Sunday, August 10, 2014

Camping trip watercolors

From Mundane to Brilliant: The Effects of Light [feedly]

From Mundane to Brilliant: The Effects of Light
// Artist's Network

What does "light" mean to you? Prior to speaking with artist Alain Picard, I had a somewhat shallow sense of the important role that it plays in painting. Almost every evening, I wait for the golden hour to transform the world into a glowing masterpiece, and when dew shimmers on blades of grass I can't help but stop what I'm doing and just look, amazed by what many others might take for granted. I had an understanding of light, but it wasn't complete. After interviewing Picard during his stay in Cincinnati while he was filming three new DVDs on how to paint light, I've been, well, enlightened. Here's a little glimpse at what he had to say about how light inspires him. 

Pastel painting by Alain Picard artist

After Sargent (pastel, 7×19) by Alain Picard

CH: When it comes to painting light, do you have a specific muse or inspiration? 
AP: My wife has been my muse as a figure model; she is just a wonderful subject. But I will say this: the muse is light and capturing the light is forever a fascinating process. You can actually illuminate any subject–whether it's a landscape, a still life, a figure–something that's mundane can become brilliant and incredible with a little illumination. So for me, and I really mean it, the muse is light. 

CH: In your video "The Dramatic Still Life," you take great care to arrange three apples. What's the most important part of a still life set-up, and what are some ways to play with the lighting?
AP:For me the most important part is setting yourself up for success so that you design something and then light it in such a way that you can create a wonderful, dramatic still life. I love when there are dramatic light and shadow patterns. You can pick up on some of the interesting, abstract patterns that are taking place, created by the light and shadow. 
Painting the light is such a joy when you illuminate it with a really nice, strong, single light source. In the studio, I use a spotlight with little barn doors that control where the light goes on the subject so that you can create some very dramatic lighting effects. In many respects, light can become the subject. You can illuminate and compose just about anything in a beautiful way. 

Picard's newest DVDs are in production now, and because we know you won't want to wait until later this year to begin learning from him, North Light Shop is offering a special Kit of the Month: Successful Pastel Portraits. Stay tuned–I'll be sure to let you know when our interview is available to watch on YouTube as well. In it, Picard gives advice on trying out new mediums, taking on commissioned pieces, and more. 

Seeking the light,

Cherie Haas, online editor**Subscribe to the Artists Network newsletter for inspiration, instruction, and ideas, and score a free download on Pastel Painting: 4 Articles on Pastel Basics for Artists.


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Nude Girls Outdoors and Overcast Light [feedly]

Nude Girls Outdoors and Overcast Light
// Gurney Journey

Today marks a milestone. 

This is the 3000th post on GurneyJourney. I started the blog in July of 2007 and have been posting at least once a day since then. Thanks to all of you who make this blog a part of your routine, whether you're a new visitor or a regular. Stick around and tell your friends about it--there's plenty more to come. Now, onto the post.....

Models painted by Trina Merry in front of the Guggenheim Museum and the Manhattan Bridge. AP Photo
The models in these photos are practically nude, except for body paint. Public nudity is legal in New York if it's part of a performance art piece. To camouflage her models, body painter Trina Merry had to keep backing up to see if the details aligned with the background. You can watch a video of the work in progress here.

You'll notice that no matter how she's painted, the model is always darker than the sky, and that the photos are always taken in overcast light or in open shadow. 

The picture above seems to be taken in open shadow with a sunny scene behind her. She is darker than the sky, despite the fact that, in this case, the illumination on her seems to heightened a bit by a flash or a reflector near the camera—note how the values lighten on the front of her thighs.

The light here seems to be a thin cloud layer covering most of the sky, and the model is lit by that overcast light. She's not casting a shadow, proof that she's not in direct sunlight. However the overcast isn't total: the window is reflecting a piece of blue sky. Regardless, the legs will be darker than the grass no matter what kind of paint you use on them.

Sorry, no nude here. A good rule of thumb is that in overcast conditions, a white local color facing upward will closely match the sky. Not many local colors are lighter than snow, and even bright white snow generally matches the tone of the cloudy sky.

Snow is significantly lighter or darker than an overcast sky only when the cloud layer is thin enough to permit some gradation of brightness in the direction of the sun.

Which leads to the following question: In direct sunlight illumination is there any paint white enough to offset the darkness of the shadow side? And is there a paint black enough to offset the effect of the direct sunny illumination? In other words, could you paint a ball—or a nude girl—in such a way that you could replace the gray-painted ball above, and make the ball—or the girl—disappear?

