Monday, January 26, 2009

A Temporary Home for the Dahesh

The Water Girl
William Adolphe Bouguereau
Dahesh Museum of Art

The Dahesh Museum of Art, which has one of the most cohesive collections of 19th century academic art, has recently partnered with Syracuse University in order to secure exhibition space for their museum's treasures.  Exhibitions organized through the Dahesh will be shown at the University's SUArt Galleries in Syracuse, NY, as well as in the Louise and Bernard Palitz Gallery at Syracuse University's Manhattan Extension, the Joseph I. Lubin House.  Many of us were saddened when the Dahesh lost the lease of their space at Madison and 56th Street nearly a year ago, so this is welcome news.  

The Metal Workers
Rudolf Ernst
Dahesh Museum of Art

New exhibitions are planned, beginning with In Pursuit of the Exotic:  European Artists in 19th-Century Egypt and the Holy Land, running from March 24th through April 30th at the Palitz Gallery.  The Dahesh's current traveling exhibit, Napolean on the Nile:  Soldiers, Artists and the Rediscovery of Egypt will be on view at the University's SUArt Galleries from January 29th through March 29th.  In future exhibitions, the University will be supplementing the Dahesh's collection of nearly 3000 pieces with works of art from its own extensive art collection.

Petites Mendiantes
William Adolphe Bouguereau
Syracuse University Art Collection

Please go out and support the Dahesh Museum as it is at the forefront of bringing recognition to the academically trained artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and show Syracuse University how much they are appreciated for extending this invitation to the Dahesh, at a time when Academic artists are still not fully embraced in most university art programs.

Saïs and His Donkey
Jean-Léon Gérôme
Syracuse University Art Collection

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Recommended Art Books

On my website, I have previously recommended the book, Anders Zorn Självbiografiska Antekningar by Birgitta Sandström.  Art books on Anders Zorn aren't readily available in the United States, so I have been happy to have this monograph which I had purchased directly from the Zorn Museum Website.  The book is 9 1/4" X 9 1/2", hardcover, contains 299 pages, and the images are good, albeit, small.  The text, unfortunately, is in Swedish.

Recently, however, I was introduced to another book on Zorn which has been made available in America from several dealers.  This book, which goes by the listing, Zorn (Chinese), is 10 1/2" X 13", hardcover, contains 238 pages, and the images are mostly good, and of decent size.  As the listing indicates, the text of this book is in Chinese, but there is actually little writing in the book:  whereas the Sandström book contains much biography on Zorn, the Chinese Zorn book is all about the images.

The book is split into five sections:  biography, watercolor paintings, oil paintings, etchings, and sculpture.  The biography section is only ten pages long, and is broken up with several photographs of Zorn and examples of some of his art.  There are sixty-nine pages of watercolors, eighty-seven pages of oils, forty-one pages of etchings, and, finally, nineteen pages of his seldom-seen sculptures.  Most images are full-page, being approximately 8" X 10".  The colors are decent, though there are several in which the chroma in the paintings seems a little dull.  Only a few of the pictures show evidence of have been copied from other books (ie. the appearance of CMYK "dots" in a second-generation enlargement).  All of the artwork is in color, except for the etchings, of course.

If you are looking for an art book on Anders Zorn, then this is a great book for the money.  Other contemporary books on Zorn must also be imported, but generally cost more.  I was able to obtain my copy for $59.95, and at that price, and with the size and number of images, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Follow that Blogger!

Artists Lisa Gloria and Cindy Procious have recently combined their considerable talents to create a new blog, Art Studio Secrets.  This daily blog features book reviews, games and diversions for artists, studio tips, and best of all, step-by-step instructional videos.  Be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Random Inspiration

Portrait of Anne-Marie Dagnan, 1880
Gustave Claude Étienne Courtois

Gustave Claude Étienne Courtois (1859-1923) painted this portrait of his father's cousin in 1880, as a presentation piece to her and her husband, Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret (1852-1929).  Courtois and Dagnan-Bouveret were classmates at the École des Beaux-Arts, and were both students of Jean-Léon Gérôme.  The two young artists also shared a studio in Paris, and spent summers together in the country, where Courtois first introduced his great-uncle's daughter, Anne-Marie, to his good friend, Dagnan-Bouveret.  Anne-Marie and Dagnan-Bouveret were married by 1879, and his wife became the subject of many of Dagnan-Bouveret's paintings to come.

