Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Artem “Rhads” Chebokha

Artem Rhads Chebokha
Most of us have at some point enjoyed laying back and watching cloud formations in which it is easy to see shapes that look like ships, dogs, hills, oceans, dragons and more.

Artem Chebokha — who also goes by the handle, “Rhads” — is a digital artist based in Omsk, Russian Federation. Chebokha has taken the notion of seeing things in clouds and carried it out as a theme for a series of digital paintings — distilling skies full of clouds into a variety of forms. Some are overtly fantasy, some more naturalistic and others in between.

You can find these and other themes on his galleries on Behance and deviantART. He also has a presence on Instagram and the Russian social media site, VK. You can find prints of his work on society6.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Marie Spartalli Stillman (update)

Marie Spartalli Stillman, Pre-Raphaelite painter
Marie Spartalli Stillman was a Pre-Raphaelite painter, notably the most well known of the women painters among that group, as well as a model for several of the other painters in the Pre-Raphaelite circle.

Stillman studied with the renowned Victorian painter Ford Madox Brown, who was not a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but was influential within their sphere.

She worked in an interesting mixed-media approach combining gouache and watercolor along with pastel and chalk suspended in gum arabic, the binder in gouache and watercolor.

The result is paintings with a richly but subtly textural surface. Combined with Stillman’s muted value relationships and her fascination with Renaissance painting and Italian literary themes, her technique gives her work a kind of dreamily wistful vision of an idealized Renaissance world.

There is currently a show of her work, featuring over 50 works: “Poetry in Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartalli Stillman” at the Delaware Art Museum. It will be on display until January 31, 2016.

An abbreviated version will then travel to the Watts Gallery, Compton, Guildford, England, where it will be on view from 1 March to 5 June 2016.

I had the pleasure of visiting the show yesterday. Stillman’s most famous painting, Love’s Messenger (above, top) has always been a favorite of mine in the Museum’s permanent collection of Pre-Raphaelite art (the largest outside of the UK), and it is unsurprisingly the highlight of the show. It is in good company with the wonderful examples of Stillman’s work that make up the exhibition.

Many of her themes are repeated — young women posed at decorative leaded glass windows holding flowers or precious objects, and tableaux of idealized Renaissance-style gardens populated with literary figures. I was particularly taken, however, with her landscapes and straightforward garden views, directly observed but painted with the Pre-Raphaelite attention to fidelity to nature, and a sense of contemplative quiet.

Unfortunately, the availability and quality of Stillman’s images on the web is still quite limited. The most reliable in terms of color are those in the Delaware Art Museum’s preview for the show. There is also a selection on their site devoted to their Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art, though that site is experiencing problems at the moment.

There is a catalog from the exhibition, and another collection of works by Stillman and her husband, who was an American Journalist and amateur painter: A Pre-Raphaelite Marriage: The Lives and Works of Marie Spartali Stillman & William James Stillman.

For more, see my previous Lines and Colors post on Marie Spartalli Stillman (2006).

[Addendum: There is a short BBC video about Stillman and the exhibit.]



Batz, animated short, Max Maleo & Aurelien Predal
Batz is an animated short (6 min) by Max Maleo & Aurélien Prédal.

The animation is done with a CGI process known generally as “cel shading” or “toon shading”, in which the normally 3-D appearance of CG animation is given a look more like 2-D hand drawing by the use of gradients and flat areas of color.

In the right hands, this can be quite effective and pleasing, and Batz, directed by Maleo with art direction by Prédal, is a case in point.

The production is nicely graphic and beautifully designed, particularly in respect to the use of lighting, and scenes that take place in near darkness punctuated with areas of light.

The story involves two bats with very different personalities: one an aggressive insectivore who loves mosquitoes, the other a timid fruit-eating bat who hates and fears them. Add a mosquito and the result is frantic, icky at times, and, well… batty.

There is a website devoted to the film, with images, background information and items for sale, including a “making of” animatic (animated storyboard).

[Via Mark a. Nelson]


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Eye Candy for Today: Degas’ Dance Lesson

The Dance Lesson, Edgar Degas
The Dance Lesson, Edgar Degas

In the National Gallery of Art, DC. Downloadable high-res file on Wikipedia, as well as a descriptive page.

This wonderfully brushy oil painting — that has some of the textural feeling of the artist’s pastels — is the first of a series of works on the theme of ballet dancers training or preparing for performances, that are remarkable for their daring break from the compositional conventions of preceding centuries.

The severely horizontal format might be thought of these days as “cinematic”, a term that had no meaning twenty years before the invention of motion pictures.

The empty areas of the canvas — the large area of wall above the dancer to our left, and the expanse of floor beneath the dancers on our right — have a precedent in the aesthetics of the Japanese woodblock prints that were popular in Europe during that period; Degas’ use of the space, however, is unusual and quite daring.

