Lindsay Goodwin

Lindsay Goodwin
It’s always interesting to look at the particular subject matter that artists find compelling. Some look to traditional subjects and perhaps put them into focus with their own point of view, others look for unique subjects, or variations and twists on traditional themes.

Lindsay Goodwin is a young painter from California, who lived in Paris and travelled in Europe before returning to the U.S., who has a chosen to focus on restaurant interiors as subjects for her colorful, painterly images.

It makes a lot of sense in terms of a choice of subject; restaurant interiors are intentionally designed to be interesting, welcoming and often utilize carefully chosen, attractive colors. In addition, restaurant interiors are arrayed with visually appealing objects like glassware, vases and flower arrangements.

The subject also offers quite a range, from ornate and elaborate formal dining rooms to intimate bistros and informal bed and breakfast tables, as well as a range of location and nationality. (The image at top is of the restaurant in a hotel in Crillon le Brave in Provence, France; home to another artist I’ve written about on Lines and Colors, Julian Merrow-Smith).

Goodwin’s subject matter also extends to related subject matter like hotels, opera houses and classic theaters, and includes dining rooms in private homes. There are also figurative and portrait pieces, and somewhat more traditional building exteriors.

It’s easy to see influences from Sargent, Edmund Tarbell, William Merritt Chase, and other American Impressionists in her approach.

Goodwin’s work has been featured in Southwest Art Magazine and the current issue of American Art Collector.

Scenes of the Season at Brandywine River Museum

Brandywine River Museum, N.C. Wyeth
There’s a tendency to think of landscape painting as primarily a summer activity, or at least one of diminished interest in the Winter, both because of the inconvenience of painting in the cold, and the expectation of less color in the winter landscape.

Quite to the contrary, many painters and illustrators found great subjects in winter’s different range of colors and subjects, and some took particular delight in images of winter; and illustrators of course have a long tradition of portraying the Christmas holiday.

For those in the area of southeastern Pennsylvania, there is a small but delightful show at the Brandywine River Museum of works from the permanent collection showcasing winter scenes and images of Christmas, that runs until january 11, 2009.

The show includes prints by cartoonist Thomas Nast, who was in many was responsible for the image of St. Nicholas as a bearded, pipe smoking fellow with a sack of toys over his shoulder; as well as N.C. Wyeth’s colorful take on Kris Kringle (above, left) which owes more to J.C. Leyendecker’s interpretation of the Jolly One (see my post on Illustrators Visions of Santa Claus).

N.C. Wyeth is nicely represented by several of his lesser known landscape paintings, and these are complimented by large, infrequently seen works in the Brandywine’s collection by Pennsylvania Impressionists Elmer Schofield and Edward Redfield.

The show’s mix of illustration and gallery art includes prints by Winslow Homer and paintings by Ashcan School painter Everett Shinn, as well as illustrations by F.O.C. Darley, Frank X. Leyendecker (J.C. Leyendecker’s underappreciated brother), Maxfield Parrish and Jessie Wilcox Smith.

Visitors to the museum can supplement their enjoyment of the show’s theme with other relevant pieces on view in other galleries, like Howard Pyle’s wintertime historical illustrations, N.C. Wyeth’s beautiful winter-themed illustrations for The Black Arrow (above, right) and son Andrew Wyeth’s winter scenes of the Brandywine Valley.

For those not in the area, you might follow some of the links above, as well as looking into paintings by American artists who loved to paint in winter, like Edward Redfield and Fern Coppage (see my post on Fern Coppedge and George Gardner Symons, as well as my recent post on John F. Carlson).

Giuseppe Arcimboldo

According to a saying that became popular in the 1960’s, you are what you eat.

Perhaps not as directly as in the marvelous and bizarre portrait heads created by 16th Century painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo out of arrangements of fruit, vegetables, tree roots, fish, birds and other natural forms, but a sobering thought nonetheless as most Americans prepare today for a traditional Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner.

Born in Milan, Arcimboldo worked on frescos and tapestries in cathedrals in Italy and was also court painter to royalty in Vienna and Prague. Most of his traditional work has been lost, though a few examples survive, but his quirky and amusing portraits made from fruit, flowers and other elements of the natural world, as well as books and other man-made objects, remain, and attract attention to this day.

Some of his fruit/vegatable portraits were less obvious, disguised in what were ostensibly paintings of arrangements of vegetables in bowls, in which the face was revealed when the images was viewed upside-down, a precursor of the popular optical illusions circulated in later centuries. These upside-down portraits, when viewed in their orientation as paintings of fruit or vegetables in bowls, were, along with more straightforward images sometimes attributed to Caravaggio, among the earliest examples of still life as isolated subject matter for paintings.

The image above (large version here) is thought to be a likeness of Arcimboldo’s patron, Emperor Rudilf II, but it’s titular subject is Vertumnus, the Roman God of the seasons, whose penchant for changing his form to get what he wanted (like the favors of the goddess Pomona) personified the value of change in the practice of rotating crops to preserve the fertility of fields.

