Eye Candy for Today: Henry Tanner’s Flight Into Egypt

Flight Into Egypt, Henry Ossawa Tanner

Flight Into Egypt, Henry Ossawa Tanner (details)

Flight Into Egypt, Henry Ossawa Tanner

Oil on canvas, roughly 29 x 26 inches (74 x 66 cm). Link is to a reasonably large file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Metropolitian Museum of Art

As he did in many of his biblically themed canvasses, Tanner brings to bear his uncanny touch with light and shadow to dramatize this scene from the story of the flight of the Holy Family from the assassins of King Herod.

The Metropolitan Museum’s website points out that the story was a favorite of Tanner’s, who related it to the flight of African Americans from persecution in the South. Tanner himself fled the systematic prejudice he encountered as an African American painter, emigrating to France where he found greater acceptance and respect.

There is so much to admire in this piece — the carefully crafted value statement, the shadows playing against the wall, the striking glow of light from the lantern, the repeated forms of the arches and large shadow form, and the wonderfully tactile nature of the paint surface and brush marks, in particular as they define the hard and soft edges of the forms.


Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney is a renowned American children’s book illustrator and writer — winner of numerous awards including the Caldecott Medal, Caldecott Honors and Corretta Scott King Awards, as well as awards from The New York Times, the Society of Illustrators and others. His illustration credits include over 100 books as well as editorial and institutional illustration.

Pinkney works primarily in watercolor and drawing media. His illustrations often have an appealing feeling of casual looseness that can conceal the solid composition and careful draftsmanship on which they’re based. I particularly enjoy his wonderful use of texture

The Jerry Pinkney Studio website is informative, and has some slideshows of his work in categories like Children’s Books, Illustrated Novels and so on, but it doesn’t make the best showcase for his work.

The best examples I’ve found are on the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Digital Tour of a Jerry Pinkney exhibit: Imaginings. There is an accompanying video of Pinkney speaking, along with other videos, in the “Media” section of the Pinkney Studio site (I can’t give you a direct link because the site is in frames, for reasons that elude me).

There is also a page devoted to Pinkney in the Artists’s listings of the NRM website, that includes some images.

You can find many of his books on Bookshop.org or Amazon.com (affiliate link).


Edward Mitchell Bannister

Edward Mitchell Bannister

Edward Mitchell Bannister

Edward Mitchell Bannister was a Canadian-American painter active in the late 19h century. Born in New Brunswick, he emigrated to the U.S. — initially to Boston — and spent much of his life and career in Providence, Rhode Island.

Though he painted a variety of subjects, Bannister is known primarily for his serene pastoral landscapes, done in the American Tonalist manner.

Bannister had little formal art education, and could not afford to travel to Europe to study like many of his American contemporaries.

For someone self taught, he quickly gained recognition and honors, one of which was a bronze medal for his painting “Under the Oaks” (the current location of which is unknown) at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. When he went to receive his award, the judges wanted to withdraw the bronze on discovering that Bannister was African American. The other competitors insisted that the award be given as initially judged and he received the bronze medal.

Bannister was a strong supporter of the effort to gain equal rights for African Americans, but chose not to make overt social issues a subject of his painting, preferring instead to focus on a more spiritual sense of harmony and peace.

In keeping with other American Tonalist painters, who were strongly influenced by the painters of the French Barbizon School, Bannister often grouped his masses into strong value shapes, at times so dark as to be almost silhouettes.

It has been suggested that some of Bannisters paintings have grown darker over time. Perhaps this is due to a painting practice, medium or other factor that he might have been discouraged from using if he had access to formal art education; I don’t know.

Bannister’s dark value statements and brusque brush work gave way to a lighter, more Impressionist influenced style later in his career. Bannister was a board member of the Rhode Isand School of Design and a founder of the Providence Art Club.


