Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Eye Candy for Today: Canaletto’s Capriccio with monumental staircase

A capriccio with a monumental staircase, pen and ink with gray wash, Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal)
A capriccio with a monumental staircase, Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal)

Pen and ink with gray wash, roughly 14 x 21 inches ( 36 x 53 cm).

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Royal Collection, which also has a a zoomable version and a downloadable file.

I never tire of Canaletto’s drawings, and this fantastic capriccio (architectural fantasy) is no exception.

Exploring a Canaletto drawing is like meeting a person who seems interesting — though a bit formal and reserved at first — but as you get to know them, turns out to be warm, relaxed and absolutely charming.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Oleg Kozak

Oleg Kozak, watercolor
Oleg Kozak is a painter from Lviv, Ukraine who paints bright, crisp watercolors of landscapes and portraits.

Throughout his landscapes runs a fascination with the play of light and shadow; with dappled light, in particular, theatrically spotlighting key elements while others recede into darkness.

I’m especially fond of his portrayals of smaller, more intimate portions of the landscape, in which he focusses on small areas of flowers or foliage, revealing them to be as rich and fascinating as any sweeping vista.

Kozak’s website is in Ukrainian, but easy enough to navigate. There are links to several galleries of watercolors in the right column, and links to related websites in the main column under the introductory image, including this Watercolor Blog article, in which you will find some of his images reproduced larger.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Eye Candy for Today: Dürer’s St. Eustace

St Eustace, Albrecht Durer, engraving
St Eustace, Albrecht Dürer

Engraving, roughly 14 x 10 inches (35 x 26 cm).

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons, original of this impression is in the National Gallery of Victoria, which also has a zoomable image.

In this tour-de-force engraving — created at the dawn of the 16th century — Dürer uses the story of St Eustace’s conversion, on seeing a stag with a crucifix, to show us mountains, streams, bridges, swans, a wooded landscape, individual trees, rocks, weapons, saddlery, the stag, a magnificent horse and several amazing hounds.

He has devoted as much attention to the wealth of detail in the background (note the tiny rider on the path above the horse’s head) as he has on the wonderfully textural forms of the man and foreground animals.

Dürer’s engraved line has much of the loose freedom of etching or pen drawing — directional hatching giving life to foliage and fur, and depth and solidity to wood and stone.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cecilia Beaux (update)

Cecilia Beaux, 19th century American portrait painter
Cecilia Beaux — an American portrait painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — is, like her contemporaries John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase, receiving something of a revival of appreciation for her place in the history American Art.

Unlike them, however, she still suffers from the fact that her contribution has rarely, if ever, been sufficiently acknowledged, largely because she was a woman.

Beaux was one of the best portrait painters of her time and, in my estimation, one of the finest American painters in history. Not only do I hold her in similar regard to painters like Chase and Thomas Eakins — who was one of her teachers — I can’t help but think of her name as a fourth party whenever I hear the common grouping of the “Masters of the Loaded Brush”: Sargent, Sorolla and Zorn.

Beaux was particularly adept in her portrayals of women, and was noted for her full-length and 3/4 length portraits in the “Grand Manner”.

For more on my high opinion of Beaux as a painter, and why it deepened on seeing the extraordinary show of her work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2008, I’ll refer you to my 2008 post on Cecilia Beaux.

In this post, I’m taking advantage of the occasion of her birthday to display more examples of her work and point out some of the newer sources of images that have appeared on the web since my previous post. Unfortunately, they are still less than I would hope for a painter of her stature, and too few of them are large enough to appreciate her breathtaking command of the brush.

The image above, bottom, is one of her self-portraits.

There are a few books on Beaux, mostly out of print but available used from online sources:
Cecilia Beaux: American Figure Painter (2007)
Cecilia Beaux: A Modern Painter in the Gilded Age (2005)
Cecilia Beaux and the Art of Portraiture (1995)

The Cecilia Beaux Forum, named after the artist, is “a committee of the Portrait Society of America dedicated to the promotion of women in the arts”.

Free Comic Book Day 2015

Free Comic Book Day 2015
Tomorrow, Saturday, May 2, is Free Comic Book Day 2015.

Participating comic book shops (which you can look up by zip code on this Store Locator), will be giving away a selection of special promotional comic books, designed to introduce new readers both to those individual titles and to the fun of reading comics in general.

There are some cover images on the special Free Comic Book Day titles on the FCBD website, some of which are linked to brief PDF previews of the interior pages. (Not all titles will be available at all shops.)

I’ll be checking out the free comics at my personal favorite comic book (and other book) shop, Between Books, in Claymont, DE.

Comic book shop proprietors will be on their best behavior in a kind of “open house” atmosphere, and glad to make recommendations and introductions to other titles for those who may not be aware of the diversity in the current range of comic book titles and subjects — it’s not all superheroes anymore.

Many shops will be featuring guest artists or writers and having special sales in coordination with the event. Check the individual shops’ websites for details.

For more of my descriptions of the event, see some of my previous years’ posts on Free Comic Book Day.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ben Fenske

Ben Fenske
Originally from Minnesota, Ben Fenske now deivdes his time between Sag Harbor, NY and Florence, Italy. Fenske studied at the Russian Academy of Art, The Florence Academy of Art, the Studio of Joseph Paquet, Minnesota, and Bougie Studio, Minnesota.

Fenske paints still life, landscapes, interiors, portraits and figures with a fresh color palette, economical notation and painterly vigor — often with brushy scrubbing of color in areas that barely covers the support, at other times with a more refined and developed approach. In many cases, there is a appealing Van Gogh-like quality to his brusque, directional brush strokes.

Throughout his work is a keen sense of light and dark, often used to dramatic effect; even simple still life subjects take on a sense of visual drama. His seemingly casual paint application belies a nuanced approach to the use of texture — defining planes, revealing light and inviting you into his paintings with tactile presence.

In addition to his website, you can find an extensive selection of Fenske’s work, at times with larger reproductions, on the site of the Grenning Gallery.

There is a brief plein air process video on Vimeo.

[Via Marc Dalessio and Leo Mancini-Hresko]