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1. Judy Blume for Seattle Review of Books

This week's portrait for the Seattle Review of Books is Judy Blume. 

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2. Portrait: Dayne & Minka

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3. A cloudy contemplation

Here's a recent commissioned piece. The simple brief: a landscape of hope, meditation, emergence.

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4. Harold Speed, Painting from the Life: Part 1

Today we'll start Chapter 9: "Painting from the Life" from Harold Speed's 1924 art instruction book Oil Painting Techniques and Materials.

I'll present Speed's main points in boldface type either verbatim or paraphrased, followed by comments of my own. If you want to add a comment, please use the numbered points to refer to the relevant section of the chapter.

The chapter on "Painting from The Life" takes up a major part of the book, so let's break it down into parts, starting with the introduction and Painting from the life in two colors.


1. "Painting from the antique [plaster casts] is now much out of fashion."
Fortunately it's not out of fashion any more, and is very much a part of the curriculum of modern academic ateliers.

2. Why it's good to paint from casts before painting from a live model.
Speed explains why painting from plaster casts is a good idea. Skin has a lot of variation in local color. This variation has to be considered in addition to the modeling. Also, hair also doesn't follow the normal principles of modeling. I would add that if the light is placed too near the model, there's a variation in value intensity that also must be considered.


3. "Keep your work as large and simple in treatment as possible."
 This is consistent with Speed's advice throughout: State the broad masses with a big brush first and save the nuances for later.

4. "Reflected lights in the shadows are what give the luminous quality to them, without which they are heavy and opaque."
Speed explains how reflected light usually comes from the direction opposite to the light, making the darkest part of the shadow (often called the "core" of the shadow), just beyond the terminator. This isn't always true, however. If there are sources of reflection or secondary fill lights near the viewer, the core won't be apparent. It's often an artistic choice whether to include it. The core of the shadow is also generally not apparent with indirect, diffused, or overcast light.

5. Painting from the life in two colors.
Speed suggests using blue-black for the cool color. You can mix such a blue-black by mixing some French ultramarine deep with ivory black. On the warm side, you can use Venetian red or burnt sienna. As Speed says, the relationship of warm and cool colors is one of the most important features to watch in flesh painting, or for that matter, any painting.


6. The advantages of painting with limited palettes
"In training oneself, the thing to aim at is taking the difficulties one at a time, and concentrating the whole attention on them....Muddling along with a full palette, and the whole difficulties of painting presented at once, which is the common method, is asking for trouble."

Using limited palettes is like living within a strict financial budget, where you're forced to account for every expense. It forces the painter to get the most out of the limited resources, and encourages clean handling.

"Fine coloring usually results from a simple palette the range of which has been fully used. You are forced, by starting with two colors, to find the utmost that can be obtained with them." Later when you use a full palette, you won't be seduced into using too many bright colors.

7. "In flesh, seen under an ordinary indoor aspect, the half-tones are usually the coolest colors, the warm being in the shadows and to a lesser degree in the lights."
I'm always a little skeptical about such hard and fast rules, but this is a good one to think about and experiment with. The Bouguereau detail at left shows a very nice distribution of warm and cool colors, with slightly cool halftones and warm colors in the shadow and the forms and hollows of the form. I suspect that subsurface scattering and the peculiar qualities of how skin reflects light may be a part of this principle.


Next week—Chapter 9, "Painting from the Life," continued.
-----
In its original edition, the book is called "The Science and Practice of Oil Painting." Unfortunately it's not available in a free edition, but there's an inexpensive print edition that Dover publishes under a different title "Oil Painting Techniques and Materials (with a Sargent cover)," and there's also a Kindle edition.

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5. Ivar Haglund for Seattle Review of Books

This week's portrait for the Seattle Review of Books is of Seattle icon Ivar Haglund. 

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6. Nichelle Nichols for Seattle Review of Books

Each week I feature a different author portrait in this Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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7. Monkey Mod! Fan Art

After seeing some fan art in a comic book, I decide to do some of my own of the Kevin Cross' character Monkey Mod.

via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1OxCYr0

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8. Ru Freeman for Seattle Review of Books

Each week I feature a different author portrait in this Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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9. Neon Window Light


The red neon sign in the left window says "OPEN." 


If I were to paint the tubes of the neon sign with bright red paint, it would be too dark in value. So I keep the sign very light in value and paint the effect of the red light on the regions around it. Note how the red light floods the window frame and the back of the guy's head. 