Both Courtois and Dagnan-Bouveret held successful careers, Courtois as a historical and genre painter, and the sometime portraitist, and Dagnan-Bouveret as a member of the French Naturalist movement.

Portrait of his Fiancée, Anne-Marie Walter, 1878
Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret

Monday, January 12, 2009

Color Palettes: James Perry Wilson (1889-1976)

I've recently done several posts on the Color Palettes of individual artists, listing the colors they used as their standard painting pigments.  It's been a good way for me to exorcize my obsessive demons who always want to know how other artists did what they did.

If you're interested in the same thing, and want to continue on that same pigment track, then you should definitely read James Gurney's recent posts on James Perry Wilson, an artist best known for the diorama paintings he created for our nation's best natural history museums.  James has done several interviews with people who were close to Wilson, and has provided the artist's surprisingly limited palette.

  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Windsor Blue
  • Cadmium Yellow Pale
  • Cadmium Yellow Deep
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Indian Red
  • Cadmium Scarlet
  • Alizarin Crimson

Make sure to check it out!

James Perry Wilson at Gurney Journey, 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tubing Paint

I've been surprised by the number of artists I've met in classes or workshops who have never tubed their own paint, and whose misconceptions on the difficulty of the task have deterred them from ever attempting the process.  Tubing paint is really quite easy, and it is a good practice in which to get into:  it can be a convenience if you like to pre-mix color strings before commencing a picture, a time saver if you are painting large areas of a flat non-standard color mixture, or a necessity if you accidentally puncture one of your commercially tubed paints, and you don't want to lose all of that expensive pigment due to it hardening within the tube.  For these reasons, it is always a good idea to keep a few empty tubes in your studio.

This is basic overview of how I do it:

1.  You need to have empty paint tubes.  They are available from many different art supply stores, especially those which sell dry pigments.

This is how they look when you purchase them from the store.  The tip is capped, and the back is open.

I prefer tubes with a small neck, like that pictured above, left, but they are harder to find.  Mine were purchased from a company which tubed and sold their own colors, after they had closed up shop, and were selling off their production materials.  Once my stockpile is used up, I'll be hunting for small-necked tubes again.

2.  You'll need a target color (you can't get there if you don't know where you're going!), unless you are just re-tubing a commercial pigment.

3.  Tools:

A variety of palette and painting knives are essential, and you should probably already have some amongst your current art supplies.  It's a good idea to have more than one, so you can use one to scrape your paint off the other while mixing.  The narrow-bladed knife at the bottom is excellent for loading paint into the back of the empty tube.

A table-top, hobby vise is good for crimping the tubes when you have finished filling them, but isn't absolutely necessary.  This model has a vacuum-like seal for temporarily attaching it to your work surface.  Vises like this can be found at most hardware stores, and run about $25 USD.

Other tools which come in handy are tin snips (in case you are only partially filling a tube, there's no sense in folding over all of that excess tube), flat pliers (for crimping the tube if you don't possess a hobby vise), and a small piece of dowel (to use like a rolling pin for flattening out the tube prior to folding and crimping).

4.  You'll need your paint!

I'll be mixing a tube of viridian green lightened with flake white in order to make a color of the value 6 on the Munsell scale.  The tube on the left is a neutral value 6 I mixed previously, and I will use that as my target value.

Here I've squeezed out my pigments on my glass palette.  The top neutral color is my target value, the middle is my viridian straight from the tube, and the bottom is my flake white.  The palette is a piece of 1/4" glass with smooth edges which I picked up at the local glass shop.  Underneath the glass I have placed a piece of mid-value, warm gray, pastel paper, which through the glass, appears more neutral (glass contains iron impurities which give it a green cast, most notably seen when looking at the edges-  the green in the glass balances the warmer tone in the pastel paper making the final color,when looked at through the glass, appear more neutral).

