Saturday, June 25, 2016

Face to Face

I recently visited the Museum of  Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to see an exhibit on the work of Alphonse Mucha. While I was there, I was surprised to see that running concurrently is an exhibit on classical American, British and Dutch Portraiture called 'Face to Face'.

As I was looking through the art, I was struck by just how soft some of the edges on the facial features were. The added softness really helps emphasize the overall shape of the face, whereas over-emphasized features tend to flatten the appearance of the underlying form.

I took a few snapshots to help remind myself of this, and thought I would share them here for you.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Do You Have a Forgotten Master?

Update: My friend Micah Christensen (the one behind the lectures I shared in the two Exceptional Art History posts and Bearded Roman) actually started this conversation about forgotten masters. He is compiling a great list that you can contribute too. Go here to read more about it and the upcoming lectures.

After you read this post, I would love for you to leave a comment and share a great painter from the past that you feel hasn't received the attention they might deserve.

I love that every few months, I seem to stumble across a new painter from the past that I have not heard of before, but whose body of work inspires me.  Just when I think that I must be familiar with the greats of the past centuries, another one comes out of the woodwork.  As more museums are digitizing their collections and people travel into places with their phone cameras, the obscure comes to light.

Here are some examples.  I am sure you will be familiar with some, if not all of these artists, but they haven't had top billing for sometime or aren't mainstream (of course I could be ignorant of them, or they might have greater awareness in other countries or regions).  For some artists, we might only have a painting or two out there, but there must be more.

Antonio Ciseri (1821-1891) - Ciseri was a remarkable painter and teacher who must have had a decent body of work, but there are only a handful of images of his out there on the net.  The most famous of them is Ecce Homo, 1871.  I had the pleasure of seeing the painting in the Pitti Museum in Florence.  It is as elegant and exquisite in its rendering as nearly any other painting from the academics of the 19th century.

Ecce Homo

The Entombment

Albert Maignan (1845 - 1908) - There isn't a lot of work out there on the of Maignan's but in his life, he won a Gold Medal at the Universal Exposition in 1889, a Medal of Honor at the Salon in 1892 and was named as a Knight in the Legion of Honor.  He was highly regarded in his time.

Just look at this masterpiece below.  Wow.

Dante Meets Matilda

La Repudiée

The Disturbed Mass

Pompeo Batoni (1708 - 1787) - Batoni is an artist for whom there is a lot written, and lots of images out there, but I don't see his name or work passed around much, but he is worth looking at.  His color and paint control are really wonderful.  Unfortunately, the books on him are pricey.  He was one of the most prominent painters of his time, prized as Italy's very best.  He painted many portraits that are great, but I really enjoy his larger scale history and religious works.

The face of the man in the middle is as well painted as any other, and Susanna's flesh is gorgeous.  Best of all might be the hand on the outstretched arm of the man climbing over the bench.  I also love the compressed value range in the foliage of the near background to help exaggerate the atmospheric perspective.
Susanna and the Elders
 If you have been through the Met you have probably seen this one.  Such a wonderful painting and classic composition.  Diana's face is lovely and the profile of Cupid is so well done.

Diana and Cupid
 A great portrait, typical of the work that pushed him to the top of his day.  I think this is a great composition, shoving the painting off to the right, and leaving all the black space behind his head.  Also, that hand is awesome.

Philip Metcalfe

William Llewellyn (1858 - 1941) - The most recent of the artists listed here, but still not very well known.  According to Wikipedia, he has 67 paintings in the British national collections.

I love the softness of her eyes, the intensity of the light in places and the variety of both brushwork and edges found here.

Girl with Pigtails

Henryk Siemiradzki (1842 - 1902) - A painter from Poland that created some absolutely epic and stunning works.  He is borderline forgotten as I have seen more of his works being shared around lately, but I look forward to the day where we get a massive, heavy coffee table book on his work.

Some of the images below are quite large, so be sure to click on them, or download them in full size.

This piece certainly reminds me of Tadema, but also looks like early Klimt and some Poynter images.  It is a macabre piece, showing people being prepared to burn to death.  The variety of faces and detail is incredible.

Nero's Torches
 This painting just speaks to me.  The beautifully rendered landscape and sense of light provide the stage for two excellent figures.  I hope to see it in person someday.
The Talisman
 I think Henryk would have loved painting Tolkien. :)

Burial of a Varangian Chieftain

Phyrne at the Poseidonia in Eleusis

Slave's Song
 Another amazing epic painting.
Christian Dirce

If you know all of these artists already, forgive me (I have shared from some their works before), but if you have some to add, I hope you will do so in the comments!

Thank you,
Howard Lyon

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wicked Kingdom

By Lauren Panepinto

One of the best parts of being an Art Director, and being as plugged-into this community as I am, is seeing an artist grow over a few years and really come into their own. A great example is Wylie Beckert and her new Wicked Kingdom Deck, now on Kickstarter and already funded.

Wicked Kingdom on Kickstarter
Wylie's work was already impressive when she wandered into the SmART School summer class Marc Scheff & I were running a few summers ago, but what was really fantastic was her work ethic. She poured more thought and attention into her thumbnails than I've seen many artists put into their finals. Throughout that class we encouraged Wylie to get to a convention and start to network and make connections, and although she was scared and shy she made it to IlluXcon that fall, and hasn't looked back. Nearly immediately she landed a cover and process feature in ImagineFX magazine.

Since then she's been getting commissions and she has been selling out for over a year on Every Day Original. This year I have been thrilled to include Wylie in both my Dream Covers show at Krab Jab Studio in Seattle and the Point of Vision: Women Artists in SciFi and Fantasy exhibition at the Society of Illustrators.

