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, June 24, 2010

Steve Huston

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:04 pm

Steve Huston
Steve Huston studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and embarked on an illustration career while still in school. After graduating he worked in illustration for 10 years, acquiring a client list that included MGM, Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures.

He then started to teach drawing, painting and composition at the Art Center, and later in corporate classes at Disney, Warner Brothers and Dreamworks. He has since transitioned into gallery art.

Though he occasionally does landscapes, the majority of Huston’s paintings are of figures. Of these his fascination with the complex geometry of the human form, and the surface topography of musculature, takes its greatest expression in his series of paintings of boxers, wrestlers and laborers.

He presents these in dramatic chiaroscuro combined with areas of smudged, “lost” edges, rough paint textures and gestural expressions of motion.

Huston lists among his influences Titian, Rembrandt and the early American Tonalist painters. I personally see the influence of Thomas Eakins in his work. Huston also cites American comic books for their graphic qualities and exaggeratedly heroic treatment of the figure.

Huston apparently no longer has a dedicated website, but is represented by several galleries. The Eleanor Ettinger Gallery has the largest selection of his work, though the reproductions are frustratingly small.

Skotia Gallery has fewer pieces, but they are presented somewhat larger, along with a bio.

Tom Wheeler

Posted by Charley Parker at 8:42 am

Tom Wheeler
Like many of us who come out of art school with concerns about the viability of gallery art as a source of livelihood, Tom Wheeler had a back-up plan, and devoted part of his attention to computer based design skills. Also like many of who who pursue a dual career path, he found he had a passion for both sides of his career.

He now divides his time between web site design and programming and his in interest in painting and drawing, and he teaches courses in both web design and drawing at the the Art Institute of Portland in Oregon.

His website showcases his work in both arenas of endeavor. In the Fine Art section you’ll find his paintings and drawings. Among the former are figurative, still life and landscape subjects.

Standouts for me are his paintings of creeks and small streams with rocky beds, in which he finds great variety of color and tone in the facets of the rock forms, their surfaces both wet and dry and their shapes as refelcted and refracted in the water.

Wheeler’s site also has resources for his students, which include lists of favored illustrators and realist painters.

Wheeler also maintains a blog which is inclusive of both of his fields of interest.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Blank Page

Posted by Charley Parker at 4:48 pm

The Blank Page - George Metaxas
The Blank Page is a short (3 minute) stop-motion animation by student George Metaxas that helped to get him accepted into the experimental animation program at Cal Arts.

Metaxas describes it as “An allegory about the creative process”.

What’s particularly interesting is the visual charm he accomplishes with his limited materials: a range of cardboard shapes that have been painted or drawn on.

There is an interview with him on Design Federation in which he discusses his process that includes some storyboard drawings.

Other than that I can’t find a site or other internet presence for Metaxas, but I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing more from him in the near future.

[Via Cartoon Brew]

Posted in: Animation   |   1 Comment »

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

John Collier

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:12 am

John Collier, Lady Godiva, In the Forest of Arden, Bauty
John Collier was a Victorian neo-classical painter, apparently introduced early on to Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, who did not take him on as a pupil, and influenced later in his career by the portrait paintings of John Everett Millais and his Pre-Raphaelite colleagues.

Judging by the quotes from reviews written during his life and at the time of his death, Collier faced poor critical reception in many circles, particularly in the ability to assign mixed interpretations to his works in a genre that was intended to convey moral lessons. (Of course, by the time he died in 1934, the influence of Modernist critics was beginning to cast any 19th Century art that was not considered part of the path to Modernism as irrelevant.)

Collier was also criticized as less original and less skilled than his contemporaries. Perhaps this is true, but in his best images he captures some of the magic that makes Victorian painting so appealing; with bright colors, rich textures, palpable atmosphere and the added depth of backstory inherent in literary subjects and legends, as in his interpretation of the ride of Lady Godiva (above, top).

He was the vice-president of the Society of Portrait Painters and painted a number of luminaries, including Charles Darwin, Rudyard Kipling and Aldous Huxley, who was his nephew.

Collier was the author of at least three books, A Manual of Painting, A Primer of Art and The Art of Portrait Painting, all of which exist as modern reprints.

Tuomas Korpi

Posted by Charley Parker at 12:52 am

Tuomas Korpi is a Finnish illustrator and matt painter who, like many in his field, paints digitally in Photoshop.

His site has little or no biographical information, but has a number of his paintings arranged into genres. I found the work most interesting in the Illustrations section, which includes a variety of subjects including digital still life, and the Sketches section, which includes both briefly noted and more complete digital paintings, as well as some pieces in traditional medial like pastel and gouache.

