Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More Real than Real

Joshua Suda  -  Amalgamation  -  oil on panel

For realist artists accustomed to working many long hours in the solitude of the studio, there was little to reinforce the idea that they were part of a larger community until the internet allowed these individuals to find each other.  Universities, galleries, museums, and the media had given the impression that realism was passé, and that those artists who pursued it were unsophisticated, misguided, and headed down a lonely and thorny path.  But the internet has shown itself to be a significant galvanizing force, bringing together the lovers and makers of representational art, and proving that realism has not lost its relevance in the contemporary, international art-world.

A new exhibit opening this week at Peter Walker Fine Art Gallery in Adelaide, South Australia,  was born from the relationships made between artists on the internet.  Curated by Australian painter Jim Thalassoudis, More Real than Real, features American and Canadian realist artists who might not have had the opportunity to exhibit together, let alone in Australia, had they not been introduced to each other and each other's work through the web.  

Coinciding with the Adelaide Festival of Arts, the show will run from March 1st through the 17th.  It is the fourth large venture generated by Cube Contemporary Art Projects, a non-traditional art gallery founded by Thalassoudis and fellow-artist Dianne Gall, which works with other display spaces to generate exhibitions "locally, nationally, and internationally."

The artists featured in the exhibit include:

TRAVIS MICHAEL BAILEY from Union, Missouri
MARINA DIEUL from Montreal, Quebec
JEFF GOLA from Moorestown, New Jersey
JASON JOHN from Jacksonville, Florida
TARA JUNEAU from Victoria, British Columbia
LACEY LEWIS from Kansas City, Missouri
STEPHEN MAGSIG from Detroit, Michigan
BRIAN MARTIN from Providence, Rhode Island
JENNIFER NEHRBASS from Albuquerque, New Mexico
GRAYDON PARRISH from Austin, Texas
LEE PRICE from Beacon, New York
CINDY PROCIOUS from Chattanooga, Tennessee
JONATHAN QUEEN from Cincinnati, Ohio
PIERRE RABY from Montreal, Quebec
KATHERINE STONE from Victoria, Canada 
JOSHUA SUDA from Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
SADIE JERNIGAN VALERI from San Francisco, California

Lee Price  -  Boston Cream  -  oil on canvas

Katherine Stone  -  Bottle Fly  -  oil on panel

Stephen Magsig  -  Greene St. Shadows  -  oil on panel

Jonathan Queen  -  The Secret  -  oil on panel

Marina Dieul  -  Chat II  -  oil on panel

Graydon Parrish  -  Susanna Looking to the Right  -  oil on panel

Jennifer Nehrbass  -  Typhoon Odessa  -  oil on canvas

Travis Michael Bailey  -  Autumn Contemplating Winter  -  charcoal and chalk on blue paper

Jason John  -  Hyperfocus  -  oil on panel

Pierre Raby  -  Three Late Guests  -  oil on panel

From the Cube Contemporary Art Projects press release:

“Realism”, as in the painted 2-D illusion of the recognizable, is the most pervasive art form in the history of Western art. At various times it has come to the fore, at other times it has been obliterated. Over the ages, Realism has repeatedly resurfaced and become relevant to the prevailing culture.  
In the last decade there has been a proliferation of “atelier” art schools teaching the skills, methods, and knowledge of the past. Coupled with the revival of the atelier is the use of the Internet, allowing literally thousands of like-minded painters to find each other, to form social collectives, to teach, to learn and to pass on information.  
The value of the Internet to the recent revitalisation of realism cannot be understated. The high technology of speed and dissemination of information ironically also suits those whose normal pursuit is in the solitary life of the slowly made art: the artist who uses age-old skills with pigment on canvas to create beguiling illusions.  
Artists working in one form of realism or another have flocked to social networking sites. They have joined art forums and Facebook, set up blogs and webcasts, uploaded videos on YouTube, even produced DVDs. Online video art magazines dedicated to realism have recently attracted a large following.  
Why? The answer is so obvious that it's staring us in the face: social networking sites, from Facebook to art forums, allow the reproduction and reduction of images, particularly of realist paintings, in a way that still lets them retain much of their potent imagery.  
The retention of the "wow factor" in realist painting on the Internet comes from knowing that what we are looking at ultimately is paint on canvas. How the recent resurgence of realism takes shape and how it fits within the Contemporary Art World will be very interesting to watch in the coming years. One thing is certain: the re-skilling and emergence of literally hundreds of new realist painters per year will certainly have some effect.  
This exhibition is born of the Internet. The artists are decentralised, mostly located in the provinces and connected by social networking. Many of the artists in this exhibition are well known within the realism fraternity in Australia. Now, for the first time, their paintings are being seen here.

