Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Introduction to Landscape Painting

River in the Catskills, 1843, Thomas Cole

When I look at this painting I notice the sunlight and the range of colors between the foreground, middle ground, and background. There are rolling hills and mountains in the background and a small village near the center of the painting. Cole clearly uses the S curve in the form of the river to guide the eye into the distance and create depth. The blueish tint on the mountain also imitates depth through atmospheric perspective. Cole also makes the the objects appear much smaller the farther away they are. For example, the trees in the middle ground are quite a bit larger than the trees on the hills in the background.

The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak, 1863, Albert Bierstadt

In this painting I notice the large mountains in the background sort of looming over the rest of the scene. I also notice the waterfall in the background that leads into a larger lake near the herd of animals and people. Bierstadt uses atmospheric perspective to create depth by making the mountains more blue and hazy than the rest of the painting. The use of overlapping with the trees also creates a sense of a boundary between the middle ground and the background. Bierstadt also uses differing sizes with huts near the trees being smaller in size than the huts that are towards the right. There also seems to be a slight S curve near the waterfall leading up the mountains.

An underpainting is a layer of paint first applied to a canvas as a base for the rest of the painting. Underpainting can be used to create initial tonal values and have an effect on the later mood and colors. Blue toned underpaintings are better for wintery or cool toned paintings whereas yellow toned underpaintings are better for hot or warm toned paintings. One type of underpainting is the tonal grounds underpainting where you paint the entire canvas one color to create backlighting shadows. Another type of underpainting is A tonal underpainting used to map out where the dark and light areas will be. Using A tonal underpainting can create brighter top colors and make developing the subject easier later on.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Eyes, Nose, Mouth


    • To demonstrate understanding of the structure for each feature: eyes, nose, & mouth;
    • To practice using black & white charcoal to render a drawing, using brown paper as the middle value

I think the way that I'm shading my features is working well. I like the range of values that I've been getting and how the transitions don't look too sharp and unnatural. I particularly like the depth that I got while drawing my nose and mouth. One thing that I need to remember when drawing my final self-portrait is to fix some of the proportions on my eyes. When I was drawing my eye, I made the pupil too large and more of an oval than a circle. I think the length and shape of my nose was a little bit off as well so I need to remember to fix that.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Intro to Portraiture

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Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt was born on July 15, 1606 in Leiden. His family was pretty modest money-wise but he was given a good education. He started studying at a Latin school though he left to study art. He worked in Leiden at the beginning of his career then moved to Amsterdam and worked there. His wife and three of his children all died while he was living there and eventually he was forced to move because of financial burden. He later married his housekeeper Hendrickje Stoffels who he used frequently as a model for his paintings.

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Americans Who Tell the Truth
Robert Shetterly

Robert Shetterly was born in Cincinnati in 1946. He went to Harvard for college as an English major and took some art courses there which changed his direction from writing to painting. After college he moved to Maine and taught himself how to paint. Many of his paintings tell a narrative and are surreal though he has a series of portraits Americans Who Tell the Truth to illustrate the necessity of truth in politics. He's also worked with many of the subjects of his portraits on humanitarian and political work. A lot of his current work focuses on environmental problems and systematic racism.

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Alice Neel

Alice Neel was born on January 28 in Merion Square, Pennsylvania as the fourth of five children. She started working as a secretary for the Army Air Corps but took art classes in the evening. She later left the secretary job and enrolled in an art program at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. While she was taking classes she got multiple honorable mentions and awards for her work. Neel later moved to New York after marrying fellow artist Carlos Enríquez and started getting work there. During the 1930s Neel became suicidal and was encouraged to keep drawing and painting while at the hospital. She continued working in New York and participated in many exhibitions there.

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Madame X, 1884
John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent was born in Florence in 1856. He studied painting in Italy and France and started gaining recognition in the 1880s. In many of his portraits he showed the personality of the model. His portrait of Madame X received a very negative reaction that made him move to London. During his career he painted around 900 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors. Although he wasn't considered an impressionist painter, he used impressionistic techniques in some of his paintings.


