Simon Stålenhag

Simon Stalenhag
For several years Swedish concept artist and illustrator Simon Stålenhag has been working on a series of digital images that, though initially just fanciful works done for practice or his own amusement, gradually evolved a common theme.

The images portray somewhat dystopian times involving futuristic machinery, slightly retro vehicles and suggestions of gleaming cities… and, oh yes, dinosaurs.

There is now something of a backstory, created after the fact, that you can read in a brief English translation as part of this article from Wired.

What struck me, aside from my usual fondness for sci-fi themed concept art and dinosaurs, was the wonderful painterly quality Stålenhag has achieved in his digital paintings, along with his beautifully naturalistic evocation of the Swedish landscape against which his imaginings are set.

Stålenhag artfully uses his digital tools to achieve a look similar to gouache, with its characteristic matte finish, but with lots of painterly touches (putting me in mind of some of the earliest images I saw back in the mid-90s that impressed me with the potential of digital painting: the “digital gouache” paintings of Nancy Stahl).

There is an interview with Stålenhag on Abduzeedo that delves a bit into his process. Stålenhag mentions his early inspiration for pursuing concept art in seeing the work of industry greats Syd Mead and Ralph McQuarrie.

I can’t find much in the way of Stålenhag’s professional work, but there lots of his personal pieces from this series on his website, along with a number of detail crops that show to advantage his digital painting style.

His “sketchbook” is a Tumblog that also informally acts as a blog. He also has prints available on RedBubble.

[Suggestions(s) courtesy of James Gurney and Ian McQue]


Jeremy Lipking (update)

Jeremy Lipking
WhenI first wrote about contemporary American painter Jeremy Lipking back in 2006, I was struck in particular with his subtle and masterful understanding of value, and its relationship to color.

That impression has only been reinforced by the work I’ve seen from Lipking since then. His figures and faces, along with an occasional still life or landscape, carry forward the compositional strengths and restrained use of color often found in the late 19th century portrait masters like John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase, perhaps along with painters like Jules Bastien-Lepage.

I get the impression that in instances where other painters might work and rework to push their colors brighter, Lipking works and refines his compositions to restrain them into greater depths of harmony.

Lipking’s work will be on display in a solo show at Arcadia Contemporary in NY, that opens tomorrow, December 12, and runs to December 31, 2013.

While the show is running, a preview should be available here, but the page hasn’t turned over to the new show yet, and will be replaced with another show when this one is over. In the meanwhile there is a magazine style preview here. Even though the latter is in one of those dreadful page-flipping, jiggling-zoom magazine formats, it’s tolerable if you make it full screen. YOu can also see his Arcadia Gallery regular listing.

In addition to the updates on his blog, if you follow Lipking on Twitter or Instagram, you will occasionally be treated to images of works in progress.

Lipking is featured in the December 2013 issue of American Art Collector, for which his painting October Aspens (above, 6th down) was chosen for the cover.

Lipking conducts workshops, and has three instructional DVDs available on portrait and figure painting.

[Note: some images in the sites linked are NSFW]


Self-portraits #7

Self-portraits:Diego Rivera, George Tooker, Frits Thaulow, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Alphonse Mucha, Titian, Burton Silverman, Zinaida Serebriakova
“Selfies” were in the news again today, as the press evidently felt that the U.S. president taking one of himself and some other world leaders at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service was a newsworthy event (sigh).

Here are some more artists’ “selfies”, done with brush or graphite.

(Images above: Diego Rivera, George Tooker, Frits Thaulow, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Alphonse Mucha, Titian, Burton Silverman, Zinaida Serebriakova. [Thanks to Daniel van Benthuysen and Eric Kelly for their suggestions of Burton Silverman and Zinaida Serebriakova.])


Calder and Abstraction

Alexander Calder
Long time readers of Lines and Colors will know that, with a few exceptions, I’m not particularly fond of modernism — especially post-war American modernism.

Sculptor Alexander calder is certainly one of the exceptions. I’ve loved his work since I was introduced to it when I was in high-school, where we were encouraged to make our own “mobiles” in art class. This was reinforced by the fact that Calder and his family of sculptors (father and grandfather) were from here in Philadelphia, and there are examples all around, including the wonderful large mobile called Ghost in the great staircase hall of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Calder created his sculptures with wire and wonderful flat metal shapes that looked like the inspiration for the best 60’s modern design and the related styles of animation. And Calder’s sculptures are animated! They move, suspended from wires or balanced on pedestals, with an uncanny slow-motion dance of balance and grace, driven by the most subtle disturbances in the air around them.

Most sculptures are about form and space, and how one defines the other (see my post on Bernini). Calder’s sculptures were also about air and time and gravity.

Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic is a show now on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that continues to July 27, 2014.

There is a photo set on Flickr (from which I have excerpted the photos above). Mark Frauenfelder has an article on Boing Boing in which he describes visiting the exhibit and coming home inspired.

For more, including a discussion of why I find Calder so fascinating, see my 2006 article on Alexander Calder.


Harry Anderson Art

Harry Anderson illustrations
When I wrote about the terrific mid-20th century American illustrator Harry Anderson back in 2007, there were limited sources for images of his work on the web (though Leif Peng’s Flickr set is still going strong).

Thanks, to Jim Pinkoski there is terrific site devoted to Anderson and his work called Harry Anderson Art.

The image archives on the site are largely divided by the publications for which he did most of his work, along with additional sections for advertising art, religious art and calendars (of which the automotive calendars are a particular treat).

The images include detail crops and accompanying photos of the magazine spreads, in which the illustration art was often incorporated into the layout of the text.

It’s interesting to note that much of Anderson’s work was done in casein, an opaque water-thinned paint based on a binder made from milk. Anderson developed an allergy to turpentine, and after trying egg tempera and working with watercolor to some extent, settled on casein as a water thinned medium with some of the characteristics of oil. There is a discussion of his technique on Leif Peng’s Today’s Inspiration.

[Via Gurney Journey]