Christina Chung

Christina Chung illustration
Christina Chung illustration

Christina Chung is a Brooklyn based illustrator who describes her nationality as Taiwanese-Hongkonger-American. Her clients include The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Scientific American, Science Magazine, NPR, Abrams Books, Penguin Random House, and Lucasfilm, among others.

Her illustrations, often in a line and fill approach, use restrained palettes and carefully controlled value relationships to imbue complex drawings with harmony and mood. Her images invite you in to gradually reveal their thoughtful narrative elements.

Chung appears to work out her ideas with sketches in traditional media before moving to digital for the final illustration. There is a description and walk through of her process on the site of her artists representative, Richard Solomon.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Levitan’s bridge at Savvinskaya Sloboda

Bridge. Savvinskaya Sloboda, Isaac Ilyich Levitan
Bridge. Savvinskaya Sloboda, Isaac Ilyich Levitan

Bridge. Savvinskaya Sloboda; Isaac Ilyich Levitan; oil on canvas, roughly 10 x 11 inches (25 x 29 cm).

Link is to the file page on Wikimedia Commons; the original is in the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, though the gallery does not include it among the Levitan pieces from their collection that they display online.

I suspect that to 19th century Russian landscape master Isaac Levitan this small painting of a little wooden footbridge in a rural area outside of Moscow was a “sketch”, or a “study”, something impromptu and relatively quickly realized. Parts of the painting are economically suggested to the point of feeling unfinished. In some places the paint is thinly applied, revealing the texture of the support, but in the area of interest it’s thickly and more carefully painted.

Sketch or not, to me this is not only a strikingly beautiful work, but a lesson in casual mastery. My eye is immediately drawn to the bridge itself, as obviously was Levitan’s. On one level the contrasts in value are striking and dramatic — as in the relationship of the dark mass of the bridge to the light in the stream and the dark slash of the reflected tree trunk — but at another level, the value and color relationships are extraordinarily subtle.

Look in particular at the contrast between the deep blue-gray shadows and muted yellowish spots of sunlight as they are expressed on the left side of the bridge — where the wooden planks are in deeper shadow — and the way similar patterns of light and shadow are presented on the right side of the bridge, where the ambient light is stronger and the blue-gray of the shadows is lighter and lower in chroma.

Just remarkable.

My guess is that Levitan did not set out to give that phenomenon of light special attention, but instead simply observed and mixed, observed and mixed, as his years of painting experience would have allowed him to do almost without thought.

 
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Blair Atherholt

Blair Atherholt
Blair Atherholt

Blair Atherholt is a painter whose approach to still life combines modern sensibilities with traditions from the “Golden Age” of 17th Dutch still life. Many of his compositions feature dark backgrounds and strong chiaroscuro in the definition of objects, as well as attention to “lost and found” edges.

He departs from those traditions in his use of textural paint application — often in a direction that helps define the form or the intensity of light against it — and his occasional choice of unconventional objects. He also sometimes casts lighting around or behind objects in a way that suggests theatrical halos of light.

He also plays with contrasts of high and low chroma passages within his paintings, forcefully drawing your eye to specific parts of the composition, but retaining a naturalistic feeling overall.

I particularly like the evocative combination of texture and dimensionality in his approach.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Albert Pénot’s La Petite Cigale

La Petite Cigale or portrait of the artist's daughter, Albert Joseph Penot
La Petite Cigale or portrait of the artist's daughter, Albert Joseph Penot (details)

La Petite Cigale or portrait of the artist’s daughter, Albert Joseph Pénot

Oil on canvas, roughly 63 x 39 inches (161 x 98 cm). Link is to a past auction on Tajan auctions. There is a somewhat smaller image on Wikimedia Commons which lists the location of the original as Museum No Hero, Delden (The Netherlands).

Google translates “La Petite Cigale” as “the little cicada”; perhaps that was the artist’s nickname for his daughter, I don’t know.

If you’re inclined to search for more of Pénot’s work, you will find some beautiful paintings, but be aware that many of them would be considered NSFW.

 
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Holly Carden

Holly Carden cutaway illustrations
Holly Carden cutaway illustrations

I have to say that I just love cutaway illustrations, those wonderful glimpses of the workings of cars, aircraft, ships, machines, buildings and other complex objects in which the artist has granted the viewer the gift of x-ray vision.

Nashville based freelance illustrator Holly Carden creates some particularly nice cutaways of buildings, both real and imagined.

Her intriguingly complex buildings like “Macabre Mansion” and “Murder Castle” feature literary references or ties to actual events. Her blog features posts that give background on many of her illustrations, as well as detail crops, in progress images and process information.

Her most complex illustrations appear to be drawn in traditional media (pencil and ink), and then scanned into the computer for digital coloring.

Carden also does maps and more straightforward cartoon style illustration.

If the home page of her website looks more like an eCommerce site, it’s because two of her cutaway illustrations have recently been made into jigsaw puzzles. These are available through her online store, along with prints of some of her illustrations.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: T.C. Steele’s Bloom of the Grape

The Bloom of the Grape, Theodore Clement Steele
The Bloom of the Grape, Theodore Clement Steele

The Bloom of the Grape, Theodore Clement Steele

Oil on canvas, roughly 30 x 40″ (76 x 100 cm). Link is to zoomable image on Google Art Project; high-res downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

If, like me, you’re wondering why you don’t see any grape vines in Steele’s wonderfully painterly evocation of the late fall landscape, here is a line from the museum’s gallery label:

“The title refers to a white, gauzy veil known as the ‘bloom’ that covers grapes at harvest time. Steele said the hazy, frosty days of late October and early November reminded him of the bloom of the grape.”

 
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