Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead (Alte Nationalgalerie version)

Isle of the Dead, Arnold Bocklin, five versions plus etching by Max Klinger
Isle of the Dead, Arnold Böcklin

Today is Halloween, or Hallow’een, short for “All Hallows’ Evening” — the evening before a day dedicated to remembrance of the dead (and marked by costumery and other activities meant to mock death itself).

With the theme of the dead in mind, here is one of five different versions of a famous painting by Swiss Symbolist Arnold Böcklin, each titled Isle of the Dead (“Die Toteninsel” in German), and differentiated in their titles by the museum or gallery in which they currently hang.

The version shown here, now in the Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin (and at one time owned by Adolf Hitler), was the third version painted, and the most famous — partly due do an etching based on it by Max Klinger (images above, bottom), and widely reproduced versions of lower quality.

The link I’ve given for the painting is to the Google Art Project zoomable image. There is a high resolution downloadable file of that image on Wikimedia Commons, along with images of the other versions of the painting (images above, bottom, above Klinger’s etching). The fourth version was destroyed in WW II, and only a black and white photo remains.

Isle of the Dead was extraordinarily popular and influential, inspiring numerous artists, including other Symbolists, the Surrealists and subsequent generations of fantasy painters.

There is an entry on the five paintings on Wikipedia, and another about them on In the latter article, John Coulthart explores some of the pop culture references to the painting, including the notion that it was the inspiration for the views of the approach to Skull Island in the original King Kong.

See also my post on Arnold Böcklin.

Jared Muralt

Jared Muralt, pen and ink and watercolor illustration, comics
Swiss illustrator and comics artist Jared Muralt works in a pen and ink style that combines line and hatching with bits of lightly applied stipple. Many of his illustrations are colored, either with watercolor or digital color.

You can see his work as within the milieu of French and Belgian comics art styles, particularly those of Moebius and Bilal. Muralt’s use of color is restrained, always allowing the nature of the ink lines to define the look of the finished piece.

In addition to the galleries on his website, you can find his work on Behance, where the individual pieces are often supplemented with photos of the drawing in progress.

Muralt says he gets much of his inspiration for his illustrations from his sketchbooks, where he records day to day observations, along with flights of fancy. There are selections from his sketchbooks on both his website and Behance portfolio.

Colley Whisson YouTube demo videos

Colley Whisson YouTube demo videos
Well known Australian painter Colley Whisson, who I wrote about in 2011, has for some time been posting short demo videos of his painting process on YouTube.

These are quite short, roughly 3-4 minutes, and each briefly cover the process of a particular small painting.

The videos are not professionally produced, and the audio, in particular, suffers a bit on some of them. They also vary somewhat in format; those labeled “Speed Paint” are time lapse of the painting start to finish, with music and no commentary. The rest are clips in real time, with fades between stages of the process, and voice over commentary by Whisson on his process.

They are a bit more rushed than one might like, and missing any glimpse of color mixing, though Whisson does often mention which base colors he is using. For whatever limitations they may have, however, I found them interesting, and instructional.

I think those interested in oil painting technique will find them of value — particularly in their strongest aspect, which is close-ups of Whisson using his brushes in various ways to achieve different effects in creating his wonderfully painterly and textural surfaces.

There are about 20 videos as of this writing; most are landscapes but there are also still life, animals and figures.

Whisson’s website lists a book, only available in Australia, and a sold-out DVD of other, slightly longer videos. There is mention of work in progress on a long form demonstration DVD, but I don’t know its status.

[Note: the images above are not linked or embedded videos, just screen captures from several different videos. Please follow the YouTube link provided below.]

Eye Candy for Today: Sisley’s Rest Along the Stream

Le repos au bord du ruisseau. Lisiere de bois (Rest along the Stream. Edge of the Wood) Alfred Sisley
Le repos au bord du ruisseau. Lisière de bois (Rest along the Stream. Edge of the Wood) Alfred Sisley

Among the original core group of French Impressioinist painters, English born Alfred Sisley has long been a personal favorite of mine. There is something direct and to the point about his work that particularly appeals to me, and I think presages the work of the American, Russian and Scandinavian painters who would adopt to the influence of the Impressionists, but lean a bit more toward painterly realism.

This painting has been a source of fascination for me since I first saw it in a book years ago, and became convinced that the reproduction was incorrect. Since then, I’ve seen it reproduced in other books, also with questionable color balance, and the images currently on the internet have done little to change things.

The image I’m linking to is on the Google Art Project. It’s nicely high resolution (downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons), but I can’t help but think it’s too monochromatically green. The Musée d’Orsay has the original in it’s collection, but their website image of the painting is inexplicably terrible, though at least warmer in tone.

It’s been a long time since my single visit to the Musée d’Orsay, but based on that, and my more recent and frequent encounters with other paintings by Sisley, I’ve attempted to color correct the Google Art Project version with my “best guess”. I can make no claims of accuracy, but I might as well add my color variation to the internet image mix for this painting.

Kalen Chock

Kalen Chock, concept environments and visual development art
Kalen Chock is a California based concept and visual development artist, whose clients include Industrial Light and Magic, Cryptozoic, CGMA, Autodesk, Ember Lab, Virtual Toys, and Fantasy Flight Games.

His blog includes a number of his professional pieces, but much of it is devoted to his personal work, sketches, experiments and demonstration pieces for classes he teaches.

I often find that the most enjoyably imaginative work from visual development artists is their personal “day off” work, in which they are unrestrained by project demands and can range more freely through their medium.

Chock’s environments range from dark and moody to bright and colorfully lit, and he makes good use of texture in his images, using it in effect like a compositional element along with value and color. He use those elements, along with hard and soft edges and careful color placement, to guide the viewer’s eye to the intended focus of his compositions.

Chock has some inexpensive, and free, demo videos and layered PSD files available through Gumroad.

[Via Concept Art World]

Eye Candy for Today: Adolph Menzel’s View from a Window

View from a Window in Marienstrasse
View from a Window in Marienstrasse, Adolph Menzel

Image on Surprised by Time blog (scroll down), direct link here.

Gouache over chalk on paper, 12 x 9 inches (30 x 23 cm).

Original is in the Museum Oskar Reinhart am Stadtgarten, Winterthur