Lehigh Valley plein air event, Easton, PA – until October 14, 2023

Lehigh Valley plein air event, Easton, PA - until October 14, 2023 - Vasari Colors showroom
Lehigh Valley plein air event, Easton, PA - until October 14, 2023 - Vasari Colors showroom

Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors — a small, independent company that makes handcrafted artists’ oil paint — has a showroom in Easton, PA, in the Lehigh Valley. They are sponsoring a month long plein air event in cooperation with the Karl Srirner Arts Trail, which is right next to their shop.

The latter is a parkland along the Bushkill Creek. The event is free with no registration required. Artists are invited to drop by and paint along the trail, or in any of the public parks in the Easton area — some of which are along the Delaware and Lehigh rivers.

More than that, participants are invited to stop into the Vasari showroom, which is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and load up their palette with free samples of Vasari’s handcrafted oil paint.

By way of a disclaimer, I’ll mention that in my role as a website designer, Vasari is a client of mine. However, I think long time Lines and Colors readers will know I’m not likely to let that color my opinion (if you’ll excuse the expression) in what I write here.

That being said, I’ll add that Vasari’s oil paint is the best I’ve ever used, and that includes other “handcrafted” brands like Old Holland and Williamsburg. Vasari’s paints have a wonderful consistency; they flow off my brush like butter, and they have brilliant color with an extraordinary amount of pigment. So being able to use some of this paint for free is a rare treat.

Artists are also invited to drop off finished oil paintings during the week of October 9th to 13th for display in their showroom. The exhibition reception will be from 3:00 to 5:00 pm on October 14th, with judging and prizes awarded at that time.

The address is:
1235 Simon Blvd.
Silk Mill unit P102
Easton, PA 18042

Google map.


Plein air event in Lehigh Valley offers free Vasari oil paint

Plein air event in Easton, PA with Vasari paint

Plein air event in Easton, PA with Vasari paint

From now until October 15, 2022, there is a plein air painting event in Easton, PA co-sponsored by the Karl Stirner Arts Trail and Vasari Classic Artist’s Oil Colors, makers of what is arguably the finest handcrafted oil paint available.

This is a fledgling event, so participants have an opportunity to get in on something fun in its early stages. The event is very informal, registration is not required; just show up and paint anywhere in Easton.

The event is centered on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail, a trail along the Bushkill Creek that is lined with sculpture. I’ve included some photos of the trail above, along with a shot of the paints laid out in the Vasari showroom.

Probably the best thing about this event is that you can stop by the Vasari workshop and showroom (in the Simon Silk Mill complex off of N. 13th Street) and stock your palette for free with any of Vasari’s extensive selection of oil colors!

If you like, you can leave your finished paintings at the Vasari showroom to be displayed during October, also making them eligible for prizes. (You may want to consider taking a frame wired for hanging.)

Vasari is also providing prizes for the event in the form of sets of their oil colors. Judging and the awarding of prizes will be on Saturday, October 15th at 5:00pm.

A friend and I went up earlier this week, had a great time and are planning to go up again next Saturday. I use Vasari paint regularly, but I had a great time trying out a variety of colors I might not have wanted to get a whole tube of just to try, and discovering new colors I love.

The Vasari workshop and showroom, for which there is ample free parking, faces one of the entrances to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. The trail itself has a separate parking area nearby, though it’s fairly small.

Easton is about an hour and a half from the Philadelphia area, and (depending on time of day and traffic) a fairly easy drive up the turnpike.

(Navigation note: Driving directions from Google Maps or Waze may indicate you’re at their address a little too early; keep going to the parking area at the end of Simon Blvd and turn left. Google map)

More info here.

[Disclaimer: in my role as a website designer, Vasari is a client of mine; but those who know me personally and long time Lines and Colors readers know that I don’t recommend products in which I don’t personally believe.]


James Gurney botanical study video

James Gurney botanical study video, Painting This Botanical Study Nearly Broke My Brain
James Gurney botanical study video, Painting This Botanical Study Nearly Broke My Brain

Painter, illustrator and writer James Gurney frequently posts short videos to YouTube, often showing his painting process. Though I have found pretty much all of those I’ve seen enjoyable and informative, he recently posted a video that I found particularly appealing.

In Painting This Botanical Study Nearly Broke My Brain he sets out to paint a detailed study of a hosta plant in the New York Botanical Garden with watercolor and gouache.

I think what I like about his approach here is the pace of the video. It’s a little longer, and I think proceeds a little slower than most of his short videos.

The subject involves maintaining intense concentration while focused on painting the plant accurately, and — with the exception of a short, sped-up sequence in the beginning — seems paced in a way that pleasingly suits the subject, approaching a feeling of ASMR in places.


Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion

Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion,
Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion,

I received review copy of Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion, a new instructional video from painter, illustrator, writer and teacher James Gurney.