Wylie's great illustration for Dr. Strange and Mr. Norrell
For a long time Wylie has been working on a self-directed entrepreneurial project—an awesome illustrated deck of cards called the Wicked Kingdom. Of course I backed it, because I wanted to order multiple decks of the cards…but an unexpected bonus has been the campaign updates, where Wylie has been posting some great process posts for many of the face cards in the deck:

The deck is already funded on Kickstarter and I encourage you to check it out—not just to back it (which you should)—but also as a study in what makes a financially viable personal project, as well as an example of how to set up a great crowd funding campaign. Just as Wylie herself is a great example of a young talent who leveled-up their career by 1) Saying Yes, 2) Learning how to network and promote themselves and 3) Having an amazing work ethic. All things any artist can learn. 

Good Luck Wylie! I can't wait to see my deck in person!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Update: Above The Timberline

Greg Manchess

After a week at IMC with a fantastic roster of instructors and a bunch of wonderful illustration and gallery students, I’m back to painting away on Timberline. I had hoped to get a few started while there, but alas, the students come first, so I only used one to work on for a demo.


We had a great time talking paint together. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much through a painting demo. I shared how my mind works while laying down strokes. I think everyone was a little surprised and elated that things don’t always go as planned and I have to think on the fly. Just like they do. Just like I did when starting out, and still have to even now.

I’m about to hole up in Oregon for a full month of focused painting. I’ve got 60 more spreads to conquer to be finished. Not sure I can make it now, but the paint is feeling good, and so are the characters, shapes, values, light, scenes, etc.

Way station

My main characters have been shot for reference, and July will be spent painting most of them, including Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy and guest instructor at IMC, playing the part of Sam.

I’m also beginning to refine some of the more complex visuals, like inside the Polaris Geographic Society and…beneath the lost city!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

For a Few Dragons More...

By Justin Gerard

Quick post today! After my last post A plague of Dragons wherein we saw some wonderful dragons that have been illustrated throughout the ages I couldn't help but start scribbling a few myself. So today I am sharing a few fine scaly fellows that will be appearing in my Sketchbook 2016 later this year.
Hope you enjoy!

Bonus: This is a spread from my 2013 sketchbook which shows briefly how I tend to work up a sketch of a dragon.  I hope to do something more in depth in this year's sketchbook:  

Monday, June 20, 2016

IMC Palettes

I'll be writing a better recap of this past week's IMC once I recoup a little. But one of the things I enjoy doing at events like these is snooping around and taking photos of different people's setups. I love seeing new chairs, paintboxes and other supplies. I also enjoy looking at different artist's palettes, seeing the different colors they choose to use to make their distinctive paintings.

Here's just a few palettes from some of the artists in attendance:

Kristina Carroll

Donato Giancola

Julie Bell

Sam Weber

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Artist Inspiration - Vachagan Narazyan

by Vanessa Lemen

One of my favorite painters, and one whose work I turn to often for inspiration in all aspects of creating – from paint application to story, from intricacy to abstract and mysterious, from subtlety to bravery – is the Ukrainian artist, Vachagan Narazyan.

I've had the pleasure of seeing his work in person on a few occasions, and I highly recommend to anyone who has the chance to see his work in person to do so, without a question. It is mesmerizing and captivating, especially in person, and it's the kind of work that opens a dialog in many forms upon viewing it. I also had the good fortune of meeting him at one exhibit and speaking to him (by way of interpreter). While he's not one to explain his work (nor am I one to ask for an explanation), he was generous to share some bits of story and background and it was a brief, friendly conversation.

Vachagan Narazyan was born in 1957 in Kislovodsk, Russia. Graduated from Kharkiv Art Institute. Taught at Kharkiv Art Institute in 1981-1993. Member of the Artists Union of Ukraine. He is among the Non-Conformist Artists to come out of the former Soviet Union and is among the most magical and ethereal in style.

The scenes he paints are ghostly and dream-like, with hazy, atmospheric skies that are vast and seem endless, and with characters that are altered to depict his personal experience and vision by way of subtle metaphor. Some characters are partially mechanized, many are restricted or oppressed, some masked or blindfolded, and some are obscured or seem to be ghost-like or transparent, as a memory might be. The figures represent states of mind or experiences, and the structures and scenes portray hints of childhood memories of the traveling circus that visited his home town when he was young.

His work is both historic and futuristic, with characters that are embellished with devices both antique and robotic. There are nostalgic undertones, while the imagery also seem to be from an unknown distant future or timeless fantastical place. His art speaks across cultures and timeframes through metaphor, color palette, symbolism, and a personal vision that spawns from a merging of dissidence and nostalgia.

Narazyan's paint application is captivating and beautiful, where large expanses of sky are thick and textural, with subtle ranges of tints of color, and then drift into a thin and gauzy fog. The characters and structures are intricate and delicately handled – loose and tight at the same time. There are hidden layers that show themselves throughout his work, as if there is another world beneath the one we see on the surface, where the areas of thinner paint on the top layer reveal other layers and story underneath.

The Non-Conformist Artists were a group of artists that formed because Stalin dictated how and what artists should portray – that artists should only create art that served the state and showed hard-working, happy people. In response to this censorship and domination, this group formed to speak about the sides of life that were supposed to be passed over in silence.

The fact that these beautiful, dissident paintings came from a place of oppression, and that what he was doing was essentially considered illegal in his formative years, just intensifies my draw to his work. His paintings are voicing something that he felt was imperative to share, and in order to share that story, he would not allow himself to be stifled. This inspires me to learn more about others and the stories of their journeys, where they come from, and what brought them to where they are now. Narazyan's work and his story also inspire me to dig deeper within myself, to continue to contemplate purpose, and to create more meaningful work as well.