Friday, May 27, 2016

The Grand Tour

I could almost call this post part 2 of Lauren Panepinto's Seeing in Situ post yesterday.  She beat me to it!  I have been planning a post on the value of traveling abroad and seeing art in person whenever possible.

Beautiful bronze in front of the Altar of the Fatherland building


It used to be that The Grand Tour was a trip taken by the upper class, or those lucky enough to be sponsored or win a scholarship, to travel through Europe often to Italy to study classical art and architecture.  It was very much a right of passage for the upper classes and a must for aspiring artists and architects.

It was also very valuable as a disperser of art and style, as those that traveled abroad would often commission portraits and other works to take home with them, spreading awareness of artists all across Europe.

Look at the ruff!  I love the color in the cheeks as well, but I stared at the collar for 10 minutes

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a little time in Italy last month, after attending the Portrait Society of America Conference in D.C.  I mention that because I am looking forward to posting on it. *spoiler alert* - I hope to convince many of you to come to the conference next year in Atlanta.  It was amazing!  I am also planning a group tour (for artists) to London, Paris and Madrid next year, see the end of the post for details.


I know there are a zillion photos of this hand pressing into the leg of Bernini's amazing Rape of Persephone sculpt out there... but here is one more.

You can gain new perspectives on pieces of art that you might have seen reproductions of, or maybe works that you have seen before speak to you in new ways because you have a different set experience the second time around.  I also come away with a nearly overwhelming desire to create.  The level of skill and beauty found in Rome, the Vatican, Florence and Venice is like artistic adrenaline.

Possibly the greatest torso ever rendered in marble.

Traveling abroad isn't cheap, to be sure.  It is most definitely worth it.  Seeing works like this in person is life/career changing:

This wave of fabric on Bernini's Trevi Fountain is so well designed it hurts.  Perfection.  

It is hard to fathom carving this out of stone.

Rembrandt absolutely must be seen in person to really take it in.  Every time I see one, I am blown away by how much life he was able to imbue into paint

Look at the delicate transmission of light through the skin.  I love the little hints of red/orange where flesh touches flesh and the sense of blood vessels beneath the skin

I have always loved Guido Reni's work and have written about it on MC before.  One painting that I haven't completely appreciated though, until seeing it in person is St. Matthew and the Angel.  It is hard to take pictures of paintings in the Vatican because the light is kept so low, but I managed to get a few steady shots.  Still, this piece is so beautiful in person and these shots don't come close.

Look at the variety of color in the skin, from Matthew to the angel.


What a great head of hair and beard!


Such beautiful tenderness in the angel, recounting the gospel to Matthew. I love the little details of his hands, fingers touching, as if he is counting off the stories.


I had seen reproductions of the painting above many times, but none of the details stood out to me, until I saw it in person.  It was one of my favorites in the Vatican collection.

Seeing works in person lets you walk around and find little details that you often won't find online, or you can miss in the deluge of images to be found.  When in person, you can have an unique experience with a work and find views and insights in that moment.

Look at these wonderful swirls of fabric in these two shots, courtesy of Bernini again.


How cool is this whorl of energy captured in marble!?!


Lastly, I leave you with some images of the terra cotta sculptures done by Bernini in preparation for the marbles that line the bridge to the Castel St. Angelo.  I couldn't get enough of these.  Fascinating to see the inner workings and then the decaying state of the figures paired with their beauty made them very evocative to me.






That is it for the travelogue.  As Lauren said in her post yesterday, if you can't travel across the sea or country, see if there is something within reach and go there.  See it in person.  Be inspired and make those memories that will fuel your creativity in new ways.

-----

As mentioned above, my wife and I are putting together a tour next year that will take us to London, Paris and Madrid to visit the National Gallery, the Tate, the Louvre, the d'Orsay and the Prado Museums as well as time in each city.  It will be a whirlwind trip of 11 days, but our hope is that we can fill it up with artists and art lovers.  

I have done this before with a group of art students (I was a student) in Arizona and it was a fantastic experience.  You get to talk about and stand in front of the greatest art in the world, with a group of fellow artists.  We are booking the tour through Go Ahead Tours, who we have worked with before and they did a great job of making it a hassle free trip.  

