Brom. What a great name. I always wanted a name that didn't distract you by having one before it or tagging along afterwards, like Brom...or Cher. Maybe not Cher. I had the pleasure of meeting Gerald Brom at Illuxcon 2009, and if you are familiar with his art, you might be surprised at the man behind the art. He is very meek, courteous and pleasant even though his work often takes on a dark, sinister, or grotesque form. In looking through Brom's work trying to find a piece to review, one jumped out at me that superficially is slightly different than what you expect, that being men and women in bondage looking attire, people with eyeballs in their hands, or creepy looking dolls, mannequins, etc. This? It's a tree. I think my friend and fellow artist Steve Anderson would love this tree with its gnarled branches, twisted trunk and dark canopy of leaves. This piece has a similar characteristic as Glen Orbik's painting from the last post in that the background is basically totally in silhouette. There isn't a lot of detail and the value contrast is much lower than the foreground. When you look at the background, you see a Ferris wheel, a happy go lucky Ferris wheel that any child would enjoy. But here is where Brom puts his take on things, because a Ferris wheel elicits images of a carnival and frankly, carnivals are creepy. Plus it is drenched in reds and yellows, the colors intense as fire. What is going on back at that carnival? We aren't sure, but that redness throws up a caution flag to the viewer's psyche. But let's get back to tree itself. Sure it is knobby and gnarled, dark and twisty (much like Brom's inner person or at least the part of him that he projects with his art), but that isn't what draws my attention to this form. The thing that draws me in...is the cage hanging from the branch. Why? It reminds me of a quote from Richard Schmid. When he was painting a landscape with a barn, he asked "So what is that in the window of the barn?" And his answer? "I don't know, but isn't it lovely?" Take a look at that cage. What is in that cage? The answer? I don't know but it's it lovely? That little piece starts my mind to thinking, what IS in the cage? How did the cage get there? What relationship does it have to the carnival with its stark white color against that fiery red? Isn't it lovely indeed...
Friday, March 12, 2010
Earlier in the week, I had mentioned Glen Orbik. I find it appropriate to take a look at one of his images since his name is fresh in everyone's minds (or at least in the minds of the people that read the Lipking post). As I flip through my Spectrums, I come across a few artists whose style makes me think, "I really would like to paint like that." Glen Orbik is one of those artists. Having an oeuvre comprising of monsters, aliens, noir, pulp, vikings, etc, Orbiks work interests me. Plus, as we have discussed this week, his work is filled with painterly brush strokes. This piece has a number of interesteding qualities to it that are work noting. For one, the background is made up of very flat, neutral color shapes. They almost appear as cardboard cutouts, but what I think Mr. Orbik was going for was to create a stark contrast between the backup and the horseman. With the high contrast, high detail saturated color, the foreground horseman pushed significantly more forward than the flattened, more neutral background. Looking again at brush strokes, we can see the soft-edged blur effect of the strokes in the tail, the hooves, the flying dirt mounds and parts of the cape. Not much more to say on this one. It has been a rough week...
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I have heard Richard Schmid referred to as "The John Singer Sargent of our time". Here is another artist that I was surpised to be unfamiliar with until about a year ago, especially since looking at Schmid's work has helped guide me (at least mentally) to a greater understanding of what I want to accomplish with my own art. If you are familiar with Schmid's work, it might surprise you that I choose this piece to look at today. But something about this duck intrigued me (I know, goose, swan, whatever). It is listed on his site as conte on gesso. So this appears to be a gesso primed panel with brush stroke textures brushed onto the surface before it dried. That was not so much the intriguing part as "This is conte???" I have used conte before. Never have I been able to create something that looks like brush strokes with conte. I wanted to get back to looking at work and the brush strokes that created it and when I saw this, I was a bit dumb founded. If I was a betting man, I would have put ten bucks down that this was an underpainting in burnt sienna based on the brushwork. I would have had to skip those two cups of coffee at Starbucks if I made that bet. Conte? Really? I must be doing something wrong. Look at all the strokes in the grassy area, some bold, some transparent, some wiped out. The wing edges appear blurred or softened down in spots to indicate that movement I discussed the other day. Conte? Maybe it is that texture of the board that I dismissed earlier as being less than intriguing. Maybe I was wrong. I know that I have done some conte work on canson mi-tienes paper and the texture of that paper lent itself to creating some interesting wall effects, almost like brick or concrete. Could the this combination of surface and media actually be creating a brush work look that I am struggling to pin down in my oil work? Dominick Saponaro talked to me about having his digital work look like his oil work and vice versa due to him using similar techniques when using both. I think this may be the case here as well. Since this is the look that I strive for in my oil painting, I think when I whip out my conte for next week's life drawing session, it may be an interesting night.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
As an illustrator, I should be ashamed to admit to this, but I have only recently become aware of the artist Alphonse Mucha. Yes, I heard the name, but his work had never inpacted me enough to take a second (or in some cases first) look at his images. However, the more modern illustrations I looked at, I started to see these stylistic notes that seemed to be variations on a theme, an original theme that may have influenced all these new pieces. Then I saw Mucha and I understood. Many of Mucha's illustrations have this composition, a graphically designed backdrop, almost abstract in quality with a figure or figures in the foreground, drawn and painted in what I would compare in modern times to comic book-esque stylings. The piece I have choosen here seems to epitomize this style. This woman stands in a nearly unrealistic poistion, one which accentuates the lines of her form, elbows and head back, chest thrust forward on tippy toes, all situated in a swirling mass of hair locks, flowing scarves and dress bits and then framed by otherworldly manifestations of geometric figures, circles and arcs, organic flowering shapes...it is just a near overload of information, yet, this potential chaos is organized in a manner that flows, leads the eye, provides places of rest for the viewer before it engages you to look further, or again. How did I not know Mucha? I am ashamed.
