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
 

 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sebastian Krüger

Posted by Charley Parker at 8:25 pm

Sebastian Kruger
Well along in a successful career as a designer and illustrator, German artist Sebastian Krüger began focusing on painting highly exaggerated caricature portraits of pop and music stars, particularly the Rolling Stones who he had met early in his career.

Since 2005 he has abandoned commercial work and devoted himself to gallery painting. As he has restlessly explored the boundaries of exaggeration possible in a recognizable face, he also began to work at large scale and in increasing degree of detail.

His large canvasses are now often highly realistic even when wildly exaggerated. Someare more straightforward, though often rendered with an intensity that makes them seem more exaggerated than they are.

I thought it was interesting that his portrayal of Jimi Hendrix, who went to lengths to present himself as an outlandish individual, is completely straightforward (and wonderfully realized).

I’m not familiar enough with his career to know if Kruger is moving more toward realism, but many of his recent pieces seem to be in that direction.

Krüger’s website is still in progress, but he has a current blog, and two additional blogs devoted to exhibitions and publications.

The artist occasionally leads workshops, and conducted his first in the U.S. early this year. Krüger works in acrylic on panels, at a scale you can see in the workshop image above.

There is a gallery site here that I think is unofficial, but it gives a nice range of his work and a fascinating tour through the degrees of exaggeration and intensity Krüger has brought to his “personality portraits” over time.

There is an article on Empty Kingdom that gives a good quick overview of his recent work.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Illustration 30

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:36 pm

Illustration 30: Ellen B. T. Pyle, Edwin Georgi, Douglas Walters
I’ver written before about Illustration magazine, the beautiful quarterly periodical published by Dan Zimmer that showcases in-depth, lavishly illustrated articles on classic illustrators, both well known and undeservedly obscure, all presented with stunning production values.

Illustration 30 is out, featuring articles on Ellen B. T. Pyle, one of Howard Pyle’s students who married his brother Walter (images above, top); the strikingly colorful works of Edwin Georgi (above, middle) and the bizarre egg tempera and scratchboard illustrations of Douglas Walters (above, bottom).

The Ellen Pyle article is particularly timely in that it coincides with an exhibit currently at the Delaware Art Museum, Illustrating Her World: Ellen B. T. Pyle, that runs until January 3, 2010. The museum participated in the preparation of the article.

The issue, which is 96 full color pages, also includes a nice In Memoriam to Frank Frazetta by Ralph Bakshi, a personal remembrance of Ernest Chiriaka by Zimmer, plus the usual letters, reviews, exhibition and event listings and ads of interest to those who love classic illustration.

But why just take my word for it when Zimmer has placed the entire Issue 30 online for you to flip through, not just in thumbnails but in full screen and zoomable (click on the preview at bottom or the “View the Digital Edition” link, when in the full screen version click on the pages to zoom).

In addition to the current issue, Zimmer has made a number of past issues available the in the same full screen zoomable format through the Issuu.com interface (see the related issue thumbnails in the right column).

These will give you a great idea of the beautiful art and incisive writing in the magazine. I’ll stress again, though, as I have often pointed out, that the onscreen versions of the images, not matter that they’re full screen, are low resolution compared to the way they appear in print, particularly with Illustration’s superb color and reproduction standards.

The print version of issue 30 can be ordered directly from the publisher for only $15 U.S., which includes shipping ($30 U.S. for international delivery); and a number of back issues are available for the same price. In addition there are special publications, books and DVDs of interest to fans of classic illustration, including the ability to pre order the the new H.J. Ward book shipping in November.

Zimmer is also now presiding over The Illustration Gallery, a new online gallery of illustration art originals for sale.

Posted in: Illustration   |   5 Comments »

Friday, August 13, 2010

Paul Madonna: All Over Coffee

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:43 am


“Predictable” is a word that, sadly, often applies to the contents of modern newspaper comics pages (what remains of them). In February of 2004 readers of the San Francisco Chronicle suddenly found themselves confronted with a new feature on the comics page, “All Over Coffee” by Paul Madonna, that set that notion nicely askew.