Arcimboldo’s striking visions have inspired others to follow in a similar vein, like contemporary painter Andre Martins de Barros (link contains NSFW material).

Arcimboldo’s paintings were celebrated by the Surrealists, who were always on the lookout for hallucinatory visionaries they could consider their precursors; and there has been some speculation that his inclination to see faces in arrangements of objects was the result of mental illness; a notion perhaps encouraged by his more disturbing images made of fish, birds and other animals, or the haunting images made of tree roots; but the truth is likely more prosaic. The Renaissance, a time of relative plenty and stability compared to the centuries that preceded it, not only provided the luxury of devoting more attention to art, but of indulging in puzzles, whimsies and amusement with the bizarre.

The luxury to enjoy the fruits of life beyond the necessities of survival, in particular the bounty of art, is always something for which to be thankful.

Larry Roibal

Larry Roibal
Larry Roibal is an illustrator known for his work in children’s books and romance novels. His portfolio has examples from those areas as well as landscapes and portraits.

Roibal’s blog is often devoted to portraits of another sort, chronicling his practice of sketching character studies of people currently in the news directly on newspaper articles about those people.

This is one of those cool ideas that obviously came about as the result of doodling and daydreaming (you know, the stuff you’re told not to do in school), and maintains some of that feeling of informal happenstance even though he’s been at it for a while.

If the article isn’t from a corner of the paper that happens to include the date, Roibal clips out a dateline and pastes it on the piece. (I’m surprised he resisted the temptation to call this “Faces in the News” or something similar.)

I picked a couple of significant events out of his recent crop, showing Obama drawn on an article about his victory in the presidential election, and ace Cole Hammels sketched over an article about the Phillies’ long-overdue clinching of the World Series (YAAAAAAAAAA!!!…er, sorry, where was I?…)

Both the ephemeral nature of newsprint and the informal character of ballpoint pen give the drawings a sense of immediacy and make them feel like a natural part of the daily newsflow.

This should be a syndicated feature.

Max Fleischer’s Super Superman Cartoons

Max Fleischer's Superman Cartoons
I sometimes despair that people younger than a certain age will think that the generally terrible state of current television animation is what 2-D or hand-drawn animation is limited to.

True, many of them have been introduced to the high-points of Japanese anime as exemplified by great directors like Hayao Miyazaki, but how many more think the warmed-over examples of anime available on TV are the height of that genre as well?

It seems that everyone knows, through cultural osmosis if by no other means, about Bugs Bunny and some of the Disney classics, but how easily the actual achievements of great hand-drawn animation are submerged beneath the waves of over-hyped 3D features.

Even more overlooked are some of the cinematic gems of the mid 20th Century that were shown as featurettes before feature films in the 1940’s, and later shown on television in the 1950’s.

A shining case in point are the wonderful 8-minute Superman cartoons created by Max and Dave Fleischer’s studio. For more detail, see my previous post about Max Fleischer.

As I mentioned in that post, the cartoons themselves can be viewed online via the Internet Archive or purchased on DVD. (You can also find some of them on YouTube in varying degrees of quality, or lack thereof.)

Hans Bacher, on his terrific blog One1more2time3’s Weblog: Animation Treasures, which I also wrote about before, has posted a wonderful set of screen shots from 4 of those classics in an article titled up in the sky…, which allows you to stop and appreciate the beautiful drawing, backgrounds, composition, lighting, staging and “cinematography” that made these cartoons mini-masterpieces of animation.

This is a film noir Superman, and still the best version of the character ever brought to the screen.

Pierre-Auguste Cot

Pierre-Auguste Cot
Pierre-Auguste Cot is one of those painters known primarily by one popular image, in this case The Storm, above, a commissioned image that Cot exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1880.

The painting has become part of pop high-culture (not quite pop culture) and has often been visually referenced or parodied, as in this portrait of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow by Edward Sorel.

Cot was a French Classical Academic painter, whose legacy also includes one other painting that retains popular appeal to this day, Springtime. Both of these works are of the idyllic, classical tradition in which the subjects and their surroundings are idealized. There is a Baroque feeling of fantasy/romance to them that accounts in large part for their popularity, in addition to Cot’s confident handling and strong figure work (not to mention a bit of sexy suggestion).

Cot studied under several French Academic masters, including William-Adolphe Bouguereau. As with Bouguereau, Cot’s work was very popular in his own time, but fell into disdain during the systematic disparagement of academic art by the moderninst establishment in the latter half of the 20th Century.

The Storm is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (I found a close-up of it that someone posted on Flickr). Springtime, although privately owned, was also on display there for a number of years, though I don’t know if it is still hanging at the Met.

There are also some of Cot’s other works reproduced in books and on the net, though few of the portraits that were actually his primary focus.