frida kahlo art st petersburg

Frida Kahlo Art in St. Petersburg

Frida endured 34 operations in her 47 years. She lived a life haunted by her tragedy, painting her pain. Sometimes I ask myself what if she didn’t go through a horrific accident at 18, would she still paint her pain and not some other inner problem in her life? Moreover, if she didn’t spend so much time in bed, would she become a great artist technically? The show seems a bit small but well-presented. It summarizes Frida’s relationship with her art, her famed husband Diego Rivera, and her pain.

“The Broken column,” 1944

Every aspect of Frida’s life is set against her pain. And lots of it. Surreal paintings and a few drawings focus on the breaking point in her life, the car-train accident. A broken metal handrail pierced through her pelvis that led Frida into a dark place of endless suffering, surgeries and miscarriages for many years to come. She documents her suffering on small canvases, often painting in bed.

After many surgeries, Frida spent lots of time in bed, refused to eat, and became very weak. Frida was forced to eat food through a funnel to recover that she illustrates as torture in this painting.

Frida’s art is highly symbolic and powerful despite the obvious lack of technical skill. She explores the symbols of her dreams just like French surrealists. Frida also saves herself from endless suffering by painting symbolic pictures that represent her thoughts. We encounter her husband Diego, blood, fetuses, bed, and animals.

For example, in this painting the artist documents the pain of her miscarriage with 6 symbols: the lifeless fetus, her pelvis, the snail pace of recovery, the fragile tulip, the medical machine, and some anatomical structure, illustrating the nature of her problem.

 

In the show we also see a number of pages taken from her childhood journal. Tight sentences fill in the pages with stories and doodles where we can see Frida’s desire to travel across time and space creatively.

Below you see a sketch of her accident.

 

Frida’s art is her self-portraits. By comparing her paintings to the black-and-white pictures, I think she paints herself too masculine with a hint for dark mustache and her signature arching eyebrow that looks like a wing. While nude or semi-nude artist appears serious, or even cries in her self-portraits, Frida’s photographs show the artist dressed colorfully, and even with some noticeable flare. She wears long skirts, shawls, jewelry, and the real flowers put in her hair that all point at her girly, untouched by the inner sorrow cheerful personality. 

“A few small nips,” 1935.” When Diego had slept with her younger sister, Frida began to have her own affairs. Inspired or perhaps traumatized by the newspaper’s crime report, the artist paints a horrific crime scene showing blood and stabbing of a woman. The blood spills on the frame as well. The museum interprets the artwork’s symbolism as stabbing infidelities of Diego.

We tend to idealize people once they pass away, give them heroic qualities and subdue their pitfalls. In this show I wished to see the subtle layers of her personality that I couldn’t pick up from her art. Did she feel like a victim who suffered and longed for pity from people around her? Or did she consider herself a hero who overcame her physical and emotional struggles? Did she have any considerable friends who supported her artistic purpose besides Diego? Why did she stay with Rivera despite his countless infidelities? Was it love or weakness? In her art and photographs we see Diego almost too often, and not enough of her surroundings or people who may have helped her heal.

 

The art show is up at the Dali museum in St.Pete till mid. April. I recommend downloading the museum’s app that guides you through the exhibition, making it memorable.

 Copyright: All images were taken from the art show at the Dali museum. 

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art Basel: context art miami

Context Art Miami 2016: video paintings and flexible paper sculptures

Being a realist painter, contemporary shows like Context Art Miami rarely captivate me. There is plenty of weird work shown under the pretense of being great ART. A lot of it is not, in my opinion. I think it’s difficult to create a good work of art whether it’s abstract or realist, or somewhere in between. What excited me about this show, however, were two things: video paintings and flexible paper sculptures.

In this short video you’ll see some innovative works – video paintings by Daniel Cherbuin and flexible paper sculptures by the Chinese artist Li Hongbo. Enjoy!

Can you just do? On artistic inspiration, self-doubt and work

As artists we’re able to fall deep in dark pits of self-doubt, uncertainty and melancholy. We question our purpose, hold on to negativity, and doubt our abilities because it’s hard. It’s really hard to work against the grit to pursue our calling-something that has been written within us at our birth. I think the psychological pressure we feel at times maybe tougher to overcome than the financial burden, since it sips through all the facets of our lives.

Artists are also extremely sensitive people, and react to circumstances and opinions more than others. That’s one of the reasons why we see so many talented actors, writers, painters and musicians self-medicating a ‘weakness’ that’s been recorded in the genes and defined as the ‘mental illness.’ I think it’s more complicated than that. I see my feelings mirrored in students who make their first experiences in life. What I can control they can’t yet, and those emotions often arise and confuse them.

