Thursday, April 27, 2017

Introduction to Landscape Painting

Landscape with a Calm
Nicolas Poussin

In this painting, I notice that Poussin is very effective at creating a reflection of the horizon on the surface of the pond. the painting itself consists of a shepherd and his flock in the foreground, a pond with a reflection in the middle ground, and a town in front of dark, hazy mountains in the background. Poussin uses mainly earthy greens, yellows, and browns, and a very intense light blue for the pond and the sky. One of the strategies Poussin uses to create a sense of depth in his painting is using darker colors near the foreground that eventually get lighter in value and more hazy in the background, or horizon. The colors in the background are also more of a grayish-blue hue, which is very much how landscapes such as these appear in real life due to reflection of blue light from the sky. This creates what is called an atmospheric perspective. 

Italianate Landscape with Travelers on a Path
Jay Both

This painting is similar in many ways to the one above, yet it incorporates other obvious strategies to create an appearance of depth. This painting contains a very dynamic landscape trees and with a mountain path following a waterfall in the foreground. Also, the foreground contains four travelers with two mules. In the middle ground, there is a dark green tree line that leads up from the right side of the painting and up the side of the mountain to the left. In the distance, there are hazy silhouettes of a mountain range that are made of more washed-out colors. However, different from the painting by Poussin, the colors in the background (yellow, red, orange) are of higher intensity, which gives the painting the appearance of being set during sunset with the sun off in the right side of the painting. Another alternative strategy that Both uses in this painting is the use of a receding "s-curve" path that begins in the foreground and curves before traveling up the hill to the left side of the image. Also, far up on the trail, you can see a man on a horse that is comparatively smaller than the people and horses in the foreground. This further reinforces the appearance of a receding trail, and the smaller relative size of the figure makes it look like it is in the distance as well. 


An underpainting is the first layer of paint that goes below all others in a painting. It provides the base for all other colors, and allows the painter to begin to create contrast and tone from the beginning. It also helps artists develop a plan for the location and composition of the images and different colors that they will later incorporate. Different color undertones can also have an influence of the overall tone of the painting. For example, an underpainting of blue will give the painting a cool tone, while a yellow will give the painting a warmer tone, and some purples are good for creating shadows.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Eye, Nose, and Mouth Exercise


    • To demonstrate understanding of the structure for each feature: eyes, nose, & mouth;
    • To practice using black & white charcoal to render a drawing, using brown paper as the middle value

In my preliminary eye, nose, and mouth exercise drawings, there are some aspects that are working well and others that require more attention. For example, in my eye drawing, the use of small white marks on the pupil and iris are perhaps the most effective at adding a 3D appearance because they resemble reflections off the curved surface of my eye. Another thing that works well is the use of varying thicknesses of lines to signify changes in value along my upper lid. On my nose drawing, the use of curved lines are very effective at indicating the round shape of the tip of my nose, giving it a 3D appearance. However, I must be careful to not simply outline the shape of my nose when I am doing the final still life, as there will be a light source present, which will cause a difference in value on one side of my nose than the other. On my mouth drawing, the fact that the darkest line in the drawing is between my upper and lower lips is effective at giving the feature a 3D form, as this is where the most shadow is seen in real life. Also, the use of curved lines originating from the center of the mouth are very effective at signifying the curved shape of the lips. However, on my final still life drawing, I should make sure to add more value to the features above, below, and around my mouth, such as the philtrum and the corners of my mouth.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Intro to Portraiture

  • To become familiar with past and contemporary portrait artists;
  • To use critical thinking skills to analyze artwork;
  • To understand how and why artists create portraits.

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Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt was a Dutch-born portrait artist who was born on July 15, 1606. He came from a modest middle-class background, yet he was highly educated from a young age. Soon after he was enrolled in the University of Leiden, Netherlands, he decided to leave his traditional studies to pursue that of art. He apprenticed under Dutch artists Jacob van Swanenburch and Pieter Lastman. At the age of 22, he returned to his home-city of Leiden and soon became well-renowned for his work and began to teach younger artists. In 1634, he married the cousin of a well-known art dealer and was able to soon expand his career to include work for upper-class patrons. Was highly successful, yet his wife and three of his four children died when still young. Being an extravagant spender, he was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1656. His work mainly revolved around ancient sculpture, Flemish and Italian Renaissance paintings, Far Eastern art, contemporary Dutch works, weapons, and armor. He died in 1669.

