links to this artist's work - really beautiful!
And I love how he painted half a cloud at the very top of the painting - it enhances the feeling that the sky just goes on and on.

Kendra Melton said...

What a beautiful way to start a day :] The Russians know their paint. One of my all time favorite's is Isaac Levitan's Lake. Those complements just sing.

S. Weasel said...

Apologies for dropping this in the most recent thread, but I don't know if you monitor old posts. I'm just awful at architectural rendering and I've recently moved to a heart-stoppingly lovely English town. I'm trying to give it another go. After reading this post, I ordered the combined pencil instruction books of Ted Kautzky (gosh, he's good, isn't he?).

I'm a little confused about the particulars. For example, I understand about sharpening the pencil down to a flat, but it's unclear from the text whether he's then holding like a pencil or like a charcoal stick. Or how much of a preliminary underdrawing he does.

If you're stuck for a post some time, could you touch on how you've adapted Kautzky's approach?

Unknown said...

THat is stunning - thanks for sharing this artist.

Morgen said...

I love it! Makes me want to paint a lanscape right now! He is an excellent artist - thank you for sharing. I love your work and your blog. said...

thanks for the reference of this artist, I like his foliage on all of his paintings,I also like how he place the light on certain little areas on many of his paintings. Is like he does a little inpresionistic areas inside of a classical overall .

Daroo said...

I find Shishkin's etudes interesting too -- especially when you compare them to the final painting.

S. Weasel -- After Jim mentioned the Ted Kautzky book in about 5 different posts throughout GJ I finally got the hint and bought it too. Pretty great and its a nearly 70 year old book.

It WOULD make an interesting future post -- but my understanding is that he's holding it overhand like you would whilst writing.

I think you could do the same technique underhanded but the angle of the chisel point would have to be steeper or flatter depending on your point of view... Just sharpen it on the sand paper block while holding it underhanded at the correct angle.

As for the underdrawing, Kautzky says do it lightly in pencil first (an H or 2H might help) Kautzky probably just did the bigger shapes then continued thinking "drawing" as he rendered. I would need to under draw more completely and then go back and render over top of that to achieve that kind of design.

But I'm just guessing -- just started to play with the technique.

S. Weasel said... long as we've hijacked the blog, Daroo (sorry, sorry)...

The confusing thing is, the illustrations show the pencil mark as being made left-to-right -- and he speaks in the text of rocking the pencil toward and away from you to vary the mark. But then the exercise below appears to show vertical strokes.

I know what you're thinking -- shut up and draw already. But it's not often I try absorbing someone else's instructions exactly.

Also confusing? The 1979 edition of the combined pencil books left out the first page, which was supplied as a loose leaf, and then printed page 14 where page 10 was supposed to be (and vice versa). And that's lesson one. My brain hurted.

Anyone reading who's thinking of this book (and it's both good and out of print), avoid the '79 edition.

James Gurney said...

Daroo and S.Weasel, you guys have read Kautzky's book closer than I have. I think I just used a wide lead soft pencil like an Ebony and brought along a fine sandpaper and an Xacto knife, back in the pre-911 days when you could.

Then I shaved the lead down to a flat screwdriver point and dragged it vertically using the normal pencil grip. Not sure if TK did it that way. For normal shading or linework, I switched to another pencil. I might have whittled a few different pencils into various chisel widths to fit certain sizes-- bricks, windows, sign lettering, etc.

Tristan Alexander said...

This is amazing. I have wanted to do something like this of my home state, Illinois. I have lived in Maryland for 24 years but every time I go back home to Illinois, the vastness of the sky takes my breath away and I want to paint it. Funny how in the 20 some years I lived there it just never accured to me to paint the sky!

Tim said...

My father saw that show, and purchased the book and a nifty audio CD that came with it with classical music fitting for listening to whilst reading the book, and its been my main problem solving book when it comes to my own pleine air painting. ( and the best intro to the wanderers i could get) the main reason Ive fallen in love with Russian pleine air artists. He has also visited st petersburg, the tretyakayov and the other art museums in Moscow. needless to say my dad has a massive art interest, very lucky for me who gets to drool over his books!