Monday, October 24, 2016

Mønsted Up Close

Christie's in New York City is currently showing an auction preview of 19th century European painting. 

Peder Mørk Mønsted (Danish, 1859-1941)
A View of Hornbæk, 1916, oil on canvas, 18 ¾ x 34 in. (47.6 x 86.4 cm.)

It includes this painting by Mønsted, which looks tight and photographic from a distance. But up close, it's a different story.

It's not fussily rendered at all. It's a good example of loose and rapid handling, rather than painstaking definition. 

The grass textures are suggested by dragging the brush lightly over the canvas, first with the brush thinly loaded with paint, and later with thick, generous impastos. 

For these tree saplings and thick grasses, he laid down that soft base layer of blended strokes and added thin light and dark strokes on top, with a few white sparkle dots on top. 

The dark strokes seem to be painted over dry paint, so if he painted this on location, I would guess it was a three or four day painting.

For the figures and the fenceposts, his treatment is rather soft and understated. The combined effect of this variety of handling adds to an overall impression of naturalism.

The close-up details here are rather large image files hosted by Google Photo. Please let me know if the page loads OK for you and if you like the files this large.
Christie's 19th Century European Art preview will go on through October 25th. The auction will take place on October 26 in New York at Rockefeller Plaza.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Grand Central Terminal

It's raining in New York City. My train won't leave Grand Central Terminal for another 45 minutes. 

There are no benches in the main area. I sit on the terrazzo floor at the edge of one of the hallways. The window of a tourist booth glows in the semi-darkness.

The man inside the booth leans through the ornate grillwork to arrange his brochures. Tourists pause to take photos on selfie sticks or to point their cameras up toward the ceiling.

This video takes you there. I squeeze various gouache tube colors onto the mixing surface of the watercolor set: perylene maroon, viridian, cad yellow, cad red, raw sienna, and burnt umber, plus white.

On the train ride home I add some finishing touches, such as white gouache dots for the white light coming from the window.

If you're getting this blog post by email, you'll need to follow this link to see the video.
More info:
Check out my Gouache Page on Pinterest
Follow me on Instagram
Watch my Gouache Playlist on YouTube
Previous post about Gouache Materials
Photos and history of Grand Central Terminal
Gouache in the Wild tutorial video

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Spectrum Now Accepting Entries

Spectrum 24 Call for Entries Poster (detail) by Justin Gerard
The 24th annual competition of Spectrum Contemporary Fantastic Art is now accepting entries. For more than two decades, Spectrum has been the pre-eminent showcase of imaginative realism, which includes science fiction, fantasy, concept art, paleoart, comics, and imaginative sculpture. 

The jury this year includes Christian Alzmann, Laurie Lee Brom, Mark Newman, Victo Ngai and John Picacio, all leaders in the field.

It's a collection that art buyers notice. The organizers kept the entry fees low. If you get a piece selected, they send you a complimentary copy of the big book anywhere in the world.

Also, the latest annual, Spectrum 23: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art is back from the printers and now available. 

Spectrum 24 entry info

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dagnan-Bouveret's "An Accident"

Many of you expressed an interest in looking at compositions by doing pencil copies of them. Here is a painting that has always captivated me.

"An Accident" 1879 by Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret (French, 1852-1929)
at the Walters Art Gallery
The caption from the Museum's website says:
"After training with Alexandre Cabanel (1823-89) and Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), Dagnan-Bouveret turned from Classical themes to subjects drawn from everyday life. In this scene, a country doctor bandages a boy's injured hand, while his family looks on with varying expressions of concern. The artist witnessed an incident like this while traveling with a doctor friend in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. When this painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1880, it established the artist's reputation as both a perceptive reporter of rural customs and a Realist who explored the psychological states of his subjects."

Compositional study of Dagnan-Bouveret's "An Accident" by James Gurney
What struck me as I did my little pencil and gray-wash sketch was how the story is structured in terms of action and reaction. The center of the design and the area of highest contrast is the white shape of the bandage, the doctor's hands, and the boy's white shirt and face. 

Lesser lights in the design bring our attention to the faces of the people and the clock, which tells us that this event brought the work day on the farm to a halt.

Behind the white bandage is the profound black of the fireplace, and there's a remarkable use of sfumato or enveloping tone linking the surrounding dark values together. There are no edges demanding your attention unless they're important to the story.

Beyond pure design issues, I love the way the story is brought to life by character and psychology. Reaction is more powerful than action in video, and that's true here, too. Whatever injured the boy's hand — by 1872, that might have been a piece of farm machinery — we can see how bravely and stoically he is dealing with it, and we can study the variety of reactions of his parents and fellow farmhands. All the eye lines keep bringing us back to the center of interest. We can only imagine what this injury might mean to the fortunes of the farm.

This all goes back to the thoughts on the analysis of the Forsberg recently: Tonal organization isn't just a design issue, it's also a story issue.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Moby's new video

Here's a new music video called "Are You Lost In The World Like Me?" by Moby & The Void Pacific Choir with animation by Steve Cutts in a 30's retro style. The subject is a little depressing—how people are all hooked on their devices—but it's incisive satire, an apt commentary on our times.

(Link to see the video on YouTube)

Peludópolis: A Lost Animated Film

Peludópolis was an 80-minute animated film by Argentine director Quirino Cristiani. Released in 1931, it was the first animated feature film with sound.

Unfortunately, all copies of the finished film were lost in a fire, so the film is best known from this making-of featurette. If you get this post by email, you might need to follow this link to YouTube to see the video.

The film was made by a novel paper cut-out process. 

The characters and background elements were drawn with white paint on black paper. The paper cutouts were then laid out, and shot with a reversal process.
Peludópolis on Wikipedia