Category: Art blog

Browse drawing lessons, painting techniques, art show reviews, art history lessons, and studio notes in the art blog by Veronica Winters

Learn what makes a painting great Video #1 Part 2: Composition, Color, Lines and Emotion

In this video in the series you’ll learn about composition, color, emotion, painting techniques, use of lines, and other artistic elements artists used to produce their greatest works of art. This video will help you understand the qualities of great art, especially painting created before the 20th century.

Feel free to share the video with your friends on Facebook!

You’ll find my video notes below!

 

Jacques-Louis_David_madame recamier
Jacques-Louis David, madame Recamier, 5’9″x7’4″, 1800, the Louvre

Composition

All beauty is the result of fine proportions. – Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), architect

Greeks were the first to invent and to use the mathematical proportion, linear perspective and the concept of divine proportion and scale in art and architecture (the Pantheon). Because of a conversion to Christianity, these postulates were abandoned in the Middle Age Europe only to reappear in the Italian Renaissance art several centuries later.

Man is the measure of all things becomes the mantra of the Renaissance artists in the 1400-1500s as they explore the concept of rational thought by creating art that’s three-dimensional, visually balanced, mathematically proportioned and color unified. (The principles of the mathematical perspective were devised by Filippo Brunelleschi).

Composition becomes central to the creation of representational art.

Pentagram
pentagon and decagon in a circle veronica winters video series
Pentagram and decagon in a circle

In this diagram you see the fundamental principle of geometric division of space or the divine proportion. A symbol of unity, the circle holds a pentagon inside with the 5-pointed star of Pythagoras drawn inside it. Renaissance artists used this model to place their figures in a visually pleasing composition. (Source: Rhythmic Form in Art by Irma Richter, Dover Publications)

Raphael Ansidei Madonna pentagon composition, veronica winters video series
Raphael, Ansidei Madonna, 1505-1507 | pentagon composition

 

The school of Athens, Raphael, veronica winters video series
The school of Athens, Raphael, 1510, fresco in Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican, Rome | pentagon composition

This painting represents the exaltation of rational thought. The artist paints his contemporaries as models to represent ancient Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle standing right in the center of the composition. We see Leonardo as Plato, Bramante as Euclid, Raphael as Apelles and Michelangelo as Heraclitus. Raphael incorporates the architecture of the room by creating a balanced composition that proportionally relates to the interior. The fresco has 5 circles. The height of figures and their placement corresponds to the mathematical divisions seen in the picture.

Also see:

Poussin (French), “A dance to the music of time” (pentagon composition)

Besides using pentagons, artists create symmetrical and unsymmetrical balance with triangular compositions, the golden section rule, and several other devices.

Masaccio_ the holy trinity perspective
Masaccio (Italian), The Holy Trinity, fresco in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, 1428  | perfect linear perspective

In this painting while the iconography is standard, the unusual part is its perfect linear perspective. It marks Masaccio as the first Renaissance painter who achieved visual realism of the figures receding in space naturally with correct foreshortening.

Adam's Creation, Sistine Chapel_ceiling'_by_Michelangelo
Michelangelo (Italian), “The creation of Man,” Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Rome

In this artwork, the curving S-shape creates an equal movement and balance of shapes on both sides of the painting.

Also see:

Caravaggio (Italian), “The inspiration of St. Matthew” 1602. This painting features the S-shape design as well.

 

rogier_van_der_weyden_descent from the cross composition
Rogier van der Weyden, “Descent from the cross”

 

We can see examples of triangular compositions in religious art where a cross divides the space in half or is placed at a diagonal. In this painting the artist arranges the figures in a way that mimic the shape of the cross. The diagonal of Christ repeats itself in Mary’s shape.

virgin and child van eyck composition
Jan van Eyck, “The Virgin and Child” | triangular composition

The triangular shape was a popular element to design a composition. It creates balance with a line falling from the apex of the pyramid diving the picture in half.

claude lorraine_the embarcation of st. ursula golden section
Claude Lorraine (French), “Embarkation of St. Ursula,” National Gallery, London | the golden section

Lorraine consciously designed his paintings following the rules of thirds or the “golden section,” which is widely used today by photographers and artists alike.

Also see:

“Landscape with Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia,” 1682.

The artist also “framed” his landscapes with trees placed on both sides of a painting to create a circular motion, so a viewer never leaves his picture. He was also a master, creating a complete balance between the light and dark masses of trees, buildings, water and sky.

The Arnolfini marriage
Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini wedding” 1434, National Gallery, London

The artist strikes an equal balance of shapes around the middle where we see the joint hands.

 

Emotion

Canova, Venus and Adonis, sculpture detail
Canova, Venus and Adonis, sculpture detail

Emotion is the strongest reason for artists to create art and for people to look at it to own it. Art is a visual expression of our soul. We respond to a painting or a sculpture instantly using our feelings as opposed to logic, and that’s what makes us human. Meaningful art helps us connect with our inner life. It confirms a record of our emotions dwelling within our memories. Art is not only a cultural and historical object, but also a remedy that speaks universal language. Artists have a vast emotional landscape to reach deep to convey a story in a meaningful way.  It’s the feeling that draws us into the picture. Because we all have a unique set of experiences, we respond to the art in different ways. Some paintings leave us untouched, while others haunt us with their beauty, melancholy, joy or fear. Painting is a record of  artist’s interior life, and his/her ability to see beauty in both the beautiful and the ugly.

Because feelings can’t be quantified in immediate dollars and cents unlike brand named stuff, many don’t see value in art, think it’s useless, and try to cut funding for school art programs and art organizations. As a consumer driven society we are conditioned to ignore craftsmanship, uniqueness and beauty produced in singular products because a cheaper version of artistic creation is all around us for free on social media, TV, magazines, shop posters, book covers, pillow designs and so on. We see art but we don’t really study it. Only our encounter with the original artwork has that immediate impact, raw emotion that enriches us as human beings.

Images:

Caravaggio, Head of Medusa, oil on canvas, 24×22”, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

(In Greek mythology, the terrible Medusa had the power to turn anyone who looked at her into stone: a power she retained after being killed by Perseus.)

