Eye Candy for Today: Whitler’s Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea

Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea, oi on wood,  James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea, oi on wood,  James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea, James Abbott McNeill Whistler; oil on wood, roughly 20 x 24″ (61 x 50cm)

Link above is to Zoomable image on Google Art Project; original is in the Tate, London; downloadable large file on Wikimedia Commons.

Whistler often titled his pieces in musical terms; many of his works are titled “Symphony in…” or “Arrangement in…”. This is the first of a series of works titled “Nocturne:…”, which originally referred to dreamy, lyrical musical compositions meant to evoke the calm and romantic charm of the night. The term has now come to also mean visual art pieces of a similar nature, due in large part, I think, to the use of the term in Whistler’s titles for this series.

According to the Tate, the term Nocturne was first used in reference to Whistler’s paintings by art collector Frederick Leyland. Whistler picked up the term and ran with it.

The painting is barely a whisper of blue-gray brushstrokes on a gray ground, simple horizontal and slightly diagonal brush marks indicating the calm water of the Thames River just before sunset. This calm field of color is punctuated by small dots of light in the vague silhouette of the city, each accompanied by their vertically smeared reflection in the water.

Aside from the small dot of color in Whistlers icon-like signature — inspired by Whistler’s fondness for Japanese woodblock prints, which is also quite evident in the composition of this and other paintings in a similar vein — there are only two small areas of the painting with color: a yellow-orange light on the distant shore, and its reflection, and an echoing yellow-orange light on the skiff or barge in the foreground.

A figure in a bowler hat — carrying what appears to be a net over his shoulder — stands on the immediate shore, which is barely distinguished from the water. Both the watercraft and the figure are also mere wisps of translucent paint.

To my mind, this is a most remarkable image, and a testament to the power of suggestion in painting.


Plein air event in Lehigh Valley offers free Vasari oil paint

Plein air event in Easton, PA with Vasari paint

Plein air event in Easton, PA with Vasari paint

From now until October 15, 2022, there is a plein air painting event in Easton, PA co-sponsored by the Karl Stirner Arts Trail and Vasari Classic Artist’s Oil Colors, makers of what is arguably the finest handcrafted oil paint available.

This is a fledgling event, so participants have an opportunity to get in on something fun in its early stages. The event is very informal, registration is not required; just show up and paint anywhere in Easton.

The event is centered on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail, a trail along the Bushkill Creek that is lined with sculpture. I’ve included some photos of the trail above, along with a shot of the paints laid out in the Vasari showroom.

Probably the best thing about this event is that you can stop by the Vasari workshop and showroom (in the Simon Silk Mill complex off of N. 13th Street) and stock your palette for free with any of Vasari’s extensive selection of oil colors!

If you like, you can leave your finished paintings at the Vasari showroom to be displayed during October, also making them eligible for prizes. (You may want to consider taking a frame wired for hanging.)

Vasari is also providing prizes for the event in the form of sets of their oil colors. Judging and the awarding of prizes will be on Saturday, October 15th at 5:00pm.

A friend and I went up earlier this week, had a great time and are planning to go up again next Saturday. I use Vasari paint regularly, but I had a great time trying out a variety of colors I might not have wanted to get a whole tube of just to try, and discovering new colors I love.

The Vasari workshop and showroom, for which there is ample free parking, faces one of the entrances to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. The trail itself has a separate parking area nearby, though it’s fairly small.

Easton is about an hour and a half from the Philadelphia area, and (depending on time of day and traffic) a fairly easy drive up the turnpike.

(Navigation note: Driving directions from Google Maps or Waze may indicate you’re at their address a little too early; keep going to the parking area at the end of Simon Blvd and turn left. Google map)

More info here.

[Disclaimer: in my role as a website designer, Vasari is a client of mine; but those who know me personally and long time Lines and Colors readers know that I don’t recommend products in which I don’t personally believe.]


Eye Candy for Today: Mucha’s Autumn

Autumn, Alphonse Mucha, poster art
Autumn, Alphonse Mucha, poster art

Autumn, Alphonse Mucha; color lithograph, roughly 40 x 21 inches (103 x 54cm)

Image sourced from here; direct link here; info here.

This is one of the panels from Mucha’s first and perhaps most successful series of decorative panels, The Seasons, which he created in 1896. This and Summer are my favorites from the series.

I love the way he has counterbalanced the complementary reds and blue-greens throughout the composition, and set them off with muted versions in the background.


Charles Edward Hallé

Charles Edward Halle
Charles Edward Halle

Charles Edward Hallé was an English painter who studied in both England and France. He painted portraits, genre scenes and history scenes and was influenced by Neo-Classicism, Venetian art and the British Pre-Raphaelites.

I haven’t found a great deal of work by Hallé on the web, but there is enough to be of interest.


Mildred Anne Butler

Mildred Anne Butler, Irish watercolorist
Mildred Anne Butler, Irish watercolorist
Though she frequently traveled to England and the continent — and studied in Paris — Irish watercolorist Mildred Anne Butler primarily painted en plein air in the area around her home in Kilmurry.

Butler was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and was a member of the Royal Academy and the Royal Watercolor Society.

She painted landscapes that were often populated with ravens, cows and other animals. To me, some of her work has a dreamy storybook feeling.


Eye Candy for today: Maximilian Liebenwein illustration

Maximilian Liebenwein illustration
Maximilian Liebenwein illustration, details

Walk of Mary across the mountains, Maximilian Liebenwein.

Maximilian Liebenwein was an Austrian/German illustrator active during the “Golden Age” of illustration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

I’m unsure what the medium is here, but it looks like watercolor and gouache to me.

I sourced the image from here, larger version here.

For more, see my previous post on Maximilian Liebenwein.