He who knows how to appreciate colour relationships, the influence of one colour on another, their contrasts and dissonances, is promised an infinitely diverse imagery.
- Sonia Delaunay
Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.
- Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.
 

 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Scott Gustafson

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:48 am

Scott Gustafson
Scott Gustafson’s richly textured and intricately detailed illustrations are steeped in his admiration for great illustrators of the Golden Age like N.C. Wyeth, Normal Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and Arthur Rackham.

Though he has had numerous commercial clients in his 25 year career, his fondness for those great classic illustrations, and the classic stories they often accompanied, has carried over into seeking out the opportunity to illustrate books of classic stories, fairy tales and Mother Goose as well as fantasy stories and other subjects.

His website is a bit awkwardly arranged, in that you often have to return to the home page to jump to other sections, and it’s easy to miss things by casual browsing. Be sure to check out the books and gallery sections in addition to the portfolio and what’s new sections.

Many of the images are supplemented with roll-over detail image, but they are still frustratingly small given the level of detail and degree of finish in his work.

Gustafson works in layers of oil and oil glazes. On the website there is a step by step walk through of his methods for The Man in the Moon (images above, 7th down).

He often tackles complex compositions, and controls how your eye moves through them with adroit manipulation of color and value in key areas of the painting. He also manages to unify a multitude of elements and colors into a harmonious whole.

In addition to the numerous books he has illustrated or contributed to, Gustafson has recently written his first novel, Eddie, the Lost Youth of Edgar Allen Poe (Amazon link here), aimed at children ages 8-12, and illustrated with over 90 black and white illustrations (image above, bottom).

Posted in: Illustration   |   3 Comments »

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerrit van Honthorst

Posted by Charley Parker at 12:42 am

Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerrit van Honthorst
I love nativity scenes like the one at top (with details below it), Adoration of the Shepherds by 17th century painter Gerrit van Honthorst, in which the infant is not just bathed in light, but seems to be a source of light, as if incandescent with the Holy Spirit.

In this case the child appears to be the only source of light in the scene. Scenes illuminated by a single light source, usually a candle, were a recurring theme for Van Honthorst, as in his painting Childhood of Christ (above, second from bottom). In this he was similar in some ways to the French painter Georges de la Tour, though without the latter artist’s masterful sense of mystery and stillness.

Van Honthorst also used the theme of a nativity illuminated from the direction of the child in his painting of two years earlier, Adoration of the Child (above, bottom), but the effect is not the same.

Even though he has taken pains with the light source in Adoration of the Shepherds, you can tell his real interest as an artist was not with the mother and child, but in the faces of the shepherds, wonderfully defined and enlivened by the direct light and the sharp chiaroscuro it invites.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Leyendecker’s Santas

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:18 am


Even though it was Thomas Nast who fleshed out the old fellow, pipe and toys in hand, Reginald Birch who gave his suit its colors and Haddon Sundblom who often incorrectly gets the credit (much as I like him), I still maintain that our modern concept and image of Santa Claus owes more to J. C. Leyendecker than to any other single artist.

I think it was Leyendecker’s covers for The Saturday Evening Post, along with his advertising illustrations, that gave the Jolly One the form followed by Rockwell, Sundblom and subsequent other artists, and is basically the Santa figure we know and love today.

The image at top is from the December 22, 1923 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. I tried to trace out a bit of the history in my 2006 post on Illustrator’s Visions of Santa Claus.

Even though the general look and feel of long white beard, red outfit trimmed in white fur and Big-Sack-O-Toys® was set by Birch’s St. Nicholas illustrations, I still think that Leyendecker refined and perfected the image beyond Birch’s slightly wan version, and I think Lyeyendecker was much more influential in both the reach of his work and its influence on other illustrators.

Rockwell, when painting Santa covers for the Post shortly after Leyencecker (who he considered his artistic hero), was essentially painting Leyendecker’s version of the character. Sundblom, who the Coca Cola company claimed for years was the originator of the modern Santa Claus, came later and was essentially painting Leyendecker/Rockwell Santas (and a very good ones, I admire Sundblom’s Santa illustrations second only to Leyendeckers), as was N.C. Wyeth in his interpretation of Old Kris.

Plus, Leyendecker’s Santa Claus illustrations are filled with such wonderful visual flourishes and thoughtful touches that they feel like presents from the artist to us (I love the army boots in the top painting).

Posted in: Illustration   |   6 Comments »

Dutch Winters at Schiphol

Posted by Charley Parker at 12:22 am

Dutch Winters at Schiphol, Rijksmuseum: Charles Lickert, Willem Witsen, Louis Apol, Anton Mauve
Also in keeping with the Winter Solstice (see my previous post), the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has mounted an exhibition of 19th Century Dutch paintings of winter that will be on exhibit at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol from 21 December 2011 to 26 March 2012.

The museum’s page for the exhibition doesn’t directly link to the 8 works in the show, but it does link to pages in the museum’s collection for artists whose work will be featured, including (images above, pairs from top): Charles Lickert, Willem Witsen, Louis Apol and Anton Mauve.

