Renee Lammers

Renee Lammers
I was at the Wayne Plein Air Festival yesterday, the most well known event of its kind in the Philadelphia area, and I had the pleasure of talking with several of the participating painters as they worked.

One of them was Renee Lammers, a painter originally from Florida, now living in Maine. She paints her bright, immediate landscapes in a high key palette, with an almost post-Impressionist approach.

Lammers mentioned that she was fortunate to have had the opportunity to study with well known painter Stapleton Kearns, who was himself the student of R.H. Ives Gammell. Lammers said Kearns reined in her excessively bright “Florida colors” and steered her toward more traditional and proven methods.

One of the unusual traditional methods Lammers discovered on her own was the use of copper sheets as a painting surface. As I was talking with her, she was working on a quickly rendered painting of the tiny barbershop in Wayne (images above, top two) and her “canvas” was a thin sheet of copper that she had mounted in her small pochade box (see my recent update on pochade boxes). “Thin” in this case meaning thick enough to hold its shape, but thinner than a copper etching plate.

Painting on copper achieved popularity in the mid 16th century when northern European artists in particular found it to be a durable, archival and practical surface on which to work, not prone to the cracking and stretching dangers inherent in wood panels and stretched canvas.

I asked Lammers about difficulties in painting on the smooth metal surface and she indicated that it just took some adjustment (thinned paint doesn’t adhere as well as thicker applications), and that working on the copper directly without the need for priming gave her work a luminosity not present when working on other surfaces.

In addition to a portfolio of her work, Lammers’ website includes a page on the technique, Why Paint on Copper?, that includes a bit of history and links to resources. (In digging a bit, I also found this book on Amazon: Copper as Canvas: Two Centuries of Masterpiece Paintings on Copper, a catalog from a 1999 exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum).

Lammers also maintains a blog in which she discusses her painting practices, experiences and travels. Her work will be on view as part of the Wayne Plein Air exhibit at the Wayne Art Center until June 23, 2012.


Eduardo Bajzek

Eduardo Bajzek
Eduardo Bajzek is an architectural illustrator based in São Paulo, Brazil. He is also an avid location sketcher and a member of the Urban Sketchers International and Urban Sketchers Brazil communities.

Though he also works in ink and pencil, when sketching on location Bajzek often works in markers, drawing/painting with them directly without preliminary line drawing in a method he calls “direct to colors”.

In this process he lays down areas of color and tone, gradually building up more detail and taking advantage of the transparency of some colors to build areas within areas.

Bajzek will be teaching this method in a Straight to colors workshop as part of the International Urban Sketchers Symposium in Santo Domingo, that runs from July 12-14, 2012.

On both his Flickr stream and his blog (in Portugese, Google Translate English here) you will find both finished commercial renderings and his loose painterly marker sketches, with more of the latter on the Urban Sketchers sites, along with some pieces in watercolor, graphite and ink. Bajzek also has a professional site (English version here) showcasing his architectural illustration.


Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012
Solid and invaluable advice for artists or any kind, and at any stage in their life and career — but particularly when starting out, given by writer Neil Gaiman at this year’s commencement address to the graduating class of the University of the Arts here in Philadelphia.


[Via MetaFilter]


Daniel Xiao

Daniel Xiao
Daniel Xiao is a concept and matte painting artist who has worked for Pixar Animation Studios, Dreamworks Universal and Fantasy Flight Games, among others.

Xiao paints digitally in Photoshop, as well as working with 3-D applications like Maya and Sketchup Pro.

His fantastical landscapes have a wonderful sense of scale and atmospheric perspective, the qualities of which don’t really come through in the small images I’m showing above. The visual appeal of his work is much more evident on his on site, and even more so on some larger selections you can see in this post on Concept Ships.

Xiao also has a blog that features additional images and work in progress.

On his website you will also find images of digitlally rendered naturalistic landscapes, still lifes and studies from artists like John Singer Sargent.


Pierre-Auguste Cot’s The Storm and Springtime

Pierre-Auguste Cot's The Storm and Springtime
Academically trained French painter Pierre-Auguste Cot, who was a student of Bouguereau, among others, is particularly known for two similarly striking paintings, The Storm (above, top three images) and Springtime (bottom four images).

Both are beautifully rendered, with a feeling of lush naturalism, playfully romantic and more than a little suggestive. Check out the smoldering look the young woman is giving her companion on the swing in Springtime.

Of course, dressing up modern passion in academically approved antique dress, like the depiction of nymphs and satyrs, made an image a “history painting”, and events from mythology or history could excuse a great deal of romance-fueled suggestion in late 19th Century France.

Both works have been immensely popular from their creation to this day, and have been the subject of countless reproductions over that time.

Both paintings are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and a reader (thanks, radium56!) has informed me that both are now prominently on display before the entrance to the 19th and 20th century European paintings gallery, where they make a dramatic visual impression.

For those of us who can’t run over to the Met tomorrow to check them out, the museum’s excellent website has high-resolution images of both (click on “Fullscreen” under the image on the main page, then the “Download” arrow at bottom right).

As far as I can tell the museum is not making a point of this as a mini-exhibition or feature on the schedule, it just seems to be a curator’s idea of a fine way to celebrate spring.



Pochade boxes (update 2012)

Pochade boxes: Open Box M, Alla Prima Pochade, Judson's French Resistance, DIY models from Scott Ruthven and Antti Rautiola
Some plein air painters are hardy and dedicated enough to paint outdoors all year round. Others, like your humble author, are more inclined to wait until spring to emerge from the cocoon of a heated studio, brushes in hand, blinking in the glare of an unfamiliar sun.

In either case, for most of us, the warmer days are high season for painting outdoors — time to get out the pochade box and venture into the open air.

I’ve just updated my extensive article from 2008 on pochade boxes, in which I discuss the use and basic configurations of these portable outdoor artists studios, and attempt to list every commercial manufacturer as well as a variety of DIY solutions for those inclined to build their own.

I’ve added new information about Open Box M, new products from Judson’s Art Outfittters, as well as several additional DIY videos and resources, some of which lower the bar by utilizing found materials and $10 or $15 in parts.

So unleash your inner Van Gogh and take to the fields, brushes, pochade box and tripod in hand.

(Above: Open Box M, Alla Prima Pochade, Judson’s French Resistance, DIY models from Scott Ruthven and Antti Rautiola)