5.  Mix

In this image, I've begun my mixing.  I'll keep adjusting the proportion of viridian to white and continue attempting to match my pile to the value I established as my goal until it's finally correct.  After doing this a while, you'll develop an eye for how large a paint pile you need to  fill a tube.  On the right is a widget;  its razor blade is great for scraping paint off a glass palette, especially when the paint has dried and adhered to the surface of the glass.

6.  Fill the Tube

In these pictures, I am using the narrow-bladed painting knife to load paint into the back of the empty tube.

7.  Tamp the Tube

You need to get the paint settled to the front of the tube, without air trapped inside.  If you leave air pockets in the tube, the paint will begin to oxidize and harden.  I just bang the tube against my thigh to settle the paint (Newton's First Law of Motion:  Inertia?).  You'll want to leave about an inch and a half between the end of the tube and the line where the paint has settled inside the tube.

8.  Clean the Tube

Once the tube is filled and tamped, it's a good idea to clean that last 1 1/2" with a rag or paper towel.  When you begin flattening the tube, paint left in this area is likely to squeeze out the end and make a mess.

9.  Pinch the Tube

Using just your fingers, you can pinch the tube flat.  Sometimes at this stage, I use a piece of dowel as a rolling pin to flatten the tube.

10.  Crimp the Tail

In this image you can see the beginning of the first fold at the end of the tube.  You can begin this fold many different ways using a variety of tools.  You can bend the first flap over a palette knife's edge or over a ruler, use your pliers, or bend the tube over the edge of the vise.

11.  Seal the Crimp

Once the flap is bent all the way over, seal it tight in your vise, or with a pair of pliers.  Repeat by folding another turning of the flap, and compress it in the vise.  Continue this process until you've folded over the excess tube.

12.  The Completed Tube

Friday, January 9, 2009

Color Palettes: David Jon Kassan (1977- )

Arkansas native, David Jon Kassan, is a talented, young, contemporary realist whose hard work and many hours of diligent study have earned him much acclaim.  Kassan began his own training at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and from there, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University, studying under such notable artists as Gerome Witkin.  After Syracuse, he moved to New York City to continue his studies at The National Academy of Design and at the Art Students League, both in Manhattan. Upon winning a Newington-Cropsey Foundation travel award, he was also able to add to his education by studying art history in Italy.

Never letting moss grow under him, Kassan has been using the knowledge he amassed to begin training a new generation of artists.  Beginning in Italy, where he published Lentamente Italia; a limited-edition book of his thoughts and sketches; David has gone on to hold yearly workshops in the States and abroad, weekly  drawing classes near his home, write numerous articles for Drawing Magazine, and to produce several instructional guides available through his website, including his ambitious and beautiful Portrait Anatomicae.  Kassan feels it is "an honor to participate in... (the) open discourse on the technical and conceptual methods of picture making," and obviously enjoys the challenges and rewards of teaching.

This March, Gallery Henoch in Manhattan will be holding a solo show of Kassan's award-winning work.  The exhibition will contain over a dozen paintings, and 20 of his his fabulous drawings.  I look forward to attending the show.

Here is David's palette from his own notes, available on his website:

  • Titanium-zinc white
  • King's Blue Extra Pale (Vasari)
  • Brilliant Yellow Light (Vasari or Old Holland "Yellow Light")
  • Unbleached Titanium (Williamsburg)
  • Ivory Black
  • Prussian Blue (Vasari or Old Holland)
  • Bice (Vasari)
  • Terre Verte Cool (Vasari or Williamsburg)
  • Raw Sienna (Vasari, Williamsburg, or Old Holland)
  • Yellow Ochre (Vasari, Williamsburg, or Old Holland)
  • Vermillion Hue (Holbein)
  • Ruby Red (Vasari)
  • Alizarin Crimson (Vasari)
  • Red Umber (Vasari)
  • Scarlet Sienna (Vasari)
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber (Vasari)
As you can see, David uses a lot of Vasari paints.  If you have never tried them, they are wonderful, heavily pigmented paints, and very enjoyable with which to work.