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Showing posts from November, 2008

LORADO TAFT'S FOUNTAIN OF TIME

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Artists always dream of creating works of permanence. Perhaps they hope that "timeless" art will help them live on past their death.

Lorado Taft (1860-1936) was that kind of artist. A Chicago sculptor of monumental, heroic subjects, Taft worked from 1907 to 1922 on his life's masterpiece, a huge sculpture about mortality called The Fountain of Time. The sculpture was based on a line from Austin Dobson:
Time goes, you say? Alas, time stays; we go!
Taft created a 120 foot long parade of humanity with over 100 different figures symbolizing life's journey from birth to death.



This "march of the doomed" takes place in front of an imposing, 26 foot tall statue of Father Time.





Taft wanted his sculpture to have an eternal look, so he designed it in a classical "beaux-art" style. Unfortunately, by the time he finished, the beaux-art style was already unfashionable. It was replaced by abstract modernism. (Perhaps Time felt that Taft's ambition was impertinen…

COBY WHITMORE

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The great Coby Whitmore reminds us that a picture can be bigger when it doesn't fill up the whole page.

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Sci Fi_ish sketches in acrylic.

And since we're on the subject, how about another round of Science fiction recommendations from you. You gave excellent recommendations last time which introduced me to writers like John Scalzi and Peter Hamilton. And my favorite of recent reads: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson. I'd love it if you'd post more of your favorite science fiction novels in the comments.
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Mike. Watercolor and gouache in a 12"x 16" heavyweight craft paper sketchbook.
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FRED

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Andrew Wyeth called this painting "Marsh Hawk."



Having trouble finding the marsh hawk? Why, here it is way over at the edge, sitting on a post:



Harold von Schmidt painted this wonderful painting of revolutionary war hero William Dawes. Can't see him? If you are lucky, you might catch a fleeting glimpse of his butt.



This is Brueghel's painting of the fall of Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the sun. But Icarus is not exactly hogging the spotlight.



Here are his legs, way down here:



The literary critic Marvin Mudrick once said, If you're ever tempted to write a story called "The Secret of the Universe" or "Man's Inhumanity to Man," do yourself a favor and call it "Fred" instead.
For today's post, I was tempted to expound at length on the importance of avoiding obviousness in art.

But I think I won't.

BALANCING INSPIRATION AND PERSPIRATION

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Illustrator Chris Van Allsburg once said that he spent only a small percentage of his working time making creative choices. The vast majority of his time was spent on the manual labor of implementing those choices. He would spend days and days painstakingly drawing individual blades of grass and leaves.



Artist Bernie Wrightson seemed to work the same way. He spent a great deal of time mechanically implementing his initial artistic decisions:



(In my view, this often resulted in a mountain of effort for a molehill of a result.)

Illustrator Robert Vickrey had a similar laborious style. Once he designed a picture, he would spend weeks filling in backgrounds such as concrete surfaces and brick walls.



I was thinking about this trade off as I was marveling at the paintings of Dreamworks artist
Nathan Fowkes. Fowkes works at the opposite end of the spectrum.



Note the simplicity and economy with which he created that notch in the nearest line of mountains, or the way he conveyed important gradation…

40 MINUTE STUDIES

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A long drawn out portrait study is good practice but sometimes the shorter poses are equally so. They force you choose which details you'll emphasize and which you'll leave out. An important skill to learn since a stick of charcoal and a beige piece of paper can never reproduce all the subtleties you can see.

These are 40 minute studies with compressed charcoal on newsprint.
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