“Painting a Day” Blogs (Round 4)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about the challenges and rewards of taking on the practice of doing “a painting a day”, the hardest thing about doing one small painting every day and then posting it to a blog is, of course, making the time.

All of us are pulled in various directions and maintaining a schedule that allows that kind of dedication is no small thing. The commitment, however, is part of the reward. Like exercising physical muscles, exercising our self-discipline gives us more control and, ironically, more freedom. There also seems to be no surer cure for “painters’ block” and the hesitiation that sometimes comes from confronting a blank canvas.

I’ll follow up on this topic in the coming weeks and look at some artists who are trying to pursue this course in smaller doses, perhaps reaping fewer benefits, but still adopting a regimen that requires dedication and commitment to a schedule. Some are doing paintings on a less frequent schedule, some are committing themselves to daily drawings or sketchbook entries, and sometimes a mix of the two.

Today, here are four more of the intrepid painters who have gone the “full monty” and embarked on the course of doing a painting a day.

Justin ClaytonJustin Clayton is a painter from California who studied at the California Art Institute and the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Arts. He started his Daily Paintings website (not arranged as a blog) on January 1st of this year. He paints in oil on masonite panels of 5×5 or 5×7 inches. His site includes a time-lapse video of the process of creating one of his small paintings (requires Quicktime 7, which you should have anyway if you like high-quality web video).

 

John ConkeyNew Mexico painter John Conkey has created a fascinating variation on the painting a day process. His painting blog, Themeworks, is a journal of daily paintings that are based on 12 monthly themes, chosen on the first day of each month. His stated goal is to pursue this for one year. Conkey’s primary website emphasizes landscapes and portraits and he differs from most of the other artists working in the painting a day framework by showing a much wider variety of subject, from plein air landscapes, birds, butterflies and other wildlife as well as small household objects, and is one of the few to include small portraits.

 

Paul HutchinsonNew Zealand artist Paul Hutchinson has been pursuing his Postcard form Puniho painting a day project for several months. Initially his paintings were only offered for sale to other New Zealand residents through a local online auction site, however he has started to offer the ability for people from other countries to buy them directly through the site. His work often exhibits distinctive brushstroke textures that form an integral part of the overall composition. Hutchinson’s main website has galleries of self-portraits, nudes, landscapes, hands, still life, portraits and works in pastel and encaustic wax as well as silkscreen prints.

 

Sarah WimperisSarah Wimperis has worked as a muralist, set designer and teacher. She has also done illustrations for publishers like Collins, Penguin, Random House and MacMillan. She has a main website Sarah Wimperis Illustration, personal blog Muddy Red Shoes and painting a day blog called The Red Shoes. In the latter, she posts her small daily paintings that are often of the countryside, farms and villages of her adopted home of Brittany, France. Unlike most of the other painting a day painters, Wimperis paints in watercolor rather than oil. Also unusual is the scale of some of her paintings. Many are the more or less characteristic size of 6×4″ (15×10.5cm) or so, but some are 3×2″ (7.5x6cm) or smaller. The very small ones are sometimes painted on ivorine, a synthetic material made to replace ivory, which was a traditional surface for the painting of miniatures. The Image shown here is 3×2 1/2″ (7.5c6.5cm) on ivorine. Her clear, fresh watercolor technique features nice contrast of dark to light and strong use of textures created from paint strokes.

 

“Painting a Day” Blogs (Round 3)

Duane KeiserOur story thus far: in October of last year I wrote a post about Duane Keiser, a painter and teacher from Virginia who, in December of the year before (2004), had committed himself to the excellent but demanding practice of doing one small painting a day.

Most of his daily paintings were about 5×7″, or the size of a common postcard, so he called them “postcard paintings”, posted them on a blog he called A Painting a Day, and began to offer them for sale over the web, and then through eBay.

Originally his postcard paintings sold for $100, which is still the minimum bid for them on eBay, but now they sell quickly and usually for many times that. All of this is in addition to Keiser’s regular gallery painting as featured on his main web site.

He continued the practice for two years, painting small household and studio objects and using a old cigar box as an easel. At the two year mark, Keiser “slowed down” a little to allow more time for larger projects, but he has continued the process with amazing consistency, still often using the cigar box easel that is the subject of one of his recent paintings.

