Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Importance of role models

By Petar Meseldzija

Anima the Dreadful (Conan) - Oil on wooden board, 70X50 cm, 2015. Private commission.

Back in the eighties, when I was studying art at the Novi Sad Art Academy in Serbia, we had a teacher of Art History, an elderly lady who told us that, once in her youth, she had met Picasso, and even had got from him one of his famous painted vases as a present. She mentioned this little anecdote often, and not without a certain amount of pride and self-contentment. This little lady used to say: “No one is born without a mother and a father”. The message of her saying was obvious - every person, creator and artist, has his own roots, his creative parents, his springboard. We all had teachers, mentors and role models at the beginning of our art career who helped us and showed us the way, motivated and inspired us. Nothing comes out of nothing! As human animals, we begin the process of learning by mimicking others from our surroundings.

People often asked me how, or where, did I learn to paint. Well, as mentioned above, I did study painting at the art academy, but although the time I spent there was not wasted – on the contrary, it was extremely important for my artistic development - I can’t say that I have learned how to paint there. The prevailing approach to art and painting at that time was still very much based on and driven by the modernistic dogma that favored free expression above the technical skills. Therefore we were not encouraged to spend time and energy on learning the technical aspect of painting, but rather to open ourselves to free expression. Focusing on learning and developing the technical skills was not exactly prohibited, but many did look upon it with a contemptuous eye.

I learned to paint mostly by studying the works of my favorite artists, my role models, and by trying to learn from what I was able to see and understand. Some of my most important role models included Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Gerard ter Borch, Ilya, Repin, Paja Jovanvic, Uros Predic, John Singer Sargent, Viktor Vasnetsov, Ivan Bilibin, Aksely Gallen-Kallela, Walt Disney, Arthum Rackham, Norman Rockwell, Frank Frazetta, Alan Lee, among many others.

Conan by Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta

When I was about 12 years old, I began spending more time on drawing. I copied works of various artists, mainly comic artists ( I was at that time very much into comic art, and wanted to become a comic artist). My mother used to drive me crazy by criticizing my urge to copy other artist’s work. She would say: “You copy too much! Why don’t you try to do something out your own imagination”? Her remarks were disturbing to me and have often hurt my feelings (hence I never forgot about it). It was frustrating. On one hand, I knew she was right. On the other, I felt I had to copy in order to learn. I was so unsatisfied with what I could do from my own imagination. I did not like very much the results - my own drawings seemed to be so imperfect, lacking in all sorts of things and qualities. The copies of other people’s work which I did looked much better, more convincing and mature. Little did my mother knew that I would later become quite myself and unique in my artistic expression. Somehow I managed to escape a dangerous trap of becoming somebody else’s epigone. I don’t know when, or how it happened, but it did happen – gradually I found myself. Moreover, I even became a kind of “preacher” of the importance of going after your own uniqueness, and becoming utterly yourself in your artistic expression.

However, I never forgot my role models. From time to time, I revisit their art in search of inspiration, motivation and consolation. Sometimes, I do cite them in my own work, or, now and then, even paint a homage to some of them. But I never copy their work anymore. I just allow myself to be inspired by their creations, but then let this impulse go through my own artistic inner prism, and try to create something uniquely mine…. as much as I am able to.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Digital Tutorials

For the digital artists, here are some solid video tutorials by—and a Q&A about education & careers with—Stanley Artgerm Lau. Have fun!





Friday, April 29, 2016

A Palette Three Ways

-By Howard Lyon


I have been doing a lot of studies and portraits lately with a palette, for the flesh, limited to Flake or Titanium White, Vermillion, Yellow Ochre and Ivory Black.  I have also been experimenting with converting my photo reference to a black and white image and inventing, or looking at old masters as a guide for skin tones.  I have been doing weekly paintings from life in my studio (3 hour sessions every Wednesday night if you are in town), and learning a lot about painting flesh.  This is of course the best way to learn to paint people, from life, but I also think there is value in having to invent, based on experience.

Here are a few examples along with a couple time-lapses.  That seems to be my thing lately.  I find a learn a bit after the fact by watching the process playback.

All three of these palettes used the palette I mentioned above and Phthalo Blue for the backgrounds and the green of the leaves in the floral crown.

For the painting below, I worked from a black and white image and had paintings by Jean-Baptiste Greuze up to try and learn a little about his approach to skin.

Meghan, 8" x 10" oil on aluminum panel
This next painting was done the same way, from a black and white image, and is of the same model, but this time I referenced several heads by Bouguereau.  I have a long way to go to paint like either Greuze or Bouguereau, but I felt like I learned a lot trying to apply their colors.