When a light source is both high in value and strong in chroma, one strategy to capture it is to focus on the effect of the light, not on the light itself.


I'm using an ultra-limited palette of gouache: brilliant purple, flame red, raw umber, and white in a Pentalic watercolor sketchbook

Yes, I've been known to accidentally dip my brush in the coffee. 
------
Earlier discussion on the blog in the post "Practical Lights"

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10. Tough Guys Have Feelings Too

10-07-15_ToughGuysHaveFeelingsToo_cover.indd

by Keith Negley (Flying Eye Books, 2015)

The kind folks at Flying Eye sent over a preview of this book, thinking it was right up my alley.

It’s right up my alley.

The theme: yes. The design: yes. The snappy, bold, in-your-face look at tough guys plus the snappy, bold, in-your-face look at feelings: yes.

I chatted with Keith Negley, and learned a lot about this debut effort. I hope there’s more from him, and I hope you enjoy this peek into the brain of a picture book creator.

toughguys-4 toughguys-7Hi Keith! Can you talk about where this story came from? And what the process was like for its creation?

It all started when my son Parker who was 6 at the time stole a soccer ball from a friend during soccer practice and his friend got upset and they fought over it. Parker was angry at first, but then felt embarrassed and ashamed because he knew he did something wrong. I could tell he was struggling with how to handle all these new emotions that were happening to him at the same time. He walked away from the group and sat down to be by himself because he didn’t want anyone to see him cry. Later that night, I explained to him that it was totally natural to cry and that everybody does it. I told him sometimes even I cried, and he looked up at me and asked, “grown ups cry too?

It blew his mind that even adults cried because he thought it was something only kids did. I wished I had a book I could read to him that let him know that frustration and crying is a natural thing not to be ashamed of. The next day the idea for the book popped into my head.

You’ve done a lot of editorial illustration, but this is your first children’s book. Can you tell us the how and why you got into books?

I always liked the idea of making picture books for children, but it wasn’t until I became a parent and started reading a ton of picture books to my son did I realize there was a lack of the kind of books we enjoyed. Honestly the books I’ve been working on were born out of necessity because I wanted to read them and no one else had made them yet.

Your tumblr tag line is spectacular: part man, part negative space. Can you explain where that came from and why it represents you so well?

Ha, I find tragedy to be the greatest muse. The subjects I enjoy working with the most are the ones that break my heart. It’s cathartic somehow, and I feel like I really get to put a piece of me into the work. What ends up happening is I have a portfolio of rather depressing subject matter. But I’m always striving to create beautiful images with it. That juxtaposition is challenging and rewarding for me.

Add to that I tend to utilize negative space as a compositional tool fairly often and so I thought it tied the content in with the image making nature of the blog.

toughguys-9Who are some of your story heroes?

I’ve been a huge fan of Lane Smith for years and years. Jon Scieszka is another one. Ezra Jack Keats. Jack Kent’s Socks For Supper is one of my all time favorites as a kid and it still holds up today.

What do you remember about picture books from your childhood?

I remember my mom reading them to me and how she would make different voices for all the characters. I try to do that for Parker but he’s not into it at all unfortunately.

toughguys-12

What is your favorite piece of art hanging in your home or studio?

Not sure if this counts, but I like to make music in my spare time and I’m a huge nerd for vintage synthesizers. I currently have a 1979 Korg 770 sitting in my studio and just looking at it makes me very happy. I consider them works of art.

What’s next for you?

Trying to schedule some reading events for the fall/winter and I’m in the middle of working on my second book for Flying Eye which should be out in time for Father’s Day next year!

toughguys-14

Thank you, Keith! And vintage synthesizers totally count as works of art.

ch

PS: Congratulations to the winner of the The Story of Diva and Flea giveaway, Ashley! And thanks to Flying Eye for the images used in this post.

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11. The Story I’ll Paint: Part 4 – Color Magic

Welcome to part four of my series on the making of The Story I’ll Tell. (Read down to the end of the post for the first print giveaway!) And now: color.

The Story I’ll Tell weaves a lyrical tapestry of fantasy and reality, and I wanted the palette of the illustrations to match the lush, dreamlike quality of the manuscript. I noticed early on that the story alternated between daytime and nighttime scenes, and I knew this would become an important element in the illustrations.

