Baumgartner painting restoration videos

Baumgartner painting restoration videos

Baumgartner painting restoration videos

If, like me, you find the conservation and restoration of historic artworks interesting, you will probably enjoy this series of videos (YouTube link) from Baumgartner Fine Art Restoration, a conservation studio located in Chicago.

In the video from which I’ve shown some example images, above, we see the restoration of a badly torn portrait by William Merritt Chase.

The videos are not meant to be detailed or instructional, they just follow the general process.

I’m not familiar enough with contemporary restoration methods to know if there is anything unorthodox about the procedure, or if this is a standard approach, but the process shown seems reasonable to me. All of the changes are meant to be reversible, and any repainting is restricted to a new replacement surface, inserted only where the original canvas is missing.

There are additional videos on Baumgartner’s YouTube channel that go into other aspects of conservation and restoration. They also have an Instagram feed.

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Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

Pen and ink is a medium with a long history, but despite some modern revival in interest (as evidenced by the current internet-wide exercise of Inktober), its importance has faded from its time as a major drawing medium for Renaissance and Baroque masters, and its strong popularity as a medium for illustration during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Pen and ink is a medium with unique characteristics — in linearity, texture and tone — that have a visual charm shared only with similar techniques in printmaking.

From the waning years of the medium’s heyday as a staple of book illustration, we have a classic volume that is simply the best book on pen and ink I’ve ever encountered: Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

The original version of the book was published in 1930 as Drawing with Pen and Ink, and versions of that volume are still available. The edition titled Rendering in Pen and Ink was created in 1976, leaving out a few of the original illustrations, adding many others and condensing the area devoted to text while enlarging that given to images.

This is a from-the-ground up treatise on drawing with pen and ink, starting with materials, basic marks and methods of making tones — hatching, cross-hatching, stipple and freeform textures — and going on through methods of rendering trees and landscapes, architecture, still life, people and more.

Much emphasis is given to making and controlling tones and suggesting light and shade, something that those learning pen and ink often struggle with, as well as conveying the textures of natural and artificial surfaces.

Many of the illustrations, particular those explaining the basics of ink drawing and rendering, are by Arthur Guptill himself, and he is no slouch at pen drawing. The book is also profusely illustrated with plates by some of the best pen and ink artists from the turn of the 20th century, a high point for the use of pen and ink in books and magazines.

The drawing may strike some as “old fashioned”, in that it has a character of classic illustration — but to others, myself included, this is a Good Thing — a welcome grounding in techniques taken from masters of the medium.

The current 60th Anniversary edition of the book, which is huge, both in page size and number, is available for under $30 on Amazon U.S. For my money, a single chapter would be worth that! (I’ll note that I have an older, well-worn hardbound edition that I’m using for my review, and I can’t speak to the binding and paper quality of the current printing.)

I’ve had the book since I was in my early 20s; I considered it a gem then, and the years have not dimmed my enthusiasm for its value. Rendering in Pen and Ink is highly regarded as a standard must-have book among illustrators and comics artists, but is less well known to other contemporary artists.

There are a lot of books available on drawing in pen and ink, but if you have any interest in working in, and hopefully mastering the medium, this one should be on your shelf.

 
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James Gurney’s Painting Animals from Life

James Gurney's Painting Animals from Life, instructional painting video

James Gurney's Painting Animals from Life, instructional painting video

James Gurney has an uncanny ability to take on challenging painting subjects, and then make his methods clear and easy to understand in low cost, high quality instructional videos. In his newest video, Painting Animals from Life, he tackles the problems of painting animal subjects that move and change position, and shows how to successfully capture them while painting on location.

I was delighted to receive a review copy and I found it to be a valuable addition to his continuing line of videos on painting outdoors, or “In the Wild”.

Unlike most of Gurney’s videos in his “in the Wild” series, in which he takes on five or six different subjects in the course of the video, Gurney has chosen in this case to slow down a bit and focus in depth on the creation of two paintings from initial sketch to finishing touches.

The first is of a dog laying in the sun coming through glass doors into an interior, the second is of large Belgian draft horses being washed down outside a stable. There is also a “Bonus Tips” section toward the end, in which he gives quick tips on painting animals from life and features short sequences of work on several additional paintings.

