Martin Johnson Heade

Martin Johnson Heade
Nineteenth century American painter Martin Johnson Heade painted landscapes, seascapes, still life and the occasional portrait, but is best known for his paintings of tropical birds, particularly hummingbirds, perched amid orchids and other exotic flowers.

These he painted in almost diorama-like compositions, usually set against backgrounds of mist shrouded tropical forest. The overall effect is dreamlike and otherworldly.

Many of his paintings of tropical flora and fauna were intended for a never-published book, to be titled “The Gems of Brazil”, inspired by his travels there early in his career.

Heade’s landscapes frequently were severely horizontal compositions of haystacks amid salt marshes, cast in atmospheric evocations of overcast days and impending or passing storms.

Critics have had difficulty classifying Heade, some calling him a Luminist, others trying to shoehorn him in with the Hudson River School, with which he was loosely associated.

Heade was delightfully idiosynchratic, following his own muse of nature, light and atmosphere.


Jeremy Deveraturda

Jeremy Deveraturda
Jeremy Deveraturda is an illustrator and digital painter who studied at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and moved from his initial love of watercolor into the appealing freedom of digital art.

His light-filled digital seascapes and landscapes have something of the feeling of gouache, and display his admiration for artists like Sorolla and JWM Turner.

Deveraturda’s website has galleries of both personal work and illustration. In addition he maintains a blog, Paint My Brains Out.

There is an interview with Deveraturda on STAMP magazine.


Durer’s Great Piece of Turf

Durer's Great Piece of Turf
Like his remarkable Hare, Albrecht Durer’s study in watercolor, pen and ink of a clump of earth containing an assortment of wild plants, known as the Great Piece of Turf, is a remarkable example of the artist’s penetrating powers of observation and brilliant rendering.

Like his Hare, the Great Piece of Turf has become one of the most well known of Durer’s works, in spite of — or perhaps because of — its unassuming subject matter.

This work, along with 90 other watercolors, drawings and prints from the extraordinary collection of the Albertina, is still on view here in the U.S. as part of an exhibition titled: Albrecht Durer: Master Drawings, Watercolors and Prints from the Albertina, at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. until June 9, 2013


Doodle 4 Google

Doodle 4 Google
Those who don’t, like me, use a shortcut for search in a browser bar, but instead actually go to the Google homepage, will frequently see Google Doodles.

These are versions of the Google logo made of illustrated elements that, to one degree or anther, suggest or form the letters of the word.

Google has artists who work on these, and they can be wonderfully clever, imaginative and entertaining, as I’ve mentioned on occasion.

For the past 6 years, Google has been sponsoring a Doodle 4 Google competition for K-12 students in U.S. schools in which the participants create their own Google Doodles based on a theme.

The national winner gets their Doodle featured on the Google home page, is awarded a $30,000 college scholarship, a Wacom tablet (grin) and other prizes, and brings home a $50,000 grant to their school for establishment of a computer or technology lab.

This years theme was “My Best Day Ever…”, and the national winning entry (images above, bottom) from Sabrina Brady of Sparta High School, Wisconsin, is posted on the Google homepage today (May 23, 2013).

The pages devoted to the contest feature the national and state finalists and winners.

For those interested in next year’s competition, there is a FAQ page.

Despite the obvious self promotional aspect for Google, I like this because it not only encourages drawing, but creative thinking in the arrangement of graphic elements to make or contain the logo’s letters.

I was also pleased to see a high percentage of girls’ names among the finalists and winners.

Images above:
Maria I, Chestnut Ridge Middle School, NJ [6-7]
Madelyn K, Homeschool, IN [6-7]
Lauren S, Sheridan High School, WY [8-9]
Marissa F, Urbandale Middle School, IA [8-9]
Andrea S-L, Washington High School, WV [10-12]
Drexel B, Albert D. Lawton Intermediate School, VT [8-9]
Natasha D, Lake City Junior Academy, ID [K-3]
Amy L, Highland Park High School, TX [10-12]
Audrey Z, Michael F. Stokes Elementary School, NY [4-5]
Sabrina Brady, Sparta High School, Wisconsin, [10-12]


Charlie Hunter

Charlie Hunter
When walking around during the recent Wayne Plein Air Festival here in Southeastern Pennsylvania, looking for painters working in the streets of the town (and feeling a bit like a birder searching for rare species, as many of the participants had found off the beaten path locations to paint), I came across Vermont artist Charlie Hunter working on the small painting of a railroad underpass shown in my photo above, top, and was immediately impressed.

Unfortunately, neither my hasty location photo, nor the relatively small reproductions of work on Hunter’s website or the sites of the galleries in which he is represented, adequately convey the wonderful textural and painterly quality of his work.

Hunter works in a subdued, often almost monochrome palette — shifting attention to his command of values, variation in edges and the surface qualities of his paintings. They sometimes have a feeling similar to Andrew Wyeth’s drybrush watercolors, though Hunter works in oil, most often of the water-miscible variety.

Hunter was last year invited to join the Putney Painters, a painting group in Vermont guided by painter Richard Schmid, without question a contemporary master of edges and value in particular, and Schmid’s wife, artist Nancy Guzick, notable for her command of those same qualities.

Hunter indicates that his style developed almost accidentally, evolving out of his career as an illustrator and designer, and his ability to see and work with major shapes and compositional geometry.

He works with a limited palette of burnt sienna, viridian and French ultramarine, occasionally supplemented with yellow ochre or Naples yellow. He begins by toning the canvas with a diluted mix of his three basic colors, out of which he pulls large and then smaller shapes with paper towels, Q-tips and other implements before going back in with brushes.

Like those great old black and white film noir movies, Hunter’s paintings have a quality of atmosphere and mood that would be difficult to maintain in a higher chroma palette.

When I encountered him working on the painting above, top, he was just reaching the stage at which he was ready to make the call of “complete”. He commented that Mother Nature had made his job of finding a suitable subject more difficult by dealing him a brightly lit sunny day.

When I later saw the painting in the Plein Air exhibition, I saw little change, and was just as struck with the visual quality of his other paintings, one of which was awarded First Place by juror Jim Wodark.

The links to work on his website under “Images” are a little awkward, in that only “Current“, “Other Available Paintings” and “Painting Archives” are within his site, the other links take you out to other sites or even a Flickr page for galleries (linked below). In the Painting Archives section you will find some of his commercial work and gallery work in other media.

There is a profile of Hunter on