Thursday, April 26, 2018

Designing a Science Magazine


Designer Michael Mrak describes how he visualizes black holes, relativity, and dinosaurs for Scientific American magazine.
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Society of Publication Design
Gumroad tutorial on painting Tyrannosaurs

Delaware Exhibition Pairs Ruskin and Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth, Flock of Crows
We stopped by the Delaware Art Museum to visit the exhibition Eye on Nature: Andrew Wyeth and John Ruskin.

Curator Margaretta Frederick took us through the show, which pairs 30 rare watercolors by the 19th century British writer/artist Ruskin with 28 watercolors and dry brush works by Andrew Wyeth. 
Although there's no evidence that Wyeth was directly inspired by Ruskin's writings, it's interesting to reflect on how the two artists regarded the study of nature.   

John Ruskin
Ruskin said "When once we see keenly enough, there is very little difficulty in drawing what we see." 

John Ruskin, Trees in a Lane, perhaps at Ambleside, 1847.
Pencil, black and brown ink, and ink wash, 17 5/8 x 22 5/8 inches.
He was famous for his admonition that young painters "should go to Nature in all singleness of heart, and walk with her laboriously and trustingly, having no other thoughts but how best to penetrate her meaning, and remember her instruction; rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing; believing all things to be right and good, and rejoicing always in the truth."

But he also added that "straight documentation does not make up a work of art," and he recommended that once artists fill their eyes and minds with nature's forms, they should "take up the scarlet and the gold, give the reins to their fancy, and show us what their heads are made of." 

Wyeth, watercolor study of a blackberry branch
Wyeth said, "Art to me, is seeing. I think you have got to use your eyes, as well as your emotion, and one without the other just doesn't work." 

He did careful studies throughout his career, and used them to "get down to the real substance of life itself."


Andrew Wyeth Sycamore Tree, detail
Wyeth's large drybrush drawings are an impressive testament to his patience and concentration. 

He had deep appreciation for ordinary subjects close to home. He said, "You can be in a place for years and years and not see something...and then when it dawns, all sorts of nuggets of richness start popping all over the place. You've gotten below the obvious."
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The exhibition Eye on Nature will be on view at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington through May 27, 2018.
Gallery of online images from the exhibition
Upcoming events:
Ferns and Flowers Monoprinting, April 29
On Location Photography Workshops, Sundays, April – June
Nature Sketching Sunday, May 20Thanks, Margaretta Frederick and Stephen Wildman

Artist's Mag and Quotidian Subjects


What's the best place for artistic inspiration—Venice? Barcelona? Giverny? Grand Canyon? I believe it's within 15 miles of wherever you are right now.

The theme of the current issue of Artist's magazine (print) is "Place." I wrote an article called "There's No Place Like Home."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Portrait Demo at the Yellow Barn Workshop

On Sunday night we had a sold-out audience for my mini-workshop at the Yellow Barn Studio in Glen Echo Park, Maryland.


After my lecture presentation, I did a half-hour gouache portrait. My model was Steve Hanson, who was wearing a reproduction antique vest and coat. Steve has portrayed John Brown in a historical reenactment at Harper's Ferry.


I used a limited palette of gouache: Light Red by Shinhan Pass, plus Yellow OchreUltramarine BlueIvory Black, and Titanium White (M. Graham) in a Pentalic watercolor journal.

I did my preliminary lay-in with a Brown Caran d' Ache watercolor pencil and I finished up with a White Supracolor pencil for those few stray beard hairs and other accents.
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Thanks, J. Jordan Bruns and Gavin Glakas for organizing the event, and to model Steven Hanson.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Portraits in the Audience

At the Portrait Society Conference, everyone is a model—wittingly or not—including a member of the audience near me.



This sketch uses a limited palette of gouache: Light Red by Shinhan Pass, and then the rest by M. Graham: Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine Blue, Ivory Black, and Titanium White. (Links take you to Amazon pages).

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sargent's Technique and Temperament

John Singer Sargent's grandnephew, Richard Ormond, speaks with veteran portrait painter Michael Shane Neal about Sargent's technique and temperament.

Michael Shane Neal and Richard Ormond, gouache

Here's an extended lecture by Richard Ormond about Sargent's work during World War I.
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Sketched live at the Portrait Society Conference in Washington, DC
Ormond has authored many books on Sargent, including John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes 1908–1913: The Complete Paintings