Friday, October 28, 2011

Petar Meseldzija - The Rescuer (Sketch)

Today's image is an unfinished sketch from Petar.  I wanted to comment on this piece for a couple of reasons.  First, I was following along on MuddyColors that Petar was working on a sketch based on Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer. Petar reproduced that sketch about 8 times, tweaking the gesture and pose until it was EXACTLY what he wanted.  In some cases, the changes were so minor that one might not have even noticed the difference unless it was pointed out.  Yet he redrew the figure again and again until he was happy.  Secondly, I have been working on a sketch of Black Cat and I am finding that the pose and gesture very important to the feel that I want to convey.  Are the hips right?  What about the tilt of the head?  So I look at this preliminary sketch and wonder, "how many times was this redrawn to get to this point?  The gesture is powerful.  The weight distribution is setup so that you can feel this knight lunging that heavy spear into the dragon's mouth.  The shapes that creates are just lovely, slightly off vertical, the body creating a nice dramatic diagonal, a twist in the torso that shows the body at an angle that the volume of his chest really not just fills the space, but commands the surroundings.  I know that often people (myself included) can become a slave to reference, especially if it is good reference, but this image did not come from a camera shot.  It came from the meticulous tweaking and modifying a person's character, personality and actions so that this is not just a drawing of a figure, it is an avatar, an embodiment of the character that Petar is trying to share with the viewer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Petar Meseldzija - The Unicorn Chronicles 3

Today I have choosen the Unicorn Chronicles 3 cover to analyze and I have been wondering what to say about it.  There are alot of things going on in this piece that make it strong, like the gesture of the horses (unicorns), the brushwork that denotes and emphasizes their coats, the energy of the movement.  But I think what really makes this piece strong is the simplicity of its design.  I have indicated a basic value pattern for this piece.  It reminds me of a conversation that I had with Dan Dos Dantos about simple but effective compositions in illustration, especially single figure images.  The value scheme of this piece focuses the viewers eye on the figure by making the figure the center of bullseye.  Dark values in the girl's hair are surrounded by much lighter values in the horses create a high contrast relationship at that point to reinforce the viewers gaze.  Also, the gesture lines of the horses all lead back to the figure.  The shape of the tree limbs work like arrows to guide the eye down towards the figure.  There is just layer upon layer upon layer of decisions that make you want to focus on the figure.  In addition, the figure then is also the most rendered portion of the painting.  The unicorns are adequately addressed for sure, but the details of buttons, and reflections on the belt and wrinkles in the pants make the eye want to stop and take in all the information that is being presented to it.  These simple yet effective compositional mechanisms create the foundations of an extremely strong artwork.  Layer on top of the Petar's masterful brushwork, exilerating color choices and mastery of animal anatomy and tree design, it is no wonder why this piece works so well.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Starting Anew - Petar Meseldzija Steel Bashaw 13

I have been gone for a long time. Other things have occupied my time, namely, creating paintings. One of the reasons for this art analysis blog was for me to idnetify things that I found appealing in works of art, analyze them and see how I might be able to incorporate them into my own work. Well, in order to do that you have to work on your own work. In doing so, I have identified a number of shortcomings in my technique, in my process and in my understanding of the principles of color, light, gesture, brushwork, etc.

This has prompted me to start this analysis project again with a more directed focus. I will be looking at drawings and paintings from an artist that really respect and admire, Petar Meseldzija for the next few posts (perhaps more than a few).

I have been looking at this painting all day. It is not the full painting, but the version is very good quality and enabled me to look at a number of things. The first thing that jumps out at me is the brushwork. This painting is just full of loosely placed strokes from the contouring cool raw umbery ones in the river bed to the short, unblended ones that wrap around the tree trunk. In each case as well as the majority of the remaining strokes, they are used to not only apply color to location on the picture plane, but they are used to define the form. WOuld the tree branches look round based on the color and lighting, even if the strokes weren't there? I would suspect yes. However, the brush strokes make them "feel" round, as if you can imaging taking your finger and follow the contour of those branches.

The next thing that I have identified that I don't exactly understand is the use of specific colors in the shadow areas. So the shadow area under the red cap is being warmed up by reflected light from the underside of the red fabric which warms up the shadow, even though the light is warm and yellow from the sun coming through the trees. The shadow on the underside fo the out stretched tree limb is a similar warm brown. I have read that warm sunlight will reflect off the ground and warm up a shadow, so that seems to make sense. However, the shadow on the same limb but closer to the base of the tree is significantly cooler. I can understand that the light is flooding in from all sides and not making the shadow as dark a value, but cooler? So warm light makes cool shadows unless reflected light warms them up, almost like having another warm light source. In this case, the limb has very few things to flect light into that shadow area. So it is cooler. Some light reflects up into the bottom of the shadow area fromt he ground which warms it relative to the cooler side shadow. Makes sense. But why is it that the limb further from the tree has such warm shadow when it is in the same situation? Maybe it isn't in the same situation. That left side of the image is cooler when you squint at it. No sun light is coming through those trees, so the light is cool, so the shadows would be warm.

I think I have it.  In nature warm light yields cool shadows unless there is something to redirect the light back into the shadows, like the ground or a relatively warm object. Cool light from a blue sky for example makes the shadows warm unless there is a relatively cooler object near to reflect the light back into the shadow to cool it down. This is already making me thing about the lighting in my current painting on the easel. Two things I need to do, get those brush strokes to help define the form and straighten out my light source temperatures.