Nancy Depew

Nancy Depew
Nancy Depew paints landscapes, still lifes and figures. In each case her approach, although consistent in many ways, is so strongly tied to her intentions toward the subject that you might think it the work of three different artists if you didn’t know otherwise.

Her landscape paintings are usually deep within the woods, at the edge or center of streams, in thickly canopied areas occasionally punctuated with light. She works in a meticulous and refined realist style and infuses her landscapes with subtle emotions by controlling the light. The light invites you in, but the darkness is always there, at the edges. Her landscape images are at once appealing and slightly disconcerting.

Depew’s still life paintings are primarily of floral subjects. Rather than the expected arrangements in a vase, her flowers are often lying on a flat surface, as if carelessly tossed aside, or pulled up roots and all. The colors are simultaneously delicate and strong, vibrant and subdued. She often plays with a subtle spotlight effect as in her landscapes, drawing your eye to a particular point from which you then move to other areas of the image, exploring her wonderfully rendered textures and careful arrangements of tone.

There are also figure paintings and charcoal drawings on the site. Her figures are most often in curled or contorted positions, as if haunted by something or struggling with emotional isolation. Her figure paintings show a masterful command of traditional techniques and perhaps a fondness for Velázquez.

After seeing the figures your perception of her landscape and still life paintings may be altered, so I recommend viewing the figure work last.

The paintings are in oil. Unfortunately, Depew has taken down the small gouache landscapes that used to accompany the oils.

 
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Kazu Kibuishi

Kazu Kibuishi
When I started lines and colors last summer, Kazu Kibuishi’s beautiful web comic Copper was the topic of one of my first posts.

Kibuishi is the creator of several other comics, including Daisy Cutter and Clive and Cabbage and is the driving force behind Flight, a terrific series of comics anthologies. He is currently working on a new graphic novel series called Amulet. His freelance work includes clients like Walt Disney Animation, Mattel, Nickelodeon Magazine and Sony Computer Entertainment.

If you aren’t familiar with Copper, you’re in for a treat. I’ll repeat the advice I gave in my original post: go to the Copper page, look at one of the current strips to see how beautiful they are, then scroll to page bottom, start with the earliest and read them all. When you’re looking for more (and you will be) there are previews for Copper stories in the Flight anthologies here and here.

Kibuishi has recently updated his site to include a superb multi-page tutorial on the making of Copper (images above). He starts with the thumbnail sketches, moves to layout, though pencil drawing, inking, scanning and finally right down to the details of applying digital color in Photoshop. In the process he discusses his tools and materials, both traditional and digital, even to the point of posting images of his pens, papers and work space. The whole process, in fact, is supplemented with wonderfully large, detailed images. (Here is the final page for the process shown in the tutorial.)

You could consider this a mini-course in modern comic creation methods. Kibuishi points out, however, that his approach to Copper is different than his usual process when working on longer format comics. He discusses the difference and talks about how long it takes to draw a Copper page in this post on his blog.

For those in the Los Angeles area, you have the opportunity to learn about the process in person. Kibuishi is giving a Graphic Narrative Workshop at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra on Sunday, March 5th.

The latest edition of the Flight comics anthology, Flight Volume Three, is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Flight Volume 1 and Flight Volume 2 are also available, along with Kibuishi’s Daisy Kutter: The Last Train comics album.

 
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Alex Jaeger

Alex Jaeger
Alex Jaeger is a senior visual effects art director and concept designer for Industrial Light and Magic. He could easily have been a top automotive designer as well, judging by his sleekly rendered concept vehicle designs. As it is, he also gets to design spaceships, costumes, environments and all of the other cool stuff that goes with science fiction movie design.

He has worked on films like Star Wars II & III, The Perfect Storm, Galaxy Quest, Terminator 3, Pearl Harbor and Star Trek: First Contact.

Jaeger also could have been a terrific comics artist, judging by his small amount of comics work. He was the writer/artist for the beautifully drawn comics stories Star Wars: Visionaries “Entrenched”, and Virtual Encounter.

If that isn’t enough versatility, Jaeger also does conceptual architectural design for theme parks.

He often seems to make his sketches with ball point pen, filling in colors with markers or digital paint, which may be why his style translates so well into comics. He takes particular delight in vehicle designs and has a loose but sophisticated rendering style for his vehicle drawings.

 
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Rembrandt vs Caravaggio

Rembrandt and Caravaggio
2006 marks the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt’s birth, so you’re likely to hear a lot about him this year, from me and others. As part of Holland’s celebration of Rembrandt’s 400th, two of the major museums in Amsterdam, the Rijksmusem and the Van Gogh Museum are having a fascinating exhibit (at the latter space) celebrating and comparing the work of home-boy Rembrandt with bad-boy Caravaggio in what promises to the the chiaroscuro smack-down of the ages.

The Rembrandt – Caravaggio exhibit (which also has its own site here), will compare the work of the two great painters by hanging their paintings side by side, giving visitors the chance to compare their technique, subject matter and emotional impact.

Rembrandt and Caravaggio (actually Michelangelo Merisi from Caravaggio, Italy) were the two greatest masters of the Baroque period, and two of the greatest painters ever. Both were revolutionary in their way, both reached heights of success and depths of personal tragedy, both painted scenes of violence (usually biblical) as well as calmer subjects, and both developed their own powerful style and acquired painting skills in the rarified heights of supreme virtuosity.