Reference images were the starting point. These Ukiyo-e prints were the inspiration for the blue nighttime pages. Matching the color was not a priority so much as capturing the mood of the image. I tied to imagine how it might feel, physically and emotionally, to step into these peaceful nighttime scenes.

Left: "Moonlight, Soochow," Elizabeth Keith, 1924. Right: "Moon at Arakawa River,"  Hasui Kawase, 1929.

Left: "Moonlight, Soochow," Elizabeth Keith, 1924. Right: "Moon at Arakawa River," Hasui Kawase, 1929.

Once I knew what I was going for, I made a detailed color study for each image Photoshop. I find this useful for getting the value range correct. (For those not familiar with art terminology, value is the measure of how light or dark something is. Not to be confused with saturation, which is a measure of how vivid the color’s hue is.) Ideally I want the illustrations to read just as clearly in black and white as they do in color, and good value organization is essential. Coloring an image in Photoshop is such a mindless activity that I listened to quite a few audiobooks during this phase. Then I made a full-color, printed dummy.

B&W and color study for the jacket of The Story I'll Tell, by Jessica Lanan

I ended up lightening the value of the background for the final art in order to make the figures more visible.

Finally, I painted color studies and chose an overall palette for the book. I wanted to use similar pigments throughout the book, and I needed a blue that could work either with a warm (daytime) or cool (nighttime) color palette. I tried quite a few combinations before I settled on Holbein’s French Ultramarine, Cadmium Yellow light, and Winsor Red, with other colors as needed. I went through a tube and a half of blue.

Color studies by Jessica Lanan for The Story I'll Tell

Experimentation is key

Okay, you’ve been waiting for it: it’s giveaway time! Leave a comment for a chance to win a giclée print from the book. (It has to be a real comment. If it’s about Louis Vuitton handbags or search engine optimization, I’ll delete it.) Winner will be announced this Friday, October 23. And if you don’t win this time, you’ll have another chance next week with my final installment in the series.

Print from The Story I'll Tell, Illustrated by Jessica Lanan

Coming up next: Painting with Guts! The final art, and how to avoid being wimpy with watercolor.
Other posts in the series:

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12. G. Willow Wilson for Seattle Review of Books

Each week I will feature a different author portrait in this new Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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13. Eileen Myles for the Seattle Review of Books

Each week I will feature a different author portrait in this new Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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14. Amitav Ghosh for Seattle Review of Books

 Each week I will feature a different author portrait for this Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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15. Anastacia Tolbert for Seattle Review of Books

Each week I will feature a different author portrait in this new Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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16. Tough Guys + an interview with Keith Negley

10-07-15_ToughGuysHaveFeelingsToo_cover.indd

by Keith Negley (Flying Eye Books, 2015)

Heads up, email subscribers: my blog took a bit of a tumble so I’m reposting what was lost in the shuffle. Apologies, and thank you for reading!

The kind folks at Flying Eye sent over a preview of this book, thinking it was right up my alley.

It’s right up my alley.

The theme: yes. The design: yes. The snappy, bold, in-your-face look at tough guys plus the snappy, bold, in-your-face look at feelings: yes.

I chatted with Keith Negley, and learned a lot about this debut effort. I hope there’s more from him, and I hope you enjoy this peek into the brain of a picture book creator.

toughguys-4 toughguys-7

Hi Keith! Can you talk about where this story came from? And what the process was like for its creation?

It all started when my son Parker who was 6 at the time stole a soccer ball from a friend during soccer practice and his friend got upset and they fought over it. Parker was angry at first, but then felt embarrassed and ashamed because he knew he did something wrong. I could tell he was struggling with how to handle all these new emotions that were happening to him at the same time. He walked away from the group and sat down to be by himself because he didn’t want anyone to see him cry. Later that night, I explained to him that it was totally natural to cry and that everybody does it. I told him sometimes even I cried, and he looked up at me and asked, “grown ups cry too?

It blew his mind that even adults cried because he thought it was something only kids did. I wished I had a book I could read to him that let him know that frustration and crying is a natural thing not to be ashamed of. The next day the idea for the book popped into my head.

You’ve done a lot of editorial illustration, but this is your first children’s book. Can you tell us the how and why you got into books?

I always liked the idea of making picture books for children, but it wasn’t until I became a parent and started reading a ton of picture books to my son did I realize there was a lack of the kind of books we enjoyed. Honestly the books I’ve been working on were born out of necessity because I wanted to read them and no one else had made them yet.

