Carl G. Evers

Carl G Evers, marine painting and illustrations of Philadelphia in the 1050s for Philadelphia Electric Company
Carl Evers was a 20th century German/American artist, noted in particular for his marine paintings. He is generally considered one of the foremost American marine painters of the century. His evocation of the action of water, particularly roiled by storms and high waves, is just wonderful.

Evers was also an accomplished illustrator; his work appeared in publications like The Saturday Evening Post, Argosy, Yachting, and The Readers Digest, as well as in advertisements for companies that dealt with marine transport, such as Cunard, Grace Line, Farrell Lines, United Fruit and Moran Towing (biographical notes from J. Russell Jinishian Gallery). For some reason, Evers is rarely mentioned in compendiums of American illustration.

As much as I admire Evers’ marine paintings, I especially enjoy his illustrations. In particular, as a long time resident of the Philadelphia area, I just love his series of stunning portrayals of our beautiful and too often ignored city. These were done for a series of advertisements for the Philadelphia Electric Company in the early 1950s.

Evers was a master of his chosen mediums of watercolor and gouache, bringing to bear their suitability for intricate detail in astonishingly complex images, particularly large scale panoramas of Philadelphia, that, despite their level of detail, never feel forced or stiff.

James Gurney has this morning on his always fascinating blog, Gurney Journey, posted an article with “Five Tips from Carl Evers“, which prompted this post on my part.

The best source I’ve found for Evers’ work is this terrific post from Robin Benson on PastPrint, which has lots of large images, particularly of the Philadelphia Electric series.

Also good are two articles on Today’s Inspiration: ‘Carl G. Evers: “amazing scope and talent”‘ and ‘Carl G. Evers: able to portray “an ocean of almost infinite moods.”‘, by guest author Charlie Allen, supplemented with Lief Peng’s Flickr set. The J. Russell Jinishian Gallery has a selection of available Carl Evers originals.

There are three images on Heritage Auctions, that have slightly larger versions on roll-over. Those with a free HA account can access high-res versions. Those with a Pinterest login can find Evers’ work here; likewise FB here.

There is a long out of print 1975 collection of Ever’s work, Marine Paintings of Carl G. Evers, that is available used on Amazon (also here).

[Suggestion courtesy of James Gurney]


Eye Candy for Today: JMW Turner etching and mezzotint

Bridge and Cows (Liber Studiorum, part I, plate 2), Joseph Mallord William Turner
Bridge and Cows (Liber Studiorum, part I, plate 2), Joseph Mallord William Turner

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art; use the zoom or download links under the image.

Part of a series of etchings Turner produced, categorized to illustrate the various kinds of landscape (in this case “P” for “Pastoral”), this beautiful etching and mezzotint was, like the others in the series, derived from preliminary drawings Turner did in brown watercolor, and is printed in brown ink, carrying forward that wonderful quality that such drawings can have.

The byline indicates “Designed and etched by Joseph Mallord William Turner”, but as the Met’s page points out, the mezzotint was applied to the plate by engraver Charles Turner (no relation), with whom JMW Turner frequently collaborated.

(For a bit more on mezzotint, see my Eye Candy post on James Stephenson’s mezzotint version of Millais’ Ophelia.)

I love Turner’s loose, gestural line, the delicacy of the clouds, and the wonderfully textural quality and moody darks of the tree trunks and bridge.


Cara Brown

Cara Brown, watercolors
Cara Brown’s luminous watercolors of flowers, fruit, grapevines and other subjects are awash in sunlight, and resonate with vibrant, but never overdone color.

Many of her compositions are closeups of blossoms or fruit still on the plant; in essence they are treated like in-situ still life subjects. She often uses soft edges in her backgrounds to suggest depth, portraying her intimate subjects with harder edges to bring them forward.

Seeing her work in small reproductions, one might be tempted to think of some of her paintings as “photo-realistic”; but to do so, I think, is to do them a disservice. That effect is likely a function of the relatively large scale of many of the originals. In the generously sized reproductions she has provided on her website, you can see how true her rendering is to the inherent nature of watercolor.

Though there is a section of available originals, most of the paintings on her site serve as samples for the purchase of reproductions. You will find them listed by subject in a drop-down from the “Gallery” link. Be aware that some categories extend to more than one page.

I particularly enjoy her series of Zinfandel grapes on the vine, from a tiny vinyard in her brother’s back yard. In these, light seems to cascade down the forms as though drawn by gravity.

Brown has a Journal, in which she discusses process, and displays work in progress. She teaches workshops in Marin County, CA, near San Francisco.


Eye Candy for Today: Sargent’s Tyrolese Interior

Tyrolese Interior, John Singer Sargent
Tyrolese Interior, John Singer Sargent

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art; use the zoom or download links under the image.

Keenly observed and economically rendered, this beautifully evocative interior, bathed in light from an unseen window and set off with religious artifacts subtly revealed in the shadows, is more in keeping with Sargent’s personal watercolors than the posed portraits that he sought to get away from on his travels.


John MacDonald

John MacDonald, landscapes
Massachusetts artist John MacDonald is an illustrator as well as a painter.

His landscapes, both plein air and studio work, are sensitive to the changes in light across the seasons, at times with a soft, tonalist approach, and at other times with more sharply defined edges. He often includes creeks and streams in his compositions, through which light cascades as well as water.

His website includes both large and small studio work, as well as a selection of plein air paintings.

You will also find a selection of prints in a process he calls “digital woodcuts” (images above, bottom three). In these, he starts with a painting in white gouache on black Arches paper, scans it, and then works in Photoshop with digital drawing tools to create layer after layer of individual colors, much like the traditional printmaking processes in which he was trained. You can access a PDF outlining his process from the same page.

MacDonald teaches painting workshops in various locations. His work will be the subject of a solo show at the Harrison Gallery in Williamstown, MA from April 4 to April 29, 2015.

[Via PleinAir Collector]


Eye Candy for Today: Botticelli’s Primavera

Primavera, Sandro Botticelli
La Primavera, Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi)

The link is to a zoomable version on Google Art Project; there is a hi-res downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; the original is in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence (unofficial site).

Despite another round of snow here on the East Coast of the U.S., today marks the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

Like so many historic paintings, the name La Primavara (“Spring”) was assigned to this painting after the fact by someone other than the artist (in this case, painter and seminal art historian Giorgio Vasari), but the consensus among the many interpretations of the painting is that the scene is indeed an allegorical representation of Spring.

The general assumption is that we see Mercury at left, parting the clouds of winter, accompanied by the three graces. In the middle, we see Venus and above her, blindfolded Cupid takes aim. In the flowered dress is Primavera, the embodiment of spring, and to her side, perhaps in the process of changing one into the other, is Flora — goddess of flowers and spring — who is the target of the windy breath of Zephyr, perhaps causing her to sprout the first greenery of the season.

There is a more detailed discussion of the possible meanings of the work on the Wikipedia page devoted to the painting.

What is not obvious from the reproductions is how large the painting is (80 x 124″, 202 x 314cm), and how striking it is in person. I had the pleasure of seeing this for myself on a trip to Florence some years ago, and the painting — which shares a room with Botticelli’s even more famous Birth of Venus — fills your visual field, engulfing you in its magic as you stand before it.

A triumph of early Renaissance art, and a marvel of egg tempera painting at a large scale, the painting’s still mysterious details remain a subject of much discussion and debate to this day. Supposedly, there are some 500 of different identifiable plant species in the painting, of which close to 200 are flowering.

Happy Spring!