David Riedel

Davie Reidel, still life
Originally from Indiana, still life and landscape painter David Riedel studied art in Arizona, and later at the Art Students League in New York, where he studied with noted painter and teacher David Leffel.

You can see Leffel’s influence in Riedel’s nuanced attention to value relationships and visual flow through his compositions.

Riedel also exhibits particularly creative attention to the selection and arrangement of his still life elements. They seem carefully arranged, but never awkwardly staged —each object and background element in harmony with the whole.

In the few images of his work I’ve found that are a bit larger than the ones on his website, it becomes clear that his work has a wonderful surface character of very confident and deliberate brush marks; it’s unfortunate that the majority of the relatively small images don’t show that very well.

Though his primary focus is still life, Riedel also paints landscapes, again with a sensitivity to value relationships and texture.

His website portfolio is divided according to the galleries to which pieces are assigned; I’ve also provided direct links to some of the galleries below.


Tadahiro Uesugi (update 2014)

Tadahiro Uesug, iillustration
I first wrote about Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi back in 2005, and again in 2010. While his awkwardly arranged website has unfortunately not been revised, his work is a fresh and wonderful as ever.

Influenced by an affection for 1950s and 1960s “modern” styles of American advertising art, Uesugi brings together a strong sense of design, perspective and geometry with a brilliant use of light and color to create deceptively simple but remarkably effective images.

Many of his illustrations are set in U.S. and European cities (as presumably are some of his clients), notably San Francisco and Paris.

He uses open areas and negative space with almost equal presence to his represented objects. Often, much more is suggested than presented. He adds deft touches of texture exactly where most appropriate.

Given the amazingly strong geometric foundation of his compositions, you might be tempted to think that his images are filled with straight lines, but they’re not. His lines are curved, slanted, skewed, broken and rough edged — anything but straight.

His subtle use of value is not what you might expect from work that seems so abstracted into basic forms, but in many ways, value relationships are at the heart of his compositions.

Light shimmers, slides, peeks and bounces through his images — slipping through cracks, hiding in doorways and bounding down alleys. Light is as much a character in Uesugi’s images as his frequent subjects of fashionable young women walking through urban environments.

His website is not as easy to browse as one might like. The home page is a jumble of mentions of projects and links to places other than his portfolio, all in Japanese. Just go directly to the bottom of the page, and on the little navigation bar at the very bottom, click “Illustration”. I can’t even give you a direct link because the damn thing is in frames.

You should see a row of thumbnails in the left column (frame) and a single image in the right. As you scroll down through the thumbnails, you’ll find that the last thumbnail, or bit of text, will be a link to the next set of thumbnails. The one good thing about the site is that there are at least a two or three hundred of his images there.

There is an interview with Uesugi about his concept art for the animated film Coraline on Animation World Network (see also my posts on Coraline).


Eye Candy for Today: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils

Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Adelaide Labille-Guiard
Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art; use the zoom or download icons under the image.

Though I’m not quite as taken with her work as I am with the paintings of her contemporary, Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, I do admire Labille-Guiard’s skill with paint, and with chalk drawing.

At the time she and Vigée Le Brun were members of the Academy, they were two of only four women admitted at any one time.

This is the kind of highly refined self-portrait that artists used as a promotion piece, demonstrating their skill as a portrait painter to prospective patrons.

In this case, however, it may have been more, a statement that women artists should have a place in the French Royal Academy that was not limited to a token representation. She certainly makes a good case for it.


Ted Nasmith

Ted Nasmith, illustrations of  J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, and classic cars
Along with Alan lee, John Howe and the Hildebrant brothers, Canadian illustrator Ted Nasmith is one of the artists most associated with bringing to visual form the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

It’s difficult now to see past the look established by the extremely popular movies, but that look was largely developed from existing sources in popular illustration, one of which was Nasmith. Even though other commitments prevented him from accepting the invitation to work on the films directly, his influence on those who did work on them is evident. (There is an article here that discusses his unofficial influence on the look of the LoTR films.)

Influence and inspiration are a two way process, of course, and in Nasmith’s work I see an admiration for fantasy illustration greats from the golden age, like Arthur Rackham, John Bauer, Gustaf Tenggren and Maxfield Parrish, as well as his contemporary interpreters of Tolkein.

Nasmith has more recently been working on illustrations of the works of George R.R. Martin, including an upcoming deluxe edition of Game of Thrones.

In addition to his fantasy illustration, Nasmith has a background in architectural rendering, and a personal penchant for paintings of classic automobiles, some of which show an affection for 1960s advertising illustration. I enjoy the way he incorporates his skill with landscape and naturalistic elements into his automative renderings.

I’m particularly knocked out by Nasmith’s handling of his primary medium: gouache. I’ve frequently described gouache as an underrated and insufficiently appreciated medium, with a unique character and dramatic potential, and Nasmith’s mastery of opaque watercolor is a beautiful case in point.

With the exception of the image of Galdalf and the two hobbits at the glowing door to Moria (which was done in acrylic), all of the illustrations shown above — and with a few other exceptions, most of the pieces in his portfolio — were painted in gouache on illustration board.


Eye Candy for Today: William Rickarby Miller apples

Still Life - Study of Apples, William Rickarby Miller
Still Life – Study of Apples, William Rickarby Miller

I’ve linked here to a version of this image on The Athenaeum. The original is in the de Young museum in San Francisco. There is a high resolution version on the Google art Project, and a downloadable high resolution image on Wikimedia Commons.

The Google Art Project image, and the one on the de Young site, seem dark and over-saturated; the one on Wikimedia Commons seems too faded and desaturated. The one on The Athenaeum, which I suspect someone corrected before uploading, feels more natural to me. It is not as high in resolution, however.

I’ve used the Athenaeum version here for the top two images, and a version of the Wikimedia image that I’ve color adjusted to be closer to the Athenaeum version for the bottom two details.

I haven’t seen the original, which could well be closer in appearance to the darker versions.

Miller was a 19th century American painter, considered part of the Hudson River School. This simple, direct still life feels remarkably fresh and modern.