Posts Tagged ‘Abstraction’

One Really Big Fire; A Lifetime Passion!

December 19, 2017

The Burning of the Houses of Parliament, from the River 1834 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851.jpg

The Burning of the Houses of Parliament, from the River                                                                       Joseph Mallord William Turner, watercolor on paper, 1834

Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy looking at the watercolors and watercolor sketches of Joseph Mallord William Turner.

Ely Cathedral, The Western Tower Seen from the South East, Joseph Mallord William Turner,1794.jpg

And what I love about his work is the process and progress of his painting over the span of his decades as an artist; the nearly radical simplification and experimentation that he undertook that seems to have been a passion.  I’m especially drawn to his sketches using watercolor and other media on paper; it is those that I want to share with you here.

William Turner Drawings.jpg

 

At the beginning of his career, Turner made meticulous drawings, usually with graphite, and laid in multiple layers of transparent or translucent color to create images portraying not only light and dark values but evocations of depth, mass, and texture. As you can see to the right, his early color choices were typical of the English School of the time. Turner used a cool transparent blue and an earthy orange that would produce a natural grey tone when overlaid on each other. Only at the end would he add just a few touches of more vibrant color.

Below, in this next apparently unfinished piece that he painted in Oxford, you can see just how these opposing tones create a grey.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Oxf, St Mary's and the Radcliffe Camera from Oriel Lane.jpg

It was a tone Turner used as the basis for much of the image’s structure. This is not far off the method used by earlier artists … from Jan van Eyck to Holbein … a grisaille underpainting with layers of ever stronger clear color glazing and a touch or two of possible semi-opaque or opaque color at the very end.

As Turner matured, we can see that he became surer and surer of using more direct modulation of color. He still often began the sketches with graphite line work, but even those marks, as well as much of the subsequent brushwork, became less and less purely definitive of physical detail; ever freer and more expressive of visual and emotional experience.

Artwork page for ‘Heidelberg Castle from the Hirschgasse’, Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1844.jpg

Above we have again have an unfinished piece. Notice how both lines and color marks, while very much related to the things, the physical phenomenons, that they record, these marks a not as physically precise. Instead they are more spare and simple, leaving more room for the artist and eventually the viewer to complete the intent of the image.
‘Shields Lighthouse’, Joseph Mallord William Turner, c.1823-6.jpg

We can see in this late (1823) sketch of a coastline with a lighthouse, the now bolder, even rougher use of brushwork.  And as his career continued he even achieves an a nearly incorporeal quality, images were composed only of the shaped wavelengths of light we call color.

 

I was recently reminded of all this when a recent article came across my desktop. That e-article highlighted five of my all time favorite artists (I admit to having at least a top 25, maybe more). Each of these is a painter who

turner, "Norham Castle, sunrise”.jpgworked on easel paintings as well as aqueous media on paper. The problem was that, while the it was well written and talked about the specific paintings of these five near heroes of mine, it only showed the works of four of them. The author wrote about Turner’s watercolor sketches of the burning Houses of Parliament, but omitted any example of those pieces. Ouch!

 

The-Burning-of-the-Houses-of-Parliament-1834-JMW-Turner.jpg

The Burning of the Houses of Parliament                                                                                                            J.M.W. Turner, watercolor, 1834

So, I guess this is my visual form of a rant of sorts; sharing the images they might have included in the e-article (the first and last images in this blog) … and a few more to boot.

Here’s hoping you enjoy them.

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Large Landscape Works on Paper

April 11, 2017

I am always on the lookout for interesting art work … in person or out in the digital universe.  Recently, while trying to find examples of engaging artworks for my students to connect to, I came across the work of Michelle Lauriat.

Michele Lauriat, Phil's Hill (#3)

Mixed media, 90×55, from the Phil’s Hill series

 

Frankly, I was surprised and so very excited to find her large works combining drawing and painting on paper. I think my pleasure was so intense because she works much as I do in my sketching … but does so on such a larger scale. The work also reminds me just a bit of the image making path that I was on in my early 20’s.  So, I feel enthralled by the newness and freshness of her work while also sensing a degree of aesthetic kinship.

 

 

Mixed media, Echo Lake Series, 55×42

Ms. Lauriat’s pieces hover between drawing and full-bodied painting; making use of discrete but rich patches of color as well as subtle staining of the surfaces. Using copious amounts of negative space along with fields of color and value, she carefully articulates space/depth and a tentative feeling of solidity. While there is much visible evidence of early exploratory gestural mark making that she has left exposed and even foregrounded, there are also areas that she fills with marks and passages that hint at or describe perceived textures and also bolster the visceral activation of the surface design of her work.


I see Lauriat’s working method combining a decisively bold, and at times elegant, editing process with an eye for richly observed and rendered details from the natural world.  The results are exquisite combinations of mimetic accuracy and dramatic abstraction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her website is visually easy to explore and she blogs at … http://blog.michelelauriat.com

Enjoy!

 

Visual Confections

October 6, 2013

Sometimes, an artist confuses me. That is what Sara Lutz’s work does. I’ll get back to that in a moment.

1. We all know some artists WANT to confuse us … it is part of their way of working, the very reason for working. Fine.

2. There are other artists who just don’t get what they are doing … and confuse us because they are, themselves, confused. I have done that. Come on, let us be honest, most of us have. Way to often.

But Sara Lutz’s painting do not seem to want to confuse us. They are richly layered, dense visual experiences. There are multiple thin veils of hue and tone washing over shapes. These are broken by thicker, viscous skins of color and value that barely cling to the surface or gloriously, happily, run and drip across it. There are shapes, created with dense slabs of paint … thick skeins, skittering across the thinner layers, globular masses lathered on with serious joy. On this level, I like them, love might be a better word.

detail Lutz, Pavlova

I see the tradition of Titian, Hals, Manet, Vlaminck, and Pendergast.  Looking at the surfaces it is evident that there is a mind at play with paint. It feels good, rewardingly good. Ms. Lutz’s work is a textural feast!

Then I get confused … confused and conflicted by my reaction to the color.

Yes, there is much here that reminds me of the serious and beautiful work of Kandinsky, Joan Mitchell, and maybe something of Niki de St.Phalle. But there is also something of Philip Guston in this work. And the decomposing fleshiness and wilting, sugary emulsions by Gusten have always repulsed me. Ms. Lutz has even named some of her work after frothy, sweet creations from the candy shop (Confection and Nonpareils). I am conflicted, caught between one structure that I am drawn to, another I am repulsed by.

Don’t get me wrong, 1) I like sweets. 2) On the art-history side, I have grown to admire much of  Rococo art (despite some of my teacher’s best efforts). My work sometimes plays along the with the joyous coloration of that period. 3) Certainly, on the painter’s craft-side, I like almost every variety of  the slippery, scruffy, gooey, lumpy, abraded, liquidity of painted surfaces.

Why can’t I embrace a painting that is structured like a Kandinsky or a MacDonald-Wright …  but with a color palette that could be from a licorice all-sorts bag? What is it that causes my confusion; why am I so very conflicted?

(Why don’t you check out this site (http://hyperallergic.com/86795/beer-with-a-painter-sarah-lutz/) … and see and read a bit more about her work. It is well written. Decide what you think for yourself. See if my visual sweet tooth has decayed or not.  And, please, let me know what you think.)

http://hyperallergic.com/86795/beer-with-a-painter-sarah-lutz/


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