Didier Graffet

Didier Graffet, fantasy and steampunk illustration
Didier Graffet is a French illustrator, recognized in particular for his fantasy and steampunk themed work. Well known in his native France, Graffet is undeservedly less familiar here in the U.S.

Graffet uses a keen sense of value relationships, a muted palette and a good amount of intricate, textural detail to create arresting images that demand the viewer slow down and linger over them, rather then scanning through them quickly. This, I think, is one of the best uses of detail in illustration — to encourage the reader to pause and reflect on the story while lingering over eye-pleasing interpretations of the text.

Though he does beautifully evocative fantasy themed work, I particularly enjoy his Victorian science fiction images, notably his illustrations for classic Jules Verne novels, and his steampunk versions of alternate times.

Unfortunately, I found the galleries in his website somewhat awkward to navigate, and not as conducive to browsing as one might hope. It’s not a language barrier, the site is nicely available in both French and English, just the arrangement.

The galleries have a drill-down structure, and the obvious path back to the top — the “Galleries” tab in the main navigation — is disabled when in the Galleries section (there is a non-obvious link on the work “Galleries” within the display area that can be used instead).

The thumbnails are small, and it’s easy to miss the links on many sets of thumbnails to subsequent pages, accessed from a small linked row of numbers at the bottom.

The effort to dig around is worthwhile, though, and you will find lots of interesting stuff tucked away. You’ll find most of the steampunk goodies in the Jules Verne section, and in the “Personal” section under “Other Worlds“.

The Fantasy section also contains some personal work and some wonderful dragons.

Most books containing Graffet’s work available in the U.S. are in French editions, a few of which are available through Amazon new, the others available used. There is also a new A Song of Ice and Fire 2017 Calendar, based on George R.R. Martin’s work, with illustrations by Graffet.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Florence Rodway charcoal and chalk portrait

Portrait of a woman, Florence Rodway
Portrait of a woman, Florence Rodway

Link is to zoomable vdersion on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the National Gallery of Art, Australia.

Charcoal and chalk on paper, roughly 23 x 18 inches (58 x 46 cm).

This forceful but sensitive portrait drawing by 19th century Australian artist Florence Rodway is a tour-de-force in soft edges.

 
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Elizabeth Rickert

Elizabeth Rickert
Elizabeth Rickert is a New Mexico based artist who paints landscapes, water gardens, florals, fruits and birds’ nests, but in particular intimate compositions of grasses and other low-to-the-ground plants.

These are rendered with sensitive detail and infused with gentle light, giving them in inviting, luminous quality.

Her paintings are larger in scale than you might assume from viewing the relatively small images on her website, and are likely quite immersive in person.

I particularly admire the way Rickert has handled the value relationships in the layered compositions of grasses. She accomplishes a challenging feat of visual organization as well as finding surprising visual charm in such humble subjects.

There is an article on Parka Blogs about her art tools.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Roelant Roghman drawing

View of castle Groenewoude, Roelant Roghman; chalk drawing
View of castle Groenewoude, Roelant Roghman

Chalk, with brush on paper; roughly 14×19″ (35x49cm); in the collection of the Rijksmuseum.

Roughman’s seemingly simple — but precise and deftly rendered — 17th century drawing is described on the Rijksmuseum’s site with chalk as the material and brush as the technique. I assume from the look of the toned areas that water was employed to smooth or smear the chalk into wash-like passages.

I love the way he has succinctly indicated the water with reflections; and the small touches that can almost go unnoticed — the figures on the bridge, the flock of birds in the middle distance and the ducks in the right foreground.

Roghman’s use of value contrast to set off the building to our left is particularly effective.

 
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Stanislas Lepine

Stanislas Lepine, pre-Impressionist scenes of paris, the Seine, Normandy and nearby villages
Though he participated in the first Impressionist exhibit — and shared with them a move away from the conventions of academic landscape and a search for the atmospheric effects of light and color — 19th century French painter Stanislas Lépine largely stayed outside of their circle.

Lépine worked outside of most artistic social life, for that matter, keeping largely to himself and working in his own manner.

His similarities to the Impressionist painters, who he appears to have have presaged to some degree, derive largely to the shared influence of Corot and Johan Barthold Jongkind on both Lépine and the other artists. Lépine was apprenticed to Corot for a time in the mid-19th century.

Like the Impressionists, Lépine took Paris and it environs as his subject, and in particular the River Seiene in all its moods and aspects — portraying its quays, bridges, barges and waters, both in paris and the small villages nearby, with painterly aplomb.

 
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Alice Pike Barney

Alice Pike Barney
American painter and pastellist Alice Pike Barney was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — a time when outspoken, involved, skilled and independent-minded women like herself were the model for what was seen by proponents of early feminism as the “New Woman”.

Based in Washington, DC, she travelled to Paris, where her two daughters were attending school, and studied with Sargent’s teacher Carolus-Duran, as well as with James Whistler, during the brief time he operated a school.

Barney was adept in both oil and pastel, in the latter medium often taking a free approach, with vibrant colors and loose, gestural handling. Her interest in theater shows in her portraits cast in theatrical roles and costume.

She painted numerous portraits of her daughters at various points in their lives, as well as a number of self-portraits (above, bottom). Her subjects inclided such noted figures as Whistler and George Bernard Shaw.

A patron as well as an artist, Barney was active in working to make Washington, D.C. a notable city for the arts, helping to move it out of the shadow of New York, Philadelphia and Boston.

 
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