Today is October 1, the first day of “inktober” 2018.
For more information on what Inktober is, and how to participate or just enjoy, see my previous post on Inktober.
Yuko Shimizu is an illustrator who I first profiled in 2007, mentioned again in 2010, and featured prominently in the article I wrote on contemporary illustrators for the Summer 2013 issue of Drawing Magazine.
Shimizu (not to be confused with the Japanese designer with the same name who created “Hello Kitty”) is orignally from Japan and now based in New York City. Her illustration style is a fascinating blend of influences from Japanese traditional and pop culture, American pop culture, comics, classic illustration, woodblock prints, and probably a myriad of other sources I haven’t picked up on.
She works in both traditional and digital media, often drawing/painting with ink and traditional Japanese calligraphy brushes, and then taking the drawing into Photoshop to apply digital color.
She also frequently will take her brush and ink line and translate it into color, producing a distinct and fascinating contrast with the more traditional ink line and color fill common to woodblock prints and other illustration techniques.
Shimizu’s line work is full of energy and verve and her color choices are frequently unexpected, particularly in the way certain colors are juxtaposed against one another. I very much enjoy the way she plays with floral and animal forms in her images — sometimes as subjects, and sometimes as design elements in the composition.
The gallery on her website can be filtered by genre to a degree, but I find it fascinating to simply leaf through, enjoying the contrast between subjects.
Pencil, pen & ink, watercolor & gouache on paper, roughly 9 x 12″ (24 x 32 cm) and 12 x 9″ (31 x 24 cm), respectively.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts on “Not the usual Van Goghs“, in a dedicated art career that barely spanned ten years, Vincent van Gogh was prolific, leaving over 900 paintings and more than 1,000 drawings. Yet art book publishers and museum curators often feel obliged to show you the same few “greatest hits” over and over.
They have a freshness, immediacy and feeling of location that would be the envy of many contemporary “urban sketchers”.
I think they also show the influence of the Impressionists he encountered in Paris, as well as the Japanese prints that were popular among French artists of the time, and which Van Gogh collected and sometimes emulated.
Oak Tree and Beech, Lullingstone Park, Samuel Palmer
Pen and brown ink, with gouache an watercolor on toned paper, roughly 12 x 18 inches (30 x 47 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum, NY. Use the “Zoom Image” or “Download Image” links on their page to view larger.
I love the way that Palmer has used a variety of seemingly casual but wonderfully effective marks — squiggles, dots, dashes, calligraphic strokes, blotches, hatching and stipple — to define his textures.
The Morgan’s website indicates that the handling of the background is also quite interesting. The light through the distant trees is indicated with yellow watercolor, painted over an area defined with white qouache and then coated with gum arabic, which would impart a sheen to that area. I assume that this effect would be more noticeable in person, and might resemble the effect of spot varnish as used in modern commercial printing.
Though he sometimes works monochromatically, when I first came across the ink and watercolor architectural drawings and urban sketches of French artist Jérémy Soheylian the majority of his work at first registered to my eye as full color.
It then dawned on me that they were actually remarkably effective use of simple warm and cool tones — a muted sepia (or perhaps burnt sienna) and a cool, low chroma blue-gray. Soheylian is wonderfully adept at using the power of color temperature and value relationships to suggest distance and variety, with deft touches of pen work adding texture and a sensation of detail.
He occasionally also works in more colors, greens and higher chroma red-browns and blues, but still with a very limited palette. Some of his work is more sketch like, other pieces are more refined and finished. All of them evidence solid draftsmanship and a firm grasp of architectural form.
His website is in French, but is easily navigable by non-French speakers. “Peintures” are his watercolor paintings, “Dessins” are drawings in various media including urban sketches, and “Illustrations” are his more formal architectural drawings.
Soheylian also has a blog, which includes some step-throughs of his process. It’s also in French, and has more text than his website, but you can access it through Google Translate if you want a rough translation.
There is also a step-through of his process on Canson Studio. In addition, there is a brief interview with Soheylian on the French version of the Canson Studio site, Google Translate here (scroll down).
If you do a Google Image Search, you’ll find a number of his images from other sources.
There is a brief video about Soheylian on YouTube that is in Russian, but has a view of him working.
View over the Amstel from the Rampart, Rembrandt van Rijn
Brown ink and wash, roughly 3 1/2 x 7 inches (9 x 18 cm); in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, DC.
Though a number of Rembrandt’s drawings, particularly those of figures or religious scenes, can be identified as preliminary to particular paintings of graphic works, his landscape drawings seem to have been done for their own sake.
No one can say with certainty what Rembrandt’s intention or state of mind was in regard to a particularly drawing, of course, but I can’t look at a drawing like this without thinking that it was done purely for the pleasure of drawing.
This feels to me like the work of someone who could take up pen and paper and let the burdens of the world fade into the distance while focused on the scene in front of him.
There is evidence throughout of keen, clear observation (like the blades of the multiple windmills), yet Rembrandt in his mastery makes the notation seem casual and relaxed.
I love the effect of distance he achieved by using thicker, heavier strokes (perhaps with a different instrument or ink) in the foreground.
Though the term would have been meaningless in Rembrandt’s time, to our modern sensibilities, the aspect ratio of the image could be described as cinematic — capturing a panorama of riverfront structures and activity in addition to the city beyond.
Don’t take my detail crops above be the only view you get of the image at a large size. Go to the Google Art Project or National Gallery page and view the drawing zoomed in at full screen. Perhaps, like me, you can project yourself onto the bank at Rembrandt’s side, and feel the wind push the sails of the ships along the river as his pen captures the moment.