Yes, the sensitivity that artists have makes us different, different in having a natural gift that actually keeps on giving, if we nurture it. It can become the artist’s ‘strength.’ We’re able to see something beautiful in mundane places. We are able to move people emotionally. We go down in history as challengers and recorders of new movements. We make the world less ugly and more humane.

So today I’d like to include a couple of motivational readings and some inspirational quotes that make me get up, stand up, and keep going. Enjoy!

On self-limitation

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” Michelangelo

 

On self-doubt and inspiration

 

“DO” is the theme of LeWitt’s 1965 letter written to a fellow artist Eva Hesse, who was tormented with self-doubt.  Here Benedict Cumberbatch impresses me with his reading that moves no matter how many times I listen to it.

 

On work & perseverance

  • It’s one of those rare instances where you can see someone as powerful as Madonna being vulnerable. Her speech explains so many things that underline her internal motivation for the work she has done as a female singer. She talks about sexism, misogyny, and feminism in the music industry receiving the award at Billboard Women In Music 2016.

 

  • “Be the Hero of your own story” by Judge Judy Sheindlin is a book for every young or young at heart girl to read. It explains the importance of independent thinking, and how you can open yourself up to opportunities. It’s available for free as a digital download at Judy’s website:  http://www.whatwouldjudysay.com/

 

 

“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” Michelangelo

 

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. -Stephen King

 

How long did it take you to paint that? “My whole life.” Jackson Pollock

 

6 drawing mistakes & how to fix them fast!

As I’ve been teaching drawing since 2004, I came to understanding what mistakes every art student makes on his/her path. Today I’d like to list the most common mistakes and to provide you with the solution to each of them.

  1. I have crooked lines that make my drawing look uneven.

Fix: Work on the perfection of your drawing by checking the “anatomy” of your shapes in a mirror for possible mistakes. When you look at your image in the mirror, your mind reads the information differently, allowing you to see the mistakes. The same happens when you look at your artwork upside down.

Look at your artwork upside down or in a mirror to catch the mistakes.
Look at your artwork upside down or in a mirror to catch the mistakes.
  1. My drawing lacks clarity.

Fix: Always shade right to the edge of your outline without leaving the uneven, white spaces. When we shade we have the tendency to lose the edge. As a result our drawing falls apart by becoming uniformly soft, lacking focus and definition. While not everything should be defined or outlined, most students have a problem of not “connecting” the numerous lines (in other words, making the shading even).

So, outline the edge with the line of the correct value (tone) and shade right to that edge to restore the original outline.

This video illustrates the concept: https://youtu.be/GaDyhypmWwY

drawing-mistakes-and-how-to-fix-them
The black lines show you where the unevenness of shading happens, creating the ‘broken’ lines that destroy the sense of the form. Shadows must look uniform without any white spots present in between your lines!
  1. My drawing looks messy.

When we sketch out the lines graphite tends to smear all over the place. It’s important to keep the drawing clean to give a nice impression of a finished work even if it’s not finished. While it sounds obvious, you won’t believe how many students make messy drawings!

If you draw in colored pencil, it’s vital to keep all the graphite pencil marks super light and avoid smudging as much as possible.

Fix: the kneaded eraser is your best bet! It doesn’t leave any residue on paper and erases softly.

4. The objects in my drawing escape or fall off the page.

Start your sketch with the envelope where you mark the top, bottom and sides of your objects. Then draw inside those markings without “leaving” the envelope.

This sketch shows how to start drawing correctly by sketching out the "boundaries" of the object first, and then breaking them down to smaller shapes.
This sketch shows how to start drawing correctly by sketching out the “boundaries” of the object first, and then breaking them down into smaller shapes.

 

5. I focus on drawing the contour so hard, but it never looks right when I’m done.

Fix: always make directional lines first, and position your shape over that line. This technique gives you the right rotation & position of your subjects in space.

creative-techniques-book-sample-pages49
This is a page taken from the ‘Creative Techniques’ art book that illustrates the concept of subjects’ rotation in space. The line in the center gives the direction to the object, or places it in space correctly. Then you simply draw the object over it.

6. I don’t know where to start shading.

Fix: start shading from your darkest shadows! Then continue to your mid tones and finish up with the lightest shading around the highlights.