He is painting here in gouache, a long neglected medium of opaque watercolor which is experiencing something of a revival in recent years, in no small part due to Gurney’s championing of the medium and the abundant resources for gouache on his blog.

Though he compresses time in places with time-lapse sequences, a good portion of the Painting Animals from Life video proceeds with real-time painting, in which you can see the use of the brush and the application of paint much better than in time-lapse videos.

Interestingly, though he also use flats, Gurney appears to paint much of the paintings with a round brush, but often used with the bristles slightly flattened out into a shape a bit like a filbert.

He also uses split-screen and picture in picture sequences to allow you to see the subject and the painting simultaneously, something that I find particularly useful in instructional painting videos.

It’s fascinating and instructive to see the paintings proceed from initial sketch to that indistinct state of rough shapes and then through levels of refinement. Unlike many instructional painting videos, in which the painter appears to masterfully know where every stroke will go without hesitation, Gurney lets us see a much more realistic process, in which even a highly experienced painter will search and experiment and correct in the process of finding a path to the final painting.

Painting animals from life requires adjusting to their movements, painting in background elements when they move out of position and coming back to them when they return to a similar pose. In the process of painting the draft horses, he uses the similar poses of four horses to create a painting of one; he also deals with human figures and methods for capturing their ever changing movements in repeated or remembered positions.

As is the case with most of Gurney’s videos, there is more to the process than just the subject in the title, and the painting methods apply to other kinds of subjects and to painting in gouache in general.

He demonstrates, in several sequences, how the opacity of gouache allows for changes and revisions, as well as simply adding a figure or other shape directly on top of existing areas of the painting. He points out that it is a bit like sculpting — adding and subtracting — and allows the painter to work from foreground to background as well as background to foreground.

There is a trailer for the video on YouTube.

You will also find, in keeping with Gurney’s other videos, a wealth of supplementary information and related video shorts on his always interesting and informative blog, Gurney Journey.

Painting Animals From Life is a 69 minute video, available either as a digital download for $14.95, or on a DVD for $24.50. See this page on Gurney Journey for information and links.

 
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French (Box) Easels, Field Easels and Other Plein Air Painting Systems

French (Box) Easels, Field Easels and Other Plein Air Painting Systems

This post is an adjunct to my extensive article on pochade boxes. In it, I will showcase some alternative outdoor painting systems and portable easels.

While plein air painting goes back further among individuals, it was with the invention of tin paint tubes and the portable “Box Easel” in the 19th century that painting en plein air, or “in the plain air” became the practice of significant numbers of artists.

Together, the new, easy to carry tubes and easels made it much more practical than it had been to carry what was essentially a compact artist’s studio into the field.

Today, amid the renaissance of plein air painting that has taken place over the last 20 years or so, modern pochade boxes have become the outdoor painting platform of choice for many plein air painters, but box easels and other types of painting systems have their adherents.

I’ll attempt to list some of the major types and variations.

 

French Box Easels

Jullian French Box EaselThese are modern versions of the 19th century box easels, now often referred to as French easels or sketchbox easels. They consist of a tilting panel or canvas holder hinged to a painting box.

For transport, the easel folds down to become the top of the painting box, which also usually has a drawer insert that acts as a palette holder in use. The entire arrangement is supported by wooden legs that are adjustable in length with wingnuts and fold against the sides and bottom of the box for carrying.

Jullian, a long standing French manufacturer, likes to take credit for the invention of the box easel in the mid 19th century by its founder, Roger Jullian. It could be true, but I think it remains unproven.

French box easels come in full and half sizes. There are a number of brands and configurations — as well as custom variations from some manufacturers — most ranging in price from $80.00 to $200.00 or so (USD). Painter Michael Hodgkins gives a nice introduction and overview of how they are set up in the this video.

Advocates of pochade boxes and other portable easels and painting systems are often critical of French easels as bulky, awkward to set up, and prone to breaking. However, they handle many thing well — like supporting relatively large paintings and carrying lots of supplies. They can also double as a studio easel.

Jullian makes several variations (along with field easels). You can get them through Dick Blick, Jerry’s Artarama and other suppliers.

Blick also carries this Bamboo model, and Richeson sells a “half” French easel.

Jerry’s Artarama carries French easels and half easels by Jullian, Mabef, Monet, Creative Mark and several names that appear to be in-house branding, some of which feature built-in wheels.

