Saturday, December 17, 2016

Henry Patrick Raleigh

Henry Patrick Raleigh, classic 20th century illustrator of the Gatsby era
Henry Patrick Raleigh was a classic American illustrator active in the early part of the 20th century. Raleigh is not as well known as many of the illustrators from the Golden Age and the mid-20th century eras that bracketed his career, and undeservedly so.

I can think of few illustrators, or artists in general, whose draftsmanship was more fluid and gestural. Raleigh’s ability to convey body language, expression and the sense of languid grace of figures in repose is just amazing.

In particular, he was a chronicler of, and enthusiastic participant in, the society high life of the “Gatsby era” in the 1920s. Raleigh was extraordinarily prolific, creating some 20,000 illustrations during his career. At a time when illustration was more highly valued than it is today, it gave him the wealth to move in the richest levels of society.

I think his remarkable output, continually drawing and working, also accounted for his high degree of artistic confidence, skill and economy of notation (look at the gestural representation of the flowers in the image above, fifth down). He was also an accomplished etcher.

He illustrated stories for many of the most prominent authors of his time, including H.G. Wells, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, Stephen Vincent Benet, William Faulkner, Sinclair Lewis, and Somerset Maugham.

Raleigh was primarily a draftsman, and actually resented the advent of color illustrations, feeling that illustration was best as pure drawing. For all of that, when the demand for color became apparent, he incorporated it into his work with the same superb ability he devoted to his drawings, often using color in inventive and unusual ways. Some of his illustrations are monochromatic except for a single area of color; others use loosely applied color accents; and others are in full, brilliant color.

There is a wonderful collection of Raleigh’s work, The Henry Raleigh Archive, maintained by his grandson, Chris Raleigh. In the well designed and easy to navigate site, you will find biographical information, items for sale and a selection of Raleigh’s work with links to large images.

As beautiful as Raleigh’s work is in digital images, it is best viewed in the medium for which it was intended — print. There is a beautiful new book showcasing his work: Henry Patrick Raleigh: The Confident Illustrator, from Auad Publishing (images above, bottom) The text is provided by Christopher Raleigh, who evidently also worked with Auad to collect the images and provided access to the archives.

I was delighted to receive a review copy and the book is just gorgeous. This should be a must-have for aficionados of classic illustration, and really for anyone interested in fluid, gestural drawings of figures and clothing or the masterful use of tone and value in compositions.

At 130 pages, with even monochromatic illustrations rendered in color, the book is packed with Raleigh’s breezy, elegant and often amusing or dramatic illustrations — beautifully printed and with a tipped in print — for $35.00.

The book is listed as not yet released on Amazon, but you can pre-order it there. However, you can buy it now directly from Auad Publishing.

If you click on the image on the Auad page, you’ll get a pop-up with a short preview of the book. For a better idea of the content, most of the illustrations you’ll see on the Henry Raleigh Archives are in the book.

(Incidentally, Auad’s beautiful book on Al Parker is currently on sale for more than half off. Auad is a small publisher specializing in great illustrators and comics artists, and their small print runs often sell out.)

There is a nice article about Raleigh on Gurney Journey that gives some additional background on the artist and his life, and I’ll list some other articles in the links provided below.

 
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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Matteo Massagrande

Matteo Massagrande, paintings of decaying architectural interiors
Italian painter Matteo Massagrande finds fascination in the colors and textures of worn, apparently abandoned architectural interiors. These often open to glimpses of landscapes or seascapes beyond, and his secondary subject appears to be trees that are as contorted as the deliberately askew perspective in many of his rooms.

In some of his interior compositions, there is a suggestion of a collision of worlds, as though the room in the foreground and that seen through a door are in different colliding realities. Massagrande often takes on complex patterns of floor tiling or even faded ornate wallpapers.

Though his work appears photorealistic, in some of the larger images on the website of his gallery representatives, Shine Artists, London, you can see suggestions of more painterly handling, particularly in the presentation of trees and foliage. (Click on the main images in his gallery to pop up larger versions in an overlay.)

Some of the paintings are smaller than you might think; the one shown above, bottom (with detail) is only 9 x 13 inches (23 x 33 cm), though most are larger than that.

I’m not certain, but I believe Massagrande’s portfolio on Artsy is his primary web presence.

 
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Monday, December 12, 2016

Eye Candy for Today: Pissarro’s Autumn, Poplars, Éragny

Autumn, Poplars, &Eaute;ragny, Camille Pissarro
Autumn, Poplars, Eragny; Camille Pissarro

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Denver Art Museum which also has a zoomable version (and, oddly, has another, somewhat different looking version of the image).

This is Pissarro at the height of his classically Impressionist style. The painting is composed of individual dabs of intense color, intended to be blended optically when viewed from the proper distance.

 
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Sunday, December 11, 2016

August von Siegen

August von Siegen, 19th century cityscape
August von Siegen was a 19th century German painter who specialized in cityscapes of in the style of European and “Oriental” (Eastern Mediterranean) cities.

Some are of recognizable places or landmarks, but most are fanciful, and he appears to blend real and imagined views.

His emphasis is on the dramatic and exotic, so it’s no surprise that the real European landmarks are often in Venice or Rome.

 
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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Piotr Jabłoński

Piotr Jablonski, concept art, digital painting
Piotr Jabłoński, who also goes by the handle “nicponim”, is a Polish concept artist from Bialystok. His clients include Applibot, Inc., Cloud Share Inc., Evermotionvfx, Platige Image and VFX workshops.

Jabłoński works digitally in Photoshop, but achieves nicely painterly look of natural media in his application of color.

His subjects are often dark and moody, and his restrained palette follows suit. He utilizes atmosphere and texture to give his compositions a simultaneous feeling of dream-like fantasy and visceral reality.

There is an interview with Jabłoński on Evermotion.org that includes a step through of his digital painting process.

He is represented in the U.S. by Richard Solomon Artists Representative, and their page for his work also includes a process step-through.

For a more thorough process tutorial, there is an extended video of his process on the painting shown above, bottom, available through Gumroad.

[Via ArtStation]

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Winslow Homer’s At the Window

At the Window, Winslow Homer
At the Window, Winslow Homer

Link is to zoomable file on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Princeton University Art Museum, which has background on the painting on their website.

Almost like a 17th century Dutch portrait, this much more casual image of a young woman at a window — one of four related paintings of the same model — allows the subject to gradually emerge from darkness into gentle illumination from the window.

Homer’s painterly, seemingly casual brush marks define the elements in the painting with confidence and economy. There is something especially appealing to me about the simplicity of the plants on the windowsill and the suggestion of landscape beyond.

 
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