Russian vintage science illustration blog

Russian vintage science illustration blog
When I was in my early teens, I spent many hours staring in goggle-eyed fascination at the illustrations in “science magazines”, like Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and Science and Mechanics, that depicted future tech.

The illustrators created scenes of potential space missions and spacecraft, both actually proposed and wildly imaginative, fantastic airships, monorails, undersea cities and other views of a promised idealized tech-wonderland future.

Apparently my adolescent counterparts in then-Soviet Russia were doing the same, as this wonderful Russian blog is showing us by posting vintage Russian science and space illustration from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Like entertainment concept artists, these illustrators are showing us things that don’t exist, but might; in many cases, giving us and “X-ray” view with cutaways.

Even though most of the more fanciful future tech didn’t come to be (I’m still waiting for my personal rocket pack and driveway gyrocopter), fascination with this kind of illustration remains strong.

[Via ModernMecanix by way of BoingBoing]


Michael Reardon

Michael Reardon
Michael Reardon shows a master watercolorist’s skill for handling edges, from the delicate tonalist softness of mist shrouded foliage to the crisp sharpness of architectural forms, often contrasted in adjacent passages within the same work.

Reardon’s deft handling if architectural subjects, and the strong geometry underlying his compositions, no doubt owes something to his thirty plus years of experience in architectural illustration.

He paints his atmospheric and light filled landscapes and cityscapes both on location and in the studio. What I find particularly fascinating is his choice of strongly vertical compositions, which he uses to great effect in painting after painting.

In 2005, Reardon received the Gabriel Prize from the Western European Architecture Foundation, which included a three month residence in Paris to study some aspect of classical French architecture. He chose as his subjects the city’s 20th Century public fountains and painted many of them in watercolor.

These are the focus if an exhibit titled The Fountains of Paris currently at the Thomas Reynolds Gallery in San Francisco, which can be previewed on Reardon’s website. The exhibit runs until April 30, 2011.

Reardon has also collected works from the series into a a book: Fontaines: The Public Fountains of Paris, available from Blurb.

In addition, Reardon has paintings in current exhibitions of the Califorinia Art Club and American Watercolor Society, and is featured in the Spring 2011 issue of American Artist Watercolor magazine.

I found the news about the latter events from Reardon’s blog, which is also one of the best places to see his work, as the images are often linked to larger versions.


Heritage Auctions

J.C. Leyendecker, Charles Dana Gibson, Dean Cornwell (painting), Dean Cornwell (drawing), Pruett Carter
Heritage Auctions is an auction house that, like Sotheby’s, puts images of their items to be auctioned, notably including artworks, online in relatively high resolution.

Unlike Sotheby’s (and Christie’s), Heritage doesn’t constrain its hi-res images to a zooming box; instead giving you a high res image that you can view as a whole. The tradeoff, however, is that to gain access to the large images you must have an account and be logged in. The account is free and requires that you cough up your name, address, phone and email (no credit card number is required).

I’ve certainly found it worthwhile to be able to view the large images of some of the great stuff they often have up for auction. They add you to a mailing list, but you can opt out, or choose news about only the categories of items in which you are interested. (Unfortunately, they seem unable or unwilling to distinguish between original comic book art and collectable comics.)

The art on Heritage is of a different stripe than that found in auctions on Sotheby’s and Christie’s (which often deal in the most expensive museum quality works that ever change hands by auction). Heritage does have some museum quality art, usually of lesser renown and often American. You will sometimes find gems by American Impressionists and painters that would be the focus of smaller, regional museums.

One of the star categories of Heritage’s art auctions is their sales of original illustration art, like the upcoming 2011 May New York Signature Illustration Art Auction. Here you will find work by top illustrators like J.C. Leyendecker, NC Wyeth, Arthur Rackham, Charles Dana Gibson, Dean Cornwell, Maxfield Parrish, James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy, Coby Whitmore, Haddon Sundblom, Frank Schoonover, Tom Lovell and many others.

From the home page you can find current and upcoming auctions. From the launch page of the individual auction you can click on individual items in the little slide show of Featured Items, or better, click on “View All Featured Items” to see them as a list. To see all items in the auction as a list with thumbnails, click on the main image associated with the auction (just under the title).

Find items in the list that you are interested in and click to open their page (I usually open in several in new browser tabs). On the detail page you will find information about the work, size, medium, estimated value and current bids. Clicking on “View Larger Image” shoots you further down the same page to a larger version, and often supplementary images of the artist’s signature, the frame, backing, etc. This is as far as you can go if you don’t have an account.

If you have an account and log in, you can click on “Look Closer” and open a glorious high-res image in a pop-up window. No scrolling zoom window, just a single image you van view as large as your monitor will allow (or download for future reference).

If that’s not enough, in the middle of the original page, between the small and medium size images, many of the individual images have thumbnailed links to other works by that artist that were previously offered for auction.

