Eye Candy for Today: James Peale miniature portrait

Elizabeth Oliphant, James Peale, watercolor on ivory
Elizabeth Oliphant, James Peale

Watercolor on ivory, roughly 3 x 2 inches (7 x 5.8 cm ). Link is to Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

In the late 18th, and through the mid 19th centuries, there was a demand for miniature portraits, both in the U.S. and in Europe. These were usually painted in watercolor or gouache on oval ivory, often in the form of pendants, and were kept as keepsakes.

Ivory seems to lend itself well to this kind of miniature water media painting, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington has a nice collection of them, accessed in drawers.

I had a chance to look through some of them on a visit to the museum a couple of years ago and I can see the appeal; many are beautifully painted, often in a delicately applied stipple technique, as is the case in this beautiful example by American artist James Peale.


Eye Candy for Today: William Henry Hunt watercolor and gouache still life

Apple, Grapes and a Cob-Nut , watercolor and gouache still life
Apple, Grapes and a Cob-Nut; William Henry Hunt

Watercolor and gouache over graphite; roughly 5 x 7 inches (13 x 19 cm); in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art, which has both a zoomable and downloadable version of the image on their site.

Early 19th century English artist William Henry Hunt painted his exactingly detailed still life subjects — often fruit or birds’ nests — in a painstaking stipple technique over a ground of “Chinese White” (zinc white gouache). This gave them a luminescent quality admired by the Pre-Raphaelite painters, who took up the technique later in the century.


Ernst Graner

Ernst Graner, Austrian watercolor painter, watercolors of Vienna
Ernst Graner was and Austrian painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Graner painted genre scenes and landscapes, but is best known for his deftly rendered views of architecture and city scenes, particularly in Vienna.

In the larger images available on the web, you can see that for all the detail and accuracy of his paintings, his approach to watercolor is confidently relaxed and not stiff.

Some of the images I came across seemed overly saturated to me, as is often the case with online images of art from the 19th century and earlier. I’ve tried to select versions here that seem more likely to be true to the originals.


Michal Jasiewicz

Michal Jasiewicz, watercolors
Michal Jasiewicz is a Polish architect whose avocation and passion is painting in watercolor.

Like other artists trained in architecture or architectural rendering, Jasiewicz’s work is characterized by a foundation of solid draftsmanship that allows his to apply his colors freely without losing the sense of underlying geometric strength.

I particularly like that characteristic of his work as well as his skilled contrast of hard and soft edges.

Jasiewicz conducts workshops in Poland and elsewhere, including an upcoming one in Valencia, Spain, 13 November – 17 November, 2017. (There are additional examples of his work on the workshop info page.)

There is a brief interview with Jasiewicz on Art of Watercolor.


Paschalis Dougalis

Paschalis Dougalis, wildlife art, watercolors pen and ink
Originally from Greece, Paschalis Dougalis is an artist and wildlife illustrator currently based in Munich, Germany.

Douglais has a special interest in birds, and owls in particular. He works in watercolor, gouache and acrylic for his finished pieces, and often works from life in zoos and parks, capturing animals in watercolor or pen, often Bic pens.

I particularly enjoy his drawings on toned paper in which he works out from the middle ground with both ink and white gel pens.

Though there are a few images on his website, his blog is more active. Douglais’ YouTube channel includes a number of videos of him working on location.

There is a brief interview with Douglais on Birdingmurcia.


Mary Sprague (update)

Mary Sprague, ink drawings, and watercolor of trees, chickens, rhinos
Mary Sprague is an artist based in St. Louis who I first covered back in 2010, and who works in ink, paint, pastel, wood and clay.

Her website emphasizes her large scale drawings of chickens, done in pastel, charcoal and mixed media; there is also a series of images of rhinos in a mix of stylistic approaches and media, but it is her more straightforward pen and ink drawings of trees that most captured my attention.

In her tree drawings, Sprague’s light touch and fluid, almost scribbled line gives the drawings some of the character of etchings. She contrasts dark areas of dense hatching with light and airy passages where the image seems to dissolve into thin wisps of lines.