Meghan II, 8" x 10" oil on aluminum panel
 This last painting was done using the color that I obtained from the photoshoot, but pushing the temperatures a little more.

Rebecca, 11" x 14" oil on aluminum panel
Here are a couple time-lapses of the paintings above.



Thanks for taking a look.  I regularly post images from my weekly portrait sessions as well as studies like these on my Instagram account if you are interested.

Howard

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kim Kincaid

(1953-2016)


The amount of people that work in Science Fiction and Fantasy publishing is actually much smaller than many people would think. Everybody knows everybody else one way or another. Either through some convention, or a workshop, or a friend of a friend. It is a surprisingly tight knit community.

As a result, this genre fosters a very deep sense of camaraderie. I know it's cliché to say, but I really do think of my peers as family.

These are the people with whom we share our passions, our trials, our failures, and our hopes. These are the people who are the very first to pat you on the back and congratulate you when you make a piece of art that's the best you've ever made. These are the people who are eager to lend a hand or a critical eye when you're doubting your abilities and need it most. These are the people whose opinions we hold most dear, and without whom this job wouldn't be nearly as rewarding.

I am so sorry to say, that we lost a member of that family yesterday. Kimberly Kincaid passed away suddenly due to unexpected kidney complications.


Anyone who has met Kim knows I'm not exaggerating in the least when I say that she was truly one of the most loving people I've ever met. Every word from her mouth, and every smile she gave you, exuded kindness and sincerity. There was a spark in Kim. Something intangible that I can't quite put into words. But it shone so brightly, and so warmly, that you couldn't help but to want to be close to it. I can't help but feel that this world is going to be a little bit dimmer without Kim in it.

Kim was a talented artist, and a life-long student. She began pursuing art quite late in life, and did so with a fervor and determination that all of her peers admired. She was proof that it's never too late to pursue your dreams. A few years ago, Kim won the 'Rising Stars' award here on Muddy Colors. She received free exhibition space at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, where, at the age of 60, she sold her very first piece of original art.


In just the few short years since then, Kim went on to make a name for herself as one of the most promising illustrators in the field. She has been included in Spectrum, Imagine FX Magazine, and has been accepted into the Society of Illustrators West Annual Exhibition. She was included in the Women of Wonder art book, contributed monthly to Every Day Original, and most recently was selected to be part of the 'Dream Covers' exhibition at Krab Jab Gallery.

I can't say enough good things about Kim. And even if I did, they wouldn't come close to capturing what a beautiful person she really was. So instead, I will say this... Kim is genuinely one of the most lovely people I've ever had the pleasure of getting to know. She is leaving a hole in the hearts of so many people that simply can not be filled by anyone else. She will be dearly, dearly missed.

If you're lucky enough to have met Kim, I encourage you to share your memories of her in our comments section.










You can see more of Kim's work at: www.artbykimkincaid.com

Or, if you'd like to learn more about Kim in her own words, you can read her blog here: www.thetwirlingdragon.blogspot.com

An interview here: www.thatthornguy.com/2016/03/21/an-interview-with-kimberly-kincaid/

And here: www.kirileonard.com/women-fantasy-illustration-kimberly-kincaid/



Update:

There will be a graveside service for Kim next Tuesday, May 3rd at 11am. All friends are welcome to attend. The service is to be held at the Kaysville Cemetery, 500 Crestwood Rd., Kaysville, Utah.

And for those looking for ways to honor her memory...

Kim had an immense love of animals. If you are looking for a way to help, and are so inclined, her family asks that you donate to your local Humane Society in lieu of sending flowers. You can donate HERE.

Or, consider donating to the Missionary Fund for Kim's church HERE. Kim was a very devout individual, and credited two missionaries for helping her find her faith.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Unfinished


Greg Manchess

I’ve loved the feeling of unfinished works of art since I was quite young. For a budding painter, it was a secret opportunity, an inside glimpse at the structure of a painting, frozen at the time of abandonment. They were private lessons if I could only piece together the steps, the thoughts, the gestures. The masters had left their magic exposed and I was going to quietly steal their methods without so much as a thank you.

Recently the Metropolitan Museum of Art has opened a show of unfinished paintings from various artists throughout the history of painting. It is a remarkably beautiful exhibition, and one which has left me inspired yet again. I like the idea of a painting being left early. Abandoned-on-purpose, if you will. I love that unfinished look so much that for many years of my career I attempted to create work with that same feeling for clients, but was usually met with the request to “fill it all in.”

