Rembrandt etching: Adoration of the Shepherds

The Adoration of the Shepherds, Rembrandt Harmenz van Rijn
The Adoration of the Shepherds, Rembrandt Harmenz van Rijn

Etching and drypoint, roughly 6 x 8 inches (15 x 20 cm); in the collection of the Rijksmuseum. There is also a version on Google Art Project.

Here we see another example of Rembrandt’s uncanny mastery of the art of etching. His daring composition, in which the attending figures barely emerge from the darkness, is dramatic and subtle at the same time.

As with most etchings, this one exists as a number of versions from different states of the plate. The Rijksmuseum itself has at least two other prints, from the second state and the sixth state, in which Rembrandt has made the main figures darker and the light even more subtle.

I prefer this earlier version, though, because of the wonderful linear quality of the drawing of the mother and child.


Norman Rockwell Santa

And to All a Good Night, Norman Rockwell
And to All a Good Night, Norman Rockwell

This image is sourced from an interesting 2015 Wired article on Rockwell’s photographic reference for this and a number of his other holiday themed paintings.

As is often the case with Rockwell paintings, much of the charm for me is in the little touches — the position of the hand holding the pipe and the rendering of the wooden chair; but I also love the loose, cartoony feeling of the illustration overall, and that wonderful wide-eyed, frazzled expression on the face of the Jolly One.

Seems like it’s been that kind of year for many of us. Here’s hoping 2018 brings some relief (even if we have to wait for November).

Merry Christmas and Happy Other Holidays!


Apollinary Vasnetsov

Apollinary Vasnetsov, Russian landscape painter, Mostoc history paintings
Apollinary Vasnetsov was a Russian painter whose work is usually overshadowed by that of his more widely recognized brother, Viktor Vasnetsov, who was also his only formal teacher.

Apollinary Vasnetsov painted landscapes, and was also known for his portrayals of historic Moscow. Many of his images of the latter appear to be in watercolor over charcoal drawings.

His landscapes are sometimes bright, sometimes moody, often with inventive plays of light and shadow.

Some years after his death, a planet was named for him.


How to Draw a T.rex Cartoon Dinosaur

How to Draw a T.rex Cartoon Dinosaur, how to video
As some long time readers are aware, in addition to writing Lines and Colors, I’m also a designer, painter and cartoonist.

I’ve just taken my first run at creating an instructional YouTube video in support of my book, Dinosaur Cartoons.

How to Draw a T.rex Cartoon Dinosaur is an 11 minute step-by-step tutorial in which I go through the process of drawing a cartoon in the manner most often used by professional cartoonists and illustrators — working out the drawing first with simple shapes and construction lines in pencil, creating the finished drawing over that in ink (or marker) and erasing the pencil out from under the ink as one might do with a drawing intended for reproduction.

When the book was originally released, I did a number signing sessions in Barnes & Noble stores and independent bookstores in which I taught kids how to draw cartoon dinosaurs. I’ve tried to adapt that approach here.

Though I’ve created a dinosaur cartoon drawing tutorial before as a web animation, this is the first in what I hope to be a continuing series on how-to videos, that will have their own YouTube channel.

My first video is a little rough around the edges (perhaps I went a little too “Bob Ross” in my soft spoken voice-over), but I’m just learning how to make instructional art videos. As I go on, I’ll try to report back with some of what I’m learning about that process.

I will say that the first thing I’ve learned, unsurprisingly, is that it’s a lot of work to try and do something like this right.

There are any number of art instruction videos on YouTube with poor production values, low quality sound and little or no evidence of editing.

I’ve tried to take my cue from artists who are producing their own art videos, but putting in the effort and attention necessary to bring them up as closely as possible to a professional level (a prime case in point being James Gurney, whose self-produced videos are wonderfully done).

As I go on, I’ll announce new videos in the series in the Lines and Colors sidebar, and when I have enough information about the process of creating DIY art instruction videos, I’ll try to collect that in another post.


Eye Candy for Today: Frits Thaulow’s Winter

Winter, Frits Thaulow
Winter, Frits Thaulow

Link is to zoomable image on Google Art Project; downloadble high-res file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Norway.

What better way to celebrate the Winter Solstice than with a super high-resolution image of a painting I haven’t see before by one of my favorite painters — Frits Thaulow!

I love the seemingly effortless finesse of his brushy application of paint, the gestural structure of the trees, the brief notation of figures and the marvelous paint textures in the sky and snow.

Happy Winter Solstice everybody!


Hector McDonnell

Hector McDonnell, Irish realist painter, room interiors

Hector McDonnell is an Irish painter whose primary subject appears to be room interiors, from humble to palatial. He approaches these with loose, painterly confidence.

In many of his compositions, light through windows is the dominant player, cascading across furnishings and illuminating floors.

McDonnell also appears to take delight in complex floor patterns and architectural elements, giving his work an appealing visual richness.

He is also and author and cartoonist, though in my brief search, I did not find much in the way of examples of his cartoons or illustrations. There is a brief interview with McDonnell on Studio International.