František Dvořák (Franz Dvorak)

Frantisek Dvorak

Frantisek Dvorak

František Dvořák, who changed his family name from Bruner — also known as Franz Bruner or Franz Dvorak — was a Czech painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He studied in Prague, Vienna and Munich, and traveled to France with Czech painters Alfons Mucha and Karel Mašek. He later went on to Italy and then to the U.S., where he lived and worked for several years here in Philadelphia. He eventually returned to Prague, but he was never as well known in his homeland as in other countries.

Dvořák’s style shows some influence of his Art Nouveau contemporaries, but is less overtly stylized and carries more of a traditional classical, if romantic, feeling.

Eye Candy for Today: Henry La Thangue’s Ligurian Roses

Ligurian Roses, Henry Herbert La Thangue

Ligurian Roses, Henry Herbert La Thangue (details)

Ligurian Roses, Henry Herbert La Thangue; oil on canvas, roughly 41 x 28 in. (105 x 96 cm), link is to Sotheby’s auction in 2011. I assume the current location of the original is a private collection.

Henry La Thangue was an English painter, active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who was influenced by the Barbizon School and the naturalism of Jules Bastien-Lepage.

I love the dappled light, subtle shadowed color and painterly brush mark in this scene. I find it interesting that the artist, in naming the work, considered the flowers the primary subject rather than the figure.

TRIADS: Painting with Three Colors, James Gurney

TRIADS: Painting with Three Colors, art instruction video by James Gurney

TRIADS: Painting with Three Colors, art instruction video by James Gurney

In his latest instructional video, TRIADS: Painting with Three Colors, painter James Gurney explores three-color palettes and gives a good introduction to the basic concepts of painting with limited palettes.

Though not specifically about triadic color schemes in the classic sense (in which the colors are evenly spaced around the color wheel), his exploration of palettes with three colors points out one of the strengths of this approach: a palette of three colors can mix a broad range of additional colors, and yet remain manageable when you’re trying to wrap your head around how to mix them. (Like many painters, Gurney chooses to regard white as not a color, and I think wisely so.)

TRIADS is a follow up to Gurney’s previous video, Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements (link is to my review), and serves as second in a planned series. Here, he is painting with gouache, transparent watercolor and casein, but the principles are applicable to other mediums.

Initially painting with a palette of three colors similar to the cyan, magenta and yellow colors used in printing inks to produce a wide range of colors, he starts with a demo painting of brightly colored still life subjects in sunlight. The initially chosen palette creates a broad gamut (range of colors), but like any limited palette, has areas of weakness.

Gurney supplements the demo painting with the creation of a “triad test”, a simple diamond shaped set of test patches of the colors in the palette, and mixtures of the colors as well as tints (the color plus white) and mixtures of the tints.

He then moves on to a different set of “primaries”, richer in the colors that are weak in the previous palette, creates another “triad test” and goes back into the same demo painting, pointing out how the two palettes differ in areas of strength.

He goes on with other demos and studio exercises to explore various three color combinations — some unusual, using secondaries in place of primaries — as well as the creation of grays and low chroma colors from high chroma palettes, making swatches of test colors as he goes. He goes through about ten demo paintings in the course of the video, some quite briefly, others in more depth.

As is often the case with Gurney’s videos, I find myself learning from aspects of the visuals that aren’t specifically part of the video’s primary subject. At one point in the creation of grays from triads of colors, he makes a couple of grays in transparent watercolor by layering three transparent layers of pure color, one over another, letting them mix optically rather than mixing on the palette. I found the resulting grayed tones particularly rich with subtle variations of color, and came away eager to experiment with that aspect of applying paint.

You’ll find other off-topic but valuable painting techniques in the creation of the demos, such as the way he uses large brushes in areas where a less experienced painter might be reaching for smaller ones, the creation of texture with split hair dry brush, using a mahl stick to steady the brush for drawing the lines like those of siding on a house, and his process of using interesting color variations as colored grounds before blocking in.

TRIADS: Painting with Three Colors takes the seemingly simple concept of painting with three color palettes and through it opens a window into a range of concepts of value to students of painting.

The 90 minute video is available as a digital download through Gumroad or Sellfy for $17.98 and comes with a PDF study guide.

You can find previews of the video, along with supplementary information, on Gurney’s blog, Gurney Journey.

In addition, Gurney is promoting a just-for-fun Sunny Still Life “challenge” for those interested to paint a sunny still life with a triad palette and post their paintings online. The challenge deadline is October 20, 2020.

Eye Candy for Today: Sunny Autumn Day by George Inness

Sunny Autumn Day by George Inness

Sunny Autumn Day by George Inness (details)

Sunny Autumn Day by George Inness

Oil on canvas, approximately 32 x 42 in. (81 x 106 cm). Link is to the Cleveland Museum of Art, which has the original in its collection and offers both a zoomable and downloadable version of the image.

It’s easy to see the visual drama of the light and dark areas of the composition, but like may of Inness’ paintings from this period of his career, an important part of the magic is in the relationship of the soft and hard edges. At times, the edges of his trees are so soft as to seem like visual whispers.

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

Jakob Matthias Schmutzer

Jakob Matthias Schmutzer chalk drawing

Jakob Matthias Schmutzer chalk drawings

Jakob Schmutzer Was an Austrian artist active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was primarily an engraver, and also a painter, but what I find most appealing, and what you will find most often if you research his work on the internet, are his chalk drawings.

His drawings sometimes of figures, but often of portraits; in them, Schmutzer’s hatching follows the form and crosses lines in the manner of the hatching in engravings, but his secondary line work is often loose and gestural, giving the drawings a particular visual charm.

Eye Candy for Today: Julian Onderdonk landscape

Late Afternoon, Julian Onderdonk

Late Afternoon, Julian Onderdonk

Late Afternoon, Julian Onderdonk

The link is to the image page on WikiArt, which unfortunately doesn’t have much information about the size or location of the original. If you click on “View all sizes” under the image on their page, you can access a reasonably high res version of the image. Presumably, this is oil on canvas.

Texas painter Robert Julian Onderdonk, who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is considered an “American Impressionist”, and in known in particular for his landscapes featuring fields of Texas Bluebonnet flowers.

Here, his subject is less colorful and more prosaic, but, even though I’ve only see it in reproduction, I just love this painting. Onderdonk’s seemingly casual brush work is so delightfully brushy and textural, the usual adjective of “painterly” seems insufficient.