Eye Candy for Today: Bierstadt’s Mountain Brook

Mountain Brook, Albert Bierstadt

Mountain Brook, Albert Bierstadt (details)

Mountain Brook, Albert Bierstadt

Oil on canvas, roughly 44 x 36 in (12 x 92 cm), in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, whose site includes both a zoomable and downloadable version of the high-res image.

German-American painter Albert Bierstadt, who is associated with both the Hudson River and Rocky Mountain schools of painting, is known primarily for his grand and dramatic vistas of mountains and related landscape, but I find fascination in his more intimate subjects.

In this one — likely an invented scene culled from his trips through the White Mountains in New England — he gives us a tranquil scene of a mountain brook, but alive with a different kind of drama, one of light, shadow and texture.


James Gurney’s Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements

James Gurney's Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements

Screen captures from James Gurney's Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements

Anyone who has read my previous reviews of books and videos by James Gurney will not be surprised that I have high praise for his latest instructional video.

Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements is — quite obviously by its title — part of a multi-part tutorial. Whether it is to consist of two parts or more, I don’t know.

Gurney covers a fair bit of information in this video, starting from the ground up and breaking the complexities of painting in color into more easily digestible stages that logically build on one another.

Many artists’ instructional videos on color want to start out running and dazzle the student (i.e. prospective buyer) with promises of color mastery, but undeservedly breeze past these important stages, the most fundamental of which, of course, is black and white, or value.

Gurney starts there, with easily grasped exercises like comparing transparent and opaque methods of making value steps in the form of simple charts. He shows the effectiveness of these basic techniques in a painting of a storefront entirely in grays.

He then steps up to a simple grid of black and white on a light brown toned ground, and proceeds to paint a fully realized painting using the same method with only a few touches of a bright red.

Another painting works in black and white with a few touches of brown and blue, but over a brighter underpainting.

The video moves into transparent and opaque combinations, explores the fundamentals of complementary colors and finishes with a painting in a dramatically unusual combination of bright yellow green and complementary violet. There are additional, more briefly featured paintings and subjects along the way.

Gurney has an uncanny knack for what I think of as “teaching within teaching”. In the process of covering basics, he touches on more complex concepts like like chroma, alternative color wheels, color temperature and color gamuts — not in depth, but in a context that allows a basic understanding and prepares the student for more a extensive explanation later. He lets you absorb these secondary concepts almost unconsciously as you follow his main thread.

There is a discussion of materials, and in the process of showing Gurney painting, the video also captures his brushwork, the choice of brush size and shape, dry brush effects and more.

Gurney is working here primarily in watercolor and gouache, but the principles would carry over into other mediums as well.

Throughout, he encourages you to participate, talks about how to practice and delves into the concept of failure as an important part of the learning process. Gurney’s instructional videos are approaching the structure of a virtual class, a learn at your own speed session with a highly experienced teacher.

The video is accompanied by a PDF “Learning Supplement” that covers materials, outlines exercises and includes a lot of resource links. There is also, as always, more material relevant to the video on Gurney’s blog, Gurney Journey.

There is a trailer for the video on Gurney Journey, was well as on YouTube.

Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements is $17.99 for a digital download on Gumroad that includes the Learning Supplement PDF.

Gurney has also started a Facebook group, Color in Practice, for students to discuss the video and related topics among themselves.

If you are interested in pursuing some of these concepts — and much more — in greater depth, a terrific resource to accompany this, and any subsequent videos on the subject, is Gurney’s superb book, Color and Light: A Guide for Realist Painters (see my review here).


Eye Candy for Today: Sorolla’s Sewing the Sail

Sewing the Sail, Joaquin Sorolla

Sewing the Sail, Joaquin Sorolla (details)

Sewing the Sail, Joaquin Sorolla

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project, there is a large file email hidden; JavaScript is required">here, as part of this article: https://arthive.com/exhibitions/3512

This beautiful painting by Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla makes it easy to see why he is sometimes referred to as “master of light”.