In the meantime, other artists began to follow suit, taking on the practice of one small painting a day, an excellent discipline for any artist. I posted about 5 of them in a Painting a Day Blogs post back in April. (I’ll call that “Round 2”).

Most of the artists taking on the painting a day practice and posting them on a blog, usually with some comments abut their creation, were also offering them for sale directly to potential buyers through eBay. The daily painting routine has the potential to contrubute to an artist’s financial well-being as well as encouraging artistic growth and establishing strong working habits.

Since then, a number of readers have written to let me know about other artists that are pursuing the painting a day regimen and I’ve finally assembled and organized a post about some of them. I’ll feature three today (“Round 3”) and four more tomorrow (“Round 4”). This is not a comprehensive list, and I’ll continue to watch the phenomenon as it develops.

 

Louis BoileauLouis Boileau was a commercial illustrator and layout artist for 30 years. Through all that time all he really wanted to do was be a painter and that is now what he’s doing. His main web site is Still Lifes Plus on which he has galleries of landscapes portraits and a bit of commercial style work, but the highlight, not surprisingly, is the still life paintings. Many of them are from his painting a day blog Little Paintings from Orangeville which he has been pursuing for about four months. I can’t speak to the reality of this from the artist’s point of view, but I personally feel that his recent small works show a level of accomplishment noticeably above his previous work. They are rich, colorful, and wonderfully painterly, with no-nonsense brushstrokes that help define the forms as well as carry the paint. His objects are also starting to display a refined use of local, atmospheric and reflected color.

 

Darren Maurer is an artist from Sioux City, Iowa whose A Painting A Day: Miniature Masterpieces site and painting project has been going since March. Originally his goal was to simply try it for a month. After succeeding at that, he decided to take a break and then push on, a month at a time, as he reported on this post, which marked the completion of the first month. Maurer’s main site is Darren Maurer Fine Arts which has galleries of his full size work as well as a bio of the artist.

 

Jan BlencloweConnecticuit artist Jan Blenclowe started a Painting a Day Project that “blossomed” into a Flower a Day Project (no longer a blog, now an online gallery) taking advantage of her focus on plein air painting and her own bountiful garden. In addition to those sites, Blenclowe seems to have quite a garden of web sites, including her main website, a Squidoo Lens, her Pen, Pencil and Paper sketching blog and her main blog, Art & Life, on which she posts both her small daily paintings and larger works.

 

Edmund Dulac

Edmund Dulac
French illustrator Edmund Dulac began his career in the first decade of the 20th Century, just as the new technology of color separation was making the economical printing of color book plates possible.

Dulac moved to London because of the publishing opportunities and was soon working as an illustrator in the new genre of illustrated gift books, in which color plates, printed on special coated paper that accommodated the new printing process, were “tipped in”, or placed between pages rather than being bound into the spine.

His style shows some obvious influence of Arthur Rackham, an influence that eventually traveled both ways, and I think he and Rackham were probably influenced by Swedish Illustrator John Bauer.

However the influences travelled, the result was that Rackham and Dulac became the dominant figures in this new area and developed wonderful illustration styles that still enchant readers today.

Unlike Rackham, who was making a transition from the old color process , in which a black ink line was needed to “hold” the color and hide the effects of misregistration of the color plates, Dulac started with the new, more accurate process which allowed him to work without the ink lines, which he did for many of his early works, working largely in watercolor and gouache. He eventually came to use outlines more as a nod to the expectations of the market than a technical limitation.

Dulac did memorable illustrations for classics like The Arabian Nights, The Rubiat of Omar Kayyam, and fairy tales like The Sleeping Beauty, The Snow Queen, Cinderella,, Little Mermaid, and Bluebeard. He also illustrated an edition of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and The Bells and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe.

There are some books available including Dulac’s Fairy Tale Illustrations in Full Color, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and the very inexpensive Dover postcard book, Dulac’s Illustrations for Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales: 24 Cards. Also look for A Treasury of the Great Children’s Book Illustrators by Susan E. Meyer, a treasure trove of great illustration from the “Golden Age” including Dulac, Walter Crane, John Tenniel, Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth, among others.

Dulac’s charming, beautifully drawn and wonderfully colored images are what fairy tale illustration is all about.