Despite the lack of other information, he includes the titles of the works and notes the medium, and you can find more detailed comments for individual works on his space at CGSociety, where you will also find some of his pieces reproduced in higher resolution.

Korpi has an effective approach to controlled color and atmospheric perspective that gives his work, even those pieces that are more quickly suggested, a feeling of place and mood.

He has two process videos on YouTube, and has generously made his Photoshop brushes available for download from his Sketches page.

There is a brief interview with Korpi on Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews, in which he expresses a particular admiration for 19th Century Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt..

Monday, June 21, 2010


Posted by Charley Parker at 11:03 pm

Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto, is best known for his grand, sweeping views of his home city of Venice, intricately detailed and striking in their architectural fidelity.

Most famous are his depictions of large scale public events, like A Regatta on the Grand Canal (image above, top, with detail, second down). Less well known, but often considered superior, are his earlier works; many of which depict scenes in England, such as The Stonemason’s Yard (bottom two images).

Canaletto had a strong connection to England, visiting several times and counting English collectors among his foremost patrons.

The National Gallery in London has scheduled a major exhibition, Canaletto and His Rivals, for October of this year (13 October 2010 – 16 January 2011).

The gallery has on its website a number of Canalettos’ works from the permanent collection, and has posted them in zoomable versions. Much to my delight, these are not the frustrating kind of zoomable images, in which you must scroll around in a tiny window looking at minute sections of a painting, but the wonderful kind with an option to maximize the window (icon with four arrows at the lower right of the images), allowing you to zoom in on the paintings as large as the resolution of your monitor will allow.

This is a Good Thing, both because it’s wonderful to see Canaletto’s work large in your visual field, and because it’s fascinating to see how different, often surprisingly painterly and even graphic, his work is up close.

Canalletto had a workshop of assistants who contributed to many of his later works. It is also presumed that he may have used a camera obscura to help with his mastery of architectural detail and perspective. If so, he used it, like Vermeer, as a tool in the service of superbly painted works, not in a slavish or mechanical way.

Canaletto was unusual for painters of his day in that he is known to have painted on location, our of doors. He is also noted for his concern with capturing and accurately representing the effects of natural light, in both respects presaging the Impressionists 100 years later.

Jim Denevan

Posted by Charley Parker at 8:06 pm

Jim Denevan
Making lines in sand or earth with a stick is probably the oldest form of drawing practiced by human beings; followed, perhaps, by using a burned stick to make marks on rocks (charcoal drawing!).

Many of us (myself certainly included) still love to make drawings in semi-wet sand at the shoreline; making exquisitely brief marks to be erased by the surf of sun in a matter of hours or moments.

Jim Denevan is an artist who makes his works in the sand and earth, but in a much more elaborate and large scale manner. He makes his marks with a stick or rake, stirring up the sand to make it darker and walking carefully while making the pattern.

I didn’t come across an explanation on his site for how he measures the patterns out on a large scale.

As large as his beach drawings are, they pale in comparison to the size of his earth drawings, one in particular.

The drawing shown in the bottom two images is wider than the island of Manhattan (you can see it superimposed in one of the images). Denevan made it by driving in circles on a dry lake bed (where driving is permitted by the government and some land speed records have been set). The smaller circles were made by hand with rakes.

There is a zoomable version of this piece on his News page.

This work, like all of Denevan’s sand, earth and ice works, was fleeting and no longer exists.

Ars brevis.

Posted in: Outsider Art   |   3 Comments »

Friday, June 18, 2010

Olivia Bouler

Posted by Charley Parker at 2:45 pm

Eleven year old Olivia Bouler, upset about the ongoing industrial/ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, wanted to help in some way. An aspiring ornithologist, she wrote to the Audubon Society, pointing out that she is a “decent drawer” and asking if it was possible to sell some of her bird images to help raise money for relief efforts.

This proved to be impractical, but she began to give away her drawings to those who donated to wildlife recovery.

AOL, the huge internet service company, got behind her, hosting Olivia’s Help the Gulf Region Wildlife Project and making a substantial contribution in her name.

The project has been a hit, the original AOL story raising $20,000 in three days.

Bouler had to cap the offer at 500 original drawings (I don’t know if that’s been reached), after which contributors get limited edition prints.

Bouler’s drawings are on that wonderful borderline between childlike exuberance and the beginnings of sophistication and the understanding of traditional artistic principles.

She is at the age at which some of us are told we have “talent” and are encouraged to continue; and the rest, mistakenly believing the convention in our society that only “artists” continue to draw in adulthood, are subtly encouraged to abandon the practice.

In addition to being encouraged to explore her artistic inclinations, Bouler has already experienced something of the impact that art can have as power for social change.

[Via Metafilter]

Posted in: Drawing   |   3 Comments »
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