He who knows how to appreciate colour relationships, the influence of one colour on another, their contrasts and dissonances, is promised an infinitely diverse imagery.
- Sonia Delaunay
Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.
- Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mian Situ

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:06 am

Mian Situ
Mian Situ is a Chinese-American painter who was born in Guangdong (Canton), where he trained in a realist European style. I learned from his bio that this style was introduced to China from Russia as Socialist Realism, an inheritor of the 19th Century European Academic painting traditions that flourished in Russia under the Czars.

Situ has tempered that realism with the influence of his ventures into California plein air painting, producing a blend of influences similar in approach to some of the more Academic-leaning American Impressionists, basically a painterly realism. Somehow looking through his work brings to my mind such seemingly diverse painters as William Merrit Chase, Sergi Bongart, Sargent, Sorolla and Daniel Ridgeway Knight.

Situ traveled extensively in his home province in China, studying and documenting the day-do-day look and feeling of life, traditional ways of dress and the visual texture of the time and place, which he understood was rapidly changing.

He has also made a study of the first wave of Chinese immigration to the U.S., particularly in the Chinese communities of San Francisco at the turn of the last century. This is largely the subject matter you will find in the Historical Works section of his web site. The story-telling component of these paintings give them some of the visual charm and emotional appeal of classic illustration, combined with the wonderful textures of the streets, buildings, and clothing that were present in that rough-edged time.

Situ’s fascination with the American West has carried over into his landscape paintings, which are more straightforwardly modern, but still painted with that crisp combination of realism and painterly brushwork.

It is in his Figurative Works that you will find all of these influences coming together, with images from the historical and contemporary American West and the rural communities of China; images that tell stories with dress, location, and most of all, with the emotive faces of the individuals he portrays.

It’s interesting in particular to watch what Situ does with value relationships. Many of his paintings are bathed in light and shadow, or accentuated with sharp value contrasts between shadows and brightly colored or white garments. In many others, however, he keeps his values restrained within a narrow range, for a very different visual and emotional feel.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Donato Giancola (update)

Posted by Charley Parker at 2:02 am

Donato Giancola
There are a number of science fiction and fantasy artists who will acknowledge their study of old master painting techniques and tell how it has influenced their work; there are few, however, whose work demonstrates that heritage as visibly as Donato Giancola.

Giancola is one of the finest science fiction and fantasy artists working in the field today, and to my mind, one of the best in the history of the genre. His extensive list of honors and awards, including multiple Chesley’s, Spectrum Gold and Silver Medals, World Fantasy Awards for Best Artist, the 2006 and 2007 Hugo Awards for Best Professional Artist, First Place in the Figurative category of the First International Art Renewal Center Open Salon and recognition in this year’s ARC event, indicates that not only do his contemporary artists and editors agree, but he is receiving notice in realist art circles at large. And well he should; Giancola is a terrific painter by any standard.

When I first wrote about Donato Giancola back in 2005, his web site was fairly well developed, but since then it has been expanded considerably, even if the appearance of the site hasn’t changed a great deal.

Giancola has added many new and larger images, and some paintings are accompanied by supplementary images of preliminary drawings, painted sketches and even works in progress on the easel.

Giancola’s excellent draftsmanship, graceful compositions and dramatic but refined use of color make his work a joy to look at. His blending and application of color in particular is exceptional, both in the overall composition and within the detailed rendering of individual subjects, particularly in in the portrayal of figures and faces. There his use of greens and multiple red hues give the sense of the varied and veinous character of caucasian skin found in Renaissance and Baroque painting.

He wears some of his other classical influences on his sleeve as well. His figures are painted with a chiaroscuro and drama inspired by Caravaggio and color and dynamism inherited from a study of Rubens. Some of his historical images reflect the influence of great illustrators like Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth. Most of all, though, Giancola seems enthralled with the painting mastery of Valezquez. (If you’re going to learn, learn from the best.)

Whether painting gleaming robots, intricate spaceship cockpits, towering dragons or armored warriors, Giancola’s study of old master painting gives his wildly imaginative fantasy and science fiction subjects a force and gravitas that is uncommon not only for the genre, but in contemporary illustration in general.

His site includes extensive galleries of science fiction and fantasy illustration, work done for the Magic: The Gathering collectable card game and a selection of concept art as well as a section of very nice life drawings. Unfortunately the latter two are hampered by one those annoying navigation schemes that require you to hover your mouse over little squares to view the images instead of simply clicking on them; but hey, I’ll take whatever Giancola art I can get.

The site also includes a section on technique that includes a discussion of his palette, a brief step-through of the editorial illustration process, a discussion of influences and a few step-through painting sequences (again with the roll-over dots navigation, but I’m picking nits).

In addition there is a Bio, a FAQ and a section of books, prints, card proofs and original art for sale.