Rembrandt van Rijn's painting Old Man with a Black Hat and Gorget gives off a rather grandeur feel. The plumed hat and clothing on the man makes him seem rich of important in some way. His stance and the seriousness in his face also give off the vibe of him being some sort of noble. The dark colors of the man's clothing and the background feeds into the serious feel of the painting.

John Singer Sargent's painting of Madame X has a rather mysterious and alluring mood to it. The way the woman is positioned with her face turned away gives a bit of a mystery as to what the rest of her face looks like. In addition, her body facing towards the front gives off an inviting feel to contrast the position of her face. The way that she's dressed also gives off an alluring aura. For the time that it was painted it, the exposed chest and collarbone area must have been out of the ordinary.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Still Life Drawing


  • To create a still-life drawing that demonstrates understanding of drawing in perspective, along with using a variety of mark-making techniques to describe form;
  • To understand value by creating a good range of values to help make the objects appear 3D;
  • To demonstrate quality craftsmanship and good composition skills in a drawing.


One of the biggest challenges I had while drawing the still-life was getting the proportions and perspective correct. There were a few places on my drawing that were inaccurate in size and perspective that i didn’t notice until after I had finished. While I was sketching the original contour drawing, I had to go back and change the proportions quite a bit. Another challenge I had was trying to get a wide variety of values while incorporating different types of mark making. I was hesitant to use crosshatching in my piece because personally I don’t like the look it gives, but I think if I had used it more I could have gotten a wider range of value. I also think I could have had more places that were left dark to increase the contrast in values.

One of the things I’m most proud of is the composition of my still-life. I drew the objects so that they were big enough to hit a few of the sides of the paper which I think made the still-life look more visually interesting than it would have been otherwise. Another thing I’m proud of was my ability to make the objects look 3 dimensional. I think my use of shadows and highlights made the objects seem a lot more realistic. I especially like how I drew the milk carton on the left and the range of values I used.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Realism Art Movement

The Realism art movement occurred over a period of 40 years from the 1840s to the 1880s. It's recognized as the first modern movement in art and expanded previous conceptions of what art was. The Realism movement focused on life's structure and the reality of the world rather than just an ideal. Along with the subjects of the paintings being more modern and real, the color palettes used were darker and more earthy toned than the previous ideal of beauty. Realism was very nonconformist and targeted redefining traditional beliefs and criticizing the values of the upper class. Because newspapers and media were becoming more widespread, many of the Realism artists used them to gain publicity.

Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (1862-63)
Edouard Manet

Retribution (2015)
Jeff Legg

The most obvious similarity between the two paintings is the color. Both the paintings use dark colors, especially in the background of the pieces. In the foreground, both the pieces have a much lighter color shown in the woman in the master's painting and the skull in the modern one. The difference between them is the subject matter. The master's painting depicts a scene with people whereas the modern painting has a much less candid subject matter. I prefer the modern painting because, in my opinion, the subject is more interesting than the master's.

Monday, January 30, 2017


I think it's really interesting how mandalas are used in so many different cultures and how it's such a unifying symbol. I like that it can have different meanings to each person yet still bring people together. Another thing I find really interesting are the sand mandalas. I like how it shows the impermanence of things by the creators spending days making it then sweeping it all away. One other interesting aspect is that mandalas aren't only paintings. There are mandalas all around us in architecture and science.

Goals for the Semester

During this semester I hope to get better at working with color. I want to learn more about color theory and how to use it. My goal is to be able to create better atmosphere and emotion in my work with the use of color. I also hope to get better with general things such as proportion and perspective. I want to be able to gain a better eye for when those things are off so I can fix them. I would also love to be able to just not make those mistakes at all or, more realistically, make them less.

A strategy that would be very helpful to me so I can produce my best work is giving specific critiques to my work. I like to be told exactly what seems off and some advice on how to fix it. For example, if I'm doing a portrait and the eye proportions are off, I like being told that that specifically is what is wrong. It would also be helpful to look at other artists' work so I can see how they handle certain problems and implement different techniques.  I like getting ideas and inspiration from other art to try in my own.