Eye Candy for Today: Abraham Bloemaert’s flute player

The Flute Player, Abraham Bloemaert
The Flute Player, Abraham Bloemaert, details

The Flute Player, Abraham Bloemaert

Roughly 23 x 27 inches (58 x 69 cm), link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project, downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Centraal Museum, Utrecht.

In a composition somewhat similar to those of his contemporary Georges de La Tour, 17th century Dutch painter Abraham Bloemaert has lit his subject by candle or lamplight that is hidden behind a foreground object — in this case a dark vesssel that also serves as a compositional element to hold the left edge of the image, and balance the darkness on the right.

Both the dark object and the dark background serve as contrast to emphasize the illumination of the musician’s face, which has the added interest of being uplit.

The highlights and shadows round the eye, the highlights and darks on the hat as well as the feather and light clothing against the background, form a series of concentric rings of light and dark, a target effect. This was not uncommon among Dutch paintings of the time, and can be seen in the work of Vermeer, among others.

 
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Elizabeth Robbins

Elizabeth Robbins, still life and portraits
Elizabeth Robbins, still life and portraits

Utah-based painter Elizabeth Robbins focuses primarily on floral still life, and also paints portraits and Western Art subjects.

In her still life paintings, she take a direct, painterly approach, often with dramatic chiaroscuro contrasts. I particularly enjoy her use of soft and hard edges and her handling of crokery and transparent vessels.

Robbins conducts workshops, as well as offering instructional DVDs and online courses through her website.

 
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Matthew Cook (update 2018)

Matthew Cook, ink and watercolor

Matthew Cook, ink and watercolor
Matthew (Matt) Cook is a UK artist and illustrator who I have featured previously (and here), mostly in reference to his fascinating role as a reportage illustrator in the middle-east war zones.

In this post, I’d like to focus instead on his more recent travel sketches and paintings. Most of these are done in a watercolor style that is simultaneously free and strongly drawn, and would be of particular interest to those who enjoy “urban sketching”.

Cook’s wonderful handling of brick, stone and other textured architectural elements is a visual treat, as is his controlled used of high and low chroma colors.

Cook/s primary website is still largely focused on reportage. He has a secondary website that has more of his travel sketches, but they are reproduced at a frustratingly small size.

Much better for enjoyment of his recent work is is Twitter account, on which the images are linked to nicely large versions that allow you to see his deft, confident handling.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Isaac Levitan Crimean landscape

In the Crimean Mountains, Isaac Ilich Levitan

n the Crimean Mountains, Isaac Ilich Levitan (details)
In the Crimean Mountains, Isaac Ilich Levitan

Oil on canvas, roughly 26 x 14 inches (68 x 36 cm); in the collection of the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

This stunning rocky landscape is part of the superb collection of works in the Tretyakov Gallery by 19th century Russian landscape master Isaac (Isaak) Ilich Levitan.

Here, Levitan give us a tour-de-force of texture, not only in the cascade of strewn boulders in the foreground, but in the trunks of the trees and in the representation of the foliage beyond.

The variation of color in the rocks is remarkable, both between the various rocks and within the painted surface of each individual plane of each rock.

 
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Steve Caldwell

Steve Caldwell, portrait paintings
Steve Caldwell, portrait paintings
Steve Caldwell is a UK painter whose focus is portraits, and by focus I mean rather intense focus. Caldwell’s faces are intensely observed, and rendered with a finessed attention to tone and texture. Many have a feeling of immediacy that at times can even feel a bit confrontational, a sense of “here I am, this is me, like it or not”.

Most interesting to me is that a large percentage of Caldwell’s paintings are monochrome, painted in acrylic in a full range of grays. A number of them are left in an apparently unfinished state with some areas brought to a finish and others little more than a sketched outline against a textured ground.

His work in color is no less intensely observed, with an equal degree of attention to nuanced value relationships.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Bernardo Bellotto capriccio

Bernardo Bellotto, Capriccio with a River and Bridge

Bernardo Bellotto, Capriccio with a River and Bridge, details
Capriccio with a River and Bridge, Bernard Bellotto

Oil on canvas, roughly 19 x 29 inches (48 x 73 cm); in the collection of the Museo National Thyssen-Bornemisza. Click on the links to zoom or download the image on the museum’s site.

Bernardo Bellotto was Canaletto’s nephew, as well as his premiere student. This image is a capriccio — an idealized architectural landscape either created of scenes from different locations made into a whole, or just invented, or a combination of both.

In this work from early in his career, Bellotto’s approach is close to that of his mentor, right down to the signature style of representing water with little linear wave forms. The painting is forceful in its underlying geometric solidity, and rich with textural details and areas of deliberate imperfection in the stonework to indicate weathering and age.

I love the little wooden balcony to the right of the structure in front of the tower, with the potted plants on its ledge.

 
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