Those who are not conversant in works of art are often surprised at the high value set by connoisseurs on drawings which appear careless, and in every respect unfinished; but they are truly valuable... they give the idea of a whole.
- Sir Joshua Reynolds
We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.
- Anais Nin


Thursday, November 19, 2009

“Gifted Artist”

Posted by Charley Parker at 12:45 pm

Gifted Artist charity auction:
Gifted Artist” is a charity art show and auction to benefit the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital in Loma Linda, California.

The event will be held on Saturday December 19th from 5 to 10pm at the CCAA Museum of Art in Rancho Cucamonga.

The auction features work by a long list of concept artists, character designers and illustrators from the film and gaming fields, as well as children’s book illustrators and other artists.

There is a blog devoted to the event that shows some of the art that will be up for auction, and will be adding more as the event approaches.

The list of participating artists includes a number of artists that I have featured on Lines and Colors. Here are some links to my posts: Alina Chau, Bill Perkins, Chris Appelhans, Iain McCaig, James Paick, Justin Gerard, Khang Le, Mike Hernandez, Peter de Séve, Robh Ruppel and Shaun Tan.

The Gifted Artist blog lists all of the artists, with links to their web sites or blogs in the sidebar. There are also posts of a flyer (front and back) that gives more details about the auction and event.

(Images above: Erik D. Martin, Uwe Heidschoetter, Pascal Campion, Martin Hsu)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

25th World Wide SketchCrawl

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:44 am

24th World Wide SketchCrawl: Gary Amaro, 4ojos, Guillaume Bonamy, Natsumi TsuchidaWhile I’m on the subjects of sketching and anniversaries (see my previous post about Urban Sketchers), this Saturday marks the 5th anniversary of the World Wide SketchCrawl.

SketchCrawl is a drawing marathon, originally conceived by Pixar storyboard artist Enrico Casarosa, and modeled as a pubcrawl, but with art materials. Artists gather in groups in various cities around the world and move from location to location within their respective cities, drawing what’s around them.

The results are often posted in blogs, Flickr groups and in the SketchCrawl forums.

This Saturday, November 21st, 2009, is the 25th World Wide SketchCrawl. You can look through the forum posts to see if anyone is organizing a SketchCrawl near you. Anyone can participate, at any level of sketching experience, including complete novice, and you can sketch with the group for a much or as little time that day as you choose.

Here are the guidelines for participation.

Prior to the event, the forum posts are about the locations and times of the events in various cities. After the event, look for the posts labeled “Results” to see comments about the event, photos and sketches from the day.

(Images above, from SketchCrawl 24, September, 2009: Gary Amaro, San Francisco, CA; “4ojos“, Ribafrecha, Spain; Guillaume Bonamy, Natsumi Tsuchida, Tokyo, Japan.)

James Tissot: “The Life of Christ”

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:37 am

James Tissot: The Life of Christ
As I mentioned in an earlier post, French painter James Tissot, known for his radiant images of turn of the century high society in Paris and London, devoted much of his later work to religious themes.

He created an ambitious series of 350 watercolors depicting the life of Christ, for which he prepared by traveling to the Middle East to study the architecture, landscape, costume, customs and history of the region. Where most artists of his time would take great liberties in their interpretation of the settings for Biblical events, Tissot endeavored to find and portray the era with as much historical accuracy as he could bring to bear.

At the urging of John Singer Sargent, the series was acquired by the Brooklyn Museum in 1900. The museum (which is a terrific and underrated museum, whose star is unfairly eclipsed by more famous museums in nearby Manhattan) has mounted an exhibit of 124 watercolors selected from the set. Entitled James Tissot: “The Life of Christ”, the exhibit runs through January 17, 2010.

There are a few exhibition highlights on the site, as well as a multimedia sketchbook (which is unfortunately hampered by one of those cutesie-clever page-flip widgets). A catalog from the exhibition is available.

[Via Art Knowledge News]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Urban Sketchers turns 1

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:56 pm

Urban Sketchers: Matt Jones, Thomas Thorspecken, Benedetta Dossi, Gerard Michel, Stephen Gardner
Urban Sketchers, a terrific group sketchblog that I wrote about previously here and here, celebrated its first year anniversary this month.

