Eye Candy for Today: Paxton’s The Yellow Jacket

The Yellow Jacket, William McGregor Paxton, oil on canvas

The Yellow Jacket, William McGregor Paxton, oil on canvas (details)

The Yellow Jacket, William McGregor Paxton, oil on canvas, roughly 27 x 22 inches (56 x 69 cm).

Link is to Bonham’s, which auctioned the painting in 2016 and has a zoomable version on the auction detail page. I don’t know the current location; I would assume it’s in a private collection. There is a smaller but reasonably large image online as part of an article about the sale on Antiques and the Arts (click on small image for larger version).

William McGregor Paxton was noted for his serene, contemplative paintings of elegantly dressed women in room interiors. In this beautifully realized example, you can see his fascination with the compositions of Vermeer, an interest he shared with fellow member of the Guild of Boston Painters, Edmund Charles Tarbell.

The rendering of the woman’s face and hair is a wonderful example of Paxton’s command of soft edges, the robe a study in subtle values, and the open book a tribute to the power of suggested detail.


Will Terry

Will Terry illustration

Will Terry illustration

Will Terry is freelance illustrator with a history of both editorial and children’s book illustration. His emphasis currently is on the latter, and he has worked with publishers like Random House, Simon Schuster, Scholastic, Penguin, Klutz, and Albert Whitman.

He has also created widely circulated indie ebooks and is the co-founder of the online children’s book illustration instruction program Society of Visual Storytelling.

Terry’s style has a lively cartoon-like energy combined with sophisticated rendering. I particularly enjoy his textures and theatrical lighting effects. On his website you will also find examples of sketches and drawings.

Will Terry has a YouTube channel on which he offers advice to aspiring illustrators.


Kazuo Torigoe

Kazuo Torigoe, trompe l'oeil still life

Kazuo Torigoe, trompe l'oeil still life

Trompe l’oeil (French for “deceive the eye”) — a style of painting in which the goal is to create an illusion of the presence of three dimensional objects — has a long history in European painting. While it’s tempting to dismiss it as mere amusement, I think it goes to the nature of illusion inherent in representational painting — something the masters explored long before the 20th century modernists made it central to their questioning of the nature of visual art.

Kazuo Torigoe is a contemporary Japanese painter who focuses on trompe l’oeil still life. He works in oil on copper, primarily at a small scale (roughly 4×4″ to 10×10″, or 10×10 cm 25×25 cm).

Most of the pieces currently in his online portfolio give the appearance of a shadowbox behind the frame, in which fruits, flowers or small objects are arranged.

Fascinatingly, he often incorporates trompe l’oeil “inserts” of painted frame, leaving the viewer in question as to the boundary between the physical frame and the painting of a frame. Torigoe will at times play with that uncertainty by extending objects over the edge of the trompe l’oeil frame.

Within this delightful context are his beautifully realized still life objects.


Eye Candy for Today: Near Sydenham Hill, Camille Pissarro

Near Sydenham Hill, Camille Pissarro

Near Sydenham Hill, Camille Pissarro (details)

Near Sydenham Hill, Camille Pissarro; oil on canvas, roughy 17 x 21 inches (43 x 53 cm). Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable version on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Kimbell Art Museum.

Camille Pissarro is one of my favorites among the original French Impressionist painters.

I love the sense of atmospheric distance in this painting of the countryside near London, where — following Monet’s lead — the artist moved his family to escape the violence of the Prussian siege of Paris in 1870.

The foreground trees are so roughly indicated they appear to act primarily as a framing device. My eye is immediately drawn to the row of houses in the middleground, and then to the church beyond, all of them seemingly rough smudges of color on close inspection, but resolving to a naturalistic scene from sufficient distance.

A closer look also reveals a lone figure in the left middleground. I didn’t realize until reading the museum’s description of the painting that the white plume in the right middleground is the smoke of a passing train.


Austin Briggs, The Consumate Illustrator

Austin Briggs, The Consumate Illustrator

Austin Briggs, The Consumate Illustrator

I initially encountered the work of Austin Briggs (see my previous post) in his role as a comics artist — working as an assistant to the great Alex Raymond, and eventually ghosting Raymond’s Flash Gordon newspaper strip, and taking over in a credited role on Secret Agent X-9.

Briggs’ work in comics was a sideline, however; he was primarily known as one of the great American illustrators of the 20th century. He started in advertising illustration, but moved into editorial illustration, which is where he made his mark, providing illustrations to prestigious magazines like Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and The Saturday Evening Post.

Briggs was a relentless experimenter; he was always pushing the boundaries of his approach to illustration, and expanding the language and range of that art form in the process.

I was delighted to receive a review copy of a new book from Auad Publishing that showcases the work of Austin Briggs from all phases of his career.

Austin Briggs: The Consumate Illustrator is an absolutely beautiful volume; nicely sized at 9×12″ it features 160 pages crammed with Briggs’ illustrations in both color and black and white. Briggs exceled in both areas, his black and white and tone drawings are remarkably economical given their power and expressive nature. His color work is simultaneously bold and subtle.

The range of his work, its dynamism and nuance is captured beautifully in this volume from Auad. They already have a reputation for presenting the work of great illustrators with high production values and great attention to detail and selection, and this book continues in that fine tradition.

The book includes a knowledgable and fascinating text by David Apatoff, that drew on an interview Apatoff was able to conduct with Briggs’ son, Austin Briggs Jr., who also contributed the forward.

Apatoff has two posts about the book on his own, always excellent blog, Illustration Art: here and here.

I had seen some of Briggs’ work in pieces here and there, but to see a collection like this upped my impression of his accomplishments even further. I recommend the book highly and suggest that if you’re interested, you should order sooner rather than later. Auad Publishing limits their print runs and does not do reprints.

Austin Briggs: The Consumate Illustrator is available direct from Auad Publishing for $34.95 plus $5 domestic shipping.

There is a small set of preview images on the Auad site if you click on the book cover image. I’ve added general links to Austin Briggs material below. You can find more if you do an image search for Austin Briggs.


John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Charcoal at the Morgan Library

John Singer Sargent charcoal portrait drawings

John Singer Sargent charcoal portrait drawings

John Singer Sargent is known for his bravura society portraits in oil, as well as his masterful watercolors. The latter were painted largely for his own pleasure as he traveled. The former, which were his stock in trade, came to weary him late in his career, and at one point he simply stopped doing formal portraits in oil.

He continued creating portraits, however, but in the form of charcoal drawings. These are wonderfully economical, deceptively simple but insightful and evocative of personality. They are also beautiful examples of the power of charcoal and of chiaroscuro.

The Morgan Library and Museum in New York, which has a history of presenting wonderful shows of drawings, has mounted a show of Sargent’s charcoal portraits drawings in cooperation with the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Charcoal, will be on display at the Morgan Library until January 12, 2020. The exhibition will then move to the National Portrait Gallery, where it will be on display from February 28 to May 31, 2020.

The Morgan Library has a small set of preview images, which I’ve used for my examples, above, and I’ve linked to another source on Wikimedia Commons, though the quality of the reproductions there varies.

There is a catalogue accompanying the exhibition. For those on a budget, there is an unrelated Dover paperback of Sargent Portrait Drawings.

See also my previous post on John Singer Sargent’s portrait drawings.