Friday, July 27, 2012

Portraits and Bubble Gum

I believe the most appropriate way to start this entry is by saying that I finally saw The Dark Knight Rises.  
I decided to watch it in an IMAX theater, and in case you were wondering, watching The Dark Knight Rises in an IMAX theater is the equivalent of being in a category 5 earthquake for three hours.  Anyway, I know I don't need to say it (but really I do), THE DARK KNIGHT RISES WAS AWESOME!!! 

Other than movie-going, I also finished my third project in my painting class.  As you can see, we finish these paintings very quickly, so I've spent a couple late nights in the painting studio after-hours.  But aside from the hard labor, I've really grown to love painting.  It's like I'm a little kid again and I can do whatever I want. You would think I'd feel that way about drawing, but the possibility of failure is much more terrifying when you have had 20 years of practice.

Here is my self-portrait's journey through time:

Day 1-3
Day 4
And of course we started a new project yesterday - a second still life.  This time we are allowed to chose whatever objects we want.  I went for ugly things.  
Ugly Still Life (Day1)

I've been slacking on my scientific illustration research, but I came across some other amazing artists this week that need to be shared.  First is Christian Schad, a famous 20th century German painter and part of a movement called New Objectivity.  His portraits speak for themselves:
Dr. Haustein, 1928, oil
Operation, 1929, oil
Lotte, 1927, oil
Marcelle, 1926, oil
Imperial Countess Triangi-Taglioni, 1926, oil
Self-Portrait with Model, 1927, oil on wood
He painted this self-portrait in Naples, and the model behind him bares a scar on her face.  This was apparently thought of as a "proof of love," showing that she had a jealous lover, and women wore them with pride.  Strange.

The other artist I discovered is a current artist named Julia Randall.  If you can believe it, she makes all of her drawings with color pencils (I can't believe it).  Her drawings of chewed bubble gum, strange mouth-headed birds and wet tongues are both captivating and repulsive, and I love it.

Bubblemouth #2, 2012, color pencil
Lovebird #4, 2005, color pencil
Lovebird #2, 2004, color pencil
Strawberry #2, 2012, color pencil
Blueberry, 2012, color pencil
Bubblehead, 2012, color pencil
Decoy #1, 2005, color pencil
Lick Line #9, 2003, color pencil
If you wanted to know, I heard about her from the magazine Hi-Fructose, which you should definitely check out if you never have!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Organism Project (Auklet - Part1)

First off, I finished my second project in my painting class this week, which was a master copy of Goya's Saturn Devouring His Son.  Clearly I couldn't get down the "dark" aspect of the painting, and it turned out extremely bright... but I tried my best to capture the tonal differences and contrast.  Here is a side by side comparison of my copy and the original so you can see all of the mistakes I made:

The hands were very challenging...

Our next painting project is a dreaded self-portrait, which I started a little bit today.  I think I arranged the lighting set up longer than I actually painted.

self-portrait sketch/set up
with color
I decided to go the Alice Neel route with my color scheme, because she's awesome. (If you want to check out her work, Artsy has a wonderful page on her: )

This week is also the second week of my personal drawing challenge.  I still haven't finished my third dragonfly drawing, but I must keep up with the pace and I am moving on to my next organism - the Auklet.  This crazy sea bird has many different species, most of which live only near Alaska or the Pacific coast sadly, so we will never have the pleasure of seeing one in person here.  But we can always look at pictures of them on Google:

Crested Auklet
Least Auklet
Whiskered Auklet
Rhinoceros Auklet
Since there are so many species I figured I would make a couple drawings of my favorite ones (these shown above), and I've started sketching a couple already:

Crested Auklet study - 2B graphite pencil
Whiskered Auklet mug shot sketch - 2B graphite pencil
Whiskered Auklet mug shot - 18"x24" ink stippling
And I apologize for the horrible image quality of my drawings.  Photoshop is currently not working on my computer, and I only draw at night, so this is the outcome.

