Jan van Eyck’s Crucifixion

Jan van Eyck, Crucifixion
This painting by the 15th century Netherlandish master, assisted by members of his workshop, is part of a remarkable set of two panels (thought to be originally a triptych, of which the third panel is missing). Each panel is only 22 by 7 inches (56x20cm). The other panel depicts the Last Judgement (more on that in a later post).

Van Eyck, perhaps the first great master of oil painting, has imbued his image with remarkable depth, and dedicated his attention to extraordinary detail, from the individual character of the multiple faces to intricate rendering of costume and such painterly touches as the reflection of figures in the shield of one observer.

Under a sky whose clouds might be a scientific study for meteorology, the visceral telling of the story unfolds against a background that recedes through a contemporary European city and over a river, on back to the atmospherically blued mountains beyond.

Presumably, in common with Van Eyck’s other paintings, almost everything here has significance, from the horse and rider in the middle distance to the identity and role (and expressions!) of those in attendance — whether historic in the context of the moment, or contemporary in relation to the patron for whom the work was created. (It might be assumed that the small scale work was created for personal devotion rather than display in a church.)

The original is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Skan Srisuwan

Skan Srisuwan
Singapore based illustrator and concept artist Skan Srisuwan has, in many of his pieces, a fascinating way building up waves of objects, mostly machine-like, that roil through the compositions like flowing, cubist shards of metal or plastic.

In Srisuwan’s digital paintings, it looks at though he has divided up his space into forms, then divided those forms again and again into smaller subsets.

These are incorporated into images in which characters play either major and minor roles, often with the swirling patterns of semi-abstract forms taking dominance.

While many of his figures are in the more common vein of comics/manga, and are often drafted with the sometimes nonsensical disregard for proportion common in the genres, Srisuwan sometimes adds interest by cloaking them in more of his three-dimensionally divided scatterings of geometric detritus.

Srisuwan is Creative Director of Studio Hive. There is a brief interview with him on ImagineFX.

[Via Concept Art World]


Eye Candy for Today: Vermeer’s Delft

View of Delft, Johannes Vermeer
View of Delft, Johannes Vermeer

On Wikipedia, original is in the Mauritshuis.

Sometimes overlooked among the enigmatic Dutch master’s oeuvre of striking paintings are Vermeer’s three known landscapes (or more properly, cityscapes), only two of which are existing: The Little Street and View of Delft.

Aside from the simple fact that View of Delft a beautiful painting, there are several things I particularly enjoy about this work.

One is the interesting composition: a straightforward city view in the middle of the scene, but with that wonderful sweeping curve of the water and bank edge in the foreground.

The curve, and the fascinating shapes of the shadows in the water, are set off by the small figures in the foreground, which also give the painting its remarkable sense of scale. This is particularly the case with the two women silhouetted against the water, which anchor the painting for the viewer, and to my eye, are the focus of the work.

The scale of the foreground figures is reinforced even further by tiny figures across the water, both along the quay and inside the arch of the central building.

The dark to light layers of clouds — combined with the planes of distance suggested by the foreground, water, dark middle-ground buildings and light splashed distant buildings —give the painting an immense feeling of depth.

For more background, see the article on Essential Vermeer (roll over the image for details). It includes some rather anti-climatic modern photos of the same area, much changed.


Zen Pencils (Gavin Aung Than)

Zen Pencils (Gavin Aung Than)
Zen Pencils is an online comics feature by cartoonist Gavin Aung Than, in which he interprets inspirational writings, sayings and quotes from various sources in the form of comics.

The main page of the site is arranged as a blog, and the strips are intermixed with supplementary commentary and other material. New readers may want to sample the “10 most popular Zen Pencils comics of 2013” or use the “Archives” drop-down to the right of the main navigation, the Archives page, or some of the recent selections in the right-hand column.

Be aware that the strips are loaded as single, sometimes quite long sets of panels, and may take a moment to load into the page. I’ve selected a few representative sets of panels from the middle of several different strips, above.

Than draws his material from a fairly wide selection of sources, from Carl Sagan to Shakespeare to George Carlin to Ben Franklin to Chinese proverbs and actual Japanese Zen stories. Those inclined to find inspirational quotes and aphorisms a bit too “Reader’s Digesty” may find the effect leavened by the fact that… hey, it’s comics!

The comics are Than’s freely imagined interpretations of the meaning of the words, given form in a way that may or may not be in the context of the original. Often, they also serve as a tribute or homage to an individual, as in his homage to Bill Watterson’s style in the course of “A Cartoonist’s Advice” (above, second set of panels from the bottom).

Among my favorites is his interpretation of highlights from Neil Gaiman’s wonderful commencement address to the 2012 graduating class of the University of the Arts here in Phialdelphia (image set above, bottom — if you haven’t seen Gaiman’s original speech, by the way, it is definitely worth 20 minutes of time on the part of anyone involved in art related fields, see my post here).

In addition to the blog-like format of Than’s site, there is a separate blog section. There are also features like translations of some strips in several languages and an about page. Than also has prints available on society6.


Eye Candy for Today: Gibson ink drawings

Charles Dana Gibson, classic pen and ink illustration
Various drawings, Charles Dana Gibson

From the Toronto Public Library.

Gibson was one of the great masters of pen and ink and a major early figure in “Golden Age” illustration.

Look at the head of the “Gibson Girl” the center, and the variety of lines, from the short, fine pen strokes around the eyes and nose, to the fluid, calligraphic curves at the top of the hair (which I assume are done with a brush). Wonderful.