Eye Candy for Today: Carl Thomsen’s Arranging Daffodils

Arranging Daffodils, Carl Thomsen, oil on canvas
Arranging Daffodils, Carl Thomsen, oil on canvas

Arranging Daffodils, Carl Thomsen; oil on canvas, roughly 16 x 12 inches (41 x 32 cm); link is to image file page on Wikimedia Commons, zoomable image on Bonham’s. (My assumption from the auction listing is that the painting is currently in a private collection.)

This 1894 painting by Danish artist Carl Thomsen is a perfect image of bringing spring indoors. The vase of blossoms and the young woman and her white dress are illuminated highlights in the dark room, giving a feeling of the bright promise of spring making an advance into the darkness of fading winter.

Thomsen’s painterly approach makes the bright subjects stand out even more against the almost flat background.

Bernard Völlmy

Bernard Vollmy, watercolor
Bernard Vollmy, watercolor

Bernard Völlmy is a Swiss painter, now based in France, who works primarily in watercolor, but also in monochromatic and color watercolors combined with graphite.

His watercolor themes often include subjects with water — creeks and streams, small runs or even reflective puddles. These are approached with an eye to texture and interesting value contrasts.

Völlmy’s website is in French, but is relatively easily navigable by non-French speakers. The link I’ve posted takes you directly to his watercolor on paper gallery. You can find other galleries of images under the “Bernard Völlmy” menu tab. Among them is a section for his sketchbooks.

Eye Candy for Today: John Sell Cotman graphite and wash drawing

East End of Saint Jacques at Dieppe, Normandy; John Sell Cotman; graphite and brown wash
East End of Saint Jacques at Dieppe, Normandy (details); John Sell Cotman; graphite and brown wash

East End of Saint Jacques at Dieppe, Normandy; John Sell Cotman; graphite and brown wash; roughly 12 x 9 inches (29 x 22 cm). LInk is to zoomable version on Google Art Project, downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Yale Center for British Art.

English painter, printmaker and illustrator John Sell Cotman, who was active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was prolific and left a trove of drawings in addition to his paintings and graphics. Here, he confidently delineates the intricately decorative structure of a large Renaissance church with graphite, augmented with subtle washes.

The drawing exhibits both the substantial accuracy of a careful architectural drawing, and the liveliness of a more casual sketch.

In part, this is likely due to the loosely free rendering of the roof of the lower structure, but I think it’s also due to an approach I have also noticed in the wonderful architectural drawings of Canaletto.

In both cases, lines that over their course are ruler straight, are along the way wavering and often lightly broken. It’s a wonderful technique.

Jennifer McChristian (update)

Originally from Montreal and now based in California, Jennifer McChristian is a painter I first featured back in 2007.

Working primarily in oil, and secondarily in gouache and watercolor, McChristian paints both plein air and in the studio. While she sometimes paints the natural landscape, her preference is to find subjects in the built environment, often taking obvious delight in the geometry of buildings, highways, streets, and bridges, and the shapes of shadow and light they produce.

She also finds inspiration in nocturnes, working with the contrasts of darkness and artificial light in a way that strikes me as appealingly playful. McChristian also studies people, placing her figures and portraits within their environment.

Her approach is quite interesting; she apparently works with a bright, high chroma imprimatura, reddish or almost magenta, that she allows to freely come through in areas of her brusquely textural paint application.

I find the textural, painterly nature of her brush marks particularly appealing. Unfortunately, this character of her pantings doesn’t come through well when reproduced at the size of my example images (I’ve included one detail crop to demonstrate). Fortunately, if you click through the thumbnails on her website to the full size images, most of them are just large enough to see and appreciate this aspect of her work.

Her website is divided into galleries for landscape, figures, drawings and an archive of older work. Her blog also serves as an archive of sorts; though no longer active, it still includes additional examples of her work as well as photos of her conducting workshops and classes.

McChristian’s work is featured on the cover and in the lead article of the current April/May 2021 issue of PleinAir Magazine.

Eye Candy for Today: M.C. Escher lithograph: Reptiles

M.C. Escher, Reptiles, lithograph
M.C. Escher, Reptiles, lithograph (details)

Reptiles, Maurits Cornelis Escher, lithograph, roughly 13 x 15 inches (33 × 38 cm)

Link is to an image sourced from this article on the website of WBUR radio, reviewing a 2018 Escher exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Here, we find the ingenious Dutch printmaker M.C. Escher indulging in a number of his favored themes: tessellated patterns, the relationship between the a two dimensional surface and three dimensional space, a shift between the graphic and the “real”, circular visual logic, geometric solids, and keenly observed still life subjects that may hold symbolic meaning.

This is one of my favorite Escher compositions; it plays with the very nature of illusionistic art — the representation of a three dimensional world on a two dimensional surface.

I see a potential play on words in the title, Reptiles. (Whether this translates into Dutch, or whether Escher spoke English, I don’t know.) The reptiles are represented as elements in a tessellation — as flat, interlocking patterns on the drawing surface. The repeated elements in a tessellated surface are called “tiles”. If you want to carry it further, “Rep” can be short for “repeated”. But then, I’m just projecting into Escher’s work, as its enigmatic nature makes it fun to do.

Also, I love the snort of smoke from the lizard on top of the dodecahedron.

For more, see my previous posts on M.C. Escher.

Alexander Rothaug

Alexander Rothaug, mythological painting and illustration
Alexander Rothaug, mythological painting and illustration

Alexander Rothaug was an Austrian painter and illustrator active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I assume he might be categorized as a Symbolist, which in itself is a loose classification as art styles go.

Rothaug seems particularly inspired by dramatic scenes from myths and legends, often populated with stylized, exaggeratedly muscular figures and rough, visceral textures.

It’s his use of texture that grabs my attention, particularly in the representation of rocks and stone.

Be aware that a number of the works you will find contain nudity, even if highly stylized, and might be considered mildly NSFW.