Seth Engstrom

Seth Engstrom
Seth Engstrom has worked as an art director, concept artist, layout artist and production designer for animated features like Avatar, Bee Movie, Shark Tale, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmeron, Sinbad and El Dorado.

His blog contains an interesting range of images, from color and black and white concept art from the above mentioned films to oil paintings of highway overpasses, to figure sketches in oil and location sketches in gouache.

The most recent entries are a series of monochromatic watercolor or ink wash studies of freeway ramps and overpasses, in which he seems fascinated with the geometric arrangement of the structures and the negative shapes that they carve out of the space they surround. The series includes some finished oil paintings of highway structures and airport terminals with a brusque finish to the paint surface.

Farther back in the blog posts we come across some of his film concept work, also often monochromatic, usually in wash or graphite. These are frequently highly detailed, with a great feeling of texture and dramatic lighting. Some of my favorites are his moody and atmospheric drawings of Mayan temples for El Dorado (image above, top).

As you continue down the page, you’ll encounter work from other films and then some of his oil figure studies. Don’t miss the fresh little gouache sketches toward the bottom of the page (above, bottom).

[Link via John Nevarez (see my previous post on John Nevarez)]


Leonardo’s Drawings

Leonardo's Drawings
Leonardo da Vinci is one of those artists, like Rembrandt, Monet or Van Gogh, who is obscured from us by the brilliance of his fame.

It is almost impossible to look at Leonardo without the attendant baggage of his reputation as the ultimate embodiment of the Renaissance, one of the most brilliant minds in history, and the creator of iconic images; including what is arguably the most famous painting in the World, the Mona Lisa (which I have attempted to show you with fresh eyes in my post La Gioconda (The Mona Lisa), flipped for your viewing pleasure).

Leonardo, despite his reputation as an inventor, proto-scientist, anatomist, and philosopher, was primarily an artist. To look at him as an artist, as freshly as we can, perhaps we should step back to that most basic of an artist’s skills, drawing.

Even here, Leonardo’s reputation confounds us; even his drawings are famous, from the iconic Virtruvian Man, to his drawings for flying machines, weapons of war or fantastically advanced notions like submarines and helicopters. His notebooks are the most renowned collections of sketches, drawings and notes in the world. Some of his drawings from them are among the most famous in the world and have been reproduced widely, even animated.

To most artists, drawings are an exploration of the visual world and their response to it, and preparatory studies for finished works. To Leonardo they were that and more; explorations of scientific inquiry, logistics, inventiveness, anatomical study, investigations of motion and natural phenomena, and an essential tool in his relentless quest to know and understand the world around him.

So we step back again, and try to look at his drawings simply as those of an artist, to see if we can get to know him on that level; drawing what he saw with the materials at hand, largely pen and ink and silverpoint, and less frequently, chalks.

Here, in the details of his firm line work, delicate shading and expressive textures, perhaps we can meet Leonardo the artist; observing, studying and interpreting the world before his eyes with uncanny intensity and consummate skill.

Here we see his mastery of tone, his robust draftsmanship, but ultimately his struggle as an artist, like that of most serious artists, to make his skill the measure of the fantastic wonders of the world he wanted to portray.

There is a site devoted the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci with about fifty of his drawings. A better selection, though not as easy to navigate, can be found on the Web Gallery of Art (if an image doesn’t come up in the pop-up when you click for the detail image, try reloading the pop-up window).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a selection of Leonardo’s drawings as part of a previous exhibit. I’ve listed some other online resources below.

Also, see my previous post The Face of Leonardo?, in which I talk about how Siegfried Woldhek analyzed Leonardo’s catalog of drawings to find those that most likely qualify as self-portraits.

There are a number of books devoted to Leonardo’s drawings. The inexpensive Dover edition, Leonardo Drawings, is viewable online through Google Book Search.

The second volume of the two volume set, Leonardo da Vinci, Vol I: The Complete Paintings; Vol II: Sketches and Drawings by Frank Zollner is beautiful, contains many of his well known and lesser known drawings, nicely reproduced and remarkably inexpensive. Though, not listed in print on Amazon, you can find it online, sometimes even discounted new, or even cheaper used.

Leonardo’s Notebooks, edited and arranged by Anna Suh, is more an appreciation than a catalog, and features many of his translated writings along with the sheets to which they relate.

There are numerous other books on Leonardo’s drawings and his notebooks. Many of them quite inexpensive; so don’t be deterred by the fact that Bill Gates at one point paid over 30 million dollars for one his original notebooks, the Leicester Codex, making it the most expensive book ever purchased.


Irene Maria Jacobs

Irene Maria Jacobs
Irene Maria Jacobs is an illustrator from the Netherands who works in a variety of styles and mediums.

She works in traditional media like paint and ink, as well as digital applications like Illustrator, Photoshop and Flash, frequently combining traditional and digital media in various stages of the same illustration.

