Bill Vrscak

Bill Vrscak, watercolor
Bill Vrscak is a watercolor painter and illustrator based in the Pittsburgh, PA area.

He has a wonderfully appealing combination of solid draftsmanship and crisp but free application of color.

I particularly enjoy his paintings that incorporate large areas of open space, which he expertly uses to guide your eye through his composition.

On his website you’ll find galleries of landscapes, streetscapes, dockside and portrait subjects, as well as a selection of illustrations.

Vrscak conducts workshops in the western Pennsylvania region.

Eye Candy for Today: Harriet Backer interior

Blue Interior, Harriet Backer
Blue Interior, Harriet Backer

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikipedia, original is in the The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo; the Norwegan online DigitaltMuseum also has a zoomable image.

Norwegan painter Harriet Backer, who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was noted for her painterly, subtly lit interiors, of which this is a prime example.

Her colors often seem rich and vibrant without actually being bright, and light plays through her compositions in mercurial touches, highlighting some areas and leaving others in deep shadow.

I particularly enjoy the rough scumbled edges of her forms, which adds to the sense of harmony and unity with in the composition.

Bayard Wu

Bayard Wu, concept art, dragons
Bayard Wu is a concept artist and illustrator based in Shenzhen, China. He works in the fantasy genre, creating scenes with dragons, monsters and warriors.

His dragons, in particular, are rendered with nicely tactile textural characteristics, emphasized by dramatic lighting and muted color palettes.

He also places his scenes in atmospheric backgrounds, with suggestions of texture and structural elements that let your own imagination fill in the details.

Note: some of the images in his portfolios should be considered NSFW.

Eye Candy for Today: Arthur Hughes’s April Love

Aprii Love, Arthur Hughes, Pre-Raphaelite painter
April Love, Arthur Hughes

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikipedia; original is in the Tate, Britain, with a detailed description here.

Hughes’s best known work, and one of the most popular Pre-Raphaelite paintings in general, this visual poem to the fleeting nature of young love was first exhibited accompanied by an excerpt from Alfred Tennyson’s poem, “The Miller’s Daughter”:

Love is hurt with jar and fret,
Love is made a vague regret,
Eyes with idle tears are set,
Idle habit links us yet;
What is Love? For we forget.
Ah no, no.

Hughes has placed the young man in deep shadow, his face pressed against the young woman’s hand. She has turned away from him, shedding a tear, her eyes downcast toward a broken blossom and fallen petals.

The painting was not, as in the case of many Pre-Raphaelite paintings associated with literary works, meant to coincide with the poem; the verse merely continues the theme of the painting’s emotional tone and incorporated symbolism.

The intricate detail of the ivy is a prime example of the fidelity to nature so admired by the Pre-Raphaelite painters and their circle.

There is a pencil and wash sketch for the painting in the Tate’s collection.

The model for the young woman was Tryphena Foord, who Hughes married around the time this was painted.

Art Venti

Art Venti
Art Venti is a California based artist who creates large scale works on paper in a variety of media, primarily color pencils, watercolor markers and watercolor. He classifies some of his compositions as “pencil paintings”.

His subjects can perhaps be considered imaginary realism, representing swirls and curves of paper-like bands, twisted gossamer draperies and diaphanous semi-organic structures, suspended in space and projected into atmospheric depths.

These are painstakingly rendered, often over the course of several months, with attention to textural surfaces and the quality of light illuminating the complex suspended objects, and passing through translucent areas.

Eye Candy for Today: Edwin Landseer scene from Shakespeare

Scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Titania and Bottom, Edwin Landseer
Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Titania and Bottom, Edwin Landseer

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the National Gallery of Victoria, which also has a zoomable version.

Edwin Landseer was a Victorian painter noted in particular for his sensitive and beautifully portrayals of animals, so it’s no surprise that he chose to interpret this scene from Shakespeare’s famous comedy, in which Titania, Queeen of the Fairies, has awoken — her eyes clouded with a love potion applied by jealous husband Oberon in the hope that she “Wake when some vile thing is near.” — and has fallen madly in love with poor Nick Bottom, an innocent weaver, himself transformed by mischief-loving sprite Puck into having the head of an ass.

The beauty of love-stricken Titania is contrasted with the monumental and beautifully painted ass head, bedecked with floral wreaths as the Fairy Queen’s minions wait on him at her command.

The white rabbit is notable not only for its striking character — a pink-eyed apparition against the darkness of the deep forest night — but for the effect it may have had on author Lewis Carroll. As noted on the Google Art Project page, he saw the painting at exhibition and remarked in his dairy: ‘There are some wonderful points in it – the ass’s head and the white rabbit especially’. Whether Landseer’s painting actually influenced Carroll’s character of The White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is pure conjecture, but an interesting thought, nonetheless.

My eye was drawn to the far right of the painting, where the fairies romp and flitter in the forest night, the diaphanous wings of one seeming to vibrate against the moonlit sky and distant hills.