I don't think so, but I'll have to give it a try. I don't think Jeanette will let me try it on a nude girl, so I may have to settle for the ball.
If form, light, shadow, and paint interest you, you can read more about it in my book Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter, available on Amazon— or signed from my webstore.
Thanks, Evelyn Brody


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How to choose the perfect white for your Acrylic painting [feedly]

How to choose the perfect white for your Acrylic painting
// will kemp art school

Seems a little far-fetched doesn't it? That your white paint could be ruining your paintings. It's often the first tube of paint you buy and definitely the most used on your palette … yet can be the most overlooked paint in your collection. You can become transfixed by the Quinacridones, save up for the expensive Cadmiums […]

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Anders Andersen-Lundby [feedly]

Anders Andersen-Lundby
// lines and colors

Anders Andersen-Lundby
19th century Danish painter Anders Andersen-Lundby was known for his serene, atmospheric winter landscapes, often cast in the muted light of early evening.


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6 Artists [feedly]

6 Artists
// Muddy Colors

I am going to post about a six artists whose work I admire.  They are also artists that you might not be familiar with.  I say that because as I have tried to find more information about them, I haven't found nearly as much as I would have liked.  Some of the pieces here I come back to again and again to learn.

It is one of the great joys in life to discover a new artist that inspires.  If you are already familiar with all of these artists then your life is that much richer for it.  If you are not familiar with them... well just don't have a mouth full of milk while viewing or you might spray it all over your monitor.  These are spit-take worthy paintings.

Some of the images are quite large, so be sure to click through them or download to see them full-size.

Gyula Benczúr - (1844 - 1920) He was a well known Hungarian painter, especially among the aristocracy.  I had not seen his work until about 7 years ago and was blown away by the movement, the textures, the flesh, the colors...

Gyula Benczúr - Baptism of Vajk
Look at these faces, and the texture in the vestiture.  Unreal.  I hope to paint a face as wonderful as either of these.  The foreground figure is that of the Bishop Adalbert of Prague.

The painting below is titled Reoccupation of Buda Castle in 1686.  It is the kind of painting that rewards hours of viewing.  I love the different surfaces, all rendered with incredible skill.  I have also long been a fan of these massive historical paintings that were no doubt political, depicting local leaders as heroic figures from the past peeking out at the viewer astride great horses.  Look at the friar holding up his crucifix to some poor prisoner.  The feathers around the fallen standard, the bronze cannon on the lower left and the big broken wheel bound by iron in the foreground...

Gyula Benczúr - Reoccupation of Buda Castle in 1686
Two of the finest horses ever painted.  I also love the subtle but effective atmosphere he painted behind the horses and figures to help offset them and create depth.  It is almost like a glow around the figures.

Vasily Polenov - (1844 - 1927) A Russian painter who is known both for his landscapes and his biblical paintings.

The painting below depicts a scene from the bible.  It has a wonderful Russian feel to it.  The faces and the clothing is atypical of the many western european biblical depictions that seem to dominate our consciousness.

Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov - Woman taken in Adultery
Below is one of the studies he did for the figure of Christ.  I think that out of the context of the painting, many western viewers, including myself, would not have identified who it was depicting.  I love the strong, decisive brushwork.  It reminds me of N.C. Wyeth.

Gustav Bauernfeind - (1848 - 1904)  I first came across Bauernfeind in the now wandering collection of the Dahesh Museum.  He was a German painter, considered to be the premier Orientalist of his country.

This painting, Jaffa, Recruiting of Turkish Soldiers in Palestine, depicts conscripts being taken off to join the army.  Wives and family wave them off.  This is a great example of the power of painting from life or from an actual location.  There are so many details here that could just not be imagined.  Look at the complexity of the sea wall, slowing leaning and eroding away.  The way the steps leading down to the beach have been worn in the middle, irregular in size.  The water is painted with brevity, but accuracy.

The impression of light being cast and occluded is subtle and impressive.  Look at how there is a soft shadow cast by a cloud out of view that darkens the ships in the middle background, creating a good backdrop for the brighter, closer passages.  There are many faces and stories depicted within the painting.  Look at the desperate mother in the water, holding her infant child out for his father to see as he is hauled out to sea.  I love paintings with a great stories behind them.  This painting makes me want to burrow into a good history book.

Gustav Bauernfeind - Jaffa, Recruiting of Turkish Soldiers in Palestine
More information about this painting on the Dahesh site here.

José Casado del Alisal - (1832 - 1886) - Spanish painter, known mostly for his historical paintings.  Difficult to find good information on this artist, at least in English.