Link to more information about the trip here
 
Thank you,
Howard

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Seeing In Situ

By Lauren Panepinto

I know you've all been excited about the Typography for Illustrators posts, and I'll keep going on those,  but it just so happens I'm on the road this week, so I'm going to post on a topic relating to traveling: getting away from the computer, and getting in front of some art in person. And the closer you can get to seeing it in situ (in the place it was created or meant for) the better.

Mucha's Medea poster (Getting up close to an original print can be as swoon for us designers as getting close to brushstrokes is for you painters)
Now, before we start, I know that some people have advantages in this regard - some of us live in awesome places like NYC, which has more museums and galleries than any person can see in a lifetime. And some of us can afford to travel to places to see amazing art in far-away places. I am acknowledging my privilege. However, there is original art in museums and galleries very close to most people reading this blog. And you should make it a part of your life to periodically get out and see it.

Municipal House, Prague. Did you know Mucha designed a whole building? Me neither! And I wouldn't have known about it unless I had gone to the Mucha Museum. You don't get much more in situ than that.
Why? Three reasons. One, you lose so much of the artist's process in reproduction. Whether it's in books or on the web, you can't see brushstrokes and printing artifacts. And those bits of process is what an artist really learns from. You know how you can tell a working artist in a museum? They're the ones nose-distance away from the piece. They're the one walking up to it at different angles to try to catch the surface reflecting in the light. They're usually the ones making the security guards in a museum super jumpy. Trust me, the guards at the Mucha Museum today were really happy to have me the hell out of there.

Mucha's jewelry sketches

Two, it's an inspiration shot to the guts. You know how you know you're an artist? (Besides the crippling self-doubt and relentless desire to burn your portfolio at least 5 times a year?) You go see a master's work in person and it makes you want to run out of there and get home and MAKE SHIT RIGHT NOW. It doesn't even have to be a master in your own medium. The inspiration just literally burns you up inside. This is really important to remember when you're feeling burnt out. When you need to reset a book or internet searching is like methadone to a heroin addict. You need to get to the source, get to that art in person, and rub it into your gums. Metaphorically, of course.

Unless I saw this in person I wouldn't have realized it was life-size. Also, god, those berries!

Three, you are going to stumble on work you didn't expect to see and it could affect you (and your work) in epic ways. Of course you're going to go see the pieces you expect to see in the museum you go to visit — that's why you're going. But I've never gone to a museum or an exhibition of an artist's work and not been surprised by something I didn't know was going to be there — or didn't even know existed. I was in Paris at an Art Nouveau exhibit at the Museé d'Orsay, and I found a poster there I had never seen before by an artist I didn't know, and it became such a favorite I now it tattooed on my arm. Today at the Mucha Museum I saw a bunch of Mucha's reference photos and I had no idea how gorgeous they were. They're absolutely artworks in their own right and I bought a book of them to take back home with me.

Some of Mucha's reference photos
So next time you're feeling stale try to plan some time in front of some original art — whether it's a local gallery, museum nearby, or even a friend's studio. It'll always pay back the effort of going in person exponentially.

That type! Swoon! But more lovely is the accidental variation in the printing inks,
which you never get to see in repro, because they tend to even out and clean up the art.

Now I'm going back to the Mucha hunt through Prague…if I'm not back in time for my next post, I've expired from Art Nouveau overload, and died happy.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Progress on Timberline


Greg Manchess

I thought I'd share some progress shots of my novel, Above the Timberline! It will also get a title change and I'll share that soon, too.

At this stage, I'm about 53 paintings in, 67 to go. I slowed down in April and part of May because of some personal commitments, but I've jumped back in by getting more models shot and planning some of the major scenes. 

Main character, Wesley Singleton, takes aim across the frozen Waste

I recently met with my editor, Joe Monti, at Saga Press/Simon and Schuster and my designer, Michael McCartney. Seeing a board room full of finished paintings laying on the table, chairs, shelves, and ultimately, the floor was pretty exciting for all of us who've been talking about this book for a number of years now.

For now, I'll show a selection of closeup shots of heads that are accented moments in the manuscript, but not enough to give the story away. Each painting is 37" x 15" in a wide, cinematic format. CinemaScope!

