William Hays

William Hays, reduction linocut prints
Though he also works in oil, Vermont artist William Hays found an initial diversion into reduction linocut prints to be so compelling that it is now the focus of his artistic endeavors.

Reduction printing is a color printmaking technique in which a single block, in this case linoleum, is carved, printed in a color, and then carved and printed again and again, each time cutting away the areas that will not be printed in the current color. This is opposed to the multi-block method of milti-color block printing.

It has advantages, in that the registration is to a single block and not several, but the planning and execution of the method is painstaking, and since the block is essentially being destroyed by stages, the initial print run is the only print run.

Multi-color block prints have their own unique visual charm, often with characteristics of both painting and linear rendering. Hays’s subjects of leafy forests, snowy hills and quiet glens use the medium to advantage.

I’ve limited my examples of Hays’ work to his prints, just to avoid any confusion about the process. You can find examples of his oils here.

Hays’ site has a listing of galleries that carry his work, and also has archived newsletters, many of which have information about his process, as in this one and this one.


Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney at Stamford Museum

Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney at Stamford Museum
James Gurney has become widely known for his instructional books and videos as well as his role as a plein air painter, lecturer and popular blogger, but it was his series of fantastic Dinotopia adventure picture books that originally attracted the most notice — in the art community, the paleo art community and among the dedicated readers who came to love the books.

In the Dinotopia series, Gurney brings to bear his study of classical artists and techniques — and in particular, late 19th century academic art — to create a world in which dinosaurs and humans co-exist amid architectural and natural splendor.

Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney is an exhibit of over 50 original paintings from the series, along with maquettes, models and related material, currently on display at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Stamford, CT.

You can read a post from Gurney’s blog about the exhibit, which runs until May 25, 2015.

Gurney points out that this exhibit is completely different from the one that was at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in CT a few years ago, but I think it is similar in scope and contents to the Dinotopia exhibits at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2013, and the one I had the pleasure of seeing at the Delaware Art Museum in 2010. If so, I can vouch for it as a terrific show, one of broader interest than you might think. Gurney’s influences and technique transcend the genres of paleo and fantasy art, and encompass classical art in many ways.

As far as I know, there isn’t a gallery of works specifically from the exhibition, but you can see Dinotopia art in general on the Dinotopia website, James Gurney’s website, and his blog, Gurney Journey.


Benjamin Constant

Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant was a French Orientalist painter active in the late 19th century. Though his work was popular and in demand during his time, he is not well known today.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is currently featuring an exhibition of work by Constant and his contemporaries: Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism: From Spain to Morocco, Benjamin-Constant in His Time, that runs until May 31, 2015.

In the process of promoting the show (in a manner that should serve as an example of so many other museums that remain clueless about using their websites to advantage for that purpose), the museum has also provided the best selection of images of Constant’s work that I’ve found on the web.

In addition, the museum has published a book based on the show, which is also available from Amazon and other sources.

Constant was a pupil of Alexandre Cabanel, also an Orientalist painter, and Constant worked in the style for many years. In his later career he changed his approach, and devoted himself more to society portraits and large murals.


Henry John Yeend King

Henry John Yeend King
English Victorian painter Henry John Yeend King studied painting in London and in Paris, learning both traditional academic techniques and the new plein air methods that were coming into practice.

Yeend King specialized in landscape and genre paintings of rustic scenes, often with young women going about their chores, gathering flowers, waiting for and riding in small ferries, or strolling through the countryside.

His paint application was sometimes quite direct and textural, to the point of appearing roughly applied in places. Unfortunately, it is perhaps that character that makes some of the reproductions of his work on the web appear to suffer from spotted reflections in their photographs.

The best reproductions of his work I’ve found are on BBC’s Your Paintings, and the Bonham’s auction site. Images on the latter are zoomable, but there is no thumbnail index; I’ve provided a Google Images search link

If the link I’ve given here doesn’t work for you, go to images.google.com and type in: “Henry John Yeend King site:bonhams.com”. You can try the same thing with Sotheby’s, but the results are a little less consistent.


Eye Candy for Today: Thomas Wilmer Dewing silverpoint portrait

Thomas Wilmer Dewing silverpoint portrait
Portrait of a Woman, Thomas Wilmer Dewing

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the zoom or download icons under the image. Original sheet is roughly 22 x 19 in. (57 x 48 cm).

The portrait is drawn in silverpoint, the most prevalent of the variations of metalpoint drawing. The artist draws with a thin wire of the soft metal — embedded in wooden rod or metal holder — usually on paper prepared with gesso or other coating. The initial gray metal lines gradually turn to a soft brown on exposure to air over a period of months.

The result is a uncannily delicate line, ghostly and etherial in the case of Dewing’s tonal approach.

Like ink drawing, there is no easy method of correction, and the lines as they are put down will remain.

From the placement of the head on the paper, it looks as though Dewing was allowing room to draw at least the head and shoulders, if not a half-length portrait. Perhaps he was unable to finish for one reason or another, or perhaps he decided to stop at the point of achieving the exquisite beauty of the drawing in its current state.


Jennifer Diehl

Jennifer Diehl, still life, landscape, cituscape, interiors, figurative painting
Originally from Wisconsin and now based in Oregon, Jennifer Diehl is a painter who brings a controlled but lively palette and painterly sensibility to a range of subjects: still life, landscape, cityscape, interiors, and figurative.

Her landscapes feel fresh, unhurried and naturalistic, while still retaining the immediacy of location painting, and she often plays with interesting variations in the character of light, from brilliant sunlight to the glow of lanterns.

Her still life subjects, sometimes traditional and sometimes interestingly different, are particularly appealing in their crisp, confident rendering, and nicely tactile sense of surface and texture.

The artwork on Diehl’s website is divided into subject categories; note that most have additional archive pages.

You can also find her work on the sites of the galleries in which she is represented (linked below).