Eye Candy for Today: Solomon J. Solomon’s St George

St George and the Dragon, Solomon J. Solomon
St George and the Dragon, Solomon J. Solomon

St George, Solomon J. Solomon; oil on canvas, roughly 84 x 42 inches (213 x 106 cm); in the collection of the Royal Academy of Arts

The legend of Saint George and the Dragon, in which the heroic knight rescues a princess who had been offered up as tribute to a dragon, has a long history as a subject for artists.

Here, British Royal Academician Solomon J. Solomon, who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, takes his stab at it (if you’ll excuse the expression) in a strikingly vertical composition through which he unerringly guides your eye.

The figures and drapery swirl around the axis of the knight’s lance, their body positions contributing to the turning and twisting effect.

Solomon’s muted browns and grays brings your attention to the bright skin of the woman, the high chroma gold of her robe with its white trim, the glinting of the knight’s armor, his hand and white sleeve, and into the highlights of the clouds — almost forming a circular mini-composition within the upper area of the painting.

The composition then guides you down the flow of the more muted fabric — still brighter than the knight’s garments — into the jaws of the now defeated dragon in all its glorious ugliness.

 
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Richard Schmid 1934-2021

Richard Schmid
Richard Schmid

I was saddened to learn of the death on Sunday of American artist Richard Schmid, one of the finest and most influential realist artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

His paintings are veritable textbooks of color and value relationships, texture, brush handling, and the subtle power of edges in painting. Schmid was not only a formidable painter, but a hugely influential teacher; you can see his influence in the work of his students, their students and even those who have just known his work from afar.

Fortunately, Schmid has left a legacy of teaching materials — treasure troves of painting knowledge that are available to the rest of us. His book Alla Prima II: Everything I know About Painting – and More is the single best book on the art of painting of which I am aware. I learn something new every time I go through it. I have also found his instructional videos — particularly those on landscape painting — of great value. (Most outstanding for me is the second in his landscape series: June.)

If you are not well acquainted with his work, the official Richard Schmid website is a great place to start. You will find examples of his work not only in the Portfolio, but in the sections on Available Art, Lithographs and Books and Videos. (I the Books section, on the pages for the individual titles, look below the image of the cover for the “Preview This Item” tab.)

Unfortunately, the official website pulls up short of showing his work to best advantage in large images. For that, you may need to use a Bing or Google image search, with the parameters set to “Large” or “Extra Large” (see my recent article on image search). In this way you can view larger images of his work that have been reproduced by auction houses.

As much as I admire Schmid’s work as a portraitist and still life painter, it is his landscapes that have long captured my attention. Subtle, atmospheric and evocative, his landscapes are masterful examples of the power of suggestion in painting, convincing your eye that there is more there than is actually delineated. The published collection, The Landscapes is a visual treat, beautifully printed and at a marvelously large size (see my review here).

I haven’t yet gotten a copy of the new still life book, but I can’t imagine it is anything less than superb.

In all cases, I strongly recommend purchasing his books and videos direct from the official website. Not only will the proceeds go more directly to his family, but the materials are actually less expensive there than through third party sites like Amazon.

 
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Kris Parins

Kris Parins watercolor
Kris Parins watercolor

Kris Parins is a watercolor painter who is originally from Wisconsin, and now shares her time between a studio there and one in Florida.

Her bright, crisp watercolors reflect a love of the natural world as exemplified by both places as well as the play of light and shadow to be found in urban environments and still life objects.

Her approach varies, at times areas of color are abstracted to the point of giving the work a seirgraph-like appearance.

Her website portfolio is divided into ranges of subject matter. In addition, there is a section for prints, and a video in which she talks about her inspiration and process. The Articles section includes articles Parins has written for Watercolor Artist Magazine.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Carl Thomsen’s Arranging Daffodils

Arranging Daffodils, Carl Thomsen, oil on canvas
Arranging Daffodils, Carl Thomsen, oil on canvas

Arranging Daffodils, Carl Thomsen; oil on canvas, roughly 16 x 12 inches (41 x 32 cm); link is to image file page on Wikimedia Commons, zoomable image on Bonham’s. (My assumption from the auction listing is that the painting is currently in a private collection.)

This 1894 painting by Danish artist Carl Thomsen is a perfect image of bringing spring indoors. The vase of blossoms and the young woman and her white dress are illuminated highlights in the dark room, giving a feeling of the bright promise of spring making an advance into the darkness of fading winter.

Thomsen’s painterly approach makes the bright subjects stand out even more against the almost flat background.

 
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Bernard Völlmy

Bernard Vollmy, watercolor
Bernard Vollmy, watercolor

Bernard Völlmy is a Swiss painter, now based in France, who works primarily in watercolor, but also in monochromatic and color watercolors combined with graphite.

His watercolor themes often include subjects with water — creeks and streams, small runs or even reflective puddles. These are approached with an eye to texture and interesting value contrasts.

Völlmy’s website is in French, but is relatively easily navigable by non-French speakers. The link I’ve posted takes you directly to his watercolor on paper gallery. You can find other galleries of images under the “Bernard Völlmy” menu tab. Among them is a section for his sketchbooks.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: John Sell Cotman graphite and wash drawing

East End of Saint Jacques at Dieppe, Normandy; John Sell Cotman; graphite and brown wash
East End of Saint Jacques at Dieppe, Normandy (details); John Sell Cotman; graphite and brown wash

East End of Saint Jacques at Dieppe, Normandy; John Sell Cotman; graphite and brown wash; roughly 12 x 9 inches (29 x 22 cm). LInk is to zoomable version on Google Art Project, downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Yale Center for British Art.

English painter, printmaker and illustrator John Sell Cotman, who was active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was prolific and left a trove of drawings in addition to his paintings and graphics. Here, he confidently delineates the intricately decorative structure of a large Renaissance church with graphite, augmented with subtle washes.

The drawing exhibits both the substantial accuracy of a careful architectural drawing, and the liveliness of a more casual sketch.

In part, this is likely due to the loosely free rendering of the roof of the lower structure, but I think it’s also due to an approach I have also noticed in the wonderful architectural drawings of Canaletto.

In both cases, lines that over their course are ruler straight, are along the way wavering and often lightly broken. It’s a wonderful technique.

 
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