Friday, April 28, 2017

Eye Candy for Today: Johannes Franciscus Christ ink and wash drawing

View of the Bottom Gate at the Old Port at Nijmegen, John Franciscus Christ
View of the Bottom Gate at the Old Port at Nijmegen, Johannes Franciscus Christ

Ink and wash over a chalk underdrawing, roughly 9 x 7 in (23 x 19 cm); in the collection of the Rijksmuseum.

This early 19th century drawing of the port gate of the Dutch city of Nijmegen is a beautiful example of the powerful notation possible with the simple medium of ink and wash.

It’s also a wonderful case of clear, unhurried observation, confident draftsmanship and surprisingly economical rendering — given the “finished” appearance of the drawing.

I love the textures of the brick and stone, the shadow against the sunny side wall and the gestural indication of the reeds and trees, as well as the simple but effective suggestion of low clouds in the distance.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Otakar Lebeda

Otakar Lebeda, landscape, still life and figurative paintings
Otakar Lebeda was a 19th century Czech painter whose tragically short life and career have been compared to that of Vincent van Gogh.

Lebeda began painting at an early age, and had the opportunity to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague with noted landscape painter Julius Mařák.

He started out in a similar realist style, comparable to the French Realists of the time, and was introduced to the outdoor landscape styles of the Barbizon School while later studying in Paris.

In his later work Lebeda introduced more figures into his compositions and his style became more painterly and even expressionistic.

Lebeda is not well known here in the U.S. and online sources for his work are limited, but the images available show a painter of considerable interest — certainly worth following up on as resources hopefully expand in the future.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Miguel Angel Moya

Miguel Angel Moya
Miguel Angel Moya is a contemporary realist painter originally from Valencia, Spain.

Hi subjects include orchestras and musicians, inspired by Moya’s own time as a professional violinist, as well as cityscapes and architectural interiors.

In his most recent series, Moya has focused on enigmatic still life of biological forms — mostly sea creatures — suspended in jars as if scientific specimens. These can be of specifically identifiable animals like octopi and sharks, or less distinct forms that leave the viewer’s mind to fill in the details.

Moya’s website is in Spanish, but easy enough for non Spanish speakers to navigate. As you advance through the “Pinturas” using the numbered links at the bottom, you will in general be moving back in time to previous series.

There are also some of Moya’s paintings on Artsy, where you will find larger images.

Miguel Angel Moya’s work is the subject of a current solo show at Arcadia Contemporary in Culver City, CA that will be on display until May 18, 2017.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Eye Candy for Today: Ivan Shishkin’s Rye

Rye,  Ivan Shishkin
Rye, Ivan Shishkin

Link is to zoomable version on the Google Art Project, downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

In contrast to his scenes of thick forest groves, Russian landscape master Ivan Shishkin here stands his trees as sentinels above the expanse of a rye field. A dirt track leads us invitingly into the scene, and if we continue to follow its curve, leads our eye back to the two tiny figures that give the scene its sense of scale (at the base of the middle tree in the second detail crop, above).


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Jim Woodring

Jim Woodring, surreal comics, illustrations and paintings
Jim Woodring is a comics artist and painter who delves into strange and wonderful imagery derived from dreams and a history of childhood hallucinations.

Woodring is known for his short comics stories, told wordlessly and in a stream-of-unconsciousness manner, that feature his recurring character, “Frank”.

Frank is something of an apparition in himself, a fever dream version of 1920’s anthropomorphic animal cartoon characters, who is the center of the dream and also a stand-in for the dreamer.

Woodring also does painting, in monochrome and in color. I’m not one to toss the word “surreal” around lightly — having read the Surrealist manifestos, and aware that true Surrealism is by definition drawn from the unconscious in the form of automatic drawing or dream-state imagery — but Woodring’s work is truly that: surreal.

As much as I enjoy his work in color, I find it most entrancing in the form of his black and white pen drawing. His thick repeated linear patterns and woodcut-like wavy lines create “colors” in much the way the gray inks of Chinese ink painting are said to have colors. This is wonderfully evident in his comics, which are dream-like in the telling as well as the in the imagery.

You can see previews of two of his titles in the comics section of his website.

I will be the first to suggest that Woodring’s work is something of an acquired taste and not likely to appeal to everyone. However, if you acquire that taste, you may find it irresistibly fascinating.

If you were not previously aware of Woodring’s work, and the small taste here has piqued your interest, believe me when I say the small online excerpts here and on his site don’t do justice to the way his drawings look in print.

There are several collections of his work: The Frank Book, which collects 10 years of his signature work; a follow-up: Congress of the Animals; a one-off treat for fans of 3-D comics: Frank in the 3rd Dimension; and the latest, Weathercraft, a full-length graphic novel, told — like most of Woodring’s work — wordlessly. You will also find other titles, most published by Fantagraphics Books.

There is currently an exhibit of Woodring’s work at the Frye Museum in Seattle, for which the museum commissioned a series of large scale pen drawings — drawn with a large scale dip pen created by Woodring — that is on display until April 16, 2017 (images above, bottom three).


Eye Candy for Today: Greuze Portrait

Portrait of a Lady in Turkish Fancy Dress, Jean-Baptiste Greuze
Portrait of a Lady in Turkish Fancy Dress, Jean-Baptiste Greuze

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; smaller downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the LACMA.

Greuze continues to delight the eye with his soft edges and delicate rendering, underpinned by his solid draftsmanship and understanding of the geometry of the face and figure.

This appears more likely a genre painting than an actual portrait; the model’s face looks idealized; her eyes appear unfocused, or else inwardly focused on a dream.

Greuze has lavished his attention on her garments, and the array of patterns and textures that show off his skill as a painter.