Thursday, November 17, 2016

Amanda Sage

Amanda Sage, visionasy art
Amanda Sage is a visionary artist whose intricately patterned compositions are meant to represent states of awareness or inner visions as opposed to ordinary perception of the visual world.

Sage studied with Michael Fuchs, and his father Ernst Fuchs, a well-known pioneer of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism and a mentor to the contemporary visionary art movement.

With them she studied the early Renaissance mischtechnik, or “mixed technique”, for which which Ernst Fuchs is credited with prompting a 20th century revival. In the original, egg tempera was used with oil paints and associated resins to create particularly luminous layers of color.

In the modern variation that Sage employs, a base of acrylic color is used, over which the painting is refined with casein and oil.

Common to works in the visionary art genre, many of Sage’s compositions feel influenced by 16th century Buddhist thangkas, and have a mandala-like symmetry, perhaps as an invitation for contemplation.

I also think that many of the artists in this field have been influenced by the layered imagery and geometric progressions of Salvador Dalí’s “atomic” phase.

Of particular interest in this type of painting is the indication of overlapping layers of fine-lined patterns, suggesting motion, and a different kind of visual depth than is usually encountered in painting.

Sage will be co-leading a workshop with Christopher Ulrich at beinArt Gallery in Brunswick, Australia on December 11, 2016.

She will also be teaching Mischtechnik at a three-week seminar at the Vienna Academy of Visionary Art July 8th – July 30th, 2017.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Eye Candy for Today: Dürer’s Large Piece of Turf

The Large Piece of Turf, Albrecht Durer, watercolor and gouache
The Large Piece of Turf, Albrecht Dürer

Watercolor and gouache on paper mounted to board, roughly 16 x 12 inches (41 x 31 cm). Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Albertina, Vienna.

For its small size and unassuming subject, this painting ranks among the most well known works in the history of art. In it, Dürer did not set out to create a work of art, but simply to study from an artist’s greatest teacher, nature.

And study he did. The painting is a marvel of clear, direct observation and painstakingly precise but naturalistic rendering.

In a clump of grass, weeds and leafy plants that few would consider worth a second glance, let alone hours of intense study, Dürer reveals a world of intricate plant forms, their shapes, colors and patterns of growth worthy of a dozen separate botanical illustrations.

The painting has been studied, copied, analyzed and even modeled in 3-D. Its plants have been identified and listed. Much has been made of the artist’s keen powers of observation. There is a Wikipedia page that may serve as a jumping off point for more about the painting.

This is the most famous of Dürer’s naturalistic and strikingly detailed studies of small bits of nature (unless you count his wondrous Hare, painted a year before and also in the Albertina).

In particular, I love the way he has painted the delicate tufts of the grasses, with the same attention one might give to the form of a great tree.

Though not directly related to the painting, I’m reminded of a quote from writer Henry Miller: “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself”


Thomas Bossard

Thomas Bossard, French painter, illustrator, muralist and stage set designer
Thomas Bossard is a French painter, illustrator, muralist and stage set designer.

His paintings have a lively, cartoon-like charm and wry humor that reminds me of idiosyncratic cartoonists and illustrators like Ronald Searle and Edward Sorel.

Bossard paints in oil on panel, and I find the surface texture of his approach contributes greatly to the visual charm of his work. I particularly enjoy those paintings in which he whimsically shows art patrons responding to or becoming involved in works of art in museums.

His website is in French, but is easy enough for non-French speakers to navigate. In hia gallery of paintings (Peintures), be aware that there are three galleries arranged by year and accessed from small easy to miss numerical links at the top of the page. Most of the art museum themed paintings I mention above are in the “2015” gallery.

You will also find a selection of drawings (Dessins), some of which are preliminary for paintings and some of which are independent.

[Via Yann Deshouliéres]


Billyo O’Donnell

Billyo O'Donnell, Missouri plein air painter
Billyo O’Donnell is a Missouri painter whose recent work, in addition to being painterly and color rich, is often highly textural.

I’ve had O’Donnell on my list of artists to cover on Lines and Colors for some time (it’s a long list), and his style has evolved since I first encountered his work. His newer work is thick with textural paint application.