This is another page from the book that shows you this concept. You block in the darkest areas first, and then erase the highlights and make tonal transitions.
This is another page from the book that shows you this concept. You block in the darkest areas first, erase the highlights, and make additional tonal transitions.

Hope it helps! And now you can go and create your masterpiece following these tips. 😁

portrait drawing in pencil
Believing that the impossible is possible, graphite on paper, 11×14″

 

how to draw tutorials special
7 tutorials special

Step by step drawing tutorials can be found here.

mona lisa art supplies, how to take care of art

Reasons why da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is still here: use your art supplies wisely

Technical reasons why Mona Lisa is still here

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was a scientist and an inventor. In his mind, his remarkable abilities to perfect the technique of painting took a back seat in favor of many other interests he devoted most of his time to. Therefore, very few of his artworks exist today, and the artist’s mindset about art remains as elusive as his paintings. Tall, handsome, and charming Leonardo was great at finding patrons for his military, scientific, theatre and art projects, projects that had never ended in his creative mind, and most he had never finished.

As an inventor, he also loved to experiment with his art materials, using new, untested methods and processes that led to a number of disasters. His greatest surviving achievement, the “Last Supper” mural painted inside a church in Milan began to chip off the wall during his lifetime. He abandoned the traditional fresco technique and painted the picture on a dry wall instead of a wet plaster, and experimented with oil and tempera and other materials that Leonardo combined in a new, untested method, flaking off his deliberate, masterful composition to dust almost as soon as he painted it. The mural has endured a number of renovations since then, but only restored and computer-generated models can show us his genius: perfectly sculptured figures in triangular sub-compositions.

 

It’s not a surprise that da Vinci experimented with “Mona Lisa” (started in 1503) as well.  Obviously, this artwork had held a very special place in Leonardo’s heart since it had never left his hands until his death. Da Vinci’s drawing of the figure was absolutely perfect, and his creation of a soft landscape behind her, (the sfumato technique) was his signature invention. I’m not going to talk about the mystery of the sitter, the beauty of this composition, or the artist’s preoccupation with the painting. There is numerous literature written about these topics. Rather I’d like to illustrate the importance of art materials used in the process of painting.

The artist played with the technical aspects of the painting itself that deteriorated its surface at a much faster pace than it normally would. The exposure to light and humidity darkened and discolored the pigments. Fine details in the face got lost as dyes mixed with the paint faded. Her brightly colored attire changed to shades of browns and black that we see today. Further applied varnishes during the early restorations darkened the painting even more, and today it has a rather colorless appearance of yellowed browns.

Italian painter, Giorgio Vasari was the first to write a comprehensive book about famous artists preceding his generation that he titled “lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors, and architects.” In his notes he reviewed the “Mona Lisa” as follows:

“The eyes had that luster and watery sheen always seen in life … the nostrils, rosy and tender, seemed to be alive … The opening of the mouth seemed to be not colored but living flesh.”

These are the words that describe the mastery of the artist that we sort of see here, only if we could take the sunglasses off to see the real colors.

So what happened to the painting? Because the artist painted on a poplar panel (soft, non-durable and susceptible to insect attack wood) that was removed from its original frame, the surface couldn’t withstand the changes in humidity, it warped and cracked. In the 18th century the braces were added in the back of the painting to stabilize the crack, and later the added frame and cross braces helped to stop the continuous warping of the panel. Over the years the panel has actually shrunk!

Today you can see the painting in the Louvre that’s kept in a bulletproof glass case. It’s rather small (21×30”) and it’s hard to enjoy the beauty of it, jumping over the heads of so many tourists surrounding it with the selfie sticks. To preserve the priceless artwork, this painting is kept in a climate-controlled room with a 50% (+\-10%) humidity and 18-21C (68-70F) temperature. To compensate for fluctuations in relative humidity, the case is supplemented with a bed of silica gel treated to provide 55% relative humidity (Wikipedia)

These are computer-generated models of the famous painting showing us true colors it probably had when Leonardo had just painted it. In these models we can see the pinks and the blues that Vasari mentioned and that have faded over the centuries.

