Thursday, December 18, 2014

Menzel Armor Study

This small study of armor by Adolph Menzel sold at auction last month for two million Euros. The pre-sale estimate was estimated between €100,000 and €150,000.

Menzel did several studies of armor in the 1860s, and they all have a lifelike quality, as if they're animated and looking at you.

Link to article
Thanks, Christian
GJ Post on painting in an armory

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dinotopia Episode 6

Today we continue with Episode Six of the serialized podcast of Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time. To listen, click the orange play button below, or follow the link to the Soundcloud file.

Are there meateaters in Dinotopia? You bet! And in this episode we see what happens when you encounter them.

Arthur learns about the sabertooth cats that once lived in Waterfall City.

They outfit a convoy for a journey across the Rainy Basin, where tyrannosaurs present a constant threat.

And we witness Bix bravely face off against a T. rex.

The Podcast Series
This acoustic adventure was produced by Tom Lopez, mastermind of the ZBS Foundation, with an original music track by composer Tim Clark.

Episode 7 arrives in a week. Each short episode will only be live online for one week, and then it will disappear.

If you'd like to purchase the full two-hour Dinotopia podcast right now and hear all twelve episodes back to back in a feature-length production, check out Dinotopia at ZBS Foundation website for the MP3 download.
You can also order the original book from my web store and I'll sign it for you. It's the ultimate holiday gift for the imaginative person in your life. (Ships via Media Mail within 24 hours of your order, so it may or may not arrive in time for Christmas. US orders only for the book, please). The Dinotopia book is also available from Amazon.
There will be an exhibit of Dinotopia originals at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Connecticut from February 14 - May 25, 2015. I'll be giving an illustrated lecture there on Sunday, February 22.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Animal Drawing at Otis

Great schools are made up of great teachers, and one of them is Gary Geraths, who teaches animal drawing at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. He has brought in camels (and belly dancers) to his class so that students can draw them directly from life.

Understanding what's going on beneath the surface is not always obvious, so Gary does demonstration drawings of the skeleton and the surface features.

He brings the students to the Page Museum, where they can sketch from articulated skeletons of animals that fell into the nearby La Brea Tar Pits.

Gary works with students of all ages, and he has taught other things, like rock climbing.

His knowledge of animals is extensive, and his demos cover sea creatures and invertebrates.

For students wishing to get jobs in animation or illustration, having a deep knowledge of animal drawing is extremely valuable, and a good way to set your portfolio apart from the competition.

Here's a video of Gary's animal drawing in action.

Because of the logistics of bringing in live animals, or bringing students on field trips, there aren't many schools who can offer such a thorough study of animals as Otis does, and there aren't many teachers like Gary. 
James Gurney visits Gary Geraths (center) and Bill Eckert at Otis in 2010
Gary has written a book on Drawing Animals, which you can get from Amazon
or you can contact him directly for a copy

Monday, December 15, 2014

Five Lessons from Sargent's "Escutcheon"

Let's take a look at the watercolor "Escutcheon of Charles V of Spain" by John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) compared to a photo of the actual thing. Here are a few of my takeaways:

The heraldic insignia or escutcheon of Charles V of Spain,
part of a sixteenth century fountain at the Alhambra in Granada.

1. Take your time on the drawing.
Comparing the painting to a photo of the actual subject Sargent was looking at, it's clear he was very careful and patient with his preliminary drawing. Since the shallow raking light must have lasted a very short time, he might have done the drawing on one day, and painted it on another day, or drawn it in the morning, waiting for the light to be perfect to paint it.

2. Flatten the lights, open the shadows
For a feeling of brilliance, unify the areas directly lit by sunlight. Limit the range of modeling and tonal value to keep the light areas very light. Instead, put the variation and chroma in the shadows.

3. Keep cast shadow edge dark, cool, and sharp.
Note the darkness and coolness of the area of cast shadow right as it turns to light, especially in the upper left of the picture. The step from that cast shadow to the adjacent light should be striking enough to be very noticeable. As long as this value relationship is held at the cast shadow edge, the inner areas of shadow can be considerably lightened.

4. Push the warm and cool variations.
Down-facing planes, or planes receiving reflected light from illuminated stonework are warm. Up-facing or open front-facing planes are cool, suggesting that they're receiving mostly blue skylight. The soft blending between warm and cool requires having pools of each color on the palette and work wet into wet. Watercolor is very fast and ideally suited to such rendering.

5. Put the detail only where you want it.
Use the biggest brushes possible but vary the touch. The outer areas are stated very broadly with a big brush. Much smaller touches are used for the details of the coat of arms, and might have been done with a smaller brush.  

I'd love to hear what you take away from looking at the picture.
The painting is called "Escutcheon of Charles V of Spain" by John Singer Sargent (1856–1925)
Date: 1912, Medium: Watercolor and graphite on white wove paper. Dimensions: 12 x 18 in. (30.5 x 45.7 cm) in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hugh Ferriss — Drama in Architecture

Hugh Ferriss was an architectural illustrator known for his dramatic renderings of early skyscraper designs. He sketched from observation, but he also worked from imagination when commissioned to visualize proposed structures.

Here's an example of a rendering of a proposed building, the Convocation Tower designed by Goodhue in 1924. The building rises up like a rocket ship into the night from a flood of light at the base. 

How did he achieve such accurate perspective, but also such a sense of drama and atmosphere? 

"The first stage is a rough layout of the streetscape and the foreground traffic." (According to Drafting Room Practice by Eugene Clute, 1928, quoted in the blog Beyond Illustration). Note that important details of the building at far left are still unresolved.

"The second image shows a general defining of the forms by establishing values throughout."

 "The third image shows the final rendering with the various tonal areas detailed. The rendering was produced with carbon pencil on a fairly smooth drawing board. As you can see he drew and erased as needed to get the needed effect."

Ferriss made this drawing of an existing building, the magnificent Venetian-styled Madison Square Garden, before it was torn down in 1925. Note the unified dark tones of the foreground, and the counterchange from light-against-dark at the base of the tower to dark-against-light at the top.

John Howe Exhibit

Yesterday, an exhibition of John Howe's artwork opened at the Maison d' Ailleurs museum in Yverdon, Switzerland. John Howe is a Canadian artist living in Neuch√Ętel who has worked alongside Alan Lee as the main concept artist on Peter Jackson's films The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

For more information, visit Maison d' Ailleurs.