It doesn't matter though, because the painting below needs no translation.  Bad things are afoot and the guys on the stairs can see that heads have rolled, been picked up and hung like some kind of apocalyptic Christmas ornament, and if they don't shape up they might just be next.

José Casado del Alisal - Bell of Huesca
The old guy on the left is Ramiro the Second of Aragon, a monk with an agenda.  He inherited the kingdom of Aragon from his late brother and desired greater obedience from the nobles in his kingdom.  He did what any rational mad monk would do, he cut the heads of 12 of them and used the last one's head as the clapper of a symbolic bell that when "rung" would be heard throughout his kingdom.  If that didn't work, I am guessing that massive dog on the chain was going to bite some faces off.   

These are the faces of men reconsidering dissent and pondering a change of undergarments.

Lionel Royer - (1852 - 1926) - French painter and student of Bouguereau and Cabanel.

I would really love to have a book on Royer.  It is really difficult to find good reproductions of his work, and I suspect that there are some real masterpieces out there that have yet to see the internet.

The painting below is titled Vercingétorix Throwing his Weapons at the Feet of Caesar.  I think it is a brilliant composition, the mighty Vercingétorix carries the whole left half of the painting while Caesar is surrounded by his enrourage in order to balance out the image.  I love the use of atmospheric perspective here, especially on the figures on the right.  Look at the higher contrast, saturated figures in the foreground.  By the time we get to the commanders and soldiers behind Caesar, the value and saturation ranges become much more compressed.

This painting is just cool.  Look at that horn in the foreground on top of the shield.  Even the horse is bowing to mighty Caesar.  The profile of the Roman soldier on the right with the stick to the throat of the prisoner on the ground is classic.  You could cut Carrera marble with a nose that strong.

 Lionel Royer - Vercingétorix Throwing his Weapons at the Feet of Caesar
Another beautiful painting by Royer.  I am drawn to the rich palette of this piece.  The face of the child is a little too stylized/sentimental for my taste, but it is still gorgeous.  It reminds me a little of Frederick Leighton.  Again, the rich reds and deep blues and greens against the pale yellow sky and skin makes me want to stop writing and go paint.

Lionel Royer - Madonna and Child

Charles-Amable Lenoir (1860 - 1926) - Alright, you have probably heard of Lenoir or at least are familiar with his work.  I was originally just going to have the five artists above, but Lenoir has been my desktop wallpaper for the last month or so and I thought I should share on the chance that some of you might not be familiar with his work.  Like Royer above, Lenoir was a student of Bouguereau.  Like Bouguereau he won the Prix de Rome and continued to receive praise and awards at the Salons in Paris throughout his career.  I love the variety of texture and play of light and dark in his work.  He was much looser in places than Bouguereau, but could really finish off a surface as well.

Charles Amable Lenoir - Odalisque

I admire the contrast in detail in the painting below from the background to the figure.  Just enough information was painted in to frame the woman.  I also am drawn to the way he chose to light her face.  Most of the face is in shadow, with just a spot on the nose, and a gradient on the cheek and neck.  Her eyes are left to peer out from shadow at the viewer.  For me her gaze switches from one of sorrow, to longing, to seduction.

Charles Lenoir - A la Recherche du Temps Perdu
I wonder what book she is reading?  It appears she has stopped reading to engage us, the viewer.  Her finger still marks her place.  It might be a series of book of the same name as the painting, by Marcel Proust, A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (translated to In Search of Lost Time or To the Return of Times Lost).  The book was a novel released in seven volumes  The second volume, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, is a possible source.  It was released in 1919.  I could not find when this piece was finished though, which would be telling.  If anyone knows, please let me know in the comments.

It is a beautiful work, one that I plan to study further either doing a copy, or emulating in a personal piece.


I really enjoy writing about paintings.  It find that I discover more about them when I do so.  I also find that I commit them to memory more thoroughly.  I highly recommend it.  Take one of your favorite works and write a few paragraphs about why you like the piece, allowing your eye to move around the work and describe what you see.

Thanks for taking a look at these artists and some of their paintings with me.  If you have any other wonderful artists that you have come across that you think might not by widespread, please share in the comments so that we can all enjoy!


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Mead Schaeffer [feedly]

Mead Schaeffer
// Gurney Journey

Mead Schaeffer (1898-1980) was a Golden Age illustrator whose work evoked a lush world of drama, intrigue, and romance. His early oil canvases are reminiscent of N.C. Wyeth, Dean Cornwell, and his teacher, Harvey Dunn, which makes him a grand student of Howard Pyle.