 

 

Source for the images: World Mysteries at http://blog.world-mysteries.com/science/digital-restoration-of-leonardo-da-vincis-mona-lisa/

Other sources: Art history lessons | the Natural Pigments at http://www.naturalpigments.com/blog | Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mona_Lisa

Mona Lisa in the Louvre

If you’re interested to learn more, the Louvre museum website is a great source. Here you can see Mona Lisa up-close and personal going through the digitized images completed by the Louvre museum:

Close ups: http://focus.louvre.fr/en/mona-lisa/

Overview: http://focus.louvre.fr/en/mona-lisa/understand/most-famous-painting-world

Scientific tests: http://focus.louvre.fr/en/mona-lisa/compare/scientific-tests

If you paint

Here you’ll find some good information relevant to the process of painting that affects conservation. The longevity of your artwork greatly depends on the environment you place it in. The best conditions you can set in your home or office include constant room temperature and low humidity levels. Don’t expose your artwork to the extreme sunlight, heat, oxidation, or humidity (water) – these are the main causes for the artwork’s deterioration. Don’t wash the surface with water.

1.     Don’t paint on glossy surfaces.

2.     Don’t use a lot of medium, it dilutes and weakens the paint. Use just a little bit of oil to help the paint flow.

3.     Paint with lead white, not titanium white, or worse flake white.  Lead white holds up everything together like a glue and minimizes cracking.

4.     If you don’t paint large, stick to painting on professional panels, the surface of which doesn’t fluctuate as much as the canvas does.

5.     Have strong stretcher bars and frames that keep the painted surface flat and unchanged.

6.     Use linseed oil to form the most durable oil paint film, although it yellows more than the walnut oil. (The walnut oil is your second best option. It yellows less but dries much slower).

7.     Always paint on a previously dried layer!

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Hope you enjoyed the read!

 

 

 

 

10 contemporary male artists painting women realistically

10 Contemporary male artists painting women in classical tradition: the best in figurative art

 

Today I’d like to feature some of the best contemporary male artists who paint women in classical tradition. After decades of abstract art dominating the American culture, figurative painting sees a  gentle come back that is becoming stronger and more popular year after year. While contemporary art is an amalgam of so many subjects and styles, it’s often subjective to the viewer’s personal taste to determine who is the best in painting. Therefore, I don’t aim to say that the following artists deserve more attention than so many others, but I’d like to highlight the ones who show both technical and creative mastery in the depiction of their subjects, finding their inspiration in painting the female form.

1. Pino

Pino Daeni (1939-2010) was an Italian artist who painted women in fresh pastel colors that evoked feelings of love, admiration, and family warmth. Women dance, read or take a stroll in a field of flowers or at the beach. Sweet and lighthearted, the figures are painted in colorful, loose strokes, using the sophisticated color schemes that overlay and harmonize with each other like notes in music. Long skirts, comfy white shirts, and summer dresses get lost in the soft edges of the surroundings. To see the artist’s work, visit: http://www.pino-artist.com/

2. Serge Marshennikov

Russian artist, Serge Marshennikov is the representational painter who solely focuses on painting women. His youthful, semi-nude models rest on a couch in swirls of delicate fabric. The elaborate lace and cotton alike, it feels so gentle and real, the viewer feels tempted to reach out and touch it. Like the 19th-century French artist David, Serge plays with complex fabric folds and the luminous skin tones to create stunning contrast in his paintings.

Besides exhibiting a tremendous technical skill in oil painting, the artist possesses true talent composing his images with honest admiration and sensitivity to his models that transcend time and place. Follow the artist here: http://serge-marshennikov.tumblr.com/

3. Joshua LaRock

Joshua La’Rock

American artist, Joshua LaRock is a classical realist who studied with Jacob Collins to nurture his talents. Deeply rooted in classical painting, his portraits and still lifes are carefully planned and executed in classical tradition. Joshua describes his models in soft, slightly loose brushwork that breath with life. The award-winning artist works and teaches in New York. Connect with the artist here: http://joshualarock.com/

4. Emanuele Dascanio

Italian artist, Emanuele Dascanio draws and paints in the hyperrealism style with the models occupying huge surfaces. His subjects vary from women to old men, to still life. He often controls the light with a single light source (the Rembrandt lighting) to create dramatic charcoal drawings and paintings. To see the artist’s work, go here: http://www.emanueledascanio.com/en

5. Jeremy Mann

The first time I encountered Jeremy Mann’s work I was blown away by his loose style of painting that seemed totally real nevertheless. Painting cityscapes and women in thick, bold strokes of ink brayers and brushes, the artist creates a universe of harmonious, often monochromatic color relationships. Views of Manhattan and reposed models alike, his paintings make us contemplate a moment of beautiful silence that doesn’t scream with melancholy.

