Eye Candy for Today: Hans Hoffmann watercolor and gouache hedgehog

A Hedgehog (Erinaceus roumanicus), Hans Hoffmann,
A Hedgehog (Erinaceus roumanicus), Hans Hoffmann

Watercolor and gouache on vellum; roughly 8 x 12 inches ( 21 x 31 cm). In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

16th century German artist Hans Hoffman was noted for his detailed paintings of animals and other natural forms. He was tremendously influenced by the watercolor and gouache nature studies of Albrecht Düer, and that influence is evident in this wonderful study of a hedgehog.


Stephanie Bower

Stephanie Bower, urban sketcher, architectural watercolor illustration
Stephanie Bower is an architectural illustrator and avid urban sketcher based in Seattle.

Like a number of other architectural illustrators who are also sketchers or watercolor painters in their off hours, Bower’s location sketches have a wonderful combination of loose, gestural rendering over a solid framework of perspective and geometric forms.

I particularly admire her fearless handling of complex cityscape panoramas and large interiors, like cathedrals and churches. She has a deft touch with her application of watercolor, adding enough to give her compositions color and presence, but allowing the pencil drawing to remain a strong part of the finished piece.

Her website is devoted to her professional architectural rendering, of which you can see a couple of examples above, third and fourth from the bottom. Even though more formal than her sketches, her line and watercolor illustrations have a warmth and visual appeal that the CGI modeling renders that seem to be dominating the field these days lack.

Bower’s blog and Instagram account showcase her sketches, many of which are from travels in Europe and around the world.

Her sketches can also be found on the Urban Sketchers site (note links to multiple pages at bottom), where she is a correspondent. She also teaches workshops at Urban Sketchers events. There is a brief video introduction of Bower in that role on YouTube.

She is also the author of one of the books in the Urban Sketching Handbook Series: The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective.

In addition, Bower has two online courses available through Craftsy: “Perspective For Sketchers” and “The Essentials of Sketching Architecture“.


Eye Candy for Today: Jessie Willcox Smith mixed media illustration

Illustration from <em>A Child’s Garden of Verses, Jessie Willcox Smith”  /><br />
<a href=Illustration from A Child’s Garden of Verses, Jessie Willcox Smith

Philadelphia-born artist Jessie Willcox Smith studied with Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and later with American illustration master Howard Pyle.

It was through Pyle’s classes that she encountered fellow students Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley, with whom she would become lifelong friends.

Like Shippen Green, Smith often worked in a multi-media approach that involved layers of charcoal drawing, fixative, watercolor and sometimes gouache and ink.

Her use of white paint is evident in this beautiful illustration from A Child’s Garden of Verses, one of her most prominent projects. The combination of drawn lines and color gives that wonderful effect of being both a drawing and a painting.

Smith’s evocative portrayals of the joys of childhood were also often a paean to motherhood.

There are contemporary editions of the book from which this is taken. Amazon has unfortunately mixed the reviews of editions from different publishers, some of which are negative, so it’s hard to determine which edition is problematic.

I would suggest this 2015 edition from Pook Press, which contains 12 color images of Smith’s illustrations in addition to her pen and ink spot illustrations: A Child’s Garden of Verses Illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith (Amazon US).

For readers in the UK: A Child’s Garden of Verses Illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith, (Amazon UK).


Simon Palmer

Simon Palmer, English landscapes in watercolor, gouache and ink
Simon Palmer is an English landscape painter who has a fascinating approach somewhere between naturalistic and quite stylized.

He appears to slightly compress both linear and atmospheric perspective, giving an impression of flatness the belies the textures he gives to his foliage and tree forms.

This is emphasized by his muted palette, primarily consisting of earth colors and low chroma greens. He paints in watercolor with additions of gouache and pen and ink.

His approach seems particularly well suited to his subjects of tree-lined country lanes, estate entrances, and those edges where wooded and developed areas meet.

I can’t find a dedicated web presence for Palmer, but I believe he is officially represented by JHW Fine Art.

There are somewhat larger images on the Portland Gallery website.

There is a collection of his work, The Art of Simon Palmer, that was published in the UK in 2011, but I don’t know how easy is is to order from the U.S.


Eye Candy for Today: John William Hill watercolor landscape

Landscape: View on Catskill Creek, John William Hill, watercolor
Landscape: View on Catskill Creek, John William Hill

Watercolor and gouache; roughly 10 x 15 inches (25 x 38 cm); in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the “Download” or “Enlarge” links under the image on their site.

British-American artist John William Hill was noted for his scientific illustrations of birds and other animals, as well as his landscape and still life subjects.

I like the way his rhythmic strokes of color give his depictions of foliage both texture and a sense of movement. He’s also given the rocks a surprising degree of solidity and texture considering their economical notation.

There appears to be a small animal to the left of the figures (images above, third down), but I’m uncertain what it is.


William Trost Richards small watercolors at PAFA

A Mine of Beauty: William Trost Richards small watercolors at PAFA
American painter William Trost Richards, known for his seascapes and landscapes, was also a fantastic watercolorist. While traveling abroad in the late 19th century, he sent a series of small watercolors of his travels back to a patron, George Whitney, who was sponsoring his travels and looking to review scenes for possible larger commissions in oil.

Richards and Whitney called them “coupons”, a joking reference to the idea that they were a kind of promissory note against future work that Richards would do in return for Whitney’s support of his travels. They were somehow largely kept together after Whitney’s death, and in 2012 the collector in possession of them, Dorrance Hamilton, donated them to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

The watercolors were put on display in 2012 (my review here), but, like most works on paper, they are not ordinarily on view.

There is another rare chance to see them now, as the Academy has an “Encore” showing of them. If you can go, get there early enough to let your eyes acclimate to the dimmed light in the gallery. They are in the Furness building with the permanent collection.

These watercolors are astonishingly beautiful, and only slightly more amazing given their small size — most are roughly the size of a postcard. Many were painted in England, along the coast and in London.

For those who can’t get to the show, or would like a preview, you can view them online on PAFA’s website. There isn’t an online gallery specifically for them, but you can go to the Search the Collection page and enter “Richards” for the artist’s last name and “watercolor” for the keyword. That will turn up a few other of Richard’s watercolors, but most will be from this set.

Hopefully, this link will work for you.

Encore Presentation Of A Mine Of Beauty: Landscapes By William Trost Richards will be on view at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia until July 30, 2017.

For more, see my post from 2012 on A Mine of Beauty: Landscapes by William Trost Richards.