The News section indicates that Giancola will be participating, along with Dan Dos Santos, Julie Bell, Boris Vallejo, Scott Fisher, Rebecca Guay and Greg Manchess, in a week-long Illustration Master Class to be held in Amherst, MA from June 16-22, 2008. (If you’re interested, act soon; attendance is limited to 90.) Special guest for the event will be Tor/Forge/Starscape Books art director extraordinaire Irene Gallo, whose informative and fascinating blog The Art Department features several mentions of Giancola.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Eric Feng

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:58 am

Eric FengEric Feng, a.k.a. Freic, draws images of what might be called constructs, combining mechanical elements with stylized forms from humans, birds, insects and other animals.

He draws them in elegant vector lines, usually monochromatic, but with delicate traceries of softer tones and transparencies, giving them a feeling of depth and x-ray dimensionality. The resulting drawings have a charm and informality that belies their vector origin.

His… entities have a charming whimsical appeal and are fascinating in their blending of the mechanical and natural forms. A bobbin-headed, Buddha-faced, doll-like character fishes out of the head of an elephantine mechanism apparently equipped for water and air travel. Owls have wheels. His Buddha-faced child wears an airplane. Mechanical birds sit in trees, and monkeys perch on the branches of a mechanical tree.

The galleries on his site, Fericstudio, are divided into Fevolution I, Fevoultion II and Inside Out. The later contains animated pieces as well as stills from a longer animation by that title. (There is a link to a video, but I couldn’t get it to come up in Safari or Firefox for Mac.)

In the still image galleries, many of the drawings have options to view enlargements or image variations.

[Link via Netdiver]

Posted in: Vector Art   |   1 Comment »

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Stephen Rothwell

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:00 am

Stephen Rothwell - Dark House Quarter
In 1934 Max Ernst published a Une Semaine de Bonté (A Week of Kindness), a Surrealist novel in collage. Ernst created his work, which I think is one of the earliest works that could be called a “graphic novel”, by painstakingly cutting out images from engraved catalog and periodical illustrations and arranging them in fascinating, sometimes jarring scenes that reel out into a dreamlike, subconscious narrative.

Modern computer technology makes the process of image based or photo-collage considerably simpler (as I can attest from my forays into X-acto knife and rubber cement collage as a teenager), but creating good, effective collage is still a challenge to the creative eye and imagination. (See my post on the remarkable photo-collages of Emily Allchurch).

Stephen Rothwell, about whom I can find little other information on the web, has created a modern collage story in a similar spirit to Ernst called Dark House Quarter. Rothwell draws on archival photographs rather then engravings, but with a similar tone of staid images from former years rendered asunder by their dream state juxtapositions.

Rothwell, like Ernst, matches his source imagery in a way that produces pictures that feel consistent and whole within themselves. Rothwell’s compostions are sometimes in sepia tones and sometimes in color that has been added to black and white images.

Also like his Surrealist predecessors, Rothwell intends for his images to provoke and disturb, but I never get the feeling he’s going for the cheap shock value present in some of the lowbrow art and so-called “Pop Surrealism” that is currently popular.

The narrative, such as it is, is more subconscious than overt. Apparently something bad has happened, or is happening, perhaps war. The images, though, are fascinating, each one a tableaux of disparate components that fit together with emotive effect.

[Link via BoingBoing]

Posted in: Outsider Art   |   2 Comments »

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Basil Gogos

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:17 am

Basil Gogos
Basil Gogos is a master of monsters.

I tend to think of him as a post-pulp pulp artist. He got to paint wonderfully lurid illustrations of famous movie monsters years after the high-period for pulp art had closed.

His delightfully ghastly portraits of Dracula, The Mummy, The Phantom of the Opera, The Metaluna Mutant, The Wolf Man and dozens of other creatures that crawled out of Hollywood’s “B” movie dungeons in the middle of the 20th Century graced the covers of issue after issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Not the least of them was Frankenstein’s monster, who Gogos portrayed numerous times and in a multitude of approaches, from horrific to sympathetic.

Famous Monsters of Filmland was edited by monster expert extraordinaire Forrest J. Ackerman and published by James Warren. Warren also published Creepy and Eerie, black and white comics magazines that featured some of amazing artists like Al Williamson, Wally Wood, Berni Wrightson, Alex Toth and others. Gogos did covers for some of those and a range of other magazines as well.

Gogos studied at The National School of Design, The School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League of New York, where he studied under the renowned illustrator and teacher Frank J. Reilly.

Gogo’s monster images are foot-off-the-brakes, no-color-barred excursions into monsteriffic sensationalism, with wonderful spooky spotlighting, eerie backlighting and great blocks of shadow defining the forms. Glaring colors wash over the looming faces like intense stage lighting, and the characters jump out at you as if screaming “Kid, you better buy this magazine if you want to see more cool stuff like this!”. Wonderful.

Gogos’ creepy creations and eerie evocations of monsters made famous in films have been collected in a new book, Famous Monster Movie Art of Basil Gogos, edited by illustrator Kerry Gammil and J. David Spurlok and with an foreword by Rob Zombie. (Gogos also did some album covers for Rob Zombie, The Misfits and Electric Frankenstein.)

The official Basil Gogos site is pretty minimal and the images are small, there are some larger ones in this page on Gathering Darkness.

Enjoy them…, if you dare!

