New website for National Gallery of Art

New website for National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is one of the great art museums in the U.S., and a national treasure on which I am happy to see my tax dollars spent.

The NGA has long had a web presence, but it has never been quite what those of us who admire the museum’s collection might have liked, with small images of items in the collection and less than ideal presentation overall.

That has all changed, as the museum recently rolled out a beautiful new website.

Searching or browsing the collection is much easier, and many of the individual objects are now provided with zoomable high resolution images.

You can also still download images, as you could before, through the NGA Images database. Though the basic system for that hasn’t changed since my post on NGA Images in 2012, it is now more gracefully integrated into the main website.

I’ll point out again that though you can download a reasonably large image without an account, registering for a free account with a simple email address gives you access to wonderfully large high-resolution images.

As an example, an image of John Constable’s landscape, Wivenhoe Park, Essex (images above, third from bottom) can be downloaded without an account in a size from which I’ve taken the crop shown above, second from bottom. The bottom image shows a crop from the size available to those logged in to a free account (essentially the same as maximum zoom in the website interface, if you’re not concerned about downloading).

In addition to better presentation of exhibitions and items from the collection, there are other treasures to be found by looking around, with excellent features on subjects like Conservation Projects.

(By the way, the detail image of the hand from Vermeer’s exquisite Woman Holding a Balance in the examples above is not blurred; the extreme close-up just shows Vermeer’s brilliantly soft edges.)


Classic Disney animators paint a tree

Classic Disney animators paint a tree:  Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle, Joshua Meador and Walt Peregoy
Bracketed by Walt Disney reading quotes from Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit, this delightful short from 1958 briefly visits four Disney animators in the studio, where three of them are at the time working on the classic Sleeping Beauty animated feature, and then follows them into the California countryside, where they paint an old live oak.

Accompanied by jaunty Disney documentary background music, the four artists, Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle, Joshua Meador and Walt Peregoy, set up their equipment and, in a variety of media and styles, each paint their interpretation of the subject.

I was particularly interested in the approach of Eyvind Earle, who I have featured previously, as he painted the detailed textures of the gnarled tree trunk in casein (images above, bottom two). Earle eventually went on to a successful career as a gallery artist.

[Via Mark Frauenfelder on Boing Boing]


Eye Candy for Today: Van Dyck double portrait

Lady Elizabeth Thimbelby and her Sister, Anthony van Dyck
Lady Elizabeth Thimbelby and her Sister, Anthony van Dyck

In the National Gallery, London. Use fullscreen and zoom controls to the right of the image. You can zoom in even further than I have here.

Van Dyck dazzles with his masterful rendering of fabric, flesh and hair. I love the way he has positioned and painted the hands.


Matthew Cook

Matthew Cook
UK illustrator Matthew Cook often works in an area of illustration known as reportage, essentially called on to observe and report on scenes in which news or events of interest to the publication for which he is working are happening.

This is something of a throwback to the days prior to the widespread use of photography in publications, in which illustrators were the eyes of the reading public for events like the Civil War, in addition the more familiar interpretive use of illustrations for stories.

Among Cook’s subjects have been the war in Afghanistan and a project in which he recorded daily activities in the advertising agency, Mother London.

These days, reportage illustrators must bring something to the article beyond mere recording of a scene, and Cook’s crisp colorful watercolors distill the essence of a scene more clearly than a more literal photograph could.

His clients include Royal Mail, Sanyo Corporation, Ogilvy Mather, Penguin Publishing, National Geographic, Knight Ridder and Times Newspapers, among others.

Cook’s online portfolio is divided into subjects like Travel, War, Industry, Maps and Sketch book. He also maintains a site specifically for his war reportage art. Additional illustration portfolios and articles are listed below.


Drawn 2005-2013

Drawn 2005-2013
I was sorry to learn today that Drawn, one of the bright go-to points on the web for regular shots of cartooning and illustration inspiration, has ended its run after 8 years.

Started in early 2005 by cartoonist and illustrator John Martz, and eventually drawing on a collaborative rooster of artists, Drawn was always finding and showcasing bright talents and wonderful work by a large number of creators.

Along with Cartoon Brew, 100 Years of Illustration, Boing Boing and a few others, Drawn! (at the time with an exclamation point in the title) was one of the models on which I based the format of Lines and Colors when I launched it in August of 2005.

Though the scope and intention of the two blogs were different, I always thought of Martz and the Drawn crew as kindred spirits in the presentation of inspirational posts about art and artists.

Martz has written a farewell post, Drawn 2005-2013, on his personal blog explaining the decision.

I obviously disagree with his sentiment in regard to the continued relevancy of art blogs (grin), but I understand his decision.

The current archives are still available at the original address of Martz indicates that they will eventually be moved to an archive address.

I will be among many who will miss Drawn as an ongoing blog, but I want to emphasize that the archived pages are not to be overlooked as a source of continued exploration and inspiration.

Thanks to John and the other Drawn contributors for many years of enjoyment!

(Image above: Drawn! front page as it appeared on the one year anniversary of its launch.)