Rembrandt was influenced by Caravaggio; he learned of the other master through Dutch artists like Honthorst and Van Baburen who traveled to Italy and carried the Italian master’s influence in their own work. It’s unlikely the influence traveled in the other direction.

Both painters were masters of chiaroscuro, the use of dramatic contrasts of light and shadow to describe form. (Chiaroscuro is Italian for “lightdark”.) You can see the technique, as well as some of the power, drama and superb skill of both painters in the images I’ve posted above: Rembrandt’s The Blinding of Samson and Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes.

Since we can’t all go to Amasterdam for the exhibit (sigh), here are some links to resources and galleries for the two artists on the web so we can do our own smack-down. Unfortunately, there’s nothing for Caravaggio like Jonathan Janson’s amazing site devoted to Rembrandt: life , paintings, etchings, drawings and self protraits. (See my post about this site and Rembrandt’s drawings.) The other major web galleries are represented in my list for both artists:

Art Renewal Center: Rembrandt
Art Renewal Center: Caravaggio

Webmuseum: Rembrandt
Webmuseum: Caravaggio

Web Gallery of Art: Rembrandt
Web Gallery of Art: Caravaggio

Olga’s Gallery: Rembrandt (contains ads)
Olga’s Gallery: Caravaggio (contains ads)

Artchive: Caravaggio (contains ads)
Artchive: Rembrandt (contains ads)

On canvas, my money would be on Rembrandt, if only because I feel a more human connection to his work than to the turbulent emotions of Caravaggio. In the ring, however, smart money would be on Caravaggio, who had a history of violent conflicts, arrests and imprisonments for assaults, and killed a man in a dispute over a game of court tennis. (He spent a couple of years on the run, during which time he did some of his finest work, and was eventually pardoned by the Pope.)

In either case we come out the winners. It’s hard to overstate the importance and influence of these two heavyweights of painting virtuosity and artistic vision.

 
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William Stout

William StoutI first encountered Bill Stout’s work in underground comix. He then cropped up on the covers of Firesign Theatre albums and in the pages of magazines devoted to automotive humor from Peterson Publishing (a publishing niche which also featured work from Gilbert Shelton and Alex Toth). By the time I found his remarkable book of dinosaur art, The Dinosaurs, I was a solid Stout fan, and the book was a big influence on me when I started doing my series of dinosaur cartoons for Asimov’s.

Stout worked with Russ Manning on the Tarzan daily newspaper strips and worked with Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on Playboy’s Little Annie Fanny. In addition to comics, album cover art and dinosaur art, Stout has done fantasy art, trading cards, movie poster art, and film design. The one common thread is that his work always stands out.

His admiration for the classic pen and ink illustrators like Joseph Clement Coll, paleo art greats like Charles R. Knight and classic comics artists like Wally Wood, Will Elder and Al Williamson serves him well. Stout has a wonderful ability to put down just the right amount of hatching, just the right spotted blacks and just the right amount of detail to make his drawings hit my visual pleasure button square on. Unfortunately there aren’t many examples of his black and white work on his site, but you can see some of it on the covers of his published Convention Sketches.

Stout’s beautiful book of dinosaur art has been reissued as The New Dinosaurs. Also in print is Abu and the 7 Marvels, illustrated by Stout and authored by Richard Matheson. There is an interview with Matheson and Stout on SciFi.com.

Delightfully, you can also get many of Stout’s convention sketchbooks as well as sketchbooks on other themes, reprints of classic stout comics, other books, trading cards and all manner of other Stout stuff directly from his site. Stout sometimes offers his original art for sale directly on the site or through eBay. He also keeps a journal on the site.

The images on his site are a bit small to get a real feeling for the quality of his work. There is an unofficial Stout gallery here with some larger images, and there are some interviews with him on the Comics Journal site.

 
 
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Robert Beverly Hale

Robert Beverly Hale by Daniel E. GreeneWhile preparing my post on Daniel E. Green I found an image of his incisive pastel portrait of Robert Beverly Hale (left).

Hale was probably the foremost teacher of figure drawing and artistic anatomy in America. He was Curator of the American Painting and Sculpture Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Instructor of Drawing and Lecturer on Anatomy at The Art Students League in New York, and Lecturer on Anatomy at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

When I was a student at the Academy I had the privilege of attending Hale’s lectures on artistic anatomy. I was pretty young at the time and unaware of Hale’s status or reputation as a teacher. To me he was just “the anatomy lecture guy”. His lectures, however, left no doubt that you were getting the real goods from someone who knew his subject in extraordinary depth. I began to realize just how good he was when I started to pick up his books.

Hale was the author or co-author of some of the best books ever written on figure drawing and artistic anatomy: “Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters: 100 Great Drawings Analyzed, Figure Drawing Fundamentals Defined,   Master Class in Figure Drawing,   Artistic Anatomy (with Dr. Paul Richer), and   “Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters” (with Terence Coyle).

All of them are excellent. Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters is my favorite book on artistic anatomy. Coyle took material from lectures by Hale, who really knew the work of the masters in addition to his knowledge of figure drawing and anatomy, included the corresponding images from Rembrandt, Rubens, Raphael, Michaelangelo, Pontormo, Leonardo, Prud’hon and others, and arranged them on opposing pages to illustrate important principles of artistic anatomy.

Hale’s quotes are accompanied by a diagram that Coyle has annotated so you know exactly what part of the master drawing Hale is referring to (image at left, below Daniel E. Green’s portrait of Hale). Wow, what a great way to learn artistic anatomy.

 
 
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