Back to the board. End of August deadline.

Wes on the wireless...my model is Cassius O'Brien, son of illustrator, Tim O'Brien...

...and Tim is modeling for Wes' father in the story!

An emotional moment for Wes....

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Plague of Dragons

By Justin Gerard


Previously on Muddycolors I did a few posts sharring some reference boards showcasing the different ways that artists handled painting eyes and hands. I've found that making reference boards on specific subjects is really helpful in examining how other artists tackled and solved visual problems. This can be extremely helpful when you go try to work out how to handle these problems in your own work.

Muddycolors is no stranger to dragons, so this week I thought I would share some of my favorite paintings of these fantastical creatures from a few classical and contemporary artists.

As I went through my folders I couldn't help but be fascinated at just how differently each artist chose to visualize their concept of a dragon. Some artists painted them as magical and benevolent spirits, while others painted them as forces of nature, and still others as manifestations of human vices. The artists seem to pour a little of their own soul into these creatures, and through this we see hopes and fears and something curiously human in them.
I hope you enjoy!

Links to the original posts:

A Show of Hands

The Eyes Have It


Monday, May 23, 2016

Inspiration: Waves

N.C. Wyeth

I've been working on a painting lately that has some water in it, so I've been looking at a lot of ocean themed paintings to get inspired. Here are some favorites I've come across that I thought our readers might enjoy as well.

Dan Adel

Dan Adel

Dan Adel

Dan Adel

Hokusai


Donato Giancola

Winslow Homer

Ivan Aivazovsky

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Fantastic Workshop

-By Vanessa Lemen


I wanted to take a moment to post some info about a workshop coming up this year in November. It's called The Fantastic Workshop, and will be held November 17-20, 2016 at the Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, TN


The workshop is hosted and run by Sam Flegal and Peter Mohrbacher who are the creators and hosts of the One Fantastic Week podcast, which I've had the pleasure of joining them for an interview on a few months back. ( my interview was One Fantastic Week #99 ) The podcast is a really wonderful and informative weekly web show where Sam and Pete interview working artists about their business, their life and how the two intersect.

The Fantastic Workshop focuses on that intersection between art and business. It's an in-person environment where you can comfortably talk business and art both with your peers and with expert instructors. It consists of lectures, studio work time time, panel discussions, and one-on-one consultations with industry professionals, where each attendee will get specific advice on building their business. It's an opportunity to learn from a diverse group of independent artists about what actually works for a variety of different art business models in today's marketplace and how to make your own vision come to life.


The instructors at this year's workshop are: Jasmine Becket Griffith, Stephanie Law, Ron Lemen, Vanessa Lemen, Kelly McKernan, Sean Murray, Sam Flegal, Peter Mohrbacher, Kristina Carroll, and L. Rush.

For more info, go to www.1fantasticweek.com/2016



Saturday, May 21, 2016

There Is No Darkness But Ignorance

-by Vanessa Lemen

"There is no darkness but ignorance." ~William Shakespeare
Philosopher Meditating - Rembrandt


We need to challenge the notion of living an unexamined life, and rise up to our full potential. There are too many of us lately that are feeling so inclined to continue to run on autopilot and in an uncritical way, and this needs to stop. There's no better time than the present to make a change and take charge of the persons we're becoming. We all should be developing and acting upon the skills and insights that we're capable of. We should not be allowing ourselves or those around us to become unreflective and complacent with the ignorance that seems to be making a place for itself in our current surroundings. It's going to do damage to ourselves and others if we continue on that way. We'll miss many opportunities to make our lives, and the lives of others, fuller and more productive.

The Astronomer - Vermeer

And teachers – as teachers, we cannot allow ourselves to be superficial, or give assignments that students can thoughtlessly do. As a consequence, this ends up discouraging their enthusiasm and motivation, and creates missed opportunities to develop their self-discipline and mindfulness. We should encourage questions, conversation, interaction, and debate, and be able to show by example the skills and insights that we've cultivated, and how this has helped us to grow and evolve and make a place for ourselves. Sure, that's not always easy, but as individuals who came to some sort of notion that we wanted to share and help others to improve as human beings, I think it's safe to say that we didn't expect this to be easy in the first place.

