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Showing posts from 2011

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST IN TIMES OF CHANGE

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You think you've got career problems?  Russian artist Zinaida Serebriakova launched her career just as the world was starting to unravel.


Zinaida turned 21 during the Russian Revolution of 1905 when widespread violence, poverty and political upheaval did little to help the art market.  Even bigger revolutions were just around the corner.  In 1905, a young patent clerk named Albert Einstein published the theories that would overturn centuries of scientific beliefs and transform our understanding of space and time.  That same year, Sigmund Freud published his revolutionary book describing how our "logical" behavior was really governed by subliminal compulsions and irrational urges.  As if to confirm that the Age of Reason was truly dead, hostile nations were already spiraling toward World War I. 

It was in this unpromising environment that Zinaida set out in search of beauty.

During her lifetime search, Zinaida painted a remarkable series of self-portraits.

In art as in polit…

Portrait Painting in Watercolor and Gouache 10 Week Course

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If you live in the LA area and your New Years resolution is to get more painting in and have a good time doing it then come on down to my portrait painting class. It will begin Monday January 9, 7-10pm. We'll be focusing on watercolor but acrylics and other water based mediums are ok too.

To enroll contactLAAFA.org, phone (877) MY-LAAFA
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Happy Holidays!

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This is a color key painting from the DreamWorks Christmas special "Shrek the Halls".

Merry Christmas everyone!
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City at night concept for Puss in Boots. Layout by Christian Schellewald and painted by me.
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ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH

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It's too early in the season for the star of Bethlehem, so that glow in the sky last week could only have been the neon lights from "the most prestigious art show in the Americas," Art Basel Miami Beach:

The Miami show, we are told,  brought together 250 "leading galleries" from around the world, "including the world's most respected art dealers offering exceptional pieces by both renowned artists and cutting-edge newcomers."


Don't bother looking for any crass illustration or commercial art at Art Basel Miami, jocko.  This was 100% fine art, in all its finery.  The New York Times described it as "a holy gathering on the annual pilgrimage route of the super rich."  The number of private jets arriving at the local airport rivaled those of the Super Bowl, and a "line of quarter million dollar cars [was] idling while their owners waited for a parking valet."

You cannot attract such an audience of billionaires, socialites, cele…
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Background painting from "Sinbad, Legend of the Seven Seas" by Wade Huntsman and Myself. Acrylic and photoshop.
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A.B. FROST, BETWEEN THE LINES

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The great A.B. Frost (1851 - 1928) drew a story about a man who wanted to learn hypnotism.  At one point, the man foolishly decides to practice on his wife:



Frost was a master at using the gaps between his drawings to imply a larger story.  People normally focus on Frost's visible lines, but today let's spend a little time focusing on the valuable real estate between the pictures.

Frost's line primes our imagination to fill in that empty space.  By setting our imagination to work, he can make a humble little line boundless.

This is a good example of how drawing can be superior to movies as an art form.  A movie doesn't leave the same gaps for us to fill.  At a rate of 24 pictures (or frames) per second, movies could effortlessly take up all the vacant space between Frost's first and second drawings, and give our imaginations a rest.

But that space performs an important function. As Debussy pointed out,
Music is the space between the notes.As another example of the impo…
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Puss in Boots, photoshop.
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ERICH SOKOL'S PRELIMINARY SKETCHES

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I have previously written about my admiration for illustrator / cartoonist Erich Sokol, whose brilliant work appeared in Playboy Magazine.  A collection of his work recently published by Residenzverlag includes some of his preliminary studies.

Sokol does not wait until the final image to worry about good design and composition.  They are present in the very first small fragments.

Note how strongly Sokol locates this sketch on the page...


 ...or how he starts out early identifying and then emphasizing the rhythm and harmony of the human forms:


Like many other  artists, Sokol's building blocks contain the DNA of a finished artistic statement.





No matter how small or incomplete, details and fragments such as these can encompass the artist's  genetic code and are well worth our attention.

Class demo sketch

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.Here's a demo sketch I did for my head drawing class, I thought I'd pass along a few pointers to those of you interested.


First, simple but accurate construction drawing then massing the light and shadow, this should be as simple as asking yourself what's in direct light and whats in shadow. Then addressing the turning forms within the light and shadow and designing hard and soft edges.


This overlay shows how a simple construction drawing lays the foundation. Though it may seem a bit abstract, it helps place the larger masses of anatomy within the whole, it maintains the symmetry of the head and helps convey the simple three dimensional nature of the head (like longitude and latitude on a sphere).



Always look for the simple statement as shown in this photoshop paint-over. If you put anything (and I mean anything) in your drawing that varies from it's simplest shapes and values you'd better have a darn good reason. Variations in shape and value that don't convey …

THE SLAV EPIC

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I spent the past week in Prague where I was working on the World Forum on Governance.  Away from my books and art materials, I resigned myself to skipping this week's post.

However, the cultural attache at the embassy shared with me the happy news that Alphonse Mucha's masterpiece, the Slav Epic, will go on display in Prague next year, just 84 years after Mucha donated it to the city.

For those who only know Mucha for his art nouveau posters, the Slav Epic was Mucha's most important and meaningful work: 20 huge patriotic murals of key moments from the history of the Slavic people.


In times of trouble and uncertainty, Mucha "wanted to talk in my own way to the soul of the nation," reminding them of their proud heritage and the heroism and sacrifice of their ancestors.






Mucha presented his murals to the city of Prague in 1928, but some criticized them as old fashioned and nationalistic.  By 1933 the canvases were rolled up and placed in storage, and Mucha's …