Saturday, June 12, 2021

Fantasy Art Exhibition Opens in Massachusetts

After a year's delay, the exhibition "Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration" opens this weekend at the Norman Rockwell Museum. 

Standing: Laurie Norton Moffatt, director of the Norman Rockwell Museum, Scott Brundage, Sara Frazetta, James Warhola, Charles Vess, Thomas Blackshear, Ruth Sanderson, Scott Fischer, Alessandra Pisano, James Gurney, Jeff Echevarria, Mark Zug, Bob Eggleton, Scott Gustafson, Gary Gianni, Tony DiTerlizzi. Front row: Tyler Jacobson, Curator Jesse Kowalski, Greg Manchess, Donato Giancola, and Rebecca Guay.

For most of us, it was our first time venturing out of our lockdown isolation, and it felt good to be able to shake hands and see old friends again. 

Here I am with James Warhola, who painted the paperback cover "Magic for Sale" below.

Rather than setting up the exhibit chronologically, curator Jesse Kowalski arranged it thematically, with rooms full of new and classic paintings devoted to mythic themes, such as dragons, faeries, mermaids, and monsters. 

Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921), Winged Figure, 1889, Oil on Canvas, 51.5 x 37.75 in.

Artists also include Arthur Rackham, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Gustave Doré, NC Wyeth, Herbert Draper, Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, Frank Frazetta, Winsor McCay, Jessie Willcox Smith, Joseph Clement Coll,  Willy Pogany, J. Allen St. John, Dean Cornwell, Virgil Finlay, Hal Foster, and many more.

The catalog produced by Abbeville, includes 180 images, mostly in color, with essays by Alice Carter, Stephanie Plunkett, and others.

Exhibition "Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration" will be at the Norman Rockwell Museum through October 31, and then will travel to two other locations in the USA.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Sunken Monuments


A row of monuments half sunken in a Dinotopian canyon shows a partnership between humans and saurians ancestral to Abu Simbel.
From Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time.
Previous post about the inspiration for the canyon worlds of Dinotopia.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

William James Müller

William James Müller (1812-1845) was an English painter whose watercolors and oils were inspired by earlier masters such as J.M.W Turner, Claude Lorraine, and Jacob van Ruisdael

His father was a Prussian scholar who curated the Bristol Museum. 

He studied botany and natural history but later gravitated toward art. His early paintings focused on the scenery around Gloucestershire and Wales. 

By 1834 he toured France, Switzerland, and Italy. A few years later he toured Athens and Egypt, sketching the people and landscapes along the way. Sadly, sickness took his life in his early 30s.
Wikipedia on William James Müller

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Jeanette's Sketches in Line and Wash

In this new YouTube video, my wife Jeanette takes us through some of her sketches using the line and wash technique (direct link to YouTube).

Thanks to Kathleen Harte-Gilsenan and the students at Millburn High School for asking her to share her experiences with pen and watercolor.   

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Lego Build of Waterfall City

Brick E. McBrickface created this motorized Lego build of Waterfall City.

"At 2,650 pieces and measuring 27x40 cm, this build is designed at a realistic scale for production."

"The set can be displayed from any angle as a collector's piece, while the playable features invite interaction."

Technic lovers will appreciate the 33 gears, 36 treads, and various axles included."

"Animating the scene is a single Powered Up Move Hub which activates a hidden system of gears and treads that simultaneously drive the flowing river, 3 rolling falls, and the spinning One World Globe and the waterway passage underneath it."


Monday, June 7, 2021

Paint What You See, Or What You Think You See?

On YouTube, Grisaille asks: Should you "paint what you see, not what you think you see,... or Paint what you think you see, not what you see?"

When I was first learning to draw I found the phrase very helpful: "Draw what you see, not what you think you see." That was the stage where I was realizing, for example, that I had to draw an ellipse even though my brain was telling me a given wheel was circular.

Artists with more experience might reframe that question to ask if we should draw what we actually see, or consciously alter it to suit our aesthetic or narrative impulses?

In that case, it depends what you want to accomplish. Most of the time when I'm painting on location I enjoy the challenge of getting beyond artistic habits and trying to paint something without making any changes or "improvements." If something is awkward, so be it.

But there are times I want to visualize a mental image or preconception. I might want to exaggerate the clutter of a kitchen or make a person look especially tired. In that case I allow the mental image to guide my choices, and I regard the scene as a source of raw materials. I don't feel accountable to painting what I see but I paint what I wish I was seeing.

There may be a synthesis between these two apparently contradictory impulses. Try to be clear in your mind about what feeling or idea attracted you to a subject, and focus on conveying that emotion as you paint, as much as possible without consciously altering anything that you see.  

Anyway, getting your thinking straight before you start painting is at least as important as your paint and brushes, because those initial choices determine all the other choices.  

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Ian Hubert's 'Dynamo Dream'

Ian Hubert spent about three years developing this short film called Dynamo Dream

The first episode called Salad Mug, is set in a lived-in science-fiction future. 

Hubert is a 3D digital artist, who creates his worlds mostly all by himself, but the visual effects are as impressive as a Hollywood film.

I was attracted to the relaxed tone and pacing, but I just wish it started immediately with stronger visuals and a clear, engaging story.


His minute-long "Lazy Tutorials" are popular with digital artists, but they might make sense to traditional painters as well.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

World of Dinosaurs Stamps, Signed

These may be the only US postage stamps that were painted outdoors--at least partially outdoors. 

To render the ferns, I took the oil painting outside into the forest, set up on the French easel.

We've got a few copies left of the original signed collectables that were produced by the US Postal Service. Item consists of a full pane of the original stamp, signed and matted, with a Certificate of Authenticity.

This is a perfect addition to a home office or a the room of someone who loves science. Note: supplies are limited.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Firmin Baes

Firmin Baes, Sunlit village at Faux-les-Tombes, pastel on paper; 44.5 x 60 cm

Firmin Baes (1874-1943) was a Belgian painter who specialized in pastels.

Firmin Baes, De schoonmaakster, 1910

He developed "a pastel technique on canvas which contributed in large part to his fame. The new techniques allowed the application of a powder, with the tip of the thumb or the little finger, to creates a discreet or vigorous aspect to the tone as well as a velvety delicacy to his compositions."

Firmin Baes, Sheaves of Corn

Book: Exposition Firmin Baes, Galeries de l'Art Belge 1900 [Leather Bound]
Wikipedia on Firmin Baes

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Surrounded by Memory

This man was sitting by himself at the diner. I liked the cool colors of the walls and his jeans, in contrast to the warm-colored notes of his scrambled eggs and his face.

The painting is gouache and watercolor in a watercolor sketchbook and it took about an hour.

The words written around him with a fountain pen are a short poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory—
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the belovèd's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021


The term sfregazzi is an Italian term used in oil painting to refer to shadows applied as a glaze with the fingers over flesh tones. It is accomplished by gently rubbing shadows over lighter areas. Pictured: Rembrandt self-portrait.
More at Circolo d'Arti / La tecnica di pittura ad olio di Rembrandt

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Jean-Baptiste van Moer

Jean-Baptiste van Moer, Estudio del pintor, 1854.

Jean-Baptiste van Moer (1819-1884) was known for his realistic paintings of his native Brussels, and of Venice, which he visited starting in 1856. 

Queen Victoria admired his paintings and commissioned several of them.