Frans Hals, The Jolly Toper, 1628-30, oil on canvas, 32×26”, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Flaming June, Frederic_Lord_Leighton_(1830-1896)
Sir Frederic Lord Leighton (1830-1896), Flaming June, 47” square, 1895, Puerto Rico

 

Vasnezov Sirin and Alkonost. The song of happiness and sadness
Vasnetzov, The song of joy and sorrow, oil on canvas, 133×250 cm, 1896, The Tretyakov gallery, Moscow
Russian painting vasili perov
Vasily Perov, Trine (Troyka), oil on canvas, 1866

Also see:

Isaak Levitan, Over the Eternal Peace, 1894, oil on canvas, 150x206cm, the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Ivan Shishkin, Winter, 1890, oil on canvas, 125 x 204 cm, Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

Ivan Shishkin, In the Wild North, 1890, oil on canvas, 161 x 118 cm, Museum of Russian Museum, Kyiv

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893, tempera and casein on cardboard, 36×29” (91x74cm), Oslo, Norway

 

Romantics:

Friedrich, two men contemplating the moon
Caspar David Friedrich, two men contemplating the moon | The Met | http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/438417

In this section I’d like to mention the 19th century Romantic Movement. Romanticism grew as a rebellion against the static, cold ideals of the Greco-Roman art, against religion and social order. Romantics were liberals who produced art that excited viewers with emotions, especially the fear and the power of wild, changing Nature as the source of the sublime. Romantics channeled these ideals via painterly movement and color. They wanted to reflect on real life, not some distant ideals. Artists celebrated freedom of creativity that found its support from new patronage of successful entrepreneurs and business class.

The funeral of Atala,1808,Girodet_de_Roussy-Trioson
Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson, The Funeral of Atala, 1808, oil on canvas, 5’6”x6’10” (1.67×2.10 m), the Louvre, Paris

 

Caspar_David_Friedrich_-the polar sea
German Romantic, Caspar David Friedrich, the Polar Sea (The Wreck of Hope), 1824, oil on canvas, 38×50” Hamburg, Germany

Also see:

Spanish artist Goya (1746-1828), The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, Los Caprichos, 1798, etching and aquatint, 8×6”, the Met, New York.

He creates horror scenes with monsters and owls, depicts his nightmares that’s said to criticize Spanish society as corrupt and demented. The artist was for the French revolution and against the king of Spain, yet was very popular as a court painter to Charles IV. Late Goya shows highly emotional art, already being a thought after portraitist, painting royalty as individuals with psychological insight into their personalities that lacked idealization on purpose.

Goya, The Family of Charles IV, oil on canvas, 9’2”x11’, Prado Museum, Madrid & the Third of May, 1808, oil on canvas, 8’9”x 13’4”, 1814-15. (In this painting the artist shows the execution of Madrid citizens dying for Liberty).

Swiss painter, Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) painted somewhat erotic, moody and supernatural pictures of dramatic Shakespearean scenes and dreams that ignited fear. In his painting the skill of drawing is given away in favor of emotions and imagination. He painted several variations of the painting The Nightmare, oil on canvas, 102x127cm, Detroit institute of arts

Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) The nightmare. 1790-91 version

Another Neo-Baroque French painter, Gericault (1791-1824) explored human extremes and violent action in his art. He painted people in action with the exuberance and energy of Baroque artists.

Mounted Officer of the Imperial Guard, 1812, oil on canvas, 9’7”x6’4”, the Louvre, Paris. He completed this artwork at just 21 years of age.

Other Romantic artists to check out are Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) and J.M.W. Turner.

 

Color

1880_Frederic_Leighton_-_Self_portrait
Sir Frederic Leighton, Self-portrait, 1880

We can divide representational art into two opposing groups. One is dominated by the composition design (Michelangelo), and the other by the use of color and light. While thoughtful design stands for rational thought in art, beautiful play of light and color evokes strong feelings.

Those of you who have tried oil painting know how hard it is to achieve color unity. It’s not only the skill of color mixing, but also the artistic vision and sensibility to color. In masterpieces we see hues that interact and support each other. The complexity of a color comes with deliberate color mixing, dragging or glazing of the paint, overlaying, and letting one hue dominate and complement the rest. (Ingres, David, Simon Vouet). The tradition of color descends from Titian to Rubens, to Van Gogh and Picasso. Seurat developed his own scientific color system – pointillism that didn’t get traction among artists, however.

Jacques-Louis_David death of marat
Jacques-Louis David (French), The death of Marat, 1793, neoclassicism  

 

Mary Cassatt, Sleepy baby, pastels on paper, 1910, impressionism 

The Impressionists redefined the use of color, not painting with black in the shadows. Unlike the majority of artists who worked in the studio, the impressionists painted outdoors, capturing the weather conditions at different times of the day. That’s why you see numerous paintings done of the same subject but in various lighting conditions. We can look at Claude Monet’s waterlilies and Edgar Degas’ dancers to understand how artists were interested in atmospheric and light perception of places and people – the impression, rather than the actual copying of details. The impressionists revolted against the Academism and its annual Salon painting competitions to organize their independent shows that exhibited unconventional, colorful art.

In Russia we see a rise of national landscape painting with artists like Shishkin and Kuindzhi who depicted vast, luscious and vivid landscapes of the countryside. Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh and Gauguin become the post-impressionism artists who focus on the spiritual in painting channeling it through color and symbols.

kuindzhi birch grove 1879
Kuindzhi, birch grove, 1879
Arkhip Kuindzhi (1842-1910), the moon night | Impressionism & realism

 

Use of shapes, lines and negative space

michelangelo drawing of Libyan Sibyl
Michelangelo, drawing of Libyan Sibyl

Line is the most vital element in visual art. Contour lines describe form and the initial drawing design. Drawings exist as personal records of artist’s idea and thoughts, having unique handwriting, gesture and energy. Line drawings can be very expressive if an artist varies shape, thickness and completion of the line. Rembrandt’s drawings capture everyday activities in sketchy but confident, almost child-like lines. Drawings of Michelangelo are beautiful studies of models where the lines define the physical anatomy and monumentality of male figures frozen in action. Da Vinci’s drawings perfectly describe the subject with soft, gentle lines reminiscent of the softness we see in his paintings. It’s amazing to see how Ingres describes figures in his hollow drawings of just contour lines with minimal shading. Japanese printmakers, Hiroshige and Hokusai became the two masters of woodblock printing in the country. They exercised great influence onto the Impressionists with their approach to composition design and the simplification of shapes. Hiroshige’s artwork is very linear and creates simplified shapes and patterns with the lines of varied quality.

Hiroshige, “Travelers passing Mount Fuji” woodblock print, 1831, Honolulu
Alphonse Mucha, The precious stones: Topaz, Ruby, Amethyst, Emerald, details, 1900, color lithograph, 26×11” each

The leading Art Nouveau designer and painter, Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) used geometric shapes, mosaics, and diagonals to create beautiful lithographs of women as idyllic symbols. Czech artist gave birth to his unique “Style Mucha” with his posters of a famed actress Sarah Bernhardt that made him prominent in French Art Nouveau. His use of definitive, contour line is central to his illustrative style.

Austrian artist Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) employs lines, patterns and shapes to create a unique visual experience. His figures are made of patterns with contour and geometric lines defining form.

