Saturday, August 13, 2011

Daily Art Quote

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun
Self-Portrait with Her Daughter, Julie1786
Oil on wood, 105 x 84 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
 Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cleopatra: Captivating in Life and in Death

On this day in 30 B.C., it is believed Cleopatra succumbed to death by her own hand. Throughout the centuries, legends claimed she received the bite of an asp, although recent investigation into her death suggests she drank a poisonous concoction. Her great beauty, tumultuous life, and tragic death have provided art and literature with an abundance of subject matter.

The Death of Cleopatra
Oil on canvas

Black chalk on paper, 230 x 180 mm
c. 1615
Oil on oak, 130 x 74 cm
Eugène DELACROIX  Cleopatra and the Peasant
Oil on canvas
Johann Liss
The Death of Cleopatra
Oil on canvas

Daily Art Quote

Albrecht DÜRER
The Little Owl
Watercolour on paper
Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul - and you answer.  ~Terri Guillemets

Albrecht Dürer

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Daily Art Quote

Antoine Berjon
Still-Life with a Basket of Flowers1814
Oil on canvas, 66 x 50 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Art is like a border of flowers
 along the course of civilization. 
~Lincoln Steffens

Antoine Berjon

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Daily Art Quote

Woman with a Pearl Necklace (detail)1662-64
Oil on canvas

To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.  ~Schumann

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Start your Morning Off Right!

Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.  ~Lewis Carroll

Sir John Tenniel, a British political cartoonist, was the original illustrator for Lewis Carroll's books Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Now THAT'S a footstool I like!

This past Saturday, my husband Russell and I attended to League of NH Craftsmen Fair at Sunapee, and he bought me this beautiful little footstool for my studio!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Making of "Out for a Walk" - Part I

A couple of years ago, we took a day trip to Plimoth Plantation, and I took a few art reference photos. I have chosen several of these images to create a new series, A Day in the Colony. The image for the first painting appears below. It's called, "Out for a Walk."

Out for a Walk, 2009,  Kelly Mann
After I edit and enhance the image in Photoshop CS5, I create a grayscale version of the image. This will serve as my reference for values when I start the painting in the Verdaccio technique (see below).

Out for a Walk, 2009, Kelly Mann
Grayscale version
Next, I select a canvas, and then crop the image to the proportions of the canvas, adding an overlay grid in Photoshop equal to 1 inch increments. I have selected a 14"x18" canvas, and I lightly draw a 1" grid onto the canvas.

Gridded canvas

Here is the gridded canvas next to a print of the grayscale image. It is hard to see, but both the photo and the canvas have square grids. Each square on the photo will match up with a corresponding square on the canvas.

Gridded canvas with reference photo

Now, using the grid method, I sketch in the main shapes of the composition, adding detail only where necessary. I use a sharpened charcoal pencil.

Sketching onto the canvas

The sketch is complete, so I spray it with a fixative to prevent smudging.

Completed sketch, fixed on the canvas. Ready to go!

I use the Verdaccio technique of painting, which involves creating an underpainting with a mixture of white, green, and black. Some artists also use yellow. I use white, terra verde, and mars black for colors. This technique allows me to replicate all the tonal values of the composition without regard for color. By simplifying the composition down to a value study, corrections can be made without making color mistakes. The underpainting can be as simple or as complex and detailed as the artist prefers. I favor a more detailed underpainting, because I can then use glazing and scumbling to build successive layers of colors. This produces great depth and translucency in the final painting. The photo below shows the beginning of the underpainting.

Beginning the underpainting

I start the underpainting by looking for large shapes, and replicating their value from the reference photo. As I progress to painting in smaller and smaller shapes, more detail emerges. The underpainting becomes a tonal map for the finished painting. At this point, I have worked on the painting for about 11 hours total.

Continuing the underpainting

I still have about 10 to 12 more hours to complete the underpainting. It may seem like an extraordinary amount of time to spend on just the underpainting, but this method allows me to actually work quite quickly on the color layers.

Frans Hals - Party Painter?

Known for his energetic Dutch genre paintings, 17th century painter Frans Hals depicted bawdy tavern scenes with a combination of loose brush stokes and economy of detail. The effect is fresh and lively.

The Metropolitan Museum in New York is currently exhibiting a small collection of his work, and you can read more about it here.

Yonker Ramp and his Sweetheart1623
Oil on canvas, 105 x 79 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York