At times it seems more prevalent than others, but it’s always difficult to get an accurate feeling of textural surfaces from photographs. There’s also the element of scale; small paintings presented in the same size photograph as large ones without reference for scale will appear quite different in surface characteristics.

O’Donnell frequently explores the effects of shadows in bright sunlight, with dappled patterns falling over houses, fields and objects. He makes use of bold value statements and high chroma passages of color as a counterpoint to the character of the paint application.

In 2001, O’Donnell took on a project to paint a plein air painting in each of the 114 counties in the state of Missouri. In collaboration with writer Karen Glines, the result was a book called Painting Missouri, that appears to be currently out of print after its third printing. I picked up a copy when O’Donnel was here in the Philadelphia area some years ago acting as a juror for a plein air event.

There is a dedicated website for the book, on which prints of individual paintings appear to be still available. The paintings in the book, which you can see in small previews on the Prints page, are in his older, still painterly but less physically dimensional style.

The images on his website are also somewhat small; you can see larger ones on the sites of galleries in which he is represented (linked below).


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lisa Ericson

Lisa Ericson, Mouserflies acrylic paintings, mice with butterfly wings
Portland, Oregon based painter Lisa Ericson draws on her background in illustration and graphic design to give her compositions a strong graphic punch, often setting high-value and high chroma subjects against deep black backgrounds.

The work currently showcased on her website highlights two particular themes involving juxtaposed hybrid animals — fish crossed with corals and/or anemones, and mice or other small rodents with the wings of butterflies, a series of which she calls “Mouserflies“.

There is at least one other animal hybrid, that suggests the possibility of previous series, but I don’t know if that’s the case.

The images on her site are linked to nice large versions that allow you to see her precise, but fluid and naturalistic rendering style. Ericson works primarily in acrylic on wood panel.

She also does children’s book illustration, and the site highlights a few titles, in particular those like Dill & Bizzy: An Odd Duck and a Strange BirdJa and Dill & Bizzy: Opposite Day (Amazon links) in which she illustrates stories by her sister, writer Nora Ericson.

In my customary search when writing about an artist, I came across a News page on her site that is not linked from the main menu. I don’t know if this is an oversight, of if it has been intentionally de-linked.

There is also a section for limited edition prints.

[Via beinArt Gallery]


Eye Candy for Today: Peter Lely’s Portrait of Louise de Keroualle

Portrait of Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth; Peter Lely
Portrait of Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth; Peter Lely

In the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The museum’s website has both zoomable and downloadable versions available. The largest available download version is truly high-resolution, but be aware that it is large in file size at 98mb.

I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the original, but from past experience, I think the museum’s online reproduction may be overly dark — as is often the case with museums’ online images of their own collections — so I’ve taken the liberty of lightening it slightly here.

The Getty’s description briefly mentions the fascinating history of Louise de Keroualle as mistress to Charles II and spy for Louis VIV; a position she used to strengthen relations between the two monarchs and their respective countries. There is a bit more background on Wikipedia.

Lely has presented the Duchess as engaging the viewer directly, her gaze confident and alluring as she casually plays with her hair. To my eye, her expression is somewhat suggestive of secret knowledge — an “I know something you don’t know.” kind of look. But perhaps I’m reading too much into the expression from knowing some of the history.

Lely has rendered her in some ways almost classically, though passages of the fabric of the dress are delightfully energetic and painterly. As was common in 17th century portraits of this type, Lely has placed his sitter against an architectural element, past which we see a landscape, giving the portrait a context of place. The landscape is subdued so as not to detract from the subject, though I have to think the monument depicted is of some importance.

I also have to wonder about the color of the trees and foreground leaves. Normally, as daylight dims, colors shift to blue-grays and reds are not predominant. The background almost looks like an earth color underpainting, or perhaps has shifted in color over time due to use of a fugitive pigment, I don’t know.

I find it interesting also to compare this portrait to other portraits of Louise de Keroualle, such as those by Peter Mignard and Isaac Beckett on the website of the National Portrait Gallery, UK.

A search of the NPG, UK site for “Louise de Keroualle” will also bring up several interesting mezzotints and etchings made after Lely’s painting, like those from Paul van Somer and Gerard Valck.