Gustav Klimt, Tree of Life, 1909

 

As spectators we often don’t pay attention to the artistic use of negative space. Negative space is simply the background you see behind an object. It often affects how we perceive what’s in front of us by carefully controlling the tone, color and shapes in the background space. Let’s look at one of the Spanish realist artists – Cotan who uses the negative space to his advantage.

Juan Sanchez Cotan, Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber, 1602, oil on canvas, 27×33”, San Diego Museum of Art

Because the Spanish court and the Catholic church employed foreign painters (Titian) in the 16th century Spain, native artists were not popular among the two major patrons, and therefore they were able to develop their still life painting that was nonexistent before the 1590s. Cotan (1561-1627) becomes a pioneer in still life painting. A deeply religious man, he painstakingly arranged simple objects at a curve, juxtaposing bright objects against the dark tones, where rich background reinforces the realism of foreground shapes.

Similarly Caravaggio used the dark background to bring his subjects forward. He defined and mastered chiaroscuro – the balance of light and dark in his paintings. So much so that when a viewer stands in a dark interior of a church he sees abstracted patterns of light and shade. When the light is turned on, the entire painting changes to a story we see in a design. His mastery of color, negative space and contrast play with our perception of reality. (David and Youth bitten by a lizard).

 

Texture, paint and brushwork quality

Jan van Eyck (Dutch), painting detail that shows glazing techniques with seamless brushwork.
Caravaggio, St. John the Baptist. | This painting shows the effect of glazing where color (red) is built up in many layers of thin paint (glazing).

Our eyes travel across canvas to notice the unusual texture and brushwork, or purposefully to see none. Strokes of paint can describe the textures and shapes of fabric, skin and space. They can also generate an emotional response to the subject itself. The artistic ability to do it freely takes years of experimentation and practice, like we see in Sargent’s painting. Sargent’s art has spontaneous brushwork quality that’s actually deliberate and skilled. He was masterful at hitting the right ‘note’ in a single stroke, and when he was not, the artist wiped it off with a rag, and did it again. His paint strokes have relaxed elegance and fluidity.

Traditional methods involve several painting techniques. Here I’d like to mention the glazing techniques used by Ingres and David as well as the impasto method of painting perfected by Rembrandt. Glazing creates depth and sophistication of a color by using thin, transparent layers of paint. The impasto technique creates texture in thick, opaque strokes. These two seemingly opposing methods are often combined together in a single work of art, like we see in the Rembrandt’s paintings that create the glow in his portraits. The Jewish bride.

Jan Van Eyck (Dutch, 1390-1441) was a fundamental figure in northern Europe, the first to perfect the oil painting technique. He had strong interest in optics and light effects to create painstakingly detailed realism. (Ghent Altarpiece, oil on panel, detail). In this kind of art you don’t see any brushwork to convey realism. The artist uses lots of glazes to build up the color.

Rembrandt, the Jewish bride, oil painting detail showing the impasto technique.

Impasto (to put in paste, Italian) is applied thickly on a canvas or panel with a brush or a palette knife that raises the paint surface and makes the strokes visible. Impasto creates textures in clothes, jewelry, and skin that looks like a suggestion of the fabric or skin rather than a direct representation of it. The relief-like surface makes the lights pop more to attract our attention to the focal point. Rembrandt, Velazquez, Titian and Goya used this technique.

A lot of artists use a combination of techniques that include glazing, impasto, scumbling and more that produce different effects like you can see here.

Detail of a painted gown
Alexander Roslin: Marie Suzanne Giroust, 1734-1772, konstnär, gift
Alexander Roslin: Marie Suzanne Giroust, 1734-1772, konstnär, gift med Alexander Roslin.

Action step:

Pick an artwork that you really like, and try to explain why you enjoy looking at it in terms of composition, color, and subject. Practice your understanding of paintings, and your art appreciation will grow exponentially!  Have fun with it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed watching my video and discovered how story, composition, emotion and texture – all contribute to and influence on our perception of the masterpieces. A great painting offers a lot more more than a good composition, realism, or a vibrant color. A great painting gives you an emotional experience, something poetic and spiritual that transcends time and place, and allows you to understand yourself and the world around you!

Join the art collector’s circle to receive a FREE notebook with inspiration, demonstrations & more! Click here: http://eepurl.com/b-vEXP

 

Coming up next: Video #2 Contemporary Painting

In my next video you’ll learn what to look for in contemporary art.

Complete video series:

Video #1 Part 1 – Learn what makes a painting great

Video #1 Part 2 – you are here!

Video #2 Contemporary Art – coming soon!

Video #3 How to take care of your art collection – coming soon!

Video #4 How to frame art – coming soon!

Video # 5 Why you don’t need an interior designer to buy and display art in your home – coming soon!

Bibliography:

The Metropolitan Museum of art, http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection

History of Art, 5th edition, H.W. Janson

The gilded age, E. Prelinger

Rhythmic Form in Art by Irma Richter, Dover Publications

Wikipedia & tons of art history classes in college! 🙂

 

Click on the image to subscribe to my art notes and receive a FREE download with my art, inspiration and demonstrations!

 

 

 

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art appreciation: understanding the qualities of great art

Learn what makes a painting great: Video #1 Part 1

In this first video in the series you’ll learn about some of the greatest works of art, art movements, ideas and artistic elements. This video will help you understand and appreciate the qualities of great art, especially painting created before the 20th century. Feel free to share the video with your friends on Facebook!

Video Notes:
Overview:

Art Movements 0:42

Art Patrons 1:49

Art Education & female artists 2:21

Why do artists create art? 3:26

Artistic Elements : Story & Subject

Story & Subject 4:29

Biblical Scenes 5:16

Historical & Mythological Painting 9:03

Formal Portraiture 14:42

Landscape art 20:33

Genre art & Dutch still life 23:13

Kramskoy, portrait of a stranger, 1883

Join the art collector’s circle to receive a FREE notebook with inspiration, demonstrations & more! Click here: http://eepurl.com/b-vEXP

Next video: Video #1 | Part 2

In my next video you’ll learn about major artistic elements that artists use to design their paintings. They include composition, emotion, color, and the use of shapes, space and some painting techniques.

Painting detail of angels, art in Turin, Italy

Complete video series:

Video #1 Part 1 – Learn what makes a painting great – you’re here!

Video #1 Part 2 – Learn what makes a painting great, part 2

Video #2 Contemporary Art – coming soon!

Video #3 How to take care of your art collection – coming soon!

Video #4 How to frame art – coming soon!

Video # 5 Why you don’t need an interior designer to buy and display art in your home – coming soon!