Lastly, today's "scientific illustrator," or really just animal painter, is Rosa Bonheur.  Bonheur painted and sculpted animals, from livestock to bengal tigers, throughout the 19th century, and remains one of the most successful female artists to ever live.  Having grown up with a father who was both a well trained artist and an outspoken socialist, Bonheur became an artist herself and she asserted her feminist ideals in the art world (most famously by wearing men's clothing and smoking cigars).  During a time where women were not allowed into most art schools, Rosa was trained solely by her father from an early age, and it was her father who introduced her to drawing from nature.  She grew to love and respect the subject of animals, so much so that she rarely deviated from them in her artwork.  Her depictions of wildlife are truly amazing, and I had the awesome pleasure of seeing some in person at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota!!!  These aren't the greatest pictures in the world, but here are a couple I took:
Plowing in Nivernais, 1850, oil on canvas
Plowing in Nivernais (detail)

Here are some actually representative pictures of her artwork from the internet:

Grand Grifton Vendeen, oil on canvas
Head of a Donkey, oil on canvas
Horse Fair, 1853-1855, oil on canvas
Rabbits, 1860, oil on canvas
Stalking Tiger, oil on canvas
Reclining Ewe and Ram, 1870, bronze

Friday, July 13, 2012

Painting Goya

My break from classes finally came to an end as of two weeks ago when I started taking a beginning painting class focusing on oil paints.  It's not really fair to say that I'm "taking classes" though, because all I do is paint for 2 1/2 hours a day.  But aside from its relaxing qualities, I've learned a lot about painting so far.  Most importantly, I've learned that you need to be a millionaire to be a painter.  $10 for a tiny tube of paint? COME on!  At this point we've only finished one painting of a white still life, and of course I took a couple pictures along the way, so here is the rough progress of my first oil painting:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 5 (night)
Final painting with still life in background
And here is the still life we had to work from.  As you can see, we just made up colors.  And I am now constantly looking for the cool and warm lighting in every-day objects.

Our next project is to produce a master copy of a famous work of art, and I am extremely excited because I am allowed to do one of my most favorite paintings in the universe:

Saturn Devouring His Son - Francisco Goya, 1819-1823, oil on canvas

We just started yesterday, but this is what I have so far:

I know it will never come close to the original, but I don't care.  Anything that gives me a reason to look at Goya's paintings is fine with me.

Since I am studying his work, it's probably appropriate to give you some info about this non-scientific artist rather than a scientific illustrator today.  Before he made extremely dark paintings like this one, Francisco Goya was actually the preferred painter for the Spanish court during the late 18th century, making commissioned tapestries, murals, and portraits of the royal family.  But even early on in his career, Goya's paintings showed subtle signs of his disdain for the corruption within the political system.  The unflattering Charles IV of Spain and His Family is a prime example of this, in which the family is not idealized in the slightest and appears to be completely unaware that they are posing for a portrait.  

Charles IV of Spain and His Family, 1800, oil on canvas
"The Black Duchess", 1797, oil on canvas

In 1793, Goya suffered from an illness that left him deaf and consequently led him to become withdrawn.  While he continued to produce commissioned pieces for the court, Goya began creating art that exposed his truer feelings about the society he lived in - specifically about the ignorance and vanity of humanity, the Spanish inquisition and the ongoing wars involving Spain.  In 1799, he published a radical series of 80 prints entitled Caprichos, which contained haunting images of witches, monsters and death.  He also made a series called The Disasters of War, which preceded war photography by over a century and is believed to be the first anti-war art ever made.

Until Death (Caprichos), 1799, etching
Out Hunting for Teeth (Caprichos), 1799, etching
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Caprichos), 1799, etching
A Heroic Feat! With Dead Men! (Disasters of War), 1810-1820
For a Clasp Knife (Disasters of War), 1810-1820
Yard with Lunatics, 1794, oil on tin-plated iron

After the death of his wife in 1812, Goya became even more isolated, retreating to a house he called Quinta del Sordo, or "Deaf Man's House" with his maid.  During this later part of his life, Goya's full-blown insanity was finally revealed in his works known as the Black Paintings (including Saturn Devouring His Son), some of which he painted directly to the walls of his home.  Goya is believed by some to be the first prolific painter to portray human madness in their art. 

Two Old Men Eating Soup, 1819-1823, oil on canvas
(I should've painted this one ^^^)

A Pilgrimage to San Isidro, 1819-1823, oil on canvas