Viktor Vasnetsov

Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov
Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov was a Russian painter who painted scenes of Russian folklore as well as history painting, genre painting, religious subjects and landscape.

Though I don’t think his folklore paintings were meant to be reproduced as illustrations, they have a similar narrative quality. His flights of fantasy are grounded in a tactile realism that gives them weight and solidity.

Vasnetsove was friends with Ivan Kramskoy and Ilya Repin. At Repin’s suggestion he moved to Paris, where he developed an interest in Russian folklore, a subject he had resisted previously.

His paintings in that vein were given harsh treatment by critics initially, and he eventually moved toward religious subjects, spending considerable time painting frescos in the St Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev.

Vasnetsov was also involved with architecture and theatrical set and costume design, as well as mosaics for other cathedrals. In addition, he was curator of the Tretyakov Gallery, and instrumental in preserving religious paintings from churches by having them moved to the gallery during the Russian Revolution. He donated a number of works to the Russian State Historical Museum.


James Paick (update)

James Paick, concept art
James Paick is a concept and visual development artist who I first featured back in 2007.

Paick is the founder of Scribble Pad Studios, whose clients include Riot Games, Naughty Dog, EA, Sony, Respawn, Epic Games, Activision, NC Soft, and Wizards of the Coast.

Paick excels at suggesting detail and texture in environments of monumental scale, giving them a feeling of tactile presence. He uses both muted and brighter palettes to advantage, depending on the requirements of his subjects.

The galleries on Paick’s website are divided into persona and professional projects, both of which are of interest.

There are instructional videos available for purchase and download through Gumroad. Paick also teaches through the Brainstorm School Mentorship Program.


Ottorino De Lucchi

Ottorino de Lucchi, drbrush watercolor
Italian artist Ottorino De Lucchi works with watercolor in a technique he calls “watercolor drybrush”.

This is not the typical use of that term, meaning passages with a brush on which only a small amount of paint is present — normally used to create textural strokes. Instead, he refers to a specific technique of applying drybrush strokes layer on layer, in a manner similar to oil painting, a process he developed from studying the watercolors of Andrew Wyeth.

He gives a description of the process on handprint, Bruce MacEvoy’s superb resource on watercolor.

De Lucchi feels the result is richer, higher chroma passages of color and greater contrast of light and dark. Even web based images of his work (which are never the equal of originals) seem to bear out those characteristics.

His still life subjects, often backlit and set against deeply dark backgrounds, appear luminous and vibrant with color.


Eye Candy for Today: Egyptian encaustic portrait

Portrait of the Boy Eutyches, unknown artist
Portrait of the Boy Eutyches, unknown artist

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art; use zoom or download arrows under the image for high-res version.

This two thousand year old painting on wood panel, in the hot wax process of encaustic, highlights the characteristics of that medium to not yellow or change chemically with age.

The painstaking painting process involves hot beeswax, sometimes combined with cold wax, resins, oil or egg. The resulting surface, often with layered strokes, has a dimensional quality, and can have some of the appearance of oil painting.

This is perhaps the best example of the kind of paintings on wood placed over mummies known as “Faiyum Portraits”, for the location of the most notable finds. Though an Egyptian practice, the painting style is an adaptation of Greco-Roman artistic traditions, very different from classic Egyptian art forms.


Federico del Campo

Federico del Campo, scenes of Venice
Federico del Campo was a Peruvian painter active in the late 19th and early 20th century who was noted for his large scale scenes of Venice.

He studied in Spain at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, and traveled and painted in Italy and France. He settled in Venice for a time, where he became friends with Spanish painter Martin Rico, and shared with him a passion for capturing the light, texture and atmosphere of the city en plein air.


Grahame Baker Smith

Grahame Baker Smith
UK illustrator Grahame Baker Smith is known for his interpretation of classics like Pinocchio and Robin Hood, as well as contemporary works like Leon and the Place Between and FArTHER. His work for the latter garnered him the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2011 (a British medal awarded each year for “distinguished illustration in a book for children”).

Smith has also done diverse projects like album cover art for Robert Plant, and an animation project on which he is currently working.

He works in both traditional and digital media, varying his approach as the project demands. Some of his pieces look like assemblages, some are straightforward, some lighter, some darker.

In taking on the challenge of a series of stamps for the Royal Mail marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Smith has neatly sidestepped the problem of getting around the definitive interpretations of Tenniel and Rackham by taking a distinctly modern approach.