Hand, painting detail, art in Turin, Italy
Bibliography:

The Metropolitan Museum of art, http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection

History of Art, 5th edition, H.W. Janson

The gilded age, E. Prelinger

Rhythmic Form in Art by Irma Richter, Dover Publications

Wikipedia & tons of art history classes in college! 🙂

Click on the image to subscribe to my art notes and receive a FREE download with my art, inspiration and demonstrations!

Step-by-step drawing: 3 graphite pencil techniques that work

Drawing is so fundamental to artist’s skill, we can hardly skip it, working in the realist tradition. Here I’d like to share several basic tools and techniques I use, drawing portraits in graphite pencil. I must note that these techniques are applicable to any kind of pencil/charcoal drawing, and these steps and tools are universal across any subject you pick to draw. In the end of this post I share my inspiration behind the drawing and a short video illustrating the steps. Let’s dive in!

#1 Use paper stumps with care

step by step drawing

I begin shading the image by placing the darkest darks on paper. You can compare this method to drawing from shadows to light. Here I draw on the Strathmore Bristol smooth paper that’s super smooth and thick. Because it accepts a limited number of layers, I need to be more mindful how dark I’ve got to go in the first step of shading. (Strathmore drawing paper, medium has a slight texture that’s more forgiving for general drawing techniques in pencil and colored pencil because it accepts more layers).

Paper stumps help artists blend the graphite and charcoal.

Once I’m done massing out the shapes in a soft, 4B graphite pencil, I use the blending stumps to blend large areas, such as the background and the hair. I’m mindful of the pencil pressure as well as of the stroke direction. It’s important to blend in the “right” direction and not to overwork the surface.

Blending with paper stumps unifies the surface, blending everything to a medium gray tone. Therefore, I strengthen the darkest areas immediately after that. Various sizes of paper stumps give me the precision I need blending the graphite.

Never use these paper stumps for colored pencil work! They will ruin the surface.

#2 Use kneaded eraser and the Tombow Mono Zero eraser

how to draw people

In the second step, I usually pull out the highlights with the kneaded eraser. Any brand of kneaded eraser works.  This type of eraser has dual benefit of lifting out the pigment without any residue and creating soft edges around the highlights, which look natural and give a realistic effect of soft light.

What’s to lift out? The lightest lights you see in your picture. I often lift out a bit more than I need to come back to it with finer shading over the lightest parts of my image to create subtle tonal transitions.

General’s kneaded eraser

Tombow Mono zero eraser is a great eraser that lifts out tiny details, such as thin strands of hair or tiny highlights in the pearls. This eraser also works great in colored pencil drawings when I try to erase hard to reach, very small areas in my work. I buy these on Amazon, and it takes about a month to arrive home from Japan! So if you decide to give it a try, order two or three at once, you won’t regret it!

Tombow eraser

#3 Shade in graphite in layers, erase and repeat

Kat with a shell, graphite pencil on paper, 9×12 inches

This step consists of several steps that’s simply a repetition of my actions. I layer the graphite by erasing, enhancing the dark values, and refining details. I develop my picture further with every new layer.

I work on subtle transitions with harder pencils, especially if it’s a skin tone. I usually shade with 2-4H gently transitioning from mid. tone to light. While I’m doing this, I pay attention to values to turn the form.

 

how to draw people
Drawing detail

Value scale

Every color has its own value scale going from the darkest dark to white. Because some colors are darker than the others naturally, they have a wider value range as opposed to the light colors. (Think of ultramarine as a dark color and yellow as a light one). Why do you need to know that?
You control your values at all times as you draw or paint to have a range of tones that makes your image look three-dimensional. Usually, students complete their drawing with a very limited range of tones. That’s why everything looks “just grey” or “too flat.”
Convert your color image into a black-and-white picture on your computer, and you’ll understand how dark the shadows should be, or how light your lights really are. Then step back and compare your drawing to that picture.

Drawing detail: hands with a shell

I finish working on my piece with a final fixative, spraying my drawing outdoors. I strongly recommend using professional-grade varnish, like the Grumbacher matte final fixative for dry media. It gives a very nice and even finish to my artwork that’s impossible to achieve with cheaper brands like Krylon.

Final fixative for dry media

My inspiration

Sandro Botticelli, The birth of Venus
Sandro Botticelli, The birth of Venus, 1486, Uffizi gallery, Florence

My pictorial inspiration for my drawing comes from the Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus. His shallow treatment of background space and the romantic figure of Venus coming out of the sea influenced me to create my goddess of the ocean. I worked on clothing and poses with a model to complete a fun photo shoot on the beach in Naples, Florida. The completed drawing is a study that I will later take to my oil painting.

You can read about the Botticelli’s artwork here.

Video

Here you’ll find a 40-sec. video as a summary of the step-by-step drawing described above.

 

How often do you draw in pencil? What’s you creative challenge? Let me know what you’d like to learn from me.

Share your thoughts in a contact form below!

Check out the step-by-step demonstrations here.
Join the art student club to receive a free drawing demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf

Venice biennial 2017:  a crappy show with rave reviews

If you regret that you haven’t seen the show yet, don’t. Venice Biennale 2017 is monumental on concept and degraded on visuals, heavy on installations, and weak on any form of painting, huge on scale and tiny on emotion. Chief curator of the Pompidou center in Paris, Christine Macel  has arranged the exhibition in a number of pavilions -realms which flow together with concept art titled “Viva arte Viva!”

While paid entrance to the biennale invites you to visit vast spaces of the Arsenale and the Giardini, a number of other pavilions are scattered throughout Venice in medieval palazzos with gardens with free entrance and somewhat better art. Regardless the location, each pavilion usually represents a single country with its native artists showing off their talent to the multilingual public.

9 chapters or realms, 86 countries, 120 artists- a single feeling of confusion. The show opens up with large-scale installations situated between a long stretch of bare, tall brick halls of the Arsenale (medieval Venetian warehouse for arms and boats).

Karla Black abstract sculptures

 

Venice biennial 2017: the Arsenale

Overall, the show is missing on making a powerful statement simply because the visuals fall far behind the heavy concept. Boring to the eyes and craftsy at best, the viewer has to read lengthy statements in provided brochures to “get” the idea behind the pieces. To install such exhibition in Venice is like to bring a first-grader to perform a concerto. Venice overflows with art and history, while the biennial rejects any slightest idea of having representational art on its grounds. The exception is the Venetian pavilion itself that defies the curator’s voice with sparkling jewelry, chandeliers, gowns and sophisticated glass that highlights artist’s labor and skill.

A woman’s head is picking out from a hole in the floor with piles of clothes arranged in a circle.