6. Gregory Mortenson

Gregory Mortenson is a classically trained artist whose recent body of work features Haitian children, who were painted by the artist after the devastating earthquake hit the country. His subdued color palettes show a beautiful restraint. To see the artist’s work: http://www.gregorymortenson.com/

7. Goyo Dominquez

Goyo Dominguez is a Spanish artist who paints women and still life, combining traditional painting techniques with the loose brushwork of the Impressionists. Influenced by Renaissance, his romantic artwork is colorful and pure with a sense of lightness and tranquility. Early in life he studied for priesthood and was encouraged to pursue the artistic career. His upbringing led the artist to create numerous murals and commissions for the church and more. To see his work: http://goyodominguez.com/

8. Brad Kunkle

American artist, Brad Kunkle paints women on the silver-leafed panels. He employs monochromatic grays and browns to describe his models. Brad often places women against the patterned background or lets the flying leaves revolve around the models like tiny birds. His figures could be the nymphs of magical forests that strike us with primal physical presence. To connect with the artist: http://bradkunkle.com/

9. Adrian Gottlieb 

Adrian Gottlieb is a classical portraitist working from his studio in LA. In his paintings he explores the relationship between color and poetry that unifies in timeless elements of beauty. Inspired by Rembrandt, the artist reigns supreme at capturing the luminosity of skin tones and fabric set against dark backgrounds. The amazing life-like appearance of his models is astonishing in all of his museum-quality paintings. He runs workshops from his studio and around the country. http://www.adriangottlieb.com/gottlieb-studios/

10. Louis Treserras

French artist and photographer, Louis Treserras paints fragile, young women with intense gaze in restrained, carefully controlled color schemes. Unlike Gottlieb, the artist always sets his figures against the light background. His female models possess the enigmatic and intense gaze that show character and thoughtfulness.  

Here you have it. Stay tuned for my future posts about the best contemporary female artists. 🙂

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How to use the artist’s color wheel

how to use the artist's color wheel

Color theory seems overwhelming at first, and I find it hard to remember all of the definitions at once. This visual tool is a must-have for all realist artists because it’s visual and makes it easy to reference colors and to make color choices!

In this video I explain how to use the artist’s color wheel to understand color theory and how to apply it to your artistic process.

 

www.VeronicasArt.com

Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf
Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf
paintings of women

Magical realism in portraiture: my painting process

Hello friends,

I love painting portraits!  Although I see human anatomy as the most challenging to master, I’m strongly pulled by this subject to depict the beautiful complexity of a human spirit. I paint from real people who hurt, suffer, love, betray, care and ultimately encourage me to become a better person. I’m drawn to faces with enigmatic eyes: I believe in capturing the soul’s essence through my art. I paint in magic realism style that’s sometimes called pop-surrealism. It’s a departure from the surrealism style since I don’t paint dreams, rather I paint the reality with a surreal touch.

With every new artwork I’m presented with a new challenge and a discovery. Although I often work from my photographs, drawing from life is paramount to understanding the human form and the anatomy. That acquired knowledge could be applied to drawing from pictures, not the other way around. I put the information in that is taken out by the photography.

I love color, and I feel I’m finally getting closer to understanding how color mixing works in oil painting. I have more control over my process and I’m able to create color harmonies that resonate within me and help me describe a special atmosphere in my art.

This short video gives an overview of my painting process: how I create an image, work with the model and paint in layers.
The second part of the video shows a quick glazing technique you can start using today, if you paint. 🙂

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Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf

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as-love-growns-within

How to paint realistic portraits with oil paint

In this video you’ll see my 5-step process painting a female portrait. I find the female form to be the most beautiful and compelling to paint. Although portrait painting is super challenging for me (I used to paint the stick figures). In my opinion, portrait painting has the potential for high emotional impact in comparison to still life painting.

This surreal artwork is the manifestation of self-acceptance. The theme of self-nurturing is symbolized by a woman’s gentle hand holding the white orchids. Like taking care of flowers, nurturing becomes vital for inner growth.

I use high-quality materials to complete every artwork. I paint several pieces a year because every artwork becomes a long process of planning and painting. What you see in a 20-min. video is a compression of weeks of work.

 

 

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how to blend colored pencils with solvents

How to blend colored pencils with a solvent

In this 1-minute video I show the basics of colored pencil blending with Gamsol. You can substitute Gamsol for another solvent like Turpenoid Natural.

You must have wax-based colored pencils like Prismacolor Premier or Luminance for this technique to work.

It works well on dark to medium colors. I use a different technique for blending the lights. 🙂

Stay kind,

Veronica

 

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Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! 

 

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