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Ella Josephine Baker
Robert Shetterly

Shetterly was born in 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Graduated from Harvard University in 1969 with a degree in English Literature. Active in civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements in the 1960's and 70's. Moved to Maine in 1970. Taught himself drawing, printmaking, and painting. For 12 years he was the editorial drawer for The Maine Times, illustrated the National Audubon children's newspaper, and illustrated 30 books. Widely known in US and Europe. For more than 10 years, he has been and continues to paint the series of portraits Americans Who Tell the Truth. The message he supports is the importance of independent opinion and honesty in American democracy. He has also been involved in many humanitarian efforts around the globe.

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Alice Neel

Neel was born on January 28, 1900 in Merion Square, PA. She belonged to a modest middle class family. After highschool, she took a job as a secretary in the Army Air Corps under Lieutenant Theodore Sizer, who eventually became an art historian at Yale University. She took evening art classes through the Pennsylvania Museum of Art. She continued art education through the 1920's, and was largely a student in portrait painting. In 1924 she met Cuban artist Carlo Enríquez, who belonged to a prominent family from Havana. After continuing to enhance her skills through graduating from the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, she marries Enríquez and travels to Cuba with him in 1926. In 1927, they both move back to America and their daughter dies of disease. In 1930, they had another kid and Neel was hospitalized from exhaustion/mental problems. In 1931, she attempts suicide in her parents' home. Soon after, she is put in a Philadelphia suicidal ward. Leaves ward and spends the rest of 1930's meeting men at art shows. She ends up splitting with her husband Enríquez by 1934. She continues relationships with multiple men for the next decade. Overall, Neel was well-known for her portrait paintings of friends, family, lovers, poets, other artists and strangers. She died in 1984 in New York.

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Madame X
John Singer Sargent

Born in Florence, Italy in 1856 as the son of an American doctor. Studied painting in Italy and France. In 1884, he made a famous work, shown above, at the Paris Salon that depicted Madame Gautreau. Many complained that the work was offensively erotic. He chose to move to England as a result, and soon established himself as the country's best portrait painter. Also visited the US on occasion to deliver famous works to locations such as the Boston Public Library and the Museum of Fine Arts. His portraits are best known for their portrayal of the unique individuality and personality of the models. He created around 300 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors, along with many sketches and charcoal drawings.

I believe that the mood of the painting 'Madame X' by Sargent is dark and mysterious. It portrays a dark or bleak state of mind by using very earthly dark blacks and browns. Also, it incorporates a very dark background and collection of shadows. It also appears to be mysterious because of the body language of the individual portrayed. The woman is facing away from the viewer and off to the right as though she is turning to view something of great importance. Also, the fact that she is bracing her weight on the table with one arm and clutching her dress with the other makes the viewer wonder if she is possibly doing so in fear or anticipation. The body language cues leave much to be wondered by viewers.

Furthermore, I believe that the mood of the painting 'Ella Josephine Baker' by Robert Shutterly is calmness. I get this feeling from the face of the woman in the portrait in particular. Her face is very calm, with her relaxed eyebrows, soft eyes, and a slight smile. Additionally, the colors used are overall very bright, cool, and calming. The cool blue background is portrays a feeling of relaxation. The yellows and pink present on the woman's clothing, although slightly warm, are still calming and more cool.

Still Life Drawing

  • To create a still-life drawing that demonstrates understanding of drawing in perspective, along with using a variety of mark-making techniques to describe form;
  • To understand value by creating a good range of values to help make the objects appear 3D;
  • To demonstrate quality craftsmanship and good composition skills in a drawing.

I faced a number of challenges as I worked through the drawing of the still life. I found the most challenging part to be the beginning of the drawing when I was simply starting to replicate the composition of the objects. It was challenging to start the first object because I knew that, in order to guarantee quality composition, all further objects would have to be based on the size and location of the first. I had to make sure that the object was in the right location and was the right size in order to fit a convincing and sufficiently-sized still-life on my paper. Additionally, I was faced with the challenge of making the range between my drawing’s darkest and lightest values convincing and accurate. I had to make sure that the contrast between my dark values and light values was large enough to provide a necessary sense of depth and shadowing.

