The Realist – Asaf Hanuka

The Realist - Asaf Haunka
The Realist is a graphic story by illustrator and comics artist Asaf Hanuka about one family’s search for a new home after their current living arrangements are upset.

The strip was originally serialized in a Hebrew language version in the Israeli Newspaper Calcalist. Hanuka has re-lettered it in English and is publishing it on the web, one page a week.

English speakers may find it interesting to compare some of the English language pages with their Hebrew counterparts in that the Hebrew pages read right-to-left, creating some challenges for the conventions used by comics artists to guide your eye through dialog balloons in the proper order by their position in a panel.

It looks as though Hanuka may have had this process in mind when originally laying out his panels as they work pretty well, with a few exceptions (like a reference to a GPS telling characters to turn right, when the flopped image shows an arrow pointing left).

Hanuka has a spare, single line weight comics art style that is well suited to the nature of the story. His controlled, muted coloring is accented occasionally with brighter colors specifically for dramatic effect.

As of this writing, the posted story is up to week 6.

Hanuka also maintains a more general topic blog, Tropical Toxic, and has a web site with galleries of his illustration and comics work.

I previously wrote about Asaf Hanuka, and his brother Tomer Hanuka, also a noted comics artist and illustrator, back in 2007.

[Via Drawn!]


Florian Afflerbach

Florian Afflerbach is an architect and architectural artist, and one of the founders of the Urban Sketchers group blog, which I wrote about previously (also here and here).

While many artists who sketch architectural scenes rely on a suggestion or informal feeling for perspective, Afflerbach has a masterful command of its nuances, at times tackling drawings in three point or even curved perspective.

His sketches of buildings, streets and interiors have a wonderful feeling of place, as well as a tactile sense of weight, solidity and, in the case of larger structures, monumentality.

He often lays out perspective construction lines under his drawings, and they are precise in the sense of being accurate, but still retain an informality and sketch-like quality that gives them visual charm and immediate appeal. This immediacy also shows in his sketches of vintage cars from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Afflerbach has a web site, but his portfolio must be downloaded as a PDF. As a founding member of Urban Sketchers, you can find a good number of his drawings posted there, along with a brief bio. The drawings are often linked to versions on his Flicker set, but they are unfortunately not much larger.

The Ficker set is extensive, though, and features a wide range of drawings and subjects from his native Stuttgart, Germany along with location sketches from his travels in Italy, France and elsewhere.


Restoration of Van Gogh’s The Bedroom

Restoration of Van Gogh's The Bedroom
Vincent van Gogh’s now iconic painting of his bedroom in Arles is one of his most famous and favored works.

He described his intention for the painting in his letters to his brother Theo, saying: “This time it’s simply my bedroom, but the colour has to do the job here, and through its being simplified by giving a grander style to things, to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general. In short, looking at the painting should rest the mind, or rather, the imagination.”

The painting is one of the most immediately recognizable in the canon of Western art, but few know that it now looks quite different than when Van Gogh painted it. In the same letter quoted above, which was accompanied by a sketch of the painting (image above, bottom), he described the colors of the major objects:
“The walls are of a pale violet. The floor — is of red tiles.
The bedstead and the chairs are fresh butter yellow.
The sheet and the pillows very bright lemon green.
The bedspread scarlet red.
The window green.
The dressing table orange, the basin blue.
The doors lilac.”

And in a subsequent passage: “The shadows and cast shadows are removed; it’s coloured in flat, plain tints like Japanese prints.”

Many of these colors, the floor and the doors in particular, don’t match his description, most likely because of his use of a fugitive red pigment (Rose Madder Lake?). Colors like Rose Madder Lake and Alizarin Crimson, made from organic components rather than metals or earths, lose their color in prolonged exposure to light. This has led to the development of modern light-fast substitutes like quinacridone pigments, which artists in Van Gogh’s time did not have.

