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, September 22, 2010

Carlo Russo

Posted by Charley Parker at 8:20 pm

Carlo Russo
Philadelphia artist Carlo Russo paints landscapes and figurative work, but his emphasis is on still life.

Russo is one of those still life painters who manages to convey a feeling of stopped time in his paintings, a sensation of quiet focus and contemplative stillness. His portrayals of rough textured crockery, weathered wood, and tarnished copper pots bring to mind the textural marvels of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin.

Though his still life subjects also include such staples as fruit and flowers, Russo is more likely to choose pumpkins or gourds, objects that are rich with texture. In his recent work, he is also experimenting with other textural challenges, painting difficult objects like feather dusters and sheepskin.

Russo studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He teaches classes at the Woodmere Art Museum and occasionally takes on students in his studio. His South Philadelphia studio will be on the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours event on October 2-3 of this year.

Russo currently the subject of a one man show at the F.A.N. Gallery here in Philadelphia, that ends this Saturday on September 25th, 2010.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Line by Line, James McMullan

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:20 am

Line by Line, James McMullan I have long been a proponent of the idea that drawing is as much of a natural potential ability for human beings as writing.

I’ve often wondered about that odd demarcation somewhere around puberty where an unspoken law seems to take effect and “all children draw” becomes “only some teenagers and adults draw because they’re artists”.

Somehow, drawing has acquired the cachet of a magical gift, “talent”, with which one is endowed or not. While this can be fun and advantageous for those of us who are on that side of the divide, it’s basically nonsensical.

Drawing is a skill, a skill that can be taught (or at least learned), like playing a musical instrument.

The most popular example of this is the tremendous success of the techniques championed by Betty Edwards in her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. See the examples on her site for the leap adults make from “childlike drawing” to “realistic drawing” with about 40 hours of training. See my post on Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain for more on the subject of drawing as a teachable skill.

I was delighted, then, to see illustrator and poster artist James McMullan begin a series last week in the New York Times called Line by Line, in which he encourages anyone interested to explore the fundamentals of drawing.

He starts out in the initial installment, Getting back to the Phantom Skill, pointing out that drawing is a pleasurable activity and open to any of us. He describes the structure of the 12 week series, in which he will teach fundamental drawing skills and use art, his own and examples from art history, to illustrate points and move the reader/student deeper into the process, understanding and appreciation of drawing.

During the 12 weeks in which he is working on the column, he will be working on professional assignments doing posters for Lincoln Center Theatre and illustrations for a children’s book, and may include work in progress as it applies.

He states: “My overall goal, apart from helping with specific information, is to communicate the enthusiasm I feel for the immediacy of drawing.”

This promises to be a basic short course in drawing for those who think they can’t draw, and a nice kick in the pants for those who can but have forgotten, for one reason or another, how much fun it is.

The required materials? Pencil and paper.

(Images at left, shoe drawing from the article, others from James McMullan’s website)


Monday, September 20, 2010

I become a twit, er,… Tweeter

Posted by Charley Parker at 2:06 pm

John James Audubon
OK, after years of resisting, I’ve finally decided to start using Twitter.

Despite the original intention that Twitter be used to be “sociable” and inform your friends and “followers” that you’re having 2% milk on your Cap’n Crunch this morning, I’ve always thought of Tweets as basically 140-character blog posts. I just couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to do with 140-character blog posts.

But it’s occurred to me over time that in my digging and sorting through the attics and basements of the internet, gathering the seeds for Lines and Colors posts, I encounter lots of tidbits of intriguing links and items that are interesting enough to mention, but not something to which I want to dedicate a full post (or at least not at that point in time).

So most of my Tweets will consist of short mentions and links to things of potential interest to Lines and Colors readers (as well as announcements of new posts).

You can follow my 140 character or less ramblings at

(Note: there is already a “linesandcolors” on Twitter. Probably a nice person, but not me. There’s also a CharleyParker, again not me. Price you pay for coming to the party late.)

Those of you who have been living in a cave on the tip of Tierra del Fuego for the last four years and are unfamiliar with Twitter, can find more here and here. (You don’t need an account to view the posts on the page linked above, but an account lets you follow multiple sources and become a twit, er… Tweeter, yourself.)

(Image above: Common Bluebird, John James Audubon)

Posted in: Amusements   |   3 Comments »

Museum Day 2010

Posted by Charley Parker at 7:42 am

Museum Day 2010, The Delaware Art Museum, The Museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The brandywine River Museum
Museum admission, in case you hadn’t noticed, has kept pace with the rising cost of everything, if not outpacing it significantly in recent years.

It can be daunting for some, and can discourage people from investigating museums they don’t already patronize.

Smithsonian magazine, an offshoot of the venerable group of cultural institutions in the U.S. capital that are always open free to the public, sponsors an annual Museum Day, in which participating museums waive their normal entry fee for visitors who arrange online for a free ticket.

This Saturday, September 25, 2010, is the sixth annual event.

Over 1,000 museums of various kinds are participating across the country. You may find some disappointing hold-outs, of course, but there are also some terrific museums participating that are normally not open for free.

There is a mini-site for the event with an interactive Google-style map that allows you to zoom in on a geographic area and look for museums of interest. You can also narrow the search with a state selection drop-down below the map.

You need to get your free ticket ahead of time. For this you have to cough up your physical and email address, and the ticket (admission for 2) is emailed to you. There is a limit of one two-person ticket per household.