Undaunted as the years went by, I eventually gained a painterly reputation. With that renewed confidence I reintroduced that unfinished-ness back into my work, and I’m still enjoying it. 

Along the way I’ve also discovered why. The brain enjoys being involved in a visual piece. It likes to complete the parts, to connect the missing spaces. With just enough information, the brain wants to fill in what it either knows or wants to know. For many of us, that experience is rewarding, and left at that point, the painting continues to intrigue.

In the paintings below, pay attention to how your mind wanders over them. Is it always necessary to tell the whole story, or just enough to engage the viewer? 

If you’re like me, you may find yourself with the itch to paint.



This Reubens is fascinating for the beautiful draw-overs used to reshape and define the forms.



It’s not overworked, and maintains a nice, steady definition of bold forms. It’s more about shape than detail.



A portrait of Michelangelo, recently attributed to Daniele da Volterra, a close follower. Not exactly the way I’d recommend working on a painting, but it does reveal that perhaps at times he worked an area to complete definition before moving on. Unless he wiped out the areas he didn’t like…? This one is painted over a different composition.




An unfinished Velasquez. Great color. And just look at that face. Carries the rest of the piece.




Another beautiful face, this time by Joshua Reynolds, of Francis Barber. This has plenty of finish to it.



I love the flesh tones against the warm grey in this George Romney. The brush lines feel like the kind of structure any of us might attempt, crude and bold, leading to refinement.



An unfinished Picasso, and he posed for it in powdered wig. Good likeness. It looks dashed off, but I wonder why he stopped.



I guess Lucian Freud worked from the middle outward. Love the undone drawing.



This Freud is so unfinished it feels purposeful.




Benjamin West's, American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace, reveals the kind of simple drawing that we all use.





Degas’ drawing, though simple, seems much more accurate. It also feels quite contemporary for being over a century old.



A portrait by Edouard Manet looks quite effortless, and balanced. He attempted the portrait several times on another canvas before this version, which was also abandoned. Sometimes we can be just too familiar with a subject. Or perhaps we see things we feel we can’t capture with a brush.




Even though we may feel that looking at a finished Van Gogh obviously reveals how he painted, this one shows me the fat, squared strokes to full effect. It exposes more of the artist’s thinking for structure.



Many times I work like Winslow Homer. Get the big, important stuff in there first. Then do the paddle.





And finally this beauty by James Drummond. The warm grey is spectacular. The left-out sections are like sensory holes begging to be completed in the observer. This is bold evidence that maintaining a clear image in your mind of the light in a painting is necessary all the way through. Once finished, the artist can make adjustments to pull the entire piece together.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Artist Spotlight: Sulamith Wülfing

by Cory Godbey


Back in December of 2015 I was exhibiting at an arts and crafts fair and I got to talking to this guy who stopped by my table. After a while he asks, "Hey, have you ever heard of an artist named Sulamith Wülfing?"

The question caught me a little by surprise (it's not everyday that people want to talk 20th century illustrators, let alone bring up artists I've only just recently begun to study) and I said of course and that she's become a "new" favorite of mine.

In fact, I'd been introduced to her work by Sam Guay only a few months prior. Honestly, I have no idea how I'd never heard of Sulamith Wülfing before that. Her work is right up my alley. It's haunting, magical, and speaks to this delicate, graceful otherworldliness.


The guy tells me that he deals in estate sales, specifically antique books, and that he just acquired this nearly 200 page book of her work. He goes on to say that if I'd like it, the book is mine. He wanted the book to go to someone who would appreciate it. Next thing I know the guy has left the show, gone to pick up the book, and brought it back for me.

Other than a handful of images online I'd not been able to track down any kind of collection of Wülfing's work and now here I am, thanks to kindness of this collector, holding a huge book with page after page of not only paintings and drawings but her complete biography (which just so happens to be as fascinating as the work itself).



Born in 1901, she had visions of angels, gnomes, fairies, and elves her entire life. Sulamith described them as incarnations of "kind-heartedness" and drew upon them as the inspiration for her work. She lived through both World Wars (and in fact she was told by Joseph Goebbels that her illustrations were unacceptable and that she must stop; she refused).








"What I believe in absolutely, however, is the immortality of the soul, the primeval personality which has still much unfolding and further developments before it. How this happens and how it has happened, that remains - in any case at this moment - a secret."
 Sulamith Wülfing, 1901 - 1988.