The Romanian Pavilion

Like in a fairy-tale about the naked king, fooling of people takes place in the exhibition stating what they see is ART.  Rooms after rooms visitors encounter piles of materials, fabric, metals or abstract sculptures, that often have profound meaning expressed through riveting writing. However these endless primitive installations and videos leave the spectators  confused on what ART signifies or how artful it really is.

First, art exists to bring our attention to something, to make a statement, or to leave a record of times lived. Curated as apolitical and without a clear message, the biennial misses to deliver on any of these points.

The German Pavilion

More rooms

Second, Visual arts are called visual for a reason. Because the artist’s call to attention and its impact is visual, conceptual art rarely leaves considerable emotional impact. Even when the concept is heavy, it’s weakened by the absence of the visual perception we all possess. Therefore, such installations should get a specific classification and not get mixed up or promoted as great ART. Such notion lowers and even abolishes any standard for an artist to aspire to, and for people to learn to understand or appreciate. Why did we keep high standard in music or dance and completely abolished the one in art? It’s not the absence of artists willing to travel years in education to achieve something worthwhile of people’s attention, it’s about few art critics and curators, influential art shakers who pick and choose, add and subtract – curate according to their tastes, business practice and economic whims.

 

The pavilion of Shamans

Art installations that catch attention

On the upside, the exhibition is gender-even, nationality-diverse, with the majority of the unknown artists representing both influential and obscure countries.

There are a few art installations at the main complex of the biennale that caught my eye, making a statement.

The Zimbabwe Pavilion
Zimbabwe pavilion
The Russian pavilion
Russian Pavilion: Change of Decorum. Growing aggression, terror, irrational life of people, control and manipulation of masses are the themes of the art installation with drones, people, soldiers and androids living in the “transparent world.”

The Chile Pavilion
Artist Bernardo Oyarzun explores the theme of the current representation of the Mapuche community, a group of indigenous inhabitants of southcentral Chile and southwestern Argentina. Dark room features an installation of over 1,000 Mapuche kollong masks, traditionally used in ceremonies. Note that 40 Mapuche artisans produced these handmade masks commissioned by the artist who installed them in the pavilion.
The Argentinean Pavilion
Claudia Fontes, The Horse Problem
“Making art is not a luxury. It’s a way of surviving that humans as a species have developed: we are, so far as we know, the only group of living beings capable of calling the attention of others to the meaning of life. That’s something to celebrate.” – Claudia Fontes
Other rooms

The Mongolian Pavilion

The Venetian Pavilion

Official website of the Venice Biennial 2017: www.labiennale.org

Art off the biennial in Venice

A nice surprise is a solo show by Carole A. Feuerman situated in a peaceful corner of a green garden at the Giardino Della Marinaressa, by the Venice Biennale (open and free to the public). The artist makes hyper-realistic, life-size sculptures of women in painted bronze and steel, resin and oil that look so life-like, you just want to reach out and touch the sculptures!

Kendall Island, lacquer on bronze, life-size sculpture

 

Project by Lorenzo Quinn on the Grand Canal in Venice. His monumental sculpture of white hands raises awareness about the climate change and the rising sea levels.

Art off of the biennial: street art in Italy

I must mention the performance that I saw on the streets of Turin. A young man pounded the keys of an old typewriter with rare obsession. Here is one of his finished pieces.

The artwork made using an old type writer.

veronica winters artist

 

Dali art: surrealism & symbolism at the museum in St. Petersburg

Dali art & surrealism

Art is not created in vacuum. It forms as a product of cultural, economic and emotional upbringing of the artist. Dali’s inner world is vast and complex, and his symbols become the hints to discovering and understanding the artist’s true nature, his mind and soul. Almost every artist begins his journey at the same Start line. Dali sets himself on a path with the desire to learn painting, lacking the super powers. The Dali museum in St. Petersburg divides the art collection into several sections from his early works and anti-art to surrealism, nuclear mysticism, and masterworks. Housed in a sunlit, modern building, the show begins with his very early paintings he completes at the 13 years of age.

Early Dali art may shatter your perception of someone’s talent. It doesn’t look great. Dali early paintings show different styles and influences, mainly borrowing from the French impressionists and Fauvism.

Dali art
Dali early works: his self-portrait and a portrait of his aunt

 

dali artwork basket of bread
Dali, the basket of bread. | Here we can see that the artist masters the classical approach to painting that opens him up to the development of his own style and subject matter.

Dali art styles & symbolism

Artistic styles

Dali (1904-1989) is the most notorious surrealist artist. His artwork has been one of my major influences for many years, mostly because the artist is able to express his psyche in visual terms so well, painting the melting life inside him that goes far beyond his dream state. With remarkable skill, he renders tiny details on small panels and huge canvases alike. In his work, Dali elongates the natural forms and de-personifies people with sightless, stretched or egg-like faces. He scatters the symbols throughout his paintings, and turns the rational world upside down with his vivid, barren landscapes of complex stories.

Deeply influenced by S. Freud’s work “The Interpretation of Dreams,” Spanish artist explores the irrational and his dreams in the beginning of his professional career. The surrealists rejected the rational mind, horrified by the rootlessness of the world war I, and explored the irrational instead. Although Dali is the best-known surrealist in the group, not many of us know that the artist breaks away from the surrealist movement due to some irreconcilable differences steeped in social and political views. The museum in St.Pete explains that Dali didn’t like the surrealists’ ideas of commune living and sharing, and his desire for self-promotion and individuality led him to part with the movement in a decade after he first joined the group in 1929. But at that time the artist gets fascinated with the optical illusions, creating his double image paintings, challenging our perception of rational and irrational.

Dali is a notorious artist who is able to redefine himself and his mission after leaving the surrealists and entering the times of abstraction and subjectivity. He brands himself as a classical artist who loves Renaissance and aims to infuse his art with spirituality and classical ideals, unlike the abstract painters of his generation. He comes up with a new term the “nuclear mysticism,” and begins to paint huge canvases filled with the universal subjects, religious and historical themes. Influenced by the advances in science and technology, Dali’s late works (1949-1989) transform the surrealism style into monumental optical illusions, historical symbolism and the reverence for the universal. Besides having a number of solo shows in Spain and America, in 1974 he opens up his own museum in Figueres, Spain to house his art.

Symbolism

Art is not created in vacuum. It forms as a product of cultural, economic and emotional upbringing of the artist. Dali’s inner world is vast and complex, and his symbols become the hints to discovering and understanding the artist’s true nature, his mind and soul. Through his art Dali reveals many of his fears, such as his sexual fear of women and his intense relationship with his short-tempered father. Dali also had a brother. Also named Salvador, he died as a toddler less than a year before Dali’s birth. This family tragedy was deeply embedded within the artist’s psychic and affected his perception of himself. Numerous surrealist paintings project the artist’s sexual anxieties in his self-portraits with soft, stretched heads and figures.