As an East Coast resident, I don’t get the Chronicle, but I can imagine that, for some, the feature was a source of confusion, despite the paper’s introductory article; but for others the reaction must have similar to the one I had when I first encountered All Over Coffee on the web: “Wow. What is this?”

The feature consists of a drawing, usually a beautiful pen and wash drawing of buildings, streets, rooms or architectural elements in San Francisco (and sometimes Paris, Amsterdam and elsewhere) accompanied by a short bit of writing, a few lines to a few paragraphs.

The writing consists of seemingly random musings, comments, suggestions, observations and generally enigmatic phrases written into and juxtaposed against the subtle beauty of the wash drawings. The “strip” ostensibly revolves around two unseen characters, Maurice and Sarah, whose abstracted thoughts and conversations form the text.

The drawings themselves are sometimes as wonderfully quirky and thought provoking as the writing, bits of seemingly incongruent architecture, flashes of streets, textural patterns of rooftops, storefronts, house sides, museum interiors, apartment lobbies, alleyways, cornices, telephone wires and TV antennas, often wrapped in geometric shadows and rendered with an intense affection and attention to detail.

Is it art? Sure. Is it literature? Yeah, that too. Is it poetry? Sometimes. Is it comics? Well, no (in that it’s not sequential storytelling as far as I can discern). Is it fascinating and rewarding? Almost always.

Madonna’s wash drawings are simply wonderful; his sensitive linework, sure draftsmanship, masterful applications of wash and keen eye for light and shadow produce images that are uncannily evocative of place, even for those of us who have never been to San Francisco.

Even though I have been to Paris, I don’t find those images any more or less resonant than the ones of San Francisco; the “place” he evokes isn’t as much a geographical location as the immediacy of one’s own surroundings, the sense of noticing the scene, and the moment, in which you find yourself.

Combined with text that, almost regardless of its actual content, has the common thread of causing you to slow down and contemplate, the final piece produces a poetic suspension of the ordinary; or more accurately, a reframing of the ordinary as extraordinary.

Madonna’s drawing style manages to retain some of the informality of travel sketches (and some of the journalistic immediacy of sketchbooks by Robert Crumb and Chris Ware), even while refined to the point of a finished work. He seems to have found a delicate “just right” spot between the two. He exercises that balance within individual drawings, with passages of intense detail against blank walls and great negative shapes of skies, often criss-crossed with telephone wires, window frames and the edges of architectural forms in a rich and playful compositional geometry.

His website opens in rather newspaper-like columns with news, announcements and links to various features and projects. All Over Coffee has its own section.

There is a book collection of All Over Coffee that is available from Amazon or directly from the publisher, City Lights. As announced on the All Over Coffee main page, a new collection, Everything Is Its Own Reward (the name of which is taken from this panel) is due in April of 2011.

Madonna has also provided illustrations for other books, including A Writer’s San Francisco: A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul by Eric Maisel, and Nikko Concrete Commando by Delfin Vigil (a magazine-like MagCloud publication, click on “Show Preview” on the page).

The bulk of the All Over Coffee images available online are in the Purchase section, in which you can purchase either original art or fine art prints of All Over Coffee pages. You will find some redundancy between the two, but the features are numbered, and I doubt you will object to seeing a given piece more than once.

In his presentation of the images on the site, Madonna gives the date and location of each drawing and a brief comment on the piece and its creation.

All Over Coffee is also, of course, a continuing feature in the San Fancisco Chronicle and its online edition SFGate. You can follow the online version here and access the archives here.

In whatever form, in print on online, take Paul Madonna’s invitation to slow down, look around and maybe contemplate a bit, all over coffee.

[Via Escape into Life]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Moonshine

Posted by Charley Parker at 5:21 pm

Moonshine: Goro Fujita, Chin Ko, Lindsay Olivares, Samuel Michlap
Moonshine is the name of a group show that opens this Saturday, August 24, 2010, at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra California. It features the personal work of 45 concept artists, production designers, art directors and character designers from DreamWorks Studio.

The list of participating artists includes a number of artists that I have featured here on Lines and Colors: Chris Appelhans, Goro Fujita, Marcos Mateu-Mastre, Samuel Michlap, Simon Rodgers, and Nate Wragg, among others (links are to my posts).

