Values in Monet’s Impression, Sunrise

Values in Monet's Impression Sunrise
Values in Monet's Impression Sunrise

Originally exhibited in the April 1874 exhibit of the Societe’ Anonyme des Artistes, Peintires, Sculpters, Graveurs, Etc. (Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers, etc.), now referred to as the First Impressionist Exhibition, this painting by Claude Monet appeared with the title: Impression, Sunrise.

The name was picked up by unsympathetic critics and used derisively to label the group “Impressionists”. The name stuck, and the Impressionists picked it up and ran with it.

The painting is, as Monet has suggests in his title, an impression, or quick representation, of a fleeting effect.

As part of their effort to portray the effects of light and atmosphere, the Impressionist painters, and Monet especially, were fascinated with new theories of color that were being investigated at the time. Perhaps one of the most important of these ideas was the concept of simultaneous contrast, as presented by French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul in his book The Principles of Color Harmony and Contrast.

But simultaneous contrast was only one of the visual tools the Impressionist painters were adding to their methods of conveying the effects of light.

In more recent times, a professor of neurobiology at Harvard, Dr. Margaret Livingstone, noticed that if you reduce an image of Impression: Sunrise to grayscale — so that we see only value (luminance) — the sun almost disappears, save for the edges of the scant few brushstrokes with which it was painted.

She went on to point out this gave the painting a particular quality.

Our brain processes visual information in two different parts of our visual cortex, old and new. The older one senses light in a relatively primitive way — shared with other mammals, — in which it detects only luminance, but not color. The other, more evolutionarily recent area of the visual cortex — that we share only with other primates — sees color.

So, to one part of our brain, Monet’s sun, and the bright orange areas in the water and sky, are almost invisible. To the other, more sophisticated part, the sun is very much visible. In addition, against the muted blue of the background clouds, the effective brightness of the orange areas is accentuated by simultaneous contrast.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Arthur Rackham illustration for Götterdämmerung

Arthur Rackham illustration for Gotterdammerung
The ring upon thy hand — / … ah, be implored! / For Wotan fling it away! (from Götterdämmerung)

One of the many beautiful and sensitively realized illustrations the brilliant “Golden Age” British illustrator Aurhur Rackham did of the stories from Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” series of operas.

From this set on Wikimedia Commons. For more see the “Operas by Wagner” links at the bottom of this page on Wikimedia, and my previous posts, linked below.

 
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Leonardo da Vinci’s Drawing Materials

Leonardo da Vinci's Drawing Materials
Leonardo da Vinci’s Drawing Materials is a short (5 minute) video in which a conservator from the Royal Collection Trust describes and demonstrates some of the drawing materials available to Leonardo and other Renaissance artists.

It was produced in conjunction with the exhibit “Leonardo da Vinci: Ten Drawings from the Royal Collection” that is on view at the Royal Collection Trust until 24 April 2016, and then travels to several other venues in the UK.

 
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Artem “Rhads” Chebokha

Artem Rhads Chebokha
Most of us have at some point enjoyed laying back and watching cloud formations in which it is easy to see shapes that look like ships, dogs, hills, oceans, dragons and more.

Artem Chebokha — who also goes by the handle, “Rhads” — is a digital artist based in Omsk, Russian Federation. Chebokha has taken the notion of seeing things in clouds and carried it out as a theme for a series of digital paintings — distilling skies full of clouds into a variety of forms. Some are overtly fantasy, some more naturalistic and others in between.

You can find these and other themes on his galleries on Behance and deviantART. He also has a presence on Instagram and the Russian social media site, VK. You can find prints of his work on society6.

 
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Tang Wei Min (update)

Tang Wei Min, portraits

Tang Wei Min is a Chinese painter from YongZhou, Hunan Province. He studied at the Art Department of Hunan Standard College and the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. He has received notice and awards in China, the U.S. and Canada.

I first wrote about Tang’s work back in 2008. At the time, I noted that he did not appear to have a dedicated website or blog, and that may still be the case. (I say that with some reservation because Chinese language sites with no English translation can be difficult for me to find.)

There are, however, several sources for images of his work.

Tang appears to have a fascination with Baroque era Northern European painters — in particular, to my eye, Rembrandt, and to a lesser extent, Vermeer. I see the former in the deep chiaroscuro of his compositions and the combination of thin darks and impasto highlights that often characterize the Dutch masters’ approach.

Tang’s subjects, however, are distinctly Chinese. They are portraits and figures, mostly of young women, in what I take to be traditional Chinese ceremonial dress, possibly from different regions of China. These are rendered in a combination of refined passages and areas of rough, textured pant. The effect is quite wonderful.

There is also a similar contrast between his muted largely earth tone palette and areas of higher chroma color.

I noticed among his pieces, fairly direct nods to Dutch master works like Vermeer’s Girl with a Red Hat and Girl with a Pearl Earring.

[A NOTE OF CAUTION: Unfortunately, one of the very best sources for images of Tang’s work is on a site called Kai Fine Art. On visiting this site recently, I noticed it appears to be compromised.

Twice, on entering the page and attempting to click on an image, I encountered a full-screen pop-up that insisted that Flash Player was out of date and presented a link to download. This is obviously bogus, and a link to malware. It seems to be related to an ad in the right-hand column that extends an invisible link out over the image column.

I was able to bypass it and get to the images. However, I’m using Chrome for Mac, and your experience may be different — particularly if you’re using Windows. If you decide to visit this site, I urge caution. I only offer it because it’s such a great source for Tang’s images, and I hope the site author can correct the issue.

Link to currently compromised page: http://www.kaifineart.com/2014/08/tang-wei-min.html ]

The other links provided below should be without problems.

[Addendum: Thanks to reader Nadia, we have links to what appears to be Tan Wei Ming’s official site. Unfortunately, the images are small, and the magnify feature is awkward and not very usable. There is additional information, however, if you’re willing to use Google Translate (or if you can read simplified Chinese). See this post’s comments for additional information and links.]

 
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Luigi Marchione

Luigi Marchione, concept art, set design, digital plein air
Luigi Marchione is an Italian concept artist, stage set designer and art director who brings to his work a wonderful feeling of Renaissance and Baroque art.

Though he sometimes works in traditional media — such as soft pastel, charcoal and graphite powder on prepared paper — the majority of the pieces are digital painting done in Photoshop and Painter, including a number of examples of digital plein air painting.

I particularly enjoy his beautiful interiors — rich with the feeling of interiors by the Dutch and Italian Baroque masters, filled with light and texture that, on closer examination, are briefly noted and masterfully suggested.

To me, he appears to have a particular admiration for Dutch interiors, like those of Pieter de Hooch, which comes through in compositions in which doors open into additional rooms and spaces, each with its own character of light.

Marchione’s practice of digital location painting informs his concept art and set designs, giving them an immediate, naturalistic feeling — even those in which he evokes the character of past centuries.

 
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