In his paintings, Dali often explores the authoritarian rule of his father during the surrealist period, depicting his father faceless and indifferent. The artist also paints small, father-and-son figures representing former closeness. Small, distant figures give a feeling of warm memories the artist longs for. The surrealist landscapes often have the airless, orange-yellow glow that contrast the dark blue sky sky and the mountains.

One of the main subjects for Dali is women. He often depicts women deformed, stretched or as the cut-out figures during the surrealist period. He often depicts his nanny as an old figure with a cut out body supported by the crutches.  Women often turn their faces away from the viewer to conceal the artist’s emotions towards women. In his late works women become Venuses, saints and symbols of female beauty for the artist.

During the surrealist period, Dali paints elongated figures supported by the crutches. The crutches represent a fear of impotence, death. In his work, rotting, limping bodies suggest the horrors of wars.

Ants and flies are symbols of death and decay, decomposing the pray.

Roses represent female beauty and sexuality.

Venus represents female love and beauty.

Melting watch represents the fluidity of time. The “Persistence of memory” is influenced by the discovery of the atomic energy and the sub-atomic world. Dali breaks the word into rational sub elements where Time stops limiting us. The image of the melting clock came to the artist after seeing a piece of cheese melting under the sun.

Melting, broken eggs are symbols of memories in the mother’s womb.

Keys represent unlocking the unconscious mind.

Piano represents a fond memory of summer concerts at the beach, and a scary memory of books his father placed on the piano that had the illustrations of the sexually transmitted diseases (St.Pete museum reference)

 

Gala: Dali’s muse & promoter

Dali was a tireless self-promoter. Together with his Russian-born wife and manager – Gala (Elena Ivanovna Diakonova) they worked on connections, marketing, and new job opportunities for the artist. Dali might not have achieved his fame during his lifetime, if he and his wife didn’t pursue those relationships. The couple lived between the U.S. and Europe, while Dali not only painted and exhibited his work in galleries, but also worked on his jewelry, opera sets and costume design. He also contributed to the art scene with his book writing, numerous illustrations, holograms production, and the creation of the dream-like sequences for Hitchcock’s film Spellbound. 

It’s interesting to see how close Dali and Gala were, how she influenced the artist, and how strong their partnership was despite their open marriage arrangements. Considerably older and not a striking beauty, Gala captured Dali’s heart at once when they first met in 1929. She quickly began an affair with Dali, and became his life-long muse. Gala divorced her husband, French poet and one of the founders of the surrealists, Paul Eluard to marry Dali.

We can recognize Gala’s face in many of his paintings where she models for the artist both clothed and nude.  Gala becomes a symbol of female perfection for the artist. In the Dali museum at St.Pete you see Gala in a double painting of “Lincoln” and as virgin Mary in “Columbus.”

Dali dies in 1989 after receiving the international acclaim with the retrospective shows in Germany, Spain, U.S.A, Holland, England, and Japan. Almost every artist begins his journey at the same Start line, but not everyone gets to the finish line. As artists, we go through several developmental stages, and only the persistent ones win. Dali succeeds threefold.

The Dali museum in St. Petersburg, FL

Below you’ll find some of the Dali artworks shown at the Dali museum in St. Pete.

“Archaeological reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus” is an important surrealist painting for Dali. Inspired by the original of Millet, Dali saw this painting as a reproduction during his childhood and its figures haunted the artist for life. Dali paints his version of Angelus depicting two primordial people, male and female. We also see Dali twice in this painting as a boy with his father in the center and with his nanny at the bottom of the figure. The primordial couple symbolizes human relationship and destruction, showing the deforming, anguished figures set in a melancholic, colorful landscape. His painting projects an intense feeling of loneliness, loss and inevitability.

 

Dali artwork
Dali surrealist work (see the symbolism section for the descriptions).

 

dali artwork
“Slave market with the disappearing bust of Voltaire,” 1940 shows us two images. In this double painting we see a bust of Voltaire as the symbol of reason hiding within the two female figures in the slave market. Here Dali argues that we’re enslaved to rationality, while the artist tries to open up a different channel for our perception, painting the irrational dreams and the unconscious. Dali suggests that the rational mind can’t always lead us to the truth. What do you see?

 

Dali artwork Lincoln
Dali, the portrait of Abraham Lincoln, see the description below.

 

Dali late artworks
Late works: “The Ecumenical Council” shows Dali in the left corner and Gala as St.Helena. She connects the artist with the spiritual world above. Influenced by Velasquez, the artist paints on a huge scale with the monumental themes of science, history and religion.

 

 

dali artwork nuclear mysticism
In his late works, Dali paints optical illusions on a monumental scale. #1 the double image painting shows “Gala contemplating the Mediterranean sea which at twenty meters becomes the portrait of Abraham Lincoln.” Gala is a symbol of perfection and the Lincoln’s head with the crucifix give references to death and the fleeting nature of beauty. #2 “The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus” shows the vast discoveries of humanity as well as Dali as an explorer. He paints Columbus as a young man stepping out to a  new world. #3 “The Hallucinogenic Toreador” depicts Venus 33 times. The goddess of love and beauty, the second figure hides a Toreador face within her body. The toreador represents masculinity, a boy represents and artist, and a dying bull shows death. The bust of Voltaire symbolizes reason, and at the top left we see Gala’s face again. This painting represents Desire and Death.

 

The Dali museum houses a pretty vast, once private art collection of A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse. They started their Dali collection in 1943. In 1982 the Dali museum in St. Pete was inaugurated. They simply ran out of wall space and decided to build a museum to gift their art collection to the public. What’s amazing to see here is how many artworks they acquired from one artist that included both huge canvases and tiny pieces, all of which hung in their house in Cleveland.

I recommend to sign up for the virtual tour of one of the Dali’s paintings on the 3d floor (free with admission). It’s really fun. Also, download the museum’s app that guides you through the collection. Check out their special events schedule and evenings at the museum.

Official websites: St.Petersburg http://thedali.org/ and Spain https://www.salvador-dali.org/

 

dali quote

 

Check out the art lovers guide to surrealism by Angela Latchkey here: https://www.angelalatchkey.com/blog/the-super-huge-art-lovers-guide-to-surrealism/

 

 

veronica winters artist

 

frida kahlo art st petersburg

Frida Kahlo Art in St. Petersburg

Frida Kahlo 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. http://thedali.org/

 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.

 

contemporary women artists

17 contemporary women artists: the best of real and surreal in painting

Contemporary women artists

Realism is coming back! Lost to decades of abstract art, contemporary figurative painting is experiencing a rebirth in a variety of styles. Contemporary figurative artists are becoming more popular among the gallerists and collectors alike, and with that the female artists rise and take part in more art shows than ever. Let’s look at the roundup of some female painters who continue the tradition of classical painting, yet are subjected to modern times and revelations.