The “blank” area of the wall is emphasized by the framed picture to the far end — grouped as a shape with the middle ground figures — and the way the foreground dancer’s figure is completely below the line of color at the bottom of that space. We are forced to recognize the wall area as a form, not just a background.

Likewise the area of the floor, emphasized by its texture and the play of light from the windows, becomes an object of attention, particularly from our odd point of view, which seems to be looking downward as if from a slight height.

The way the strong diagonal arrangement of the figures, and their position in perspective, draws you back into the composition is remarkable.

Though the overall tone seems muted in subdued light, up close the intensity of the color and texture which which Degas has rendered his subjects is striking.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Rowland Hilder

Rowland Hilder, watercolors of the English countryside
Born in the U.S. to British parents, Rowland Hilder moved to England with his family at the age of 10, studied at Goldsmith’s College School of Art — where he eventually returned as a professor of drawing — and went on to become one of the UK’s most popular watercolor artists of the 20th century.

Hilder also painted in oil and occasionally used pastel and acrylic, but is known primarily for his watercolors of the English countryside. These were often augmented with pen and ink and gouache. Hilder, along with his wife, artist Edith Hilder, he also did illustration for a number of well known campaigns. At times, they collaborated on the same paintings.

Like Constable, Hilder’s images are so evocative of a particular region, in this case in the rural areas of Kent, that it has become associated with his name as “Rowland Hilder Country”

Examples of Rowland Hilder’s work on the web are a bit scattered. The largest I’ve found are on One1more2time3.3 Weblog. The largest selection, though the images aren’t large, is on ArtNet (note the link at the bottom to “Load More”, this goes on for 10 sheets or more).

Chris Beetles Gallery has watercolor portraits of Rowland and his wife (with enlargements), and Francil Iles Galleries has a nice selection

There is currently an exhibition of Hilder’s work in the UK, Roland Hilder – The Working Artist at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, on display until 29 November 2015.

There is a well-reviewed instruction book by Hilder with many reproductions of his painintgs: Painting Landscapes that you may be able to find used under its previous title, Expressing Land, Sea, and Sky in Watercolor.

There are also other out of print titles, Starting with Watercolor,; Rowland Hilder Country: An Artist’s Memoir; Rowland Hilder’s England; and Sketching Country (links are to Amazon US, Amazon UK here).


Friday, November 6, 2015

Tang Wei Min (update)

Tang Wei Min, portraits

Tang Wei Min is a Chinese painter from YongZhou, Hunan Province. He studied at the Art Department of Hunan Standard College and the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. He has received notice and awards in China, the U.S. and Canada.

I first wrote about Tang’s work back in 2008. At the time, I noted that he did not appear to have a dedicated website or blog, and that may still be the case. (I say that with some reservation because Chinese language sites with no English translation can be difficult for me to find.)

There are, however, several sources for images of his work.

Tang appears to have a fascination with Baroque era Northern European painters — in particular, to my eye, Rembrandt, and to a lesser extent, Vermeer. I see the former in the deep chiaroscuro of his compositions and the combination of thin darks and impasto highlights that often characterize the Dutch masters’ approach.

Tang’s subjects, however, are distinctly Chinese. They are portraits and figures, mostly of young women, in what I take to be traditional Chinese ceremonial dress, possibly from different regions of China. These are rendered in a combination of refined passages and areas of rough, textured pant. The effect is quite wonderful.

There is also a similar contrast between his muted largely earth tone palette and areas of higher chroma color.

I noticed among his pieces, fairly direct nods to Dutch master works like Vermeer’s Girl with a Red Hat and Girl with a Pearl Earring.

[A NOTE OF CAUTION: Unfortunately, one of the very best sources for images of Tang’s work is on a site called Kai Fine Art. On visiting this site recently, I noticed it appears to be compromised.

Twice, on entering the page and attempting to click on an image, I encountered a full-screen pop-up that insisted that Flash Player was out of date and presented a link to download. This is obviously bogus, and a link to malware. It seems to be related to an ad in the right-hand column that extends an invisible link out over the image column.

I was able to bypass it and get to the images. However, I’m using Chrome for Mac, and your experience may be different — particularly if you’re using Windows. If you decide to visit this site, I urge caution. I only offer it because it’s such a great source for Tang’s images, and I hope the site author can correct the issue.

Link to currently compromised page: http://www.kaifineart.com/2014/08/tang-wei-min.html ]

The other links provided below should be without problems.

[Addendum: Thanks to reader Nadia, we have links to what appears to be Tan Wei Ming’s official site. Unfortunately, the images are small, and the magnify feature is awkward and not very usable. There is additional information, however, if you’re willing to use Google Translate (or if you can read simplified Chinese). See this post’s comments for additional information and links.]