Urban Sketchers is devoted to drawing on location in urban environments, and it has come a long way in the year since it was established by Gabi Campanario, an illustrator and journalist based in Seattle, Washington.

The blog now boasts a long list of invited corespondents from numerous cities and countries around the world, with a delightfully broad range of styles, mediums and approaches. Their first anniversary press release has the stats.

With its wide base of contributors, Urban Sketchers is updated often, making frequent visits rewarding. There is always something new and interesting.

You can browse by artist, listed in the left sidebar by name and home base location, or by subject tags on the right sidebar.

If you want to just flip through the entries in reverse chronological order, look for the small “Older Posts” link at the bottom of the center column.

Going forward, the group plans to formalize as a nonprofit organization, raise money for scholarships and grants, publish a book and organize international meetings; all in support of promoting location drawing, and enabling others to “See the world, one drawing at a time”.

(Images above: Matt Jones, Thomas Thorspecken, Benedetta Dossi, Gérard Michel, Stephen Gardner)

Friday, November 13, 2009

NuFormer 3-D Building Projections

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:56 pm

NuFormer 3-D Building Projections
NuFormer is a design firm based in the Netherlands. They have developed a computer-based projection system for creating the illusion of moving, 3-dimensional alterations to the surfaces of buildings.

The results are striking, as you can see in this video on Vimeo. Bear in mind that these are not CGI in the usual sense, the computer imagery is in the projections on the buildings, not in the manipulation of the video images themselves. This is essentially what you would see if you were standing on the street in front of the buildings.

Take note of what each of the two buildings actually looks like early in the video, as their actual appearance will be delightfully called into question in the course of the display.

[Via Metafilter]

Posted in: AmusementsAnimation   |   2 Comments »

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gennady Spirin

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:57 pm

Gennady Spirin
Russian born illustrator Gennady Spirin studied at the Moscow Art School and the Academy of Arts, as well as the Moscow Stroganov Institute, and currently resides in the U.S.

Spirin is the author and illustrator of a number of children’s books for which his illustrations have garnered awards in Europe and the U.S.

Spirin blends imagery and painting styles from the Renaissance with a modern design sensibility, and, to my eye, seasons it with influences from great turn of the 20th Century illustrators like Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Walter Crane, Kay Neilsen and Howard Pyle.

His meticulously detailed images are muted in color, rich with texture and marvelously evocative of other times and places. They often combine pictorial and decorative elements, in a way suggestive of both the Renaissance and Art Nouveau artists like Alphonse Mucha (also bringing to mind Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin). There is a quality of finesse and attention to pictorial unity that gives Spirin’s paintings a quiet strength, drawing you in and guiding your eye through through the composition.

His work can have a feeling of timelessness, as though it was situated outside the stream of time and plucking elements from it at will.

(As a side note, it occurs to me that contemporary illustrators like Olga Dugina and Andrej Dugan may have been influenced by Spirin.)

Unfortunately I don’t know of a definitive repository of Spirin’s work on the web, or an official site, but I’ve gathered what resources I could find for you below.

[Suggestion courtesy of Don Green]

Addendum: another good resource was added to the list in the form of this blog post, with several of Spirin’s illustrations; which was found for us by Tat, who searched for Spirin’s name in Russian. (See this post’s comments.)

Posted in: Illustration   |   13 Comments »

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:26 pm

Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic
Anyone who has read my previous post about comics art great Al Williamson, knows that he is high on my personal list of adventure comics artists, but I have to admit that even I was surprised by the new book from Flesk publications, Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic, that collects all of his art for several comic book incarnations of Alex Raymond’s iconic space hero.

I had seen a few of the the stories collected here, but by no means all. The 5 or 6 collections I have of Williamson’s work hinted at even more terrific Flash Gordon pieces by Williamson, with short excerpts and individual panels, but until I got this collection I didn’t realize how consistently amazing his Flash Gordon work was.

In terms of his wildly imagined and intricately detailed science fiction settings, it easily rivals his stunning work for the classic EC Comics stories from the 1950′s, but the sophisticated renderings of figures and faces from some of the later stories bring with them the elegance of his work from the Secret Agent Corrigan strips.