The concepts behind making gradations of color in visual art can seem as though they should be simple, until you find yourself trying to paint something like different bands of color on a coffee mug as they round the form into shadow, and you suddenly realize you’re in uncharted territory.

In Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion, Gurney takes on the concepts behind achieving gradual transitions in color.

Gradient, is a term that has come into popular use from its prevalence in digital art; it is used here used as a collective term for gradations, gradated washes, and other gradual tone or color changes.

Gurney uses methodical studio demonstrations to set out the concepts and techniques of working with these kind of color transitions, and then shows real world application of them in sequences of on location painting, adding a dimension of understanding that would be difficult to convey in studio demos alone.

Interestingly, Gurney leaves in what otherwise might be outtakes, demonstrating some of the real world problems painters encounter, such as sudden drenching rain, or coming up against the limitations of an experimental technique, like painting in gouache over water soluble printing ink.

He has also interspersed recorded questions from viewers of his other videos or readers of his blog, in which they ask about concepts that relate to the demo or painting that Gurney is working with.

One of the key points he makes is the degree to which our perception of a color is influenced by the surrounding colors. He brings this home in the last segment, in which he demonstrates how to paint one of those optical illusions that show two squares in a checkerboard pattern on a cylinder that look completely different in context, but, when isolated are shown to be the same color and value. It’s one thing to see one of these optical demonstrations, it’s another level of insight to paint one yourself.

In Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion, Gurney has once again demonstrated his ability to take complex or confusing concepts, reduce them to their essential components and lay out a path to understanding with clarity and ease.

Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion is available for download or streaming through Gumroad, and is also available as a DVD. Both are 10% off Saturday and Sunday, September 11th and 12th, 2021.


Vermeer restoration unveiled with revealed Cupid

Vermeer restoration unveiled with revealed Cupid
Vermeer restoration unveiled with revealed Cupid

Johannes Vermeer, the remarkable 17th century painter from the city of Delft in the Netherlands, is revered for his transcendent portrayals of the effects of light and atmosphere in domestic scenes.

He is best known for his series of compositions in which people, predominantly young women, are seen engaged in simple activities in front of a window — always to the viewer’s left. These make up the majority of Vermeer’s oeuvre, and consist of many variations on the theme.

The painting known as Girl Reading a Letter at a Window, which has been a centerpiece of the collection of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden for over 250 years, is recognized as the first of these.

It has been known since 1979, when an X-ray analysis was made of the painting, that Vermeer had placed a painting within a painting of a large portrayal of Cupid on the wall behind the figure. It was assumed that Vermeer had thought better of his compositional choice and painted over the image of the painting.

However, a restoration was undertaken in May of 2017, in which it was determined by materials analysis that the overpainting of the blank wall had, in fact, been added by another hand after the time of Vermeer’s death.

Given that knowledge, the conservators began to remove the third-hand paint-over, including painted over extensions of the composition at the edges of the canvas, which Vermeer had left blank, perhaps in anticipation of mounting the work in a particular frame.

Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister has now unveiled the restoration, which will be the center of a new exhibition, Johannes Vermeer. On Reflection, that will be on display from 10/9/2021 to 2/1/2022.

The restoration reveals the detailed, large scale painting of Cupid, similar to the painting within a painting of Vermeer’s later work, Lady Standing at a Virginal.

This page on the website of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister goes into the restoration of the painting at a time when the process was about half way completed.

The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister has not yet released a high resolution image of the restored painting, so I’m including images of the pre-restoration version — that are available in high resolution on the Google Art Project and Wikipedia — in which you can see a shadowy pentimento of the covered painting.

You can see the pre-restoration version in context, both by date and in size comparison to Vermeer’s other works in this fascinating comparison on the fantastic Essential Vermeer website. (See my post on Essential Vermeer.)

[Via Colossal and Kottke, thanks to Erlc Lee Smith for the suggestion]


Not the Usual Van Goghs #4

Not the Usual Van Gogh's
Not the Usual Van Gogh's

In making decisions about what images they will show, art directors, publishers, reproduction print makers, and even museums, will often limit themselves to the most popular images in an artist’s oeuvre, particularly when dealing with very popular artists.

This leads to a condition I think of as the “Greatest Hits” syndrome; publishers don’t want to gamble on a possibly more interesting selection, and I suppose, understandably so. They’re simply weighing it as a financial decision, not an artistic one.

However, for those interested in art books and related items, the impression given is that the artists in question produced many fewer works than they actually did. As I’ve pointed out in three previous posts, this is certainly true in the case of Vincent van Gogh.

Here is another round of reproductions of lesser known works of Van Gogh, created over the short but astonishingly prolific 10 years or so that he painted.

In my past articles, I’ve linked to various sources of extensive listings of paintings by Van Gogh. In this case, I’ll point to Wikimedia Commons, which has a chronological list of all his known paintings (excluding watercolors and including a few questionable attributions), as a source of more “not the usual Van Goghs”.