The drop-down choice for “Which Museum Day location do you plan on visiting” in the ticket request form also serves as a quick list of participating museums, arranged by state.

The motto for the event is “Take your brain on a field trip.”

[Via the New York Times]

(Images above, some participating museums in my area: The Delaware Art Museum, The Museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Brandywine River Museum)

For those who wish for more free museum days, check the websites of your local museums in their “hours and admission” sections. You may be surprised at how many have sporadic or regular periods of free or reduced admission, sometimes courtesy of corporate sponsors. (If you’re a Bank of America customer, check out their “Museums on Us” program.)

Also, if you visit museums enough to make a membership a good investment, see my post on the North American Reciprocal Museum Program. This grants you membership privileges to over 350 museums for a higher than usual membership level at one of the participating museums (in places, as little as $100.00).

Posted in: Museums   |   Comments »

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pyle’s Pirates

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:10 pm

Avast ye swabs!

Now how could I be lettin’ International Talk Like a Pirate Day pass without usin’ it proper to serve up some pirate pictures by Mister Howard Pyle, ARRRRRRguably the rootenest tootenest pirate illustrator of ‘em all!

There’ be a book of ‘em, y’know!

There be a good boatload of ‘em on 100 Years of Illustration.

For more, be seein’ me previous posts on treasure from Howard Pyle (and here, matey).

Shiver me timbers!

Posted in: Illustration   |   3 Comments »

The Lost Thing animated short

Posted by Charley Parker at 8:55 am

The Lost Thing animated short, Shaun Tan
The Lost Thing is a wonderful children’s book by Australian artist Shaun Tan, with an unusual story and a unique look.

With the help of co-director Andrew Ruhemann and a small production team, Tan has been working for several years to bring the book to life as a 15 minute animated short. It was finally completed this summer.

Tan has been intimately involved as the storyboard artist, production designer and art director, with the happy result that his quirky vision as an illustrator has been wonderfully realized, something I would have thought essentially impossible for this particular book.

In particular, I’m impressed with the painterly and textural qualities of the final look.

You can see a trailer, stills and some production art on the film’s official website.

It Looks completely wonderful. I’m really looking forward to seeing the film.

Now if only there were a better distribution and marketing system for animated shorts.

[Via The Art Department]

[Addendum: Phil Willis was good enough to let us know that Leo Baker was the lead animator for the film. You can see additional scenes from The Lost Thing at the beginning and end of his showreel.]

Posted in: AnimationIllustration   |   8 Comments »

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Steve Hanks

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:08 pm

Steve Hanks
Steve Hanks is a well known watercolor artist whose subject matter frequently focuses on female figures in interiors or landscapes. His subjects’ ages vary, from babies to women, as do their situations; some are nude studies, some evocative of mother and child tenderness, others children at play or women languidly posed on couches or beds.

Sometimes their is an erotic component, at other times, innocence itself seems to be a theme; but Hanks’ work often carries a feeling of high-end illustration, in that there is an emotional context to the work, and with it, an implied story.

Hanks’ masterfully controlled watercolor technique manages to seem almost casual in its deft application of color, subtle textures and clear value staging. He captures the brilliant contrasts of sunlight, rich subtleties of rain and overcast and soft tones of interior light with equal aplomb.

After graduating from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, Hanks was pursuing realism in pencil drawings and impressionistic painting effects in oil, but an allergy affected his ability to work with oil and he moved to watercolor as his chosen painting medium.

SInce then he has received national recognition and numerous awards for his luminous, detailed and highly accomplished watercolors.

There is a collection of his work, Moving On: The Art of Steve Hanks. You can also find some video interviews with Hanks on YouTube, courtesy of Greenwich Workshop.

There is a good post on All Art News that gives a nice introductory overview of his work. The artwork on his official gallery is sometimes reproduced a bit smaller. I’ve listed some other resources below.

[Note: some of the work on these sites should be considered NSFW.)

Compositional / Visual Clarity with Bill Perkins

Posted by Charley Parker at 6:10 am

Compositional / Visual Clarity with Bill PerkinsCompositional / Visual Clarity with Bill Perkins is a one day workshop scheduled for tomorrow, Sunday September 19, 2010, at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra California.

Th workshop will focus on the role of composition in achieving visual clarity in storytelling.

That may sound dry, but the real goal is more exciting images; clarity is a big part of visual punch. If an image isn’t made clear by the arrangement of its compositional elements, it can’t communicate as well and visual power is lost. Clarity brings power.

According to Perkins: “I am going to start with an art timeline then lift the hood to reveal comparative systems of measure, visual components, and the primaries of design. Basically an intro into visual literacy to make distinctive imagery. The artists will then reconstruct the timeline without names, movements, or dates, only based on their graphic affinity to the primaries of design.”

Bill Perkins is a highly regarded plein air painter, concept artist, production designer and instructor at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art. For more, see my previous posts on Perkins here and here.

The event runs from 1:00pm to 4:30pm. Seats are limited.

Display Ads on Lines and Colors (1st tier): $25/week or $75/month.

Please note that display ads for lines and colors are limited to arts related topics and may not be animated.
Display Ads on Lines and Colors (2nd tier): $20/week or $65/month.

Please note that display ads for lines and colors are limited to arts related topics and may not be animated.

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