Your tumblr tag line is spectacular: part man, part negative space. Can you explain where that came from and why it represents you so well?

Ha, I find tragedy to be the greatest muse. The subjects I enjoy working with the most are the ones that break my heart. It’s cathartic somehow, and I feel like I really get to put a piece of me into the work. What ends up happening is I have a portfolio of rather depressing subject matter. But I’m always striving to create beautiful images with it. That juxtaposition is challenging and rewarding for me.

Add to that I tend to utilize negative space as a compositional tool fairly often and so I thought it tied the content in with the image making nature of the blog.

toughguys-9Who are some of your story heroes?

I’ve been a huge fan of Lane Smith for years and years. Jon Scieszka is another one. Ezra Jack Keats. Jack Kent’s Socks For Supper is one of my all time favorites as a kid and it still holds up today.

What do you remember about picture books from your childhood?

I remember my mom reading them to me and how she would make different voices for all the characters. I try to do that for Parker but he’s not into it at all unfortunately.

toughguys-12

What is your favorite piece of art hanging in your home or studio?

Not sure if this counts, but I like to make music in my spare time and I’m a huge nerd for vintage synthesizers. I currently have a 1979 Korg 770 sitting in my studio and just looking at it makes me very happy. I consider them works of art.

What’s next for you?

Trying to schedule some reading events for the fall/winter and I’m in the middle of working on my second book for Flying Eye which should be out in time for Father’s Day next year!

toughguys-14

Thank you, Keith! And vintage synthesizers totally count as works of art.

PS: Congratulations to the winner of the The Story of Diva and Flea giveaway, Ashley! And thanks to Flying Eye for the images used in this post.

ch

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17. Illustrator Submission :: Daniel Arriaga

Post by Chloe

GirlReading

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Daniel Arriaga is an illustrator based in the USA whose work often tells a narrative, depicting fun characters. He has worked in various departments at Pixar, and also Disney. He has helped to produce films such as Wall-E, Up!, and Wreck-It-Ralph. Arriaga combines digital art with a subtle painterly style to bring his work to life, and his clever colour palettes create a nice ambiance in all his work.

If you’d like to see more illustrations by Daniel Arriaga, please visit his portfolio.

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18. Gloria Steinem for Seattle Review of Books

Each week I feature a different author portrait in this new Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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19. Salim Ali for Seattle Review of Books

Each week I feature a different author portrait in this Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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20. Transparents and Opaques in Mixtures


The folks at Vasari put together this video showing what happens to cadmium yellow lemon (opaque) and Indian yellow (transparent) when you mix them with reds and whites. The factor of transparency greatly affects the value and chroma of the mixtures (Link to YouTube).

If you want to make such tests yourself, you can use a palette knife on glass with a black backing, or you can mix them in the form of a chart in a canvas paper pad.
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Vasari oil colors
Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter




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21. Patti Smith for Seattle Review of Books

Each week I feature a different author portrait in this Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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22. Shishkin Painting Methods

Ivan Shishkin (1832-1898)
A couple of months ago we took a look at Ivan Shishkin's opinion of photo reference in his landscape painting. Now let's examine more about his specific working methods.

Preliminary Drawings
He would advise his students: "Before starting the painting, you have to do a sketch to clarify the idea and plan what you're going to be doing on a big canvas."

Note in the sketch at left, Shishkin draws a grid, probably to help him enlarge the composition onto the canvas. 

Shishkin continues: "It's also important to do a preliminary drawing [on the canvas] with charcoal. Put a layer of charcoal on a clean canvas and wipe it with a dry tissue. You'll have a smooth base tone, and you can draw over that with more charcoal. You can erase off halftones and lights using an eraser made from a chunk of black bread. If you do that you will get the effect of lighting you need, and then you're ready to continue with the final painting."

Shishkin typically used ink to clarify the outlines of the trees in his preliminary drawings. Once the preliminary drawing was finished, he would proceed to do a tonal underpainting in monochrome before painting in full color.

Paint and palette organization
"He carefully mixed organized groups of colors on his palette. All the colors must be prepared in groups in advance on the palette. He began by applying the darkest tones of paint. Then he proceeded to the halftones, and so on up to the light." (From a letter from Ivan Shishkin, St. Petersburg, 1896).

