Saturday, March 29, 2014

Seven paintings of houses and towns by Egon Schiele [feedly]



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Renato Muccillo [feedly]

  

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Renato Muccillo
// lines and colors

Renato Muccillo
The first thing that struck me about the paintings of Canadian artist Renato Muccillo was his wonderfully subtle sense of value, as well as the range of expression he achieves with an understated use of color.

Though some of his compositions are dramatically lit, with dynamic cloud formations portrayed in a full range of values, most are subdued, with their value contrasts and color range carefully controlled.

Many of his works are scenes in which still, reflective water evokes a feeling of quiet and contemplation, sometimes with a simplicity that recalls the 19th century Luminists. He employs atmospheric perspective to give some of this works distinct planes of depth, and in others revels in the textures of his subjects, the soft edges of which are suggestionve of Tonalists like Inness.

In addition to the range of value relationships, there is an interesting range of scale at which he works. Though some of his studio pieces are fairly large, perhaps 30×30 inches (76x76cm), others are much smaller than they may first appear, attesting to Muccillo's ability to use suggestion, and let your eye fill in detail. The fours paintings above, bottom, are less then 8 inches (20cm) wide, the bottommost only 3×3 inches (8x8cm).

You will find on his website galleries of new works and archives, and one of miniatures. You can find additional work on the websites of Howard Mandville Galleries (also here), and White Rock Gallery. The latter has a short documentary video on the artist and his techniques. There is also an article about Muccillo on Southwest Art.


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Controlled Watercolor Portrait [feedly]

  

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Controlled Watercolor Portrait
// Gurney Journey


Here's an example of a well controlled watercolor portrait from 1874 by Nikolai Yaroshenko. The portrait shows his friend and fellow artist Ivan Kramskoi.

A watercolor like this would begin with a careful pencil line outline drawing on fairly smooth paper or board. You can see the untouched pencil drawing of the leg in the lower part of the picture. Following that would be light, neutral washes of watercolor, such as what you see on the hand and on the flipped-back pages of Kramskoi's book. 

He tested one of his green mixtures on the right side of the picture. It's not a bad idea to have a test-swatch section of the sketch where you can fool around with the brush and try things out.

Once the big areas are lightly covered, and still using a big brush, Kramskoi adds smaller shapes to define the folds of the sleeve, varying the colors as he goes. The pencil drawing probably didn't define these folds in much detail, so he's finding them with the brush.

Yaroshenko probably spent three quarters of his time on the face, and I would guess this study took about two to three hours in all. To get the very controlled soft transitions, he might have painted some passages where he lightly wet the surface and dropped in colors a little at a time. 

He might have lifted out areas that got too dark. Lifting out means wetting already painted surfaces and dabbing out some of the pigment with a brush, sponge or rag. 

But you have to watch out with these techniques, because applications of water over painted passages can easily mess them up. It's like dancing on eggshells.

I can't tell from this repro whether he used any gouache, but I would guess probably not. The white stripes in the tie and the shirt seem to be white areas in the paper left untouched.

In the '70s when I was becoming an artist, everyone wanted to paint watercolor "bold and free." But from my perspective, boldness and freedom alone don't have much value without the grounding of deliberate consideration and careful observation. 

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