In addition to the chemical changes that have altered the color over time, the painting was damaged in Van Gogh’s lifetime, both by a flood of the Rhône in 1889 and by being rolled for sending to his brother, who Van Gogh asked to reline the back of it with additional canvas. Theo returned it to Vincent unaltered, suggesting that he copy it first, which he did. There are two additional copies of the painting, one of which is in The Art Institute of Chicago and the other in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

The original is in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which has found it necessary to address restoration of the damaged painting, and has decided to chronicle that process, giving us a rare glimpse not only of how restoration of artworks is carried out, but of some of the difficult decisions faced by conservators.

For example, should areas of the floor that were retouched by past conservators to match the original color (which can be seen under the edges of the frame where it has not been exposed to light) be removed and replaced with a color that matches the current faded state of Van Gogh’s original paint?

The museum has a mini-site devoted to the restoration of The Bedroom, featuring a high-resolution image of the painting, a blog that details the process as it happens, supplemented with images and video, and links to Van Gogh’s letters about the painting (part of the Museum’s wonderful project of posting Van Gogh’s letters online, which I wrote about here).

There is also an informative section of the museum’s site devoted to Van Gogh’s studio practice.

A good place to start are the sections on The Painting, and The Examination. The latter features a video in which Ella Hendriks, the Head of Conservation for the van Gogh Museum, describes the state of the painting, the comparison of the colors and the start of the process of examining the work; and the decisions that must be made in taking on the restoration.

You can then follow the blog posts detailing the process as it happens.


Chris Beck

Chris Beck
Wisconsin artist Chris Beck went from the fine art program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to a career as a graphic designer and then found her way back to painting.

Her bright, high-chroma watercolors have been featured in magazines like Watercolor Artist and The Artist’s Magazine and she has been the recipient of a number of awards from juried shows and exhibitions.

In addition to still life subjects and florals, both in still life and in gardens, Beck finds inspiration in the colorful painted metal surfaces of tin toys, which she also calls “Vintage Critters“.

Her painting “Snail Mail” (image above, bottom) has been chosen to share the cover of the upcoming book from Kennedy Publishing, Best of America, Watermedia II (more info here).

Beck maintains two blogs, a personal one called I’m painting as fast as I can… and a more general blog, aimed at the appreciation and spotlighting of various watercolor artists, titled Brush – Paper – Water.


Wei Te – Mu di (The Cowherd’s Flute) by Te Wei

Wei Te - Mu di (The Cowherd's Flute) by Te Wei
Wei Te – Mu di, or The Cowherd’s Flute, is a beautiful short animated film by Te Wei (Sheng Tewei) a master Chinese animator who died this month at the age of 95.

Te Wei was a print cartoonist who was asked by the Chinese Ministry of Culture to establish an animation studio in 1949. He is best known for his 1950’s film The Conceited General.

In the 1960’s he began to create the equivalent of animated ink paintings, the design of which were most influenced by painter Qi Baishi.

During the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, he was not permitted to create animation, but returned to in in the late 1970’s, continuing in the style of animated ink paintings.

The Cowherd’s Flute, from 1963, is perhaps the best example of this style. I don’t know of a translation of The Conecited General, but The Cowherd’s Flute is wordless, just image and music, almost like a Chinese version of one of the interpretations of musical pieces in Disney’s Fantasia.

It’s absolutely beautiful.

[Via Cartoon Brew]


Vintage German Illustration

Vintage German Illustration
Susan Lenox has posted a collection of vintage German posters, illustration and advertising art (mostly late 19th and early 20th Century) to a Flickr set.

There are travel posters, ads for beer, bicycles, theatre and pens, and a variety of artists and styles. Many of the images are linked to larger versions, but unfortunately not much larger.

You can still enjoy the images though, and the interesting out-of-context subjects that can leave you wondering what some of them are about.

As in any collection of material like this, some are more interesting than others and you have to do a little digging for the best ones.

[Via MetaFilter]