An auction like this one can go on for hundreds of items. You can choose how many thumbnails to view per page at the bottom. At 50 per page, the May Illustration auction goes on for 16 pages of thumbnails. The pieces are arranged alphabetically by artist, except that at some point, they end the alphabetical listing and start it again with a second string lineup of lesser works, those with attribution in question and generally items of lesser value.

Somewhere toward the bottom of the 10th page in this auction, I encountered a number of drawings by Dean Cornwell, some of which had starting bid minimums of $1!

You can read about the May Illustration Auction in more detail in reviews on Art Daily, Antique Trader and Matthew Innis’ Underpaintings. In the latter you will find a nice selection of highlights from the auction images.

You can also search the Heritage site in the right hand column of the home page for items from previous auctions, in categories like Illustration Art, Fine Art, Western and Texas Art, Comics and Comic Art, etc.

As usual for resources like this, I’ll issue my Major Timesink Warning. Yow!

[Images above, each with detail: J.C. Leyendecker, Charles Dana Gibson, Dean Cornwell (painting), Dean Cornwell (drawing), Pruett Carter]


Mike Corriero

Mike Corriero
Designing imaginary creatures takes more than just drawing or painting skills; good creatures, to my mind, require imagination and originality, or they seem like everybody else’s creatures.

Mike Corriero does terrific creatures.

Corriero is a freelance concept artist and illustrator for the gaming and film industries. His clients include Radical Entertainment/Vivendi Universal Games, Challenge Games, Liquid Development, Piazo Publishing and Hasbro Inc. You can find a list of some of the projects he’s worked on, as well as publications in which his work has been featured in the Resume on his website, and the bio on CGHub, which also features a quickly accessed gallery of his work.

In the gallery on his own website, there are sections for Sketches, and finished Illustration and Concept art. When viewing the images, there is an “Enlarge” button above the main image that launches a much larger version (in most cases) in a new window.

There you can find his imaginative creatures and monsters, with multiple appendages, wild textures and strange shapes, and often painted with a touch for incorporating a range of colors into his renderings. You can also find environments and other illustrations.

Corriero works both digitally and in traditional media. There is a bit of information about his process in the FAQ on his site, and there are some process videos on Livestream.

Corriero has collected a number of his sketches in a book called Planet to Planet: Creatures and Strange Worlds, available from Lulu, and also has posters and prints available through Zazzle.

You can find more information about his work and projects on his blog.


The Cult of Beauty

The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900: George Frederic Watts, Albert Moore, Frederick Sandys, James McNeill Whistler, Frederic Leighton, Edward Burne-Jones
That period in British cultural history that is sometimes called the “Gilded Age”, corresponding to the “Belle Époque”, or the “beautiful era” in France, and similar movements in America and elsewhere that we associate with the grace and style of Art Nouveau, the exquisite paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites, the drama of the romantic painters and the exaltation of beauty in craft, design, literature and art during that era, actually had its roots in ugliness.

The first wave of this shift in art, design and literature began in the 1860’s and was dubbed the “Aesthetic Movement”. It was a response to the sooty, clanking, oil soaked and steam shrouded ugliness of the industrial revolution.

Notable artists in this movement included Frederic Leighton, William Morris, James McNeill Whistler, GF Watts, Edward Byrne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The latter two were core members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Their motto was “Art for Art’s sake”, in its original usage meaning art that was in pursuit of beauty itself and not burdened with requirements to convey social or religious morals. This is in contrast to the mid 20th Century Modernists’ later abuse of the term to insist art must be devoid of any literary or storytelling component.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is celebrating the movement with an exhibition titled The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900, that is on display until 17 July, 2011.

The museum’s website has a display of a few of the pieces from the show. There is an article and slideshow of additional images on The Guardian, and another review with a smaller selection of images on The Independent.

In addition, the Telegraph has an article and a video interview with the curator that includes a bit of a walk-through of the exhibition space.

The V&A Museum also has an article on designing and staging the exhibition, Creating the Cult Of Beauty.

For more, see my related posts below, which contain links to additional images and resources.

(Images above: George Frederic Watts, Albert Moore, Frederick Sandys, James McNeill Whistler, Frederic Leighton, Edward Burne-Jones)


Luis Ruiz

Luis Ruiz
Luis Ruiz is an artist from Málaga, Spain who draws wonderful location sketches, particularly of architectural subjects.

Aside from that, I know little about him, despite the fact that he has a “Meet the Correspondents” page on Urban Sketchers, which is where I encountered his work.

You can view posts marked with his name on Urban Sketchers, or visit his extensive Flickr sets, which seem to be his only formal web presence.

Ruiz has a light touch, sketching in pen and ink with touches of watercolor (and perhaps markers?). He has a knack for suggesting enough of a structure to give it weight and solidity with just a few lines, emphasized by his judicious tone work, capturing nuances of light and shade in the geometry of his compositions.