Jack Ziegler

Jack ZieglerJack Ziegler is, of course, quite mad.

Some may say it’s toaster mania, some may suggest worst case wonkiness, but I know, because I have a treasured copy of the long out-of print classic cartoon collection of the same name, that it’s Hamburger Madness!

Jack Ziegler has been drawing cartoons for The New Yorker, and other publications since slightly after the invention of movable type. Do a search on the Cartoon Bank archive of New Yorker cartoons and you come up with over 900 Ziegler cartoons!

His deliriously loopy cartoons careen back and forth from Kliban-like lunacy to Steinberg style thought provoking drawings to traditional New Yorker style boardroom cartoons – with a twist. The twist is the point, of course, some of his “gags” bend logic in a way that would have made Ernst or Duchamp sit up and take notice.

Ziegler’s drawing is exactly what a cartoon drawing should be, hilarious in its own right, dead on with facial expressions and body language, always clear and sharp and delivers the gag like an exploding California roll in an uptown sushi bar.

Even though his classic collections like Hamburger Madness, Worst Case Scenario and Marital Blitz, and his one children’s book, Mr Knocky, are out of print, you may still be able to find used copies.

His newest collection, You Had Me at Bow Wow: A Book of Dog Cartoons by New Yorker Cartoonist Jack Ziegler has not yet been released but there are other Ziegler collections that are in print: How’s the Squid?: A Book of Food Cartoons, The Essential Jack Ziegler (The Essential Cartoonists Library) (edited by Lee Lorenz), and Olive or Twist?: A Book of Drinking Cartoons.

Fourmi (Sylvie Lacroix)


Fourmi is the professional name (or simply the site name, I’m not sure) of Belgian visual development artist Sylvie Lacroix.

Lacroix has done art direction, concept art and promotional illustration for a number of European TV projects and films. The Fourmi web site contains examples of work from various stages of the visual development process. You can view the work sorted by project or by process: Colorkeys, Illustration, Character Design, Sketches and Art Direction.

Lacroix has a charming, colorful style that at times is close to the look of cell animation (not surprisingly) and at other times has the look of children’s book illustrations.

I particularly like the illustrations and images in which there is a playful use of contrast in light, dappled light under trees or shafts and streaks of sunlight or moonlight streaming into rooms. Notice also the interesting use of white, or lightly colored, linework over top of darker colors.

Addendum: Fourmi writes to confirm that “Fourmi” (French for “ant”) is indeed her professional name. Also, I was remiss in not mentioning that I first learned of Fourmi’s work by way of Man Arenas (Dodecaden), a suberb production artist and designer that I profiled back in January.

Scott Robertson

Scott Robertson
Specialization in art has a long history, from the Dutch genre painters of the 17th century who specialized in still lifes or interiors, or the artists who specialized in painting birds or other animals and would contribute their specialty to another, more recognized work (e.g. Frans Synders painting the eagle in Ruben’s Prometheus Bound), to the modern practice of Japanese manga artists who specialize in buildings or mecha.

You’ll also find specialization among entertainment concept artists, who often contribute specialized concept design skills to the creation of films or games.

Long way around to point out that concept artist and designer Scott Robinson specializes in vehicles. He does paint environments and other types of concept art, but vehicles are his thing, and that includes all kinds of vehicles – cars, bikes, trucks, prop planes, jet planes, helicopters, sci-fi craft, boats and even retro-futuristic steam locomotives.

His web site, DrawThrough, has galleries of both his professional and personal work, a bio, information about workshops and instructional DVDs.

His work displays a masterful understanding of perspective and the geometry of objects, refined draughtsmanship and beautifully appropriate rendering technique. Don’t miss his wonderfully fanciful renderings of futuristic bicycles.

In addition to work on films like Minority Report, Robertson has also done a lot of product design for companies like Nissan, Volvo Yamaha, Raleigh Bicycles, Fiat and Nike. He teaches drawing at the Art Center College of Design and is an instructor with the Gnomon Workshop, which carries a number of his instructional DVDs.

Robertson founded the publishing company Design Studio Press which specializes in instructional art books, and publishes titles that feature several of the concept and sci-fi artists I’ve profiled on lines and colors.