Sunday, January 8, 2017

Framed Perspective, Marcos Mateu-Mestre

Framed Perspective,  Marcos Mateu-Mestre
Just to put things in… context, the history of graphical perspective goes back further, but the system of geometric perspective we use today can be traced to an important point in the beginning of the 15th century, when Filippo Brunelleschi — the brilliant Renaissance architect and designer who solved the seemingly intractable problem of spanning the world’s largest cathedral dome space with an ingenious solution — codified a system of graphical persepctive that was immediately adopted by almost every artist who was made aware of it, and most artists since.

Like his solution for the dome of the Florence cathedral, the model of geometric perspective Brunelleschi demonstrated solved problems that had previously seemed impossibly difficult.

Artists and art students have either been thanking or cursing him ever since, depending on whether they see graphical perspective construction as an an incredibly powerful tool or as a burdensome learning process akin to school studies of math or chemistry.

Linear perspective study can seem difficult when ill-presented, but when taught properly, it can be a golden key to drawing and painting with a strength, solidity, accuracy and realism impossible to achieve without it.

Short of taking a course with a good instructor, those interested in mastering perspective are left to find their own way with books that are too often poorly presented, overly obtuse and almost as boring to look at as a mathematics textbook.

While there are some pretty good perspective books out there, I’ve just received review copies of a new two-volume set on perspective that has shot to the top of my personal list of best books on the subject.

Framed Perspective Vol #1 and Vol #2, are new books from Marcos Mateu-Mestre, a concept artist and illustrator who I have written about previously and whose drawing style I have always found particularly appealing.

As in his previous book: Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition for Visual Storytellers (link to my review), he tackles the the subject within the framework of real world use and practical application.

Also like that book, Mateau-Mestre has not only used real-world type examples to illustrate the concepts, he has also used them to make his books something that perspective books rarely are: visually appealing and entertaining.

Framed Perspective Vol. 1 is subtitled: “Technical Perspective and Visual Storytelling”. In it Mateau-Mestre starts at the ground floor (so to speak) and takes you from the basic concepts through solutions for some reasonably complex challenges, including multiple vanishing points, staircases, three-point perspective, arches and domes, and the application of perspective to freehand sketching.

At over 200 pages, it’s packed with information and techniques and a reality-based approach that stays focused on what’s really useful.

Framed Perspective Vol. 2 is subtitled “Technical Drawing for Shadows, Volume, and Characters”, and deals with the too often neglected subjects of applying shadows in perspective and applying perspective to the human figure, including the representation of clothing and folds, and the application of shadows to figures.

Though not as extensive as Volume 1, this one still weighs in at over 120 pages, and is jammed with useful information, as well as Mateu-Mestre’s wonderful drawings and illustrations.

Throughout both volumes, the illustrations, diagrams, text and book design are clear, concise and well thought out.

Any artist with an interest in comics, graphic storytelling, concept art or illustration — as well as painting and drawing of any kind that involves linear perspective — should look into these superb volumes.

If you’ve found books on perspective daunting and/or boring, Framed Perspective may open your eyes to a world of possibilities for understanding and using one of an artist’s most powerful tools.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Eye Candy for Today: Antonio Mauro Perspective Design for a Stage Set

Perspective Design for a Stage Set of an Italian Cityscape, Antonio Mauro II, drawing in pen and ink and leadpoint with wash
Perspective Design for a Stage Set of an Italian Cityscape, Antonio Mauro II

Pen and black ink, brown and gray wash and leadpoint layout lines, roughly 10 x 14 in. (27 x 36 cm). In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, use the Enlarge or Download links under their image.

This beautifully crafted 18th century design for a stage set, with its complex perspective view of a city street, also works as a drawing.

The artist’s use of wash — both in the heavily shadowed wall on the left and the lighter applications that add dimensionality to the architectural details on the right — give the composition solidity and enhance remarkable feeling of depth created by Mauro’s command of linear perspective.

If you look closely (the high-resolution image on the Met’s site is considerably larger than my detail crops above), you can see some of the artist’s perspective construction lines.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Arthur Parton

Arthur Parton, Hudson River School painter, landscape paintings
Arthur Parton was an American landscape painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was a member of the Hudson River School, though there is less information available about him online than many of the other painters associated with that school.

He studied under William Trost Richards at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, initially adopting a detailed naturalistic style in keeping with Richards’, but eventually experimenting with styles from the European Barbizon School, American Tonalism and Luminisim and the styles of the American Impressionists.

Unfortunately, many of the images of his work available online are not as large or high quality as we might like, but there are enough to appreciate his confident rendering, textural experimentation and evolving styles.

For a high-resolution example see my previous post: Eye Candy for Today: Arthur Parton landscape


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy Leyendecker Baby New Year 2017!

Happy Leyendecker Baby New Year 2017!,  J.C. Leyendecker New Year's babies from covers for The Saturday Evening Post
As I’ve done every New Year’s Eve Since 2006, I’ll wish all Lines and Colors readers a Happy New Year with a few more of J.C. Leyendecker’s terrific New Year’s babies.

See that post for background on the origin of the Leyendecker New Years baby covers for the Saturday Evening Post.

Images above are from a three decade run of The Saturday Evening Post covers from the early 20th century. For more, see my previous links, below.

I wish you all a new year filled with beautiful, inspiring art!


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Adoration of the Shepherds, Nicolas Maes

Adoration of the Shepherds, Nicolas Maes
Adoration of the Shepherds, Nicolas Maes

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Getty Museum.

The Getty’s version of the image looks dark to me, as often seems to be the case with museums’ online representation of their collections. The Google Art Project version, and the Wikimedia Commons file of the same image, seem better.

Interestingly, 17th century painter Nicolaes Maes, a student of Rembrandt, has based his painting almost directly on a 16th century engraving by Albrecht Durer (see my previous post).

Things are arranged a little differently, and Maes has introduced the shepherds of the title, but most of the composition is taken from Durer’s piece — right down to the little bird on the signpost.

Like Durer, Maes has happily indulged in the representation of wood, brick, stone, trees, and the hilly landscape through the arch, as well as the play of light across the scene


The Nativity, Albrecht Durer

The Nativity, Albrecht Durer engraving
The Nativity, Albrecht Durer

Engraving, in the collection of the national Gallery of Art, DC, which has both zoomable and downloadable files. There is also a zoomable file on the Google Art Project and a downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons.

In this beautiful early 16th century engraving by one of the great masters of printmaking, Durer seems more concerned with the setting than the event. Perhaps he was simultaneously indulging his patrons’ preference for religious themed prints and his own preference for exploring the visual world around him.

I love the little bird on the signpost on which Durer has hung a sign with the date and his monogram.

The Nativity; NGA, DC