Eye Candy for Today: Summer Bloom by Joaquim Vayreda

Summer Bloom by Joaquim Vayreda

Summer Bloom by Joaquim Vayreda (details)

Summer Bloom by Joaquim Vayreda, roughly 52 x 104 inches (130 x 263 cm).

Link is to Google Art Project; downloadable image on Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona.

We can start the summer with this beautifully idyllic pastoral scene by 19th century Spanish painter Joaquim Vayreda.

The wide aspect ratio — something we might call “cinematic ” today — adds a sense of grandeur and a feeling of theatre. I like the shape of the water and its surface patterns, as well as Vayreda’s soft touch with the background foliage,


Negative Space stop-motion animation

Negative Space animation screen capture
Negative Space animation screen captures

Negative Space is a touching and beautifully realized stop-motion animated short by Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter. It focuses on a father and son who bond over the way to properly pack a suitcase.

My link is to the short hosted on Cartoon Brew, which is where I encountered the film. There is also a page and short film devoted to the making of the animation.


Robert S. Duncanson

Robert S Duncanson
Robert S Duncanson

Robert S. Duncanson might be the most significant American landscape painter you never heard of. There is even some confusion about his name and the national origin of his father.

Referred to by critics in the early part of the 19th century as the “best landscape painter in the west”, Duncanson spent much of his career in the Ohio Valley. Though popular during his lifetime, demand for his work faded after his death, but has since regained critical and scholarly favor.

You will find references to to his mother as the descendent of slaves from Virginia — which is accurate — but characterizations of his father as “Scottish-Canadian” are apparently untrue, as is the middle name “Scott” that you will find in many listings (perhaps due to the same misunderstanding). According to Duncanson scholar Joseph D. Ketner II, his middle name was actually “Seldon”, and you will find both names assigned to him in various bios.

Duncanson was able to travel and exhibit in Europe, possibly sponsored initially by an abolitionist organization, and is considered the first African American painter to achieve international acclaim.

People were impressed then, as they are now, by the dramatic sweep and atmospheric range of his large scale landscapes. Though I’ve tried to include a few detail crops, most of the images of his paintings I’ve shown here don’t demonstrate the appeal of his work, and I suggest following the links provided — particularly to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Google Art Project — to see his work in high resolution and greater detail.

There is something about the visual texture, lighting effects and choice of subject in Duncanson’s work that give me a feeling almost of magic realism. Like his Hudson River School contemporaries, from whom he took inspiration, many of his compositions were invented, or referenced from various locations and assembled in an invented whole.

Such is the case of what is considered his masterpiece, a painting titled “Land of the Lotus Eaters“, that was inspired by a poem of Alfred Lord Tennyson (images above, bottom, with detail). Unfortunately, most images of this painting appear to me as though the green passages have been suppressed in reproduction, but I haven’t been able to find a more definitive version.


James Ransome

illustration by James Ransome

illustrations by James Ransome

James E. Ransome is an award winning American illustrator of children’s books, with over 60 books — as well as murals, posters editorial illustration and gallery paintings — to his name. He has been awarded the Coretta Scott King and NAACP Image awards, and was named one of 75 authors and illustrators everyone should know by the Children’s Book Council.

Ransome studied illustration at Pratt Institute, and credits prior study of film making and photography with helping to shape his approach. His style is naturalistic, with a nicely fluid feeling to many of his figures. While at Pratt, he encountered well known illustrator Jerry Pinkney, who he now counts as a friend and mentor.

Ransome’s website has galleries of his illustration as well as other paintings and drawings. There are two process videos that show him working with watercolor and with a preliminary drawing. In addition, Ransome is featured in a series of Videos from KidLit TV titled Young at Art, in which he gives demonstrates fundamental art techniques for kids.

Ransome has prints of some of his pieces available on Etsy.

Ransome is married to author Lesa-Cline-Ransome, and has illustrated a number of her biographical children’s titles.


Eye Candy for Today: Henry Tanner’s Flight Into Egypt

Flight Into Egypt, Henry Ossawa Tanner

Flight Into Egypt, Henry Ossawa Tanner (details)

Flight Into Egypt, Henry Ossawa Tanner

Oil on canvas, roughly 29 x 26 inches (74 x 66 cm). Link is to a reasonably large file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Metropolitian Museum of Art

As he did in many of his biblically themed canvasses, Tanner brings to bear his uncanny touch with light and shadow to dramatize this scene from the story of the flight of the Holy Family from the assassins of King Herod.

The Metropolitan Museum’s website points out that the story was a favorite of Tanner’s, who related it to the flight of African Americans from persecution in the South. Tanner himself fled the systematic prejudice he encountered as an African American painter, emigrating to France where he found greater acceptance and respect.

There is so much to admire in this piece — the carefully crafted value statement, the shadows playing against the wall, the striking glow of light from the lantern, the repeated forms of the arches and large shadow form, and the wonderfully tactile nature of the paint surface and brush marks, in particular as they define the hard and soft edges of the forms.