Monday, September 1, 2014

Ebb and Flow of Artists' Reputations

Norman Rockwell, illustration from 1917, "The Ungrateful Man," from the Google Art Project and the Norman Rockwell Museum
The reputations of Golden Age illustrators have risen and fallen over the decades. This Google NGram chart records the number of times their names have been mentioned in print.

Howard Pyle hit his first peak in 1900, but fell away after his death in 1911. He surged ahead in the 1920s, but I'm not sure why. Anybody know?

Norman Rockwell didn't enter the scene until around World War I. During his active career he was best known for painting 323 magazine covers for the Saturday Evening Post, ending that series in 1963. In all that time his renown never surpassed that of Maxfield Parrish. Rockwell's name was overshadowed by Pyle's until 1970, when Abrams published the book Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator. The Norman Rockwell Museum started modestly in 1969, expanding to its current location in 1993, where it continues to build his reputation as his name became synonymous with small town life in America.

The names Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, and Andrew Wyeth were mentioned about equally through the 1990s, but Dean Cornwell is not as well known. That makes it harder for museums and publishers to market books and exhibitions of his work.
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Wikipedia--more about the Google NGram Viewer
The Norman Rockwell Museum

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The County Fair

A crowd forms around a juggler at the county fair. Watercolor 5x8 inches.

Watercolor in the Wild--New Reviews

"Watercolor in the Wild has been getting some wonderful reviews. Here are some excerpts:

Henry Malt, Art Book Review
"...His approach is very interesting. For a start, he allows himself about an hour for a painting. Each demonstration here – there are six, covering buildings, animals, people and landscapes – is edited down to about fifteen minutes and covers all the important bits without leaving you thinking, “hang on, what did he do just then?”. He begins, conventionally enough, with a pencil drawing, but then spends the next thirty to forty minutes putting in tones, values and shading. With a quarter of an hour or less to go, he gets to the detail. That’s not enough, surely? No, not for fine detail, but the point is he’s working on very solid foundations: the subject has structure and substance and he doesn’t paint the detail at all, just suggests what the viewer should be seeing so that they create the finer stuff for themselves. It’s very subtle and, although not unique in itself, certainly unusual in combination with so much preparatory work."

"The exception to the one hour approach is a painting of a sleeping foal. Young animals are rarely still and only for short periods and this one is no exception. A large chunk of this section is taken up with watching the creature running round, interacting with its mother and eating. Finally, it needs a nap and we get to work. The point of this demonstration is to show how you can capture the essence of a subject if you’ve already understood it before you lift a brush. I like the fact that, once again, James doesn’t tell you this, but shows you."

"This is an exceptional piece of work and amazingly good value."

Charley Parker, Lines and Colors blog
"Gurney has a relaxed, conversational demeanor throughout — almost as though you had chanced upon him painting, asked about his materials and techniques, and found him more than happy to oblige. This is, of course, a superb approach for an instructional art video.

"The video production values are high, particularly in reproducing the sketchbook pages as the paintings progress, with lots of close-up views that show the renderings in detail....

"...One of the great things about these instructional videos by Gurney is the wealth of supplemental material available on his blog. This includes relevant material from previous posts and directly related questions answered afterward, all with lots of links to materials suppliers and other relevant resources.

"I now have several books and videos by Gurney, as well as being an avid follower of his blog, and I find a kind of synergy between his instructional materials, in that there is a basic underlying philosophy and systematic approach that comes from his considerable experience. I, for one, am hoping Gurney will follow up soon with a similar video on his techniques for opaque water media (gouache and casein). In the meanwhile, I’m finding transparent watercolor more pliant than I thought I would."


Review from Jackson Sze

"Watercolor in the Wild affords us a privileged look into the working process of a modern day master. James Gurney will inspire you to go out and paint, to try and capture life the way an artist can.With thorough breakdowns of equipment and materials, any artist will be well informed about what he or she needs to get started. The demos are both exciting and educational. As a Landscape Painting teacher, I would highly recommend any artist to watch and learn from Mr. Gurney. Though painting outdoors can be challenging, having this DVD in your collection should provide a constant source of encouragement and motivation."
Jackson Sze - Senior Concept Illustrator at Marvel Studios
https://www.facebook.com/jacksonszeart


"Gurney is an experienced teacher and you can really see that come through here. He is thoughtful and informative, while being very brief and succinct. It's a great companion to his previous DVD “How I Paint Dinosaurs.”  Read the rest—Dan Dos Santos, Muddy Colors Blog


"I highly recommend the affordably priced download for anyone who wants to learn more about achieving realistic paintings on location." —Read the rest—Marc Taro Holmes, Citizen Sketcher/Urban Sketchers.

“James Gurney’s latest instructional video, 'Watercolor in the Wild,' is an educational and entertaining trip into the mind of one of America’s most respected artist / illustrators." Read the rest—Darren Rousar, author of Cast Drawing Using the Sight-Size Approach
"James Gurney is making watercolor sketching from life accessible to anyone who's serious about taking on the challenge! (I'm in the process of begging and pleading with my digital students to learn to paint from life.)" —Nathan Fowkes, Animation Artist
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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Karla Mialynne's Photos of Realistic Drawings

Karla Mialynne makes realistic renderings of animals using colored pencils and markers, and photographs them with the tools she uses to create them. The photos give us an intriguing hint of scale and process.
EDIT: There's an interesting debate on Reddit about the legitimacy of these images, with many people suggesting that they're not real drawings at all (thanks Soondaep).

McCauley Conner Exhibition

Yesterday the New York Times paid respectful tribute to illustrator McCauley Conner, even to the point of starting off the article by calling him "an artist."

Mr. Conner is 100 years old and going strong. His paintings are being featured at an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York through January 11.

He never thought he'd live to see his work recognized in this way, but it helps that they're calling him "one of the original 'Mad Men'" —a reference to the popular TV series. The museum says:
"McCauley (“Mac”) Conner (born 1913) grew up admiring Norman Rockwell magazine covers in his father’s general store. He arrived in New York as a young man to work on wartime Navy publications and stayed on to make a career in the city’s vibrant publishing industry. The exhibition presents Conner’s hand-painted illustrations for advertising campaigns and women’s magazines like Redbook and McCall’s, made during the years after World War II when commercial artists helped to redefine American style and culture."
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Museum of the City of New York: Mac Conner, A New York Life

The exhibition is co-sponsored by The Modern Graphic History Library at Washington University in St. Louis and the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Macro Photos of Compound Eyes

 Yudy Sauw takes amazing photos of the faces of insects and other tiny creatures.

The ring light diffuser around the black lens give the appearance of a "pupil." On some of them there appears to be some Photoshop enhancement, as with the one above called "Flood." 

You can buy the images as computer wallpaper or canvas prints. Via BoingBoing