Mabef makes the Mabef French Sketch Box Easel, and Sketch Box Backpacker Easel, which is essentially a half French easel.

Cheap Joe’s has a house-branded model, as well as a field easel.

Amazon has an Art Alternatives Sonoma Sketchbox Easel.

Artist’s Loft is sold by Michaels craft stores.

Jullian also makes a variation called the Rexy Watercolor Easel, that is configured to allow form a more horizontal painting surface, and comes with a removable paint box.

EaselAir is a metal variation on the French box easel; they have a video demo on YouTube.

Anderson makes an unusual Swivel Easel, a variation on the French box easel that is used in a seated position.

 

Gloucester Easels (Anderson Easels)

Take It Easel Gloucester Easel (Anderson Easel)The Anderson Easel was used in northern Europe in the early 19th century, but unlike the box easel, it did not have a built-in provision for holding supplies. It experienced a revival in the U.S. in the service of American painter Emile Gruppe and his Gloucester School of Art, where it became known as the Gloucester Easel.

It consists of a wooden tripod with adjustable legs — much sturdier than those of a field easel — that are held together with crossbars when in use. The height of the canvas holder is adjusted by setting its pegs into holes set into the legs at intervals. While not as simple to set up as a pochade box or field easel, it seems easier to deploy than a box easel.

The wide tripod stance gives Gloucester Easels exceptional stability, and they are well suited to holding very large canvases and working in windy conditions. They provide room for a large shelf area inside the legs when set up, with plenty of space for a palette and supplies at that level. When you see painters working at a large scale on location, they are often using one of these.

Take It Easel is the leading manufacturer of this kind of easel. Stapleton Kearns has an article about them on his blog. Bill Guffey sets one up and breaks it down in this YouTube video.

The Beauport Easel is a variation on the Gloucester easel. Jerry’s Artarama has a YouTube video in which they test the easel’s resistance to wind with both small and large canvases.

 

Lightweight Field Easels

Lightweight field easelProbably the simplest and cheapest outdoor painting easels; they are also the least sturdy option for holding panels or canvasses for outdoor painting.

Field easels consist of lightweight tripods of either wood or metal, with extendable legs and an attached panel holder. They usually offer no shelf for a palette without an add-on of some kind.

In most wooden versions, the panel or canvas holder is a separate hinged arm, adjustable in length, set into the top of the tripod. This can be adjusted from vertical to horizontal positions, the latter allowing the easel to be used for watercolor.

In some versions — usually the most inexpensive of the metal ones — the panel holder can be a simple brace across the front legs that holds the bottom of the canvas or panel, along with an extendable arm that adjusts to hold the top. These can only be adjusted in angle by setting the back leg lower than the others, but the configuration allows for holding larger canvasses or panels.

Field easels collapse down to a size a little longer than the length of one leg section, usually about 24″ (60 cm) or so, and many come with a carrying case.

Wooden field Easels come from a variety of manufacturers — too numerous to list here — most ranging range in price from $16.00 to $130.00 USD.

Field Easels also come in metal versions in a similar price range.

These metal Creative Mark Napoli metal field easels are more expensive than some, but look like a quality version of the concept.

Dakota Art Pastels makes one with a dedicated design for pastel painters.

[Addendum: Dedicated plein air painter Marc Dalessio has been kind enough to comment on this post and point out: “For tripod easels, the metal ones are vastly superior to the wood ones. The wood ones are really terrible and should be avoided.” See this post’s comments.]

 

Tripod Based Palette and Panel Holders

That’s just my loose term for several variations in portable painting systems. The most prominent of these are known primarily by their brand names, rather than being identified with a classification of portable easel. They are usually in the $200.00 to $400.00 range in price.

These systems are hybrid arrangements, usually consisting of a collapsable photographic tripod — like those used with pochade boxes — combined with a rocking panel holder like those in high-end field easels or an extended vertical arm with a panel holder that can also be adjusted in angle.

They often incorporate a tri-panel folding palette that attaches to the front legs. (Larger variations of these folding palettes, when used with French easels, are sometimes called “French Mistresses”. I don’t make this stuff up, folks.)