There is a list of artists, with links to their websites or blogs, on the Gallery Nucleus page for the exhibition. There will also be an online gallery of pieces, but as of this writing it’s not yet posted.

There is an opening reception Saturday from 7-11pm (with a $2 admission that serves as a raffle ticket), and a closing reception and book signing on Friday September 3rd from 7-10pm. There is a flyer for the show here.

The book signing refers to a book, also titled Moonshine (more here), that will accompany the exhibition. It will be the first to feature the personal art of DreamWorks creators. Additional volumes are planned.

The group has established a blog, Moonshine: DreamWorks Artists… After Dark, that features artwork and artist interviews, as well as links to the websites and blogs of the members.

(Images above: Goro Fujita, Chin Ko, Lindsay Olivares, Samuel Michlap)

[Via Cartoon Brew]

Colin Campbell Cooper

Posted by Charley Parker at 1:54 pm

Colin Campbell Cooper
Colin Campbell Cooper was an American impressionist painter active in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. He was, within that rather loose classification, the foremost among them in the portrayal of architecture. He is also one of my personal favorites.

Known for both his later paintings of California gardens and landmarks, as well as his earlier paintings of New York skyscrapers, Cooper also turned his lush palette and virtuoso brush to other subjects.

His painting of Lower Broadway in Wartime (above, 2nd down, right) is in the museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts here in Philadelphia. I’ll sometimes stand and look at it for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. What’s not obvious from these small reproductions on the web is that Cooper’s paintings can be marvels of texture and color mixing, with luminous transitions of one color passage into another within the surface of a single wall.

Areas that appear highly detailed are in fact very painterly, with much more suggested than overtly painted. (I’ve listed links below to previous auction sales on Sotheby’s and Christie’s that can often be zoomed in to levels of considerable magnification.)

Cooper was born in Philadelphia and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Thomas Eakins, as well as training at the Académie Julian in Paris. He taught for a time at the Drexel Insitute of Art Science and Industry (now Drexel University, also home to such noted art teachers as Howard Pyle).

Cooper married Emma Lampert, herself a well known artist, and the couple traveled and painted in Europe and Aisa as well as across the U.S. Notably they traveled to India, at the time far off the track for even the most adventurous American and European travelers, and Cooper returned to create from his location sketches stunning paintings of the Taj Mahal, the palace gate at Udaipur and other locations rarely seen in the West.

After the death of his wife in 1920, Cooper moved to California, perhaps to start over. The move marked a separate phase of his career in which his style and subject matter changed and he exhibited a renewed interest in including figures in his paintings. He taught and later became Dean at the School of Painting at the Santa Barbara Community School of Arts.

There is currently an exhibition of Cooper’s work at the Santa Barbara Museum in California, Lasting Impressions: Colin Campbell Cooper, that runs until October 8, 2010.

As far as I know there is only one in-print book on Cooper’s work: East Coast/West Coast and Beyond: Colin Campbell Cooper, American Impressionist by Deborah Epstein Solon and William Gerdts (Gerdts is a well known authority and author of several books on American Impressionism). The book was from a 2007 exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum. My impression is that this is the same exhibition that is currently at the Santa Barbara Museum.

There is a very nice 10 page article on Cooper and the current exhibition in the August issue of American Art Review, written by Deborah Epstein Solon, co-author of the book mentioned above, and illustrated with numerous images of Cooper’s work. This issue is still on the shelves as of this writing and should eventually be available as a back issue from the publisher. Cooper’s work is also featured on the cover.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

deviantART Muro

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:04 am

deviantART Muro: loish, nuevemonos, len-yan
For a while now deviantART, the online arts community portal, has been teasing it’s members and visitors with an “It’s coming..” campaign, touting an event to coincide with deviantART’s 10th anniversary on August 7th.

The event was the release of deviantART Muro, a new online digital painting and drawing application that works in the browser.

While online drawing and painting interfaces are nothing new, this one is different in that it is made entirely in HTML5, rather than the normal approach of creating these apps in Flash. For those of us interested in the technology, it’s a striking achievement, and the most impressive use of HTML5 I’ve seen to date.