Shishkin studied in Düsseldorf, so it's not surprising that he used primarily German paints. "He used zinc whites for big studio paintings and lead whites during his traveling and for outdoor painting, because they dry more quickly. He painted on canvases from Dresden if he could." 

"He used to buy a lot of different paints. But if he didn't know the specifications of a given kind of paint, such as lightfastness and durability, he avoided it." 

"Because of this he completely stopped using carmine oil paint after [Vasily] Polenov showed him a chart of paints that was left in the sun for 10 years, and carmine completely disappeared."

Ivan Shishkin and A. Guinet in the studio on the island of Valaam
Here's a list of Shishkin's paints:
Red paints: 
English red, Chinese vermilion, rose madder, and rose doré, mostly used for glazing. Burnt sienna was his favorite.

Yellows: 
Yellow ocher, cadmium yellows and oranges, zinc yellow (for backgrounds and leaves in the sunlight), raw sienna, chrome yellow (rarely), and Indian yellow (for glazing). He never used gamboge or aureolin. Sometimes he used Naples yellow for sand and roots. Occasionally for foreground textures he would mix fine sand into the paints. 

Blues: 
Sky blue (?) and Prussian blue.

Greens:
He used a lot of different ones, including: permanent green, cobalt green, chrome green, vermilion green, emerald green, and others.

Blacks: 
Ivory black and lamp black oil paint.
-----

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23. Ellen Swallow Richards for Seattle Review of Books

Each week I feature a different author portrait in this Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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24. Nancy Pearl for Seattle Review of Books

Each week I feature a different author portrait in this Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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25. Harold Speed Chapter 8: Colour

Today we'll take a look at Chapter 7: "Colour" from Harold Speed's 1924 art instruction book Oil Painting Techniques and Materials.

I'll present Speed's main points in boldface type either verbatim or paraphrased, followed by comments of my own. If you want to add a comment, please use the numbered points to refer to the relevant section of the chapter.

Speed divides three approaches to color. They're not necessarily listed in evolutionary order, with a sense of progress toward perfection. Speed acknowledges the beauty of each kind of color, similar to the way that the smaller orchestras of earlier music produced sonorities as valid as the big orchestras of later composers.


1. Primitive colouring
"Consists in simply filling in the boundaries of objects and background with their local colour and expressing the internal forms by the introduction of a little shading." No cast shadows, no colore light. Examples: most Asian artwork, plus Giotto and Fra Angelico up to Botticelli in Europe.
Advantages: clarity of expression.


2. The Brown School
Introduction of light and shade, 3D form. The brown tone is a convention that unifies the otherwise jarring contrasts. Joshua Reynolds (above) states that shadows should be brown color. I've heard this referred to as "brown soup."

The breakthroughs of the 19th century Impressionists were anticipated decades or even centuries earlier by other artists such as Velazquez and Vermeer. In the case of Velazquez, the colors are fairly quiet and neutral, and it's the tone and edges that contribute to the sense of unified vision.


3. Impressionist School
This is an outgrowth of the science of the nineteenth century. One of the key ideas is the dissociation of apparent color from the local color of surfaces.

Another set of ideas had to do with the science of vision, and the recognition that color is a phenomenon of perception as much as it is something external. Goethe was a pioneer in this.

Johann Wilhelm Schirmer, 1836 (Dusseldorf School)

In the realm of landscape, I would also add that early outdoor painters in Italy, Germany, Scandinavia, England, and America preceded many of the color innovations of the more famous French Impressionists.

Painting by Harold Speed
4. Importance of consistency
Speed points out the problem of putting a figure that is lit with indoor studio light into an outdoor background setting. (I don't have a good example of this offhand....any suggestions?)

Childe Hassam
5. Elimination of black from the palette. 
This is a topic that I've discussed in a previous series:
Part 2: Mixing your own black
Part 3: Using black in a painting
Part 4: Is Black a color?

Speed's coverage of it is nuanced, warning of the dangers of the "fruit salad" coloring, but also reminding us of the power of darkness and shadow, which was sometimes lost in impressionist coloring.

Next week—Chapter 8: Colour: Practical
-----
In its original edition, the book is called "The Science and Practice of Oil Painting." Unfortunately it's not available in a free edition, but there's an inexpensive print edition that Dover publishes under a different title "Oil Painting Techniques and Materials," and there's also a Kindle edition.
Get my book "Color and Light" signed from my website or from Amazon.
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