Lacey Lewis  -  Lucky Deluxe  -  oil on canvas

Cindy Procious  -  Plastic Paradigm IV  -  oil on linen panel

Sadie Jernigan Valeri  -  Casting Aspersions  -  oil on panel

Jeff Gola  -  Morning on Cheery Lane  -   egg tempera on panel

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Marvin Mattelson Portrait Demonstration in
The Artist's Magazine

The April 2012 issue of The Artist's Magazine features an article on Marvin Mattelson's layered method for creating an oil portrait from life.  On the Artist's Network, a portion of that article (included below) shows the progression of a demonstration Mattelson gave during one of his recent workshops.  Please visit the Artist's Network for links to related media, and to read Holly Davis' full article on Mattelson's methods, the print and digital version are available for ordering at the North Light Shop.


Layers of a Portrait 
by Marvin Mattelson

I painted Karen demo (at bottom; oil, 18×14) from life as a workshop demonstration piece. Although I prefer painting from life, due to time restraints, workshop pieces are never as refined as commissioned portraits; however I use the same basic process for both.

1. Transparent Underpainting

I always start my portraits with a raw umber imprimatura (transparent underpainting). The value of the tone is always equivalent to the shadow value on the model or the subject. For a simple painting, such as this head-and-shoulder piece, I scratch a drawing with a tortillon into the umber tone.

2. Remove the Lights

Then I remove the lights with a rag and add paint with a brush for the darks. For more complex compositions, I build up the image with very thin paint, using more of a watercolor type of technique. In either case, the point is to establish the drawing, composition, edges and values.

3. Add Color

The next layer is where I first address color, opaquely blocking in the local colors and modeling the values of the larger forms. At this point, I don’t try to finish anything or put in any detail. My focus is on establishing the big color relationships. I’ll smooth out the patchiness later.

4. Restore the Luster

For the ensuing layers, I oil out the area to be painted with Natural Pigments Oleogel. This helps restore the luster and value of wet oil, which often dulls after it dries. Then I scumble (apply a thin layer of translucent paint) into the wet Oleogel, adjusting color to unify each area. I then paint into the wet scumble to modify the subtle hue, value and chroma shifts.

5. Building Layers

The number of layers depends on the degree of translucency or refinement I desire. Skin is made up of translucent layers, and my scumbling puts translucent layers over what was there before. This technique was used by 19th-century artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau. In my portraits, a typical finished head will have between four and six layers, while background areas may have just one or two.


Additional examples of Mattelson's classroom teaching demonstrations can be viewed on his website, and a description of his palette can be read here, in an earlier Underpaintings post.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Paintings of the Americas Online Catalogue

This past week, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston launched "Paintings of the Americas," a free online catalog which documents 425 works in the museum's collection of nearly 2000 North, Central, and South American paintings.  The digital publication includes short essays on the various American art periods from the Colonial Era through the 20th-century Modernist movement, and, for each individual work, a detailed description including bibliography, provenance, and exhibition history:  of particular focus is the art of New England, with chapters devoted to John Singer Sargent, and the Impressionist works of the Boston School.  Designed to complement the Art of the Americas Wing, which opened in November of 2010, the catalog has been left open for expansion, so that eventually more works from the collection and future acquisitions can also be added.  

"We are committed to publishing the MFA’s collections by the best means available, whether the delivery ‘device’ has printed pages or a touch screen, " says Emiko Usui,  Director of MFA Publications.  "This type of catalogue is well-suited to the digital realm. It represents a true marriage of traditional museum publishing and all the scholarship behind it, and the accessibility and connectivity made possible by the web."  As MFA Publications continues its development of electronic media, plans have been made to offer several out-of-print books as PDF files, downloadable from their website, and to follow up their e-book of Sargent's Daughters (2009), with an e-catalog of an upcoming 2013 exhibition of Sargent's watercolors, jointly sponsored by MFA and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Edmund Charles Tarbell  -  Mother and Child in a Boat  -  1892 

Edmund Charles Tarbell  -  New England Interior  -  1906

John Singer Sargent  -  The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit  -  1882

Edmund Charles Tarbell  -  Reverie (Katharine Finn)  -  1913

Ellen Day Hale  -  Self Portrait  -  1885

Dennis Miller Bunker  -  Jessica  -  1890

Ignaz Marcel Gaugengigl  -  The Visitor  -  c. 1925

Gretchen Woodman Rogers  -  Woman in a Fur Hat  -  c. 1915

Joseph Rodefer DeCamp  -  The Blue Cup  -  1909

John Humphreys Johnston  -  Le Domino Rose  -  c. 1895

William McGregor Paxton  -  The New Necklace  -  1910

George Cochran Lambdin  -  Vase of Flowers  -  1873

Albert Bierstadt  -  Storm in the Mountains  -  c.1870

George Inness  -  Near Kearsarge Village  -  1875

William Trost Richards  -  Sunset on the Meadow  -  1861

Dennis Miller Bunker  -  The Pool, Medfield  -  1889

John Singer Sargent  -  The Master and his Pupils  -  1914

William Lamb Picknell  -  Morning on the Loing at Moret  -  c.1895

Frank Weston Benson  -  Calm Morning  -  1904

Frank Weston Benson  -  Eleanor  -  1907