Every artist wants to achieve a unique voice in art that becomes a record of emotions, experiences and history. Many are influenced by baroque painting, wish to find purpose or to depict the duality in everyday life. Yet, the approaches to painting are vastly different. In this interview every painter answers a single question. What they want others to see in their art. Let’s look at their answers!

(Please note that all artwork is copyrighted by these female artists painters. Contact them directly. In the following posts I’d be adding more representational artists to this colorful array of contemporary women artists).

 

Margo Selski

By using a safe and familiar composition, my goal is to lull the viewer into a false sense of comfort and familiarity, where they are drawn to images which, upon further viewing, become curious, uncomfortable and perhaps even dangerous.

Margo Selski, il and Beeswax on Canvas, 40 × 30 in, RJD gallery

Margo Selski creates a fairy tale universe depicting her family secrets in the surreal paintings. These are tightly balanced, emotional riddles often starring her children dressed in elaborate clothing. While the narratives seem fantastical, they are autobiographical since every artist depicts parts of herself in art. Every painting shows duality that creates tension. Every painting is a world of fragile self-exploration and heightened emotions. There is a sense of passing time that flows through fantasy that becomes a hidden reality. Influenced by Flemish painting, the artist also plays with the medium, creating false craquelure where lines look like cracks in old paint.

Artist’s talk: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gw0m7VAl4Hs

Anne-Marie Kornachuk

I want people to see a real figure, in a moment of intimacy, surrounded by the abstracted beauty of the fabric.

Anne-Marie Kornachuk, oil painting

Canadian artist Anne-Marie Kornachuk paints women in swirling gowns where colorful fabric shimmers around the figure to seduce us with visual beauty. Influenced by Baroque painting, the artist creates a dynamic flow between the silky fabric and dark background. Her female figures seem to be confined within the boundaries of canvas, yet they are free to jump, making beautiful patterns of light and dark.

The artist’s striking paintings and oil painting techniques are featured in the art inspiration book titled Art Lessons in Realist Drawing, Painting & Beyond. 

To learn more: https://www.annemariekornachuk.com/

Roos van der Vliet

What I want to happen between a viewer and my work is not really up to me. It is something personal between the two of them, it goes beyond me. I do tend to influence this moment of course by always trying to let my portraits stare directly at the viewer, by letting them tell a non verbal story, solely by their eyes. It can’t be heard but you can sense some of it by watching them closely. People often walk by art without really looking. I hope that my paintings almost force the viewer to stand still and look back.

female artists 21st century, women painters
Storytellers xvi, acrylic on canvas, 2016

Female artist painter from the Netherlands, Roos creates realistic portraits of women with soulful eyes who are also constricted by their own hair. The enigmatic gaze of every Storyteller acrylic painting almost forces us to stare back at the model. Just like in the Margo Selski’s paintings, we can sense polar duality in the images. It’s a mental struggle between the invisibility and popularity, the known and unknown, the outer appearance and inner world. Interested in representing the world realistically, Roos makes every effort to depict the soft flow of hair and the honesty in the model’s eyes as human as possible.

http://www.roosvandervliet.nl/

Kelsey Beckett

Little lives

Kelsey Beckett is an upcoming, talented artist-illustrator who stylizes the female form to reveal romantic fragility in her contemporary figurative painting. Influenced by Manga, her oil and acrylic paintings are beautiful expressions of color, form and composition.

http://kelseybeckett.com/

 

Yuka Sakuma

Yuka Sakuma, natural mineral pigments, Japanese ink, acrylic paint on hemp paper

Yuka utilizes traditional materials like natural mineral pigments and Japanese ink to create paintings of women in Japanese style. To be more precise, these are artworks of beautiful, little girls that project innocence, playfulness and immaturity that usually gets lost with age. The artist creates a world of innocent childhood in her drawings where images of little girls often express emotional duality. Yuka is one of contemporary female painters who utilizes muted palette and flowing hair to express ethereal feelings.

Follow: https://www.instagram.com/sakuma.yuka/

Marina Dieul

I want others to see “joy” in my art. Joy of creating, joy of seeing beauty in little things, joy of inventing possible stories and meanings… It looks like people can feel it, I have an endless number of testimonies from collectors and followers saying that my art make them smile.

Marina Dieul, female artists painters
Marina Dieul, MORPHOGENESE 3, 8x 8 inches, oil painting

Marina Dieul was born in France but moved to Montreal, Canada almost two decades ago where she paints playful images of cats, mice and other animals. Her trompe l’oeil paintings express curiosity and amusement and we can’t help it but smile looking at paintings of cats chasing mice. Marina’s dramatically lit portrait paintings often depict children that give us a sense of wonder and innocence as well as show incredible artistic skill. The female artist won many prestigious awards with her figurative paintings. To learn more: www.marinadieul.com

 

Kei Meguro

Kei Meguro, pencil drawing and digital manipulation

Japanese female artist, Kei Meguro creates pencil drawings of women she calls ‘babes.’ A lot of them are drawn from famous models or celebrities but exemplify her unique style that’s influenced by traditional Japanese art. The simplification of form and a near absence of any color are balanced with incredible details in the eyes and hair. The artist’s anatomical accuracy as well as fragility of the faces mesmerizes viewers. Unlike other contemporary female artists painters, Kei processes her drawings in Photoshop, cleaning up the smudges and adding layers of textures and color.

The artist graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York where she developed her illustrative style and now works for major fashion and design companies. To learn more: https://keimeguro.com/

June Stratton

My paintings are imagined blends of beauty and nature. These paintings are often intentionally idealized representations of emotional impressions from my dreams – entwined with elements of the earth, sky and water that surround my real world. I use symbols and my feminine viewpoint to tell a very loose, abstracted narrative. As in my dreams, my muses cannot see all things, are sometimes unable to speak and frequently appear to be floating.

Resemblance, oil, silver, arches paper mounted on panel

June Stratton’s art is ethereal. These are paintings of young women depicted in soft hues of blue and silver that resemble water. While not always anatomically correct, her beautiful figurative paintings project magic and fragility. These paintings are visual stories where figures melt into the background only to reappear in a new dimension. The silver-leafed fractions add specks of light to her images. Connect: www.junestratton.com

 

Audrey Kawasaki

The girls/women I paint are fictitious characters. They are all a manifestation of this one imagined person. Through her, I’d like the viewers to feel her confidence, strength, and independence. But she is also fragile and vulnerable and has all the weaknesses we all have. I like to play with that juxtaposition and balance. Things are never black and white. There’s a whole array of greys in between, and I like to explore that complexity.