Unlike pochade boxes — on which the palette and panel holder are part of the same unit and therefore close together — the separation of palette and panel holder allows for the palette to be as low as below the waist, and the panel or canvas to be at eye height if desired. The fold-out palette generally offers more mixing room than other outdoor painting options.

Coulter Easel, plein air easelThe Coulter Easel was designed by painter James Coulter and is manufactured by Art Box and Panel. A wooden panel holder and fold-out palette are mounted to a metal tripod.

 

Soltek plein air easelThe Soltek Easel has a paintbox and built-in tripod legs a bit like a metal version of a box easel, combined with a panel holder that extends up on a vertical arm that can be adjusted in angle, including flat for watercolor. As of this writing, their website is still partly unfinished. There is a (low-res) promo video on YouTube.

 

Daytripper plein air easelThe Daytripper Easel comes with a metal fold-out palette. Painter Patrick Saunders demos one on YouTube. They also make a smaller “Fly on the Wall” version that can be used with or without a tripod (for painting in your lap or on a table).

 

En Plein Air Pro, plein air watercolor easelEn Plein Air Pro offers several variations, including dedicated watercolor easels (video demo on YouTube).

 

Sun Eden plein air easelSun Eden makes several versions, with adaptations for oil/acrylic, watercolor and pastel, for which they provide a comparison chart.

 

Sienna Canvas/Panel Holder, plein air easelSienna makes a variation they call a “Canvas/Panel Holder“, in which the wooden fold-out palette incorporates a tempered glass palette surface (more info here).

 

Guerrilla Painter Flex Easel and Campaign Box plein air sytemGuerrilla Painter makes a separate Flex Easel to which you can mount their Campaign Box, a trifold palette and storage box combination.

 

For comparison, see my posts on pochade boxes, DIY Pochade Boxes, DIY cigar box pochade boxes and James Gurney’s How to Make a Sketch Easel.

 
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How to Draw a T.rex Cartoon Dinosaur

How to Draw a T.rex Cartoon Dinosaur, how to video
As some long time readers are aware, in addition to writing Lines and Colors, I’m also a designer, painter and cartoonist.

I’ve just taken my first run at creating an instructional YouTube video in support of my book, Dinosaur Cartoons.

How to Draw a T.rex Cartoon Dinosaur is an 11 minute step-by-step tutorial in which I go through the process of drawing a cartoon in the manner most often used by professional cartoonists and illustrators — working out the drawing first with simple shapes and construction lines in pencil, creating the finished drawing over that in ink (or marker) and erasing the pencil out from under the ink as one might do with a drawing intended for reproduction.

When the book was originally released, I did a number signing sessions in Barnes & Noble stores and independent bookstores in which I taught kids how to draw cartoon dinosaurs. I’ve tried to adapt that approach here.

Though I’ve created a dinosaur cartoon drawing tutorial before as a web animation, this is the first in what I hope to be a continuing series on how-to videos, that will have their own YouTube channel.

My first video is a little rough around the edges (perhaps I went a little too “Bob Ross” in my soft spoken voice-over), but I’m just learning how to make instructional art videos. As I go on, I’ll try to report back with some of what I’m learning about that process.

I will say that the first thing I’ve learned, unsurprisingly, is that it’s a lot of work to try and do something like this right.

There are any number of art instruction videos on YouTube with poor production values, low quality sound and little or no evidence of editing.

I’ve tried to take my cue from artists who are producing their own art videos, but putting in the effort and attention necessary to bring them up as closely as possible to a professional level (a prime case in point being James Gurney, whose self-produced videos are wonderfully done).

As I go on, I’ll announce new videos in the series in the Lines and Colors sidebar, and when I have enough information about the process of creating DIY art instruction videos, I’ll try to collect that in another post.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Peder Mønsted woodland interior

A Woodland Stream, Peder Mork Monsted landscape painting, oil on canvas
A Woodland Stream, Peder Mørk Mønsted

Link is to Wikimedia Commons, which has a high res version of the file. The original was sold through Sotheby’s in 1987 and is presumably still in a private collection.

As far as I can tell, the majority of Mønsted’s paintings seem to be in private collections. He is one of my favorite painters, based solely on seeing images of his work; I’ve never seen an original in person.

If anyone is aware of Peder Mønsted paintings in public collections here in the U.S. (particularly on the mid-Atlantic states), I would love to know about them.

 
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