I have no idea which paintings are in the actual exhibition, so I’ve just selected some winter themed paintings from the mentioned artists as examples.

Even though it’s a little awkward to click through to the image detail page and then click again on the magnify (plus sign) button under the preview image, it’s worth it for the wonderfully high resolution images.

[Via Art Knowledge News]

Friday, December 23, 2011

Picturing Winter on Tor.com

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:19 am

Picturing Winter on Tor.com: N.C. Wyeth, Hermann Vogel, Dean Cornwell, Aleksey Savrasov, Ivan Bilibin, John Fabian Carlson, Michael Whelan
In what I think is both a terrific idea and a beautiful result, Irene Gallo, art director of Tor Books, posted a column yesterday on Tor.com to mark the Winter Solstice in which she had asked 20 contemporary illustrators to suggest some of their favorite images of winter.

The article features images of some of the selections, and they range across a wonderful variety of artists, styles and time periods.

In addition, there are comments from Gallo and the illustrators and a number of links out to information about some of the artists represented in the chosen work.

Much to my delight, along with some favorites there were several artists with whom I was not familiar. A nice winter treat.

(Images above: N.C. Wyeth, Hermann Vogel, Dean Cornwell, Aleksey Savrasov, Ivan Bilibin, John Fabian Carlson, Michael Whelan)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Elwood H. Smith (update)

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:37 pm

Elwood H. Smith
As I mentioned in my previous post about him from 2007, Elwood H. Smith has a delightful illustration style that carries echoes of great comic strips from the early part of the 20th Century, and somehow manages to look both retro and modern simultaneously.

Smith hits the right balance for me between old and new, minimal and textured, cartoony and whimsical, and I find his style particularly appealing.

His editorial illustration clients include the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time, Barron’s, Forbes and many others, and his advertising illustration clients have included SONY, Samsung, Land’s End, Inglenook Wine and TGI Fridays.

Smith has also illustrated a number of children’s books, including, The Truth About Poop, Stalling and many others.

In addition to his original website, which was in place when I last wrote about him, Smith has a newer site called Elwood’s World, and maintains a blog on Drawger.

You can also find his short animations showcased on his website and on Vimeo, along with a 2D-3D collaboration between Smith and Brian Hoard called The Amazing Elwood.

Earlier this year, Smith’s work was featured in an exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum, titled Elwood’s World: The Art and Animation of Elwood H. Smith. He also gave a lecture on process at the museum in 2007, which can be seen on Vimeo.

Posted in: CartoonsIllustration   |   23 Comments »

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Antoine Vollon

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:58 pm

Antoine Vollon
Though he also painted landscapes, interiors and figures, 19th Century French painter Antoine Vollon was best know for his lushly painted still lifes.

Vollon was greatly influenced by the superb still life painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, and followed in his love of simple food and kitchen related genre subjects.

At his most expressive, Vollon’s thick, fluid impasto paint strokes gave visceral presence to the term “buttery”, that painters use to describe paint that flows off the brush in consistency that is workably fluid but thick enough to be manipulated as brushstrokes. This is seen in the remarkable brushwork of his aptly chosen subject of Mound of Butter (above, top with detail crop).

This painting, which is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, is the subject of a short essay by contemporary painter Duane Keiser in his blog, On Painting.

Vollon’s landscapes have some of the feeling of the works of his contemporaries Charles Daubigny and Eugéne Boudin that presaged Impressionism.

The story goes that Vollon’s aspirations as a figurative artist were quashed by Manet’s comments on his otherwise well received painting of a woman carrying a basket, Femme du Pollet á Dieppe, of which he said: “Bah! What is Vollon’s Femme? A basket that walks!”

If that resulted in Vollon’s concentration on still life, then we are the happy recipients of the results, which can be striking, particularly when viewed in detail. Many of the pieces listed on the Christie’s and Sotheby’s past auction results (listed below) are zoomable, but the best image I’ve found is the Met’s high res image of Vollon’s Still Life with Cheese (above, third and fourth down).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Where They Draw

Posted by Charley Parker at 1:27 pm

Where They Draw artist studios: Jim Woodring, Lucy Knisley, John Martz, Roman Muradov,  Michael MW Kaluta, Tom Neely
I don’t know about you, but I find photos of other artists’ workspaces fascinating.

The fascination is probably partly simple curiosity and partly looking for ideas, with perhaps a touch of finding reassurance that other artists function in spaces that are as messy as mine (grin).

Where They Draw is a Tumblr blog devoted to photos of artists’ working spaces that seems particularly focused on the spaces of cartoonists and comic book artists.

Whether that’s an intentional focus or just the way it’s worked out so far, I don’t know. The blog’s curator doesn’t give much indication, and the blog is relatively new. Most of the spaces would feel somewhat familiar to other artists who work in comics or related fields.

For those who want a more general look at artist studios and working spaces, see this extensive Flickr group titled Art Studio.

(Studios above, from Where They Draw: Jim Woodring, Lucy Knisley, John Martz, Roman Muradov, Michael MW Kaluta, Tom Neely)

[Via Stuart Immonen and Eric Orchard]

 
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