In his paintings for the 1928 edition of The Count of Monte Cristo, he distinguished himself with his carefully composed shapes of tonal values, his handling of light, and his treatment of color.

In his long career, his style evolved with the times, becoming more photographic and more concerned with contemporary themes. He was good friends with Norman Rockwell, who lived in the same town of Arlington, Vermont. 

He was active during World War II as a war correspondent, and several of his 46 Saturday Evening Post covers showed men in uniform.

Schaeffer will be one of the artists featured in an upcoming exhibition of "Harvey Dunn and His Students," at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, November 7, 2014 through May 30, 2015.

More good news for Schaeffer-o-philes is that the current issue of Illustration magazine has a feature on Schaeffer with 57 color reproductions, along with a biography.

Schaeffer is featured in one of the chapters in the book Masters of American Illustration: 41 Illustrators and How They Worked by Fred Taraba


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Michael J. Lynch [feedly]

Michael J. Lynch
// lines and colors

Michael J. Lynch
Colorado painter Michael Lynch paints both in the studio and on location, but even his studio work has the kind of vibrant immediacy associated with plein air painting.

Lynch's paintings, particularly his smaller plein air pieces, have a wonderful surface character — in which the painter takes evident joy in the placement of his brushstrokes, weaving them into a textural tapestry that forms the finished work.

Frustratingly, for a painter whose work has such an painterly appeal, the reproductions on his website are inexplicably small.

Fortunately, you can see some of his work reproduced somewhat larger on the Gallery 1261 site. (Click again on the image detail page to see the larger versions. Note the link to the "Artist's Archive Page" for more.)


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Hello! I read your FAQ and I hope that you havent answered this question before, if so Im sorry! Anywho I was wondering how do you shade / highlight your pictures. Ive been incredibly frustrated with my drawings lately to the point that I wont even finish a drawing. Im forcing myself too but Im still not satisfied. Thank you for all your help! <3 [feedly]

Hello! I read your FAQ and I hope that you havent answered this question before, if so Im sorry! Anywho I was wondering how do you shade / highlight your pictures. Ive been incredibly frustrated with my drawings lately to the point that I wont even finish a drawing. Im forcing myself too but Im still not satisfied. Thank you for all your help! <3
// Art and Reference point

Step by step, this is how I did it:

1. I had a sketch on a hot pink layer. I duplicated the sketch, turned the luminescence down, merged it all together. Slapped on a base skintone, merged that with the sketch.

2. I colorpicked a shading tone from the linework that ended up being like a vaguely purply-peach color. I made a little palette on the side for colors I'd be working with. Also, I'm painting all of this entirely on one layer so that's something to keep in mind.

3. Grabbed some more colors for my shading palette from the linework + base color layer. Started playing with highlights as well.

4. Started blocking in where I wanted darker colors for the shading and kept on blending the highlights.

5. blend blend blend blend colourpick blend blend colourpick blend etc etc ad nauseum

6. thought the colours were looking a little washed out, so i duplicated the layer, set the duplicated layer to shade, turned it down to like 11% opacity, hue shifted it to be more peachy/pink.

7. decided it was TOO pink, hue shifted it to be more neutral/yellow.

8. shade shade shade blend blend colourpick define highlights define details define define define. Opacity of my brush was varying a LOT here, like fluctuating every 7-10 strokes. 


10. more defining. I narrowed the bridge of his nose a little and added more highlights.

11. LES YEUX! Deux yeux. Also more shading, hon hon hon.

12. Eyes are done. i think that's the only thing thats changed here.

13. Alors, he is looking like he's got some life in him now. This was a multiply layer, 100%, veeeery pale pink fluffed out with white.

14. And we're done. This layer was a little bit of highlighting on the apples of his cheeks, around his eyes a bit more, I think I adjusted the weird neck-saddle shadow he's got going on there, annnnd that's about it!

Hope that helped! 


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Eye Candy for Today: Dean Cornwell’s artist and model [feedly]

Eye Candy for Today: Dean Cornwell's artist and model
// lines and colors

The Artist and His Model, Dean Cornwell illustration
The Artist and His Model, Dean Cornwell

This beautiful piece by the brilliant American illustrator Dean Cornwell was in a private collection for years, and was sold at auction last October.

The Heritage Auctions site has details.

For those who don't have a Heritage account, you can see the image in high resolution (2.8mb) through the link above for a Russian blog. I'm otherwise unfamiliar with the blog, so surf with that in mind.


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