In my still-life drawing, I was able to succeed in creating an accurate composition and range of values. I am especially proud of my ability to create an accurate composition of objects in my drawing, largely because this task was challenging and time-consuming. My finish product very closely resembled the real still-life, and it felt satisfying to be able to replicate it as closely as I did. Additionally, I was successful with the other challenging and somewhat time-consuming task of creating a realistic range of values in my drawing. It was a satisfying accomplishment because I was able to create a contrast between my brightest and darkest values in a way that made my drawing more realistic and 3D enough to appear like it ‘pops off the page.’

Friday, February 3, 2017

Art Movement, Realism

To gain a basic understanding about the Realism Art Movement and to identify Artists who work(ed) in this style;

To practice drawing in the realist style by “imitating” a professional, realistic work of art.

The Realism movement, which started in France during the 1840s and ended in the 1880s, is widely recognized as the first modern worldwide movement in art. Appropriately occurring in the wake of the Enlightenment Age and Industrial Revolution, it rejected conservative forms of art, such as romanticism and idealism, and gave way to a more progressive form that captured everyday life. Unlike more traditional art, it avoided glorifying aspects of society and instead aimed to portray everyday life in the way it is. Using more dark, natural colors, it accepted the social, political, and economic struggles in society. Realist artists were noted as being more independent and less conforming to traditional art, which, at the time, was heavily patronized by rich members of the upper-middle class, as well as monarchs. In these ways, it represented a period of redefinition of modern art.

The Gleaners
Jean-François Millet
Oil on canvas


Calle Alfonso I - Zaragoza
Tomas Castaño
Date unknown
Oil on canvas

The work of contemporary realism artist Tomas Castaño shown above has some similarities and differences with the work of the master realism artist Jean-François Millet. Like Millet's work, Castaño's work depicts people involved in their normal, everyday life. Characteristic to the realism genre, neither work involves exotic content that glorifies or exaggerates society. The two works also incorporate the same smooth, blurry texture will no intensely sharp figures. However, the latter work by Castaño has a a far brighter tone, and it incorporates more light, non-earthy colors, such as blues, reds, purples and yellows, unlike Millet's darker colors that are mostly earthy greens, browns, and grays. Personally, I find the work by Castaño to be more appealing because of the breadth of bright colors and appealing modern content such as a city street. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


There are many interesting aspects of the Mandala. Firstly, the Mandala, representing the wholeness of life and nature, appears in many different aspects of the universe; physically, they are found in celestial bodies such as Earth, the Sun, and the Moon. Conceptually, they occur in circles of families, friends, communities, and ecosystems. Secondly, the use of the Mandala in the expression of culture and religion is widespread. For instance, Medieval Christians in Europe, Native American tribes, and Taoists in eastern Asia have been noted with the use of Mandalas as key components of their cultures and religions. Lastly, the general idea of building around a center to create a structure is a common theme in architectures around the globe. Buddhist stupas, Muslim mosques, Christian cathedrals, Native American teepees, and geodesic domes follow this general idea.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Goals for the Semester

My goals for this semester include enhancing my current and future skills at adding value and utilizing composition in my work. I want to be able to learn effective skills that allow me to add value to my drawings and paintings in order to make images more life-like. Additionally, I want to utilize composition of shapes and images to give my artwork the optimal dimension. Also, I would like to explore and become adept in the use of new media to create a wide array or drawings and paintings. With this new media, I want to learn and refine more mark-making techniques that add other elements to my work, such as texture and depth. I also aim to become better with the media I have previously been exposed to, notably paint.

As I said previously, I believe that enhanced techniques in mark-making, composition of shapes, and usage of new media will greatly benefit my abilities to produce my best artwork in this course. With this in mind, I will be willing to accept that more practice will be needed in some areas rather than others, and I may even require some one-on-one work between my teacher and I. As far as my peers and I, I believe that an environment in which we can exchange constructive feedback would be beneficial to my work as well as theirs. Continuous practice will be beneficial to my improvements in all these aspects. If I follow all these points previously made, I believe I will be able to create my best work in this class.