Monday, December 5, 2016

Richard Johnson's Migrant Portraits

Richard Johnson has served as a war correspondent, urban sketcher, and newspaper illustrator. Now he has turned his attention to portraits and stories from the migrant experience. In a project sponsored by McKinsey&Company, he documented many of them with his sketchbook. He says:
"These are a few of my live sketches of migrants from last week in Rome and Berlin. I spent time and listened to migration stories from people who have moved their worlds for a vast array of reasons....Migrants were drawn live, wherever we happened to meet, in parks in Rome, migrant rescue centers in Berlin, or pleasant Toronto homes.... I get paid to draw pictures of real life. There should be more of us doing it. Making people look. These are my favorites."
See the gallery: People on the move: Migrant voices
Richard's website News Illustrator

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Golden Age Illustration Exhibit on Long Island

Clockwise from U.L.: Norman Rockwell, Dean Cornwell,
Maxfield Parrish, Tom Lovell
Coming up December 10, 2016 is an exhibition of Golden Age American illustration called "Norman Rockwell and Friends: American Illustrations from the Mort Künstler Collection." The exhibit, in Huntington, NY, is borrowed from the collection of illustrator Mort Künstler.

Mr. Künstler's collection is featured in an article in the new issue (#54) of Illustration Magazine.

The magazine also takes a look at the science fiction illustrations of Frank R. Paul (1884-1963) in a profile written by David Saunders. The final feature examines the pioneering illustration work by the Waud brothers, who produced illustrations of the Civil War.

The exhibition is at the Heckscher Museum in Huntington, New York on Long Island, and it will be on view through March 5, 2017.

Previously: The Action Art of Mort Künstler.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Broken Aspen

When we set up to paint, we didn't know we were standing in the middle of the moose's salad bar. Luckily they left us alone. If you're getting this post by email, you may need to follow this YouTube link to see the video.

I'm focusing on a single broken aspen, selecting the central area for a lot of careful detail, and letting the detail module broaden on the outside edges.

Let me take a question from Philip Ackermann on my Instagram page:
"I was always wondering... is there any problem with the colors becoming dull/sinking in or darkening upon drying? Let us take a value scale from 0-10. Zero is glossy black oil paint. Relative to that - where is the darkest achievable value with casein on that scale? I hope this does not seem like a foolish concern, but it really bugs me when painting with acrylics."

Phillip, that's not a foolish concern at all. I've found that with gouache or casein, the darkest darks will never be as deep as is possible in oil, where you can use glazes and varnishes and keep a shiny surface.

You can varnish casein with a brush-on or spray-on varnish like Krylon Crystal Clear and get the darks back, but I think the paint lends itself to an aesthetic that's different from the tenebrism of Caravaggio and many oil painters.

Casein seems to favor a lighter approach, with the beauty in the variety of color in the lights. Here are a few tips:
1. Try to push your values into a light group (8-9 by your scale) and a dark group (1-2).
2. Avoid middle tones. That's where the dullness comes from. Also avoid pure white and pure black.
3. Always try to get color character in your darks. Make them definitely cool or warm, and alternate the colors within the dark group.
4. To practice getting the values right, work in grisaille or very limited warm/cool palettes.

Learn more with these links
Previous blog post: My Favorite Gouache Masters
Wikipedia page on how an aspen forest is one giant organism
Our painting companion is Carl Bork
Krylon Crystal Clear
Casein Explorer's Set
Gumroad video: Casein Painting in the Wild
Watch my casein video

Friday, December 2, 2016

Natural history illustration exhibit opens in Jamestown

An exhibition of natural history illustration called Focus on Nature will open tomorrow at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, NY. 

"Since its inception in 1990, the New York State Museum’s Focus on Nature exhibit series has reflected the standards, materials, and skills of contemporary natural history illustrators. It promotes awareness of a genre of art that requires scientifically accurate illustrations such as those used in textbooks, research journals and publications, interpretive nature centers, and nature guide books. Focus on Nature XIV will feature over 60 works in a variety of mediums representing artists from a diverse geographic range. These works represent a marriage of pleasure and practicality – wherein the artist’s keen observations and sensory interpretations of their subjects are exquisitely rendered."
Two paintings of my paintings will be in the show, the images of tyrannosaurs that I did for Scientific American. There will be an opening reception on December 9, but I won't be able to attend. The show will be on view through April 9, 2017.

Charley Parker on Casein

Charley Parker of the blog "Lines and Colors" has written a well-illustrated and comprehensive post on painting in casein, as well as a review of my recent video "Casein Painting in the Wild."
"Casein is one of the least familiar of the water based painting mediums available to contemporary painters, even though it’s one of the oldest painting mediums known. Casein’s use can be reliably traced back over 9,000 years, with evidence of the formulation in cave paintings, and examples have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs from several thousand years ago....Personally, I find casein to be a genuine pleasure to work with. I like the way it flows and handles, the textural possibilities and the appealing color and matte surface in finished paintings."
Painting with Casein Paint
Review of "Casein Painting in the Wild" on Lines and Colors