For the casual user, the most relevant advantage of creating the app in HTML5 is that it can be used on the iPad (and presumably the iPhone, though the interface would be quite small).

Beyond that, it’s just a very nicely implemented online drawing an painting tool, well designed, fluid, and able to respond to pressure sensitive input from Wacom tablets. It’s sophisticated in other ways, the “Pro” version, available at the flip of a switch at the top of the interface, allows for the use of layers (image above, top).

There are a range of brush types, adjustments and a nicely functional, if small, color picker. Both the Basic and Pro version of the interface are available free. There is a feature to login in and purchase more advanced brushes.

Images can uploaded directly to deviantART if you have an account, or exported (from the “Image” menu) as PNG files.

There is a gallery of work done in the app that is still small, but growing. The deviantART community is largely devoted to art styles related to concept art, science fiction and fantasy, but you can get an ides of the range of styles that could be accomplished with the app. (Images above, below the interface: ‘loish, nuevemonos, ‘len-yan).

While not a substitute for a dedicated digital painting app on your computer, this in-browser app is impressive, fun to work with and an indication of even better things to come.

[Via WebMonkey]

[Note: if you have trouble accessing the Muro interface, particularly in Firefox, please see this post's comments, and let me know what your experience was.

If you encounter a request for a survey, my suggestion is to close the browser window and open another one and try again.]

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pájaro

Posted by Charley Parker at 1:53 pm

Pajaro
Pájaro (pronounced páh-hah-ro), who takes his name from a childhood nickname meaning “bird”, is a Venezuelan artist who spent much of his youth and adolescence in Spain.

He embarked on his path as a self taught painter at the age of 23.

Returning to Venezuela he brought back with him the influence of European Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque art that expresses itself in an interesting mixture of styles, creating a form of visionary magic realism that he terms “Metarealism”

Pájaro draws on those aspects of classical art that he chooses and mixes them at will; Renaissance garbed figures, rendered with Baroque or even modern sensibilities, might appear in landscapes with the intricate detail and false atmospheric perspective of Medieval painting.

His subjects are dreamlike juxtapositions of figures, objects, times and places, rendered with an appealing eye for texture and tone, and usually painted with a muted, carefully controlled palette; though he occasionally applies high chroma passages.

Pájaro presents his subjects in compositions that feel somewhat theatrical, as though implying that he has stories to tell us, and with an intensity of rendering that imbues them with a feeling of personal significance.

On opening his website, there is a choice at bottom right to view the site in English. There is an “Enlarge” button to the lower right of most paintings; unfortunately, the JavaScript that opens the window for the enlargements takes some time, particularly on a large monitor.

Pájaro also has started a blog, though there is little content as yet.

Posted in: Illustration   |   1 Comment »

Sharpie Liquid Pencil

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:08 am

Sharpie Liquid Pencil
Sharpie, makers of the iconic line of markers and pens, has announced a Liquid Pencil, a pen like instrument that makes lines with “liquid graphite”.

The lines are apparently erasable like a pencil, but dry into ink like permanence in 24 to 36 hours (depending on whether you believe the packaging or the Sharpie blog).

I like to carry around small sketchboooks, but seldom sketch in pencil because the subsequent wear on a sketchboook carried in a pocket often smears pencil drawings. I love the idea of being able to sketch in graphite, erase and smudge while drawing, and then have the resulting drawing “self-fix” in a few days.

Whether it actually works as advertised I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to try one of these yet, but the concept is appealing enough that I thought I’d mention it now. The Sharpie blog says they will be available in stores in September, though Office Depot shows them as available for order online now.

Engadget has a short video review of the Liquid Pencil in use.

Sharpie, incidentally, is looking to make their web presence a resource for doodlers, with their Sharpie Uncapped site and Showcase (more here and here).

[Via Daring Fireball and Engadget]

[Addendum 8/29/10: Alas, though I haven't yet tried this myself, follow up posts on Engadget indicate that the dream of the Liquid Pencil is indeed just a dream, and Sharpie is getting by on their claims on a technicality. The marks remain erasable, to some degree, indefinitely. No mention was made of smear resistance, however, so I may yet try one when I get the chance, but Sharpie hasn't done themselves any favors with this bad bit of PR.]

 
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