Sunday, March 27, 2011

Taft Museum: The American Impressionists In The Garden

I went to see the exhibit, The American Impressionists In The Garden, at the Taft Museum today. The exhibit will be there until May 15, 2011.

Impressionism is my favorite style and group of painters. The impressionistic movement began in 1870 in France. The name of the movement cane from the the title of a Claude Monet painting called Impression. Sunrise  which an art critic coined the term to be sarcastic in a review.

Here in America, artists mostly used the garden as their theme using the impressionistic style. The use of the garden was an ideal way to study light and color in landscape which is a key element in the impressionistic movement.

The only well known names in this exhibit were Childe Hassam and John Singer Sargent. That does not mean the talent was lacking. The first painting you see when entering the exhibit was a Monet inspired painting called Flower Garden by Louis Ritman, circa 1913.This is a beautiful painting of a lady picking flowers.  The garden was actually in Giverny, France at a neighbor of Claude Monet.

Impressionism is defined by the use of short, thick strokes of brightly colored paint instead of blending colors smoothly. I think this painting shows this definition well.                       

The painting of Japanese Lanterns by Luther Emerson van Gorder (left) was exquisite! This painting is a nod to John Singer Sargent's Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose which is my all time favorite of Sargents. Needless to day that when I spied this version I was in awe. I was amazed how similar the paintings were and how Van Gorder's lanterns glowed so brilliantly. For me the best painting in the exhibit.

Van Gorder was born in Warren, OH. He studied under William Merrit Chase and Emile Carolus-Duran at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Van Gorder met Sargent in London and was exposed to the work of Whistler. Van Gorder supported himself as a magazine illustrator. Definitely an artist I will do more research on.

My one surprise of the exhibit was the Sargent. It was in a style that I would never have picked to be a painting done by him. It was a dark woods in long thick strokes.  Nothing that I have seen from him before. It was not a painting that I particularly liked. Which is hard for me to say about my all time favorite artist.

The Taft is also showing a small exhibit from private lenders of Ohio Impressionists from Cincinnati. There were nine paintings from notables such as Herman Wessel, Richard Miller, and Edward Potthast. They were a nice extension to the larger exhibit.

As always, my group never leaves without seeing the fabulous Taft collection. We love the painting of Robert Louis Stevenson by Sargent; Whistler's At the Piano; Frank Duveneck;s The Cobbler's Apprentice and Portrait of a Man Rising from His Chair by Rembrandt. There are many other well known artists represented at the Taft such as Gainsborough, Hals, J.M.W. Turner, Millet, Ingres, Farny, Corot, Reynolds and many examples of Chinese pottery and religious artifacts. In my opinion this museum is the gem of Cincinnati.

If you are near Cincinnati I recommend that you stop by the Taft to see this well done exhibit. If you have seen these paintings let me know your opinion of them. Tell me about your favorite style or movement.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Onions and March Madness

Onions:  Watercolor  5x7 140lb. Strathmore Paper

The painting of onions is complete. I need to matte and deliver 
to the Boys and Girls Club for their Fundraiser in April. 

I liked the old timey and rustic feel of this scene. I used a limited palette 
of Indigo, Paynes Gray, Winsor and Newton Orange, Sepia and Violet. I am 
not sure that I got the onion skins looking translucent, but I like the way 
the metal looks like rusting metal. I also like the way the wood wall and
shelf turned out.

As for March Madness....
Those who have followed me for awhile know that I am a huge Kentucky fan
and everytime the tournaments come around I get pre-occupied. This year
the Wildcats won their SEC tournament and have made it through
two games of the NCAA tournament. Usually this keeps me from
getting anything done in my studio. I am happy to say that this
year since the beginning of the SEC tournament to today, I
have completed the onions, the two lighthouse exercises and
the little girl with the flower dress is almost complete. I guess the 
timing of the games and UK's wins have been in my favor this year. :-)

Go Big Blue!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Watercolor Pencil Test

My friend, Deb Ward, is doing a blog lesson on watercolor pencils. It has been fun to watch the steps and learn as Deb shows the how to's of watercolor pencils. I had bought a new set of Faber-Castell recently and I already have a set of Derwent watercolor pencils. So, I thought I would play along but compare the two sets and two different papers.

I went to Wet Canvas and retrieved an image of a lighthouse because Deb was using a lighthouse in her lesson. Deb is on lesson #9 and as you can see I am finished with my 7"x10" paintings.

The first painting was done on 140lb paper. Not sure of the brand, however I am sure it is student grade. On the student grade paper I used the Derwent pencils. I sketched out the painting with the WC pencils then began adding water. I found on this paper that it took a few layers before I could get some areas dark enough. I did like the results of the ground and lighthouse. The blues of the sky and water were hard for me.

In the second painting I used 300lb Kilamanjaro archival paper and the Faber-Castell Aquarelle WC pencils. I got the hang of it and did a better job on the clouds. Note that the colors are slightly different because each set is a little different. Again, I seemed to have had a hard time with the blues. However, I like the second painting better, simply because I learned from the mistakes of the first painting.

In both sets I found the blending to go smoothly in some spots and not so much in others. They were grainy and a fight to blend sometimes. I did find using them a lot of fun. They were a quick way to get a painting down. They would be great for a location sketch or a sketch trying to work values out. I will probably work with them again and try to paint loose and flowing next time.

Cathy Johnson has an article in the April 2011 issue of Watercolor magazine on using WC pencils. Cathy talks about the versatility of WC pencils and crayons. She also gives tips on how to use the pencils/crayons and how they compare brand to brand. Cathy's favorite is Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer WC pencils because she feels they are highly saturated and buttery soft.

Which painting do you like?  I usually paint on the 300lb. paper because I like the texture. Do you paint with 140lb. or 300lb. paper? Click below on viewers commented to weigh in

Don't forget to check out Deb's blog class.


PS The onion painting is done. I am giving it a few days before I sign it and post.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

WIP Onions progressing

I am painting on either 90 lb. or 140 lb. watercolor paper. I am not sure because I am using a scrap piece that I forgot to mark. I can tell you that I feel the difference because I use Arches or Kilamanjaro 300 lb. cold press normally.

Washes lay on top and I am always rethinking where I am going and what I will do next. A good exercise.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WIP Onions

Here is the next step in the process of painting the onions. Not sure how to keep the onion "skin" crisp looking or the metal looking like metal. But, that is the challenge in the process. As my watercolor teacher always told the class, "It is only paper. So go for it."

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