It Was You, oil, graphite, and ink on wood panel 24″x24″, 2014

Audrey Kawasaki’s figurative paintings are beautiful renderings of female form and landscape. Art-Nouveau-elegant, sensual curves flow one into another to depict innocence and eroticism, seductiveness and melancholy, passion and coolness. Her use of patterns and shapes is reminiscent of Gustav Klimt, while manga-influenced figures show beautiful renderings of women who live in a magical universe.

To learn more: http://www.audrey-kawasaki.com/

 

Mary Jane Ansell

Mary Jane Ansell, study of a white hat, oil painting

Based in the U.K., Mary Jane works on hyper-realistic paintings of women that look fashionable and modern, yet fall back onto classical ideals in portraiture. These are figures lost in quietness and self-reflection. Mary Jane paints indirectly, meaning that the artist layers paint to achieve gradual likeness, depth and detail. Her female figures have luminosity and rich subtlety in skin tones pared with some simplification in clothing and background space.

 The artist exhibits internationally. To learn more: http://maryjaneansell.com/

 

Teresa Oaxaca

I would like for viewers to get more interested in learning about aesthetics.

women painters
“Somnambulant Clown”, 32×48 inches, oil on canvas

Dolls, dolls, dolls! A beautiful obsession, a dream, a collision of past and present. The Washington D.C. based artist Teresa Oaxaca creates large paintings that inherit the exuberance of the Baroque and Rococo periods. Her oil paintings become records of lush compositions with clowns, women, fabric, and dolls reminiscent of rich artistic history, especially Italy. Classically trained at the Florence Academy in Italy, the female artist mesmerizes us with her skillful drawings and vivid oil paintings that depict figures talking, crying or smiling at us. Dressed like a beautiful doll herself, Theresa embodies her paintings visually during the artist receptions and workshops held internationally.

To learn more: http://www.teresaoaxaca.com/

 

Anna Wypych

What intrigues me the most is inner strength. My main goal is to make people – viewers of my works, feel and see their own inner strength.

Leaving toxic habits.” oil on canvas, 100/80cm 39,5/31,5 inch, 2015

Anna Wypych is a Polish figurative realism artist who paints women as allegories of human condition. Sensitive to her environment, she employs gentle color palette to convey her thoughts and psychology of people around her with undeniable sincerity.  Sometimes she paints multiple figures in a single painting like in a photography that dance, jump or interact with each other.  Semi-nude figures seem to be variations of one person that moves across space.

To learn more: http://annawypych.pl/

 

Julie Heffernan

Julie Heffernan’s oil painting

Julie Heffernan’s imaginative painting is a mix of history, allegory, figurative and still life – all combined in numerous self-portraits. Presented as a tall, skinny, half-nude woman in the elaborate skirts or without them, she is surrounded by the forest, animals or shiny palace rooms. Her most recent artwork-magical landscapes addresses the climate change and how humanity slowly kills the planet that’s different in mission from her older artwork.

http://www.julieheffernan.net/statement

Katherine Stone

When I look at my favorite artists (or read my favorite authors, or listen to my favorite musicians), what appeals to me is that they have created a little universe with its own laws of aesthetics, its  own language, its own habits and forms.  The artists have plunged deeply into their vision.  So I guess what I want people to see when they look at my art is a recognizable voice.

A Certain Slant of Light, 20×13″, oil on panel, 2015

Katherine Stone is a Canadian realist artist who paints children and still lifes. In her figurative paintings you won’t find excessive cuteness or sweetness usually captured in children. We rather see peaceful and subdued colors with a careful observation of light. A truly amazing craftsman, the artist often uses dramatic light (chiaroscuro), glazes and other traditional painting techniques to convey realism. Her still life paintings are often symbolic of life and death, and the irreversible passing of time.

In this painting we look at a portrait of Maddie, Katherine’s visual inspiration and model since her cousin’s daughter was a toddler.  The artist’s literal inspiration for the painting comes from the Emily Dickinson poem. Soon we see how both the artist and the poet become sensitive to a short presence of daylight in winter.

Connect: http://www.katestoneart.com/

 

Kerry Simmons

When people look at my art, I’d like them to see beauty, to experience the work as something that enhances and adds to life’s experience.

Kerry Simmons, The Graduate, oil on panel, private collection

Kerry Simmons is one of few female artists painters who works and illustrates in colored pencil, pencil or oil paint, living and working in New York. Some of her drawings depict women as allegories, or the Barbie dolls that evoke a sense of melancholia, isolation and abandonment. They are intense self-portraits even when the physical model is different from the artist but somehow carries the resemblance to Kerry’s beautiful face. A very talented figurative painter, her paintings are heavy with quietness and mystery.

To learn more: http://www.kerrysimmonsart.com/

 

Tanja Gant

I’m hoping that when people look at my work they see beyond the technical part. Sometimes my portraits are “snapshots” of people I’ve met and who have inspired me and other times my work tells a deeper, personal story. I would like my work to leave an impression and make people question the reasons behind each drawing.   

Tanja Gant, Noesis, 12×22″, colored pencil drawing

Tanja is an amazing talent. Self-taught, her colored pencil drawings is not a plain exercise in skill, rather an amazing ability to capture every person’s character from a unique vantage point. She often draws her family members and weaves her personal experiences into her colored pencil drawings. The artist makes work that encourages asking questions. You can marvel at her drawings here: http://www.tanjagant.com/

She is also one of the artists explaining her techniques at Art Lessons in Realist Drawing, Painting & Beyond. 

Victoria Herrera

I strive to serve as a reminder to the viewer of the beauty that exists in nature, which we often take for granted. Also, the piece should serve as a vehicle for the viewer to pause, observe and find solace in it.

femaile artists 21st century, women artists
Victoria Herrera, Frances Hope, 40 x 40 inches, oil on linen

Victoria Herrera is one of female artists’ painters who creates large-scale artwork to entice the viewer to pause, step in, and to self-reflect on the emotions and the meaning of life. Every new oil painting is a masterful fit in capturing gentle yet seductive petals with high-contrast design and a controlled color palette. The artist often incorporates semitransparent shapes and circles into the backgrounds as a record of her near death experience. Her oil paintings of flowers serve as transformative experiences to capture simplicity, nature and God.

To learn more: www.victoriaherrerafineart.com

With such wonderful roundup of contemporary female painters American art scene is destined to flourish and thrive. Stay tuned for more contemporary figurative artists to come! Meanwhile check out my other art show reviews and posts.

King Woman art show in New York 

19th century Russian Art & Portrait Painting

10 Contemporary Male Artists Painting Women

Figurative Realism at Miami Art Week 2017

 

Check out prints and art gifts at https://society6.com/veronicawintersart