Addendum, May 19, 2010: Unfortunately, the BasilGogos.com site is now gone. I don’t know of a replacement.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Frits Thaulow’s Water Mill

Posted by Charley Parker at 5:15 pm

Frits Thaulow - Water Mill
When I wrote about Norwegian painter Frits Thaulow back in 2006, I mentioned that he had become one of my favorite painters on the basis of a single, striking painting that is part of the Johnson Collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

That painting is Water Mill, shown above. When I wrote the article I was disappointed to note that I couldn’t find any large reproductions of this particular work on the web, and made a mental note to take a photograph on a future visit to the museum.

Sometimes my mental notes can take a while to rotate forward on the cluttered bulletin board of my overworked brain, but I was at the Philadelphia Museum the other day and happened to take my camera (like many high-end museums, non-flash photography is permitted of works in the museum’s own holdings).

Since then, the museum has posted a larger view of the work on their site, including a Flash feature that allows you to zoom in. I’ve also done something I don’t normally do and posted a larger version of my shot here. I think the colors are slightly truer in my photo, but theirs has better definition. Also mine is slightly cropped due to the fact that I neglected to take lens distortion into account when taking my shot.

I just find this work striking, and visit it almost every time I visit the museum. Thaulow is a painter who walks that line between impressionism and painterly realism that I particularly admire, and his mastery of the surface reflections and translucency of shallow water is uncanny.

For more information and links for Frits Thaulow, see my previous post. The comments section to that post has additional information about Thaulow. Of particular interest are the comments from Vidar Poulsson, the Norwegian art historian who has written the definitive books on Thaulow, including the recent Frits Thaulow. En internasjonal maler (Frits Thaulow, An International Painter). Unfortunately, there is no English translation, and the book is not easy to come by here in the U.S. (You might try Alibris.)

I also found an additional resource from a company that sells painted reproductions of master paintings, but the images they show to choose from are of the originals, including Water Mill.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kinuko Y. Craft

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:14 am

Kinuko Y. Craft
Kinuko Y. Craft takes inspiration from many strata of the history of art and weaves them together into her own intricate and varied images of fantasy worlds; and isn’t afraid to let the threads keep their connection to the original sources of inspiration.

Looking through a gallery of her work, you’ll find a fascinating display of her interest in the styles and techniques of the Pre-Raphaelites and Symbolists, Da Vinci and other Renaissance painters, Baroque portraits, the Orientalists, 19th Century Academics and some of the great Golden Age illustrators who took inspiration in many of the same sources.

At times she will playfully create a homage to a particular artist or period style, at other times she can fascinatingly intertwine several seemingly disparate sources into an uncanny whole (Henri Roussau and Titian in the same image for example).

Craft is well known as a fantasy oriented illustrator and her clients include National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, Forbes, The New York Times, and Atlantic Monthly in addition to numerous publishers and commercial accounts. She has received multiple Gold and Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators, and several Chesley Awards.

Craft has transitioned away from the demands of editorial illustration and now concentrates on her own themes, and has a successful line of reproductions and art prints that have a wide following. I believe she also continues to work on a line of children’s books in which classic fairy tales like Cinderella, King Midas and Sleeping Beauty are retold.

Her approach varies from elaborate panoramas on which she has lavished intricate detail, to quiet and emotionally focused images of single subjects, with colors alternately subdued or intense.

The image gallery on her site is unfortunately not as extensive as you might like, but it is still a fascinating stroll through not only her own fertile imagination, but also through her fascinations with great artists of the past.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sherry De Ghelder

Posted by Charley Parker at 8:49 am

Sherry De Ghelder
Sherry De Ghelder is a painter in the St. Louis area who has taken up the “painting a day” regimen, painting small postcard size paintings of everyday objects such as fruit, vegetables, candy, small toys, and so on.

De Ghelder’s latest series, which I came across by accident while browsing, is something else again.

She decided for the month of January to place her small subjects on her husband’s Marvel Comics super-hero cards when painting them. These cards have black and white images on them, and as a background for her small painted objects, are strikingly graphic.

In the image above, for example, the almost van Gogh-like roughness of the rendering of the toy shoe makes a wonderful contrast with the painted interpretation of the black ink lines on which it sits.

The subject of the black and white cards seems almost irrelevant. De Ghelder usually crops her composition in such a way that the black and white lines of the card image appear more as abstracted graphic elements than recognizable images, and she could probably as easily have made them up herself.

I was just struck by the wonderful juxtaposition of the stark graphic lines and the colorful painted images rendered on top of them.

The result has the power of both the black and white graphic shapes and the painterly realism and color of her subjects, giving the combination a unique feeling that is quite different from either of those approaches alone.

Personally, I think she’s on to something.

Display Ads on Lines and Colors (1st tier): $25/week or $75/month.

Please note that display ads for lines and colors are limited to arts related topics and may not be animated.
Display Ads on Lines and Colors (2nd tier): $20/week or $65/month.

Please note that display ads for lines and colors are limited to arts related topics and may not be animated.

Donate Life

The Gift of a Lifetime