Monday, March 8, 2010
This is one of the the most visual stunning paintings that I have seen in recent months and it is by an artist named Casey Baugh. Baugh is a former student of Richard Schmid and from what I have ready, Baugh moved to where Schmid lived and studied in his studio, learning HOW Schmid painted, but strayed from his teacher in WHAT he should paint. Baugh seems to be primarily a figure painter, and from what I have seen...he's good at it. There are two things I would like to focus on in this painting, body language (or more generally figure positioning) and as with Lipking's post, brushwork. Anyone who has ever been within two feet of a woman would recognize how real Baugh has depicted this woman. She leans away from something (or someone) to the left of the canvas, yet arm outstretched, gaze afixed, it setups a dicotomy, which to me, perfectly depicts the nature of women. The diagonal lines of the body from hand to shoulder and the parellel leg/shoulder positioning juxtaposed against the verticles of the chair and her head/core set up a great dynamic in what might otherwise be a static sitting in a chair pose. The brushwork also accentuates this dynamic "movement" by creating these soft edges of the blouse and her hair, setting up this vibration which implies movement. It is like the stop motion animation of the past. It always appeared static, even though there was movement until computers were invented that simulated motion blur. Motion blur occurs in the human eye in which when something is in motion, the eye does not register all the detail in the spam of time from when it is stationary through the movement and on to become stationary again. This blur in a still image tricks the mind into believing there is movement in an object. I can't imagine more movement in a seated woman than right here. By the way, did I happen to mention I love redheads?
Friday, March 5, 2010
So, I started to get worn out searching for images to analyze. I had been looking for paintings that really affected me either emotionally, intellectually or viscerally, but after months of looking for these types of pictures, the joy of experiencing art became more like a school project and some of the magic wore off. In taking some time off, I have found that wonderful imagery has simply leaked back into my consciousness and now, without having to force the issue, I think I have a number of new images that I would like to talk about. That being said, I would like to talk about this image from Jeremy Lipking. Being interested in fantasy art, it was interesting to learn that Lipking studied with Glen Orbik, a Spectrum favorite of mine for his often pulpy and painterly style. Lipking himself has deviated a bit from the fantasy realm that Orbik enjoys, but there is some overlap in his work that shows a definite link to the Pre-Raphaelites like Waterhouse and Draper. This image may be considered more of an oil sketch than a complete painting. It's hard to say because even in this sketch, Lipking's prowess with the brush eclipses even my best efforts at a "finished" painting. A friend of mine named Grant Cooley recently began doing master copies, targeting certain images for specific characteristics. That idea will be put to use here in that the obvious strength of this piece is the brushwork. Lipking paints on lead primed linen. This image shows a figure seated on a chair in front of her painting box and palette. You cannot see her facial expression, but from herr body language, you can tell that she is calm, quiet and being very thoughtful in her task of painting. There is a combination of thin and thick strokes in this piece, where Lipking employees the standard practice of thin darks and thicker lights. The sigularity of certain strokes emphasize the forms perfectly, such as a the singular diagonal stroke of the chair leg, and the two thin horizontal strokes indicating the environement to the upper left of her head. The thinness of these background strokes really helps to push the environment that surrounds the figure into the distance, allowing the thicker, more delicately place strokes of the figure's fabric and hair to push her form forward. The ultra soft edges of the strokes in the figure's dress help to indicate a level of movement in the figure, even though the positioning and pose are relatively static. One expects at any moment that this quiet girl will spring to life and begin to apply paint strokes of her own. It is honestly these soft edged strokes that I was to apply in my own work.