So, I have been spending time analyzing artworks from the last 30 centuries, trying to get a good mix from contemporary and classical artists. My interests are generally naturalistic or realistic rather than abstract. I am a fan of most styles of realism which may actually embody 90-95% of the art throughout history. My hope is that anyone reading this blog would agree that I am displaying a good mix and variety, but feel free to tell me otherwise.
Today, I would like to return to the present and take a look at a piece call "Eye of the Raven" by contemporary animal painter John Banovich. I first saw Mr. Banovich's work in the Artist's Magazine and actually fell in love with this painting. I never really thought about why, so now I am going to take the time to try to determine why. Obviously this is a simple subject, a raven on a branch. Nothing flashy about the pose or positioning, yet still, John's treatment of the subject is attractive and compelling to me. He seems to have used a classical portrait approach to the lighting, having a 3/4 front lit approach. Nothing too innovative there either. Yet it is compelling to me. As I look at the background, I see large and energetic brush strokes, daubing greens and ochres, siennas and umbers; I determine the color palette is in line with my aesthetic tastes. One reason for it to be compelling. On to the treatment of the raven itself. It is more refined than the treatment of the background. That sets up some contrast, wild and energetic background to more defined and stoic foreground subject. That is compelling. The color palette chosen for the raven is intriguing, with the prussian blue perhaps midtones and starker cool white highlights. Each feather is render as if they were painted individually and place into this painting. Variation in feather texture, size, and direction are all skillfully composed. There is also a warm reflected light hitting the belly of this bird, helping to define its volume in space. Lost edges on the tail feathers with sharper edges on the head and beak help to bring the focus on face of this animal, facial focus being crucial to many good portraits. It would seem that all of these items working together take this piece from mundane to exciting.