Russian Schoolroom - Norman Rockwell

As both educators and students in this role we play in life, we should be aware of what learning truly is, and join forces in helping to achieve the utmost that our learning experiences have to offer. Neither student nor teacher should settle on leading an ignorant or anti-intellectual life. There's no reason for that. Both should know what to expect when they're put together. Students should be ready to be challenged, informed, and inspired, and teachers should be there to give them that experience, with the possibility of receiving some of that themselves. This applies to an educational environment as well as an every day life type of situation, and both should know that life doesn't suddenly shut off when we all enter the classroom, nor does a learning experience end once we exit that classroom.

The Bookworm - Carl Spitzweg

Learning is understanding, and in order to truly gain an understanding of something, we need to accept that it may be gradual, and it will become embedded through experience and practice. To attempt to learn without being critical and thoughtful, without analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing, we're doing ourselves a disservice. If we attempt to teach or learn by mimicking or memorizing only, we'll never quite gain the understanding. We have to commit to the long term, put ourselves there, and live it. Learning is doing.

Monet's Haystacks

Learning is accepting criticism and committing to overcome ego. We all have the capacity to be self-motivated, and can thrive among a community, and collaborate too. We should be open-minded yet critical. We have the capacity to be accepting of others' points of view as well as checking for accuracy, clarity, logic, and relevance. And while searching for depth and significance, we can be humble, and check our own perception and prejudice. Learning can take place as a part of community with similar interests as well as diverse backgrounds.

In the Studio - Maria Bashkirtseff

Learning is communicating. It's asking questions, getting answers, and finding solutions. As students, it's good to let others know when or if we don't understand in order to gain a better understanding. It's important to be aware of when we don't understand, and that's why mimicking doesn't cut it. To mimic is not to understand. As teachers, we should pose the question “do you understand?” with some leeway allowed for something more than a 'yes' or a 'no' or a silent nod of the head. We all know the saying “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” As educators, we simply cannot fall into the mundane educational routine of what perhaps some of our educating predecessors have taught us. We can break that mold, and by doing so, create an even bigger community that's based on reciprocity and camaraderie rather than mediocrity and anti-intellectualism. As students in life, we should challenge our mediocre educators and acquaintances, and seek out those who strive to challenge us.

The Law Student - Norman Rockwell

Learning is identifying purpose. It's reflecting and examining ourselves, our thinking, and our motivations. Even in times of insecurity, we should not allow ourselves to succumb to self-deception, narrow-mindedness, or fallacies, but have the self-awareness to know when and if we have, and take the steps to make a change. Learning is arriving at well-founded conclusions based on problem solving and being objective. Learning is creatively thinking. It's allowing ourselves to make mistakes in order to learn from them as well. Learning is growing and evolving.

DaVinci

Learning is immersing ourselves, observing everything around us, paying attention, and listening. It's working hard, sticking to it, and never settling, while at the same time being accepting and finding common ground. We should all be able to spend time in the quiet spaces, be alone and contemplative, while also be spontaneous, throw ourselves into the mix, and eventually be able to find the quiet among that chaos. It's in our nature to be curious, intrigued, and fascinated, as well as discerning and skeptical. This should be encouraged, and not stifled. Learning is discovering, adventuring, and a whole lot of uncertainty. It's going outside of our comfort zone, and knowing that when it's tough, that that's good. This is when we need to keep going. And when we arrive at the answer we were looking for, we'll most likely find that we've created several more questions along the way that now need answering too. Learning is a journey.

The Alchemist - Thomas Wyck

Learning is losing. Learning is finding. It's seeking the new and unknown when we do find our comforts, and knowing we can return to them if we need to. Learning is knowing we might not return because our journey may take us elsewhere, but knowing that our mind can take us anywhere as long as we continue to learn. Learning is expanding, not limiting. It's multi-faceted, not just specialized. Learning crosses boundaries, and cross-platforms. It's not just formed on rights and wrongs, or on templates, instruction manuals, and how-to's. Learning is recognizing that our best results have come from the what ifs, hows and whys.

The Apostle Paul - Rembrandt

We should never stop learning, and should encourage cultivation.
We owe it to ourselves and to others.

Peanuts