In many ways, Williamson was the inheritor of Alex Raymond’s role as one of the artists who carried the superb draftsmanship and refined pen and ink techniques of the turn of the century illustrators into the 20th Century world of adventure comics

The book collects three periods during which Williamson worked on Raymond’s most recognizable character, from the King Comics stories of the 1960′s, the 1980′s adaptation of the campy motion picture (of which it was by far the best aspect) and the easily missed Marvel Comics miniseries from 1994, as well as including much supplementary and related art in its 256 pages.

I have Williamson’s 1980′s Flash Gordon movie adaptation as published by Golden Books, in which the printing is terrible and the art is lost in sloppy over-saturated color and poor reproduction values in general. I didn’t realize how beautiful the art for that story actually was until I saw the same story printed here in it’s original glorious black and white.

This kind of comic art, when printed in black and white, is like having a book of classic pen and ink illustration that happens to tell terrific pulp adventure stories.

If you look at the pages in the book you’ll see that in many places the black areas are shades of dark gray rather than solid black. This is not because the quality of the printing is in any way off; Flesk Publications is a small niche-publisher devoted to creating superb editions of books about classic illustrators and comics artists, and the standards of book design and printing from Flesk are always high.

Those areas are, in fact, not quite black because the quality of the printing is superb, and the majority of the art has been reproduced not from stats or mechanical copies, as wold be the usual procedure with this kind of collection, but from brand new scans of the original artwork, allowing you to actually see the tones of ink as laid down by the artist! Wonderful.

Mark Schultz, who acknowledges being tremendously inspired by Williamson’s work, was instrumental in working with John Fleskes to assemble the book, and contributes the major essay. There is an interview with Schultz about the collection on Newsarama.

For admirers of great adventure comics art (and I obviously include myself here), Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic is one of the must have books this year. It can be found in better bookstores and comics shops, or ordered from Amazon and other online bookstores, as well as directly from the Flesk Publications.

For more on Al Williamson, see my previous post.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dahesh Museum of Art

Posted by Charley Parker at 12:23 pm

dwin Long, José Tapiró Baró, Ernst karl Eugen Koerner, Aguste Bonheur
One of the problems confronting small museums, that are most often originally based on the art collection of an individual at their inception, is the question acquiring and maintaining a physical space in which to display the works.

Maintaining a physical space is often more difficult for small museums than large ones. Even though large museums have much higher expenses, they also have larger support and financial structures. There is a balancing point museums must reach in terms of support to make the operation of a physical museum viable. This is particularly difficult in places where real estate is at a premium, as in New York City.

Such has been the struggle for the Dahesh Museum of Art, which moved between several venues, and left its last one due to the high cost of renting the space. It is currently a museum without a physical home. But the good news is that the Museum has put some of its collection online in a virtual exhibition.

This is particularly nice because of the museum’s rather unique mission, as the only museum in the U.S. devoted to 18th and 19th Century European academic art.

This, as fans of the genre(s) will tell you, is important because this art often gets short shrift among the larger art establishment. It is seen as the stodgy, formulaic art that post-war 20th Century Modernism (the pinnacle of all artistic achievement) came along to save us from (as well as liberating us from the associated stifling conventions of draftsmanship, perspective, representation and such outmoded concepts as “beauty”, but I digress).

The Dahesh collection started with Lebanese writer and philosopher Saleem Moussa Ashi, whose pen name was Dr. Dahesh. His collection of more than 2,000 academic paintings, sculpture and works on paper form the core of the collection.

It is worth noting that the museum has also paid attention to illustration (an equally bankrupt form of making images, even more reviled among the modernist factions, and obviously “not art” – sigh).

Not having the museum in a physical space for the time being is unfortunate, but as they look for a new home for the collection, parts of it travel on loan; and the online presence gives those of us who love this misunderstood and neglected chapter of art history a source of inspiration.

Most of the images are zoomable, which, while not as satisfying as full high-resolution images, is still better than just small ones. The collection is a little awkward to browse, the only alternative to a search is alphabetical arrangement; and someone had the misbegotten idea to watermark some of the smaller images (please stop demonstrating your ignorance, whoever you are), but the zoomable images can be enjoyed.

The museum shop does currently has a physical presence, at 55 East 52nd St. in Manhattan. They have an interesting selection of books, prints, posters and exhibition catalogs.

(Images above: Edwin Long, José Tapiró Baró, Ernst Karl Eugen Koerner, Aguste Bonheur)

Posted in: MuseumsOnline Museums   |   6 Comments »
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