Her images sometimes take the form of monochromatic drawings in which he employs calligraphic lines surrounding more softly rendered passages, To these she often adds areas of color, or even full color rendering, giving them a fascinating multi-layered feeling.

Some of her other work can be starkly graphic, with flat areas of color arranged in complex patterns, highly rendered in a more traditional approach or stylized in various ways, including faux-woodcut.

Jacobs studied fashion illustration at Art-School St Joost in Breda. She worked in Germany for a time and is currently based in Rotterdam. Her clients include WIRED, Vibe, Marie Claire UK, Toyota, Coca-Cola and ESPN.


Timothy J. Clark

Timothy J. Clark
Though he apparently paints in oil as well, I have been unable to find anything but images of watercolors while searching for pantings by Timothy J. Clark.

The watercolors are certainly enough, though. Crisp, clear, confidently rendered and deftly executed, Clark’s landsacpes, architectural views and room interiors are revealed in often theatrical compositions with dramatic casts of dark and light. At other times, his value contrasts are more muted, giving way to subtle variations in color that carry a softer emotional tone.

Clark’s website has a nice but limited selection of his paintings, but you may be able to see a mid-career retrospective of his work that has just opened at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, and will travel to the Whistler House Muesum of Art in Lowell, MA in the fall.

There is a new book accompanying the exhibit, Timothy J. Clark by Jean Stern and Lisa Farrington. Though currently out of stock at the Amazon link I’ve given, you can order it directly from the artist’s web site.

Clark is also an art historian and the author of several books on art history, including The Painting of Modern Life, a fascinating look at the changing role of painting during one of the most interesting places and periods, Paris in the 1860’s and 1870’s, when the nature of painting, its sturcture, technique and subject matter, were undergoing dramatic changes.

Clark’s knowledge of the history of late 19th Century painting carries over into his choice of inspiration, notably the American Impressionists in general and John Singer Sargent in particular.

You can readily see the influence of Sargent’s beautiful watercolors of Venice in Clark’s modern visions of the same entrancing subject in images accompanying an article on TFAOI about a previous show of Clark’s work.

[Link via Art Knowledge News]


Naoto Hattori

Naoto Hattori
Naoto Hattori is a Japanese artist based in new York. He attended the School of Visual Arts there a well as receiving a BFA in illustration from the Tokyo Designers College.

Though he lists his profession as including illustration and graphic design, most of the work that can be seen on his web site and other venues seems to be gallery art. He works in acrylic watercolor and ink, creating his dreamlike visions of imaginary worlds with rich textures and a muted color palette.

His often grotesque figures, in turn doll-like, human, alien, animalistic or plant-like in nature, grow, twist and intersect with one another, and parts of themselves, like out of control collisions of mixed DNA set on super growth mode.

Figures intertwine and morph into other shapes, hands extend, body parts distort and eyes appear everywhere as Hattori escorts you through his phantasmagoric dreamscapes.

As in the image above, Inspiration, Hattori gives us an immediate tactile sensation on which to base our perceptions, particularly in the rendering of skin and the textures of materials like wood and stone.

He playfully works in bits of pop culture in places and likes to play with historical culture, particularly the Mona Lisa, of which he has several fanciful variations (I can’t give you direct links because his site, for reasons that are lost on me, is in frames. See also my post on the Mona Lisa.)

His web site contains a small selection of available originals (though all currently sold), with larger images linked to the thumbnails. There is also a section of older sold works, that are unfortunately only shown as small thumbnails. The limited editions section contains the best images, often with nice large detail images.

I’ve listed some other places to view his work below. You might also see his list of gallery showings and check the individual galleries; there is a nice selection of large images on the Copro Nason Gallery.

There is also a selection of Hattori’s work on the beinArt Surreal Art Collective, along with an interview. Hattori is included in their collection, Metamorphosis. There is also a dedicated collection available on one of the the artist’s two web sites.

Some will, of course, find Hattori’s work more appealing than others; and its strong appeal in certain circles may be indicated by the availability in his store of specialized items like prints on perforated blotter paper.


Nancy Worth

Nancy Worth
Nancy Worth is a Colorado based artist who has been artist-in-residence at Rocky Mountain National Park and still leads an annual workshop there, as well as teaching in other capacities, including classes at the Cottonwoods Artists School. She attended Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

Despite her southwest and mountain state surroundings, the most appealing of her paintings that I have seen on the web are of Paris, particularly her paintings of the sun dappled quays of the Seine River.

Worth worked in oil originally and then moved to transparent watercolor, to which she devoted herself for a number of years.

She has recently returned to to oil painting, bringing with her the years of watercolor technique, and her oils have a fascinating quality of feeling a bit like both mediums, with some of the airy lightness of transparent watercolor next to the rough painterly textures possible only in oil.