Technique Tuesday: Rhythm

What is it?

Today’s Technique Tuesday post is taking a look at one of the Elements and Principles of Design, rhythm. This can be a tricky concept to wrap one’s mind around when talking about visual arts, but it is very applicable! In reference to audible sound and physical movement, rhythm involves a pattern of sounds and silences, movements and pauses, alternating and repeating, sometimes frenetic and sometimes very calm and slow.
The Elements and Principles of Design (line, form, color, pattern, rhythm, unity, etc.) are the building blocks of art, and when a piece of artwork is analyzed, these are the tools with which we can describe in words what makes an image successful, impactful, and visually pleasing. With every successful image, the eye is led. We’ll do a post soon explaining just what that means and how important it is in visual arts, but essentially it means that artists set up every element on their surface in such a way as to draw a viewer in and lead their gaze around on a certain path.
Rhythm, in reference to visual artwork, describes the way that the elements (line, color, value, composition) flow into one another. There is a movement to the way we experience the image. Thinking of this concept in musical terms is a fascinating and effective way to grasp the ideas more fully. Imagine that as you look at a painting, the movement of your eye results in audible sounds. Would the sequence of sounds be “legato”, a musical term referring to notes that slowly and easily flow into one another, or more “staccato”, which refers to abrupt changes and vivid contrast? “Hearing” the “music” of a painting helps the viewer appreciate more deeply the thoughtful way in which the artist arranged the elements of line, value, etc.

Examples from art history:

Take a look at these works painting by iconic artists throughout history, and try to imagine the sounds and rhythm created by the movement of your eye:

(top row, from left) Rene Magritte, “Golconda”; Henri Matisse, “The Dance”; Wifredo Lam, “The Jungle”; (bottom row, from left) James Abbott McNeill Whistler, “Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1”; Vincent Van Gogh, “Church at Auvers”; Johannes Vermeer, “Girl with a Pearl Earring”; Edward Hopper, “People in the Sun”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Two years ago, Principle Gallery held an exhibition featuring artists Valerio D’Ospina and Greg Gandy, and titled the show “Tempo and Pause”– this was indeed a reference to the contrast and variety of rhythm found in the works of these two painters. We’ve just opened another exhibition this year featuring these two incredible artists, and the contrast in rhythm is just as striking and fascinating! Both artists make use of this Principle of Design, with incredibly different methods and incredibly different results. If you haven’t yet, we highly recommend coming to see it in person! If you’re unable to, however, definitely make sure to check out the whole show on our website here, and email us at info@principlegallery.com for a full digital PDF preview. Once again, take a look at some of the works in the show and keep rhythm in mind– the variety and intricacy is fascinating! (I’ll also throw in a comparison between Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and Valerio D’Ospina’s blurred homage to it– very different rhyhtms!)

Valerio D’Ospina, “Intersection”

Valerio D’Ospina, “Duomo di Milano”

Valerio D’Ospina, “Cab Ride in Manhattan”

(left) Vermeer, “Girl with a Pearl Earring”; (right) Valerio D’Ospina, “Blurred Icons (Girl with a Pearl Earring)”

Greg Gandy, “Old Car Pileup”

Greg Gandy, “Mission Cool”

Greg Gandy, “Downtown at Sunset”

Greg Gandy, “1967 Plymouth Valiant”

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Robert Liberace: The “Living Master”

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The Studio of Robert Liberace

As an artist, Robert Liberace expresses the human body in way that would make the Old Masters proud. His interest in art history, anatomy, and technique are so obviously presented in his work. However, his artistic talent isn’t the only skill that has encouraged the title “living master.” Liberace is also a fantastic and world renowned art instructor. He captivates his students with his insightful lessons and valuable pieces of advice. He refers to individual muscles by name as he captures them on the canvas. He is absolutely adored by art students and art lovers from around the world.

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Robert Liberace’s Live Painting Demo, August 2017

We were able to witness, first hand, the immense following Liberace has established for himself when he presented a Live Painting Demonstration, last Friday in the gallery. We welcomed a young woman named Shelly, who had never modeled before, to be the artists subject. Liberace set up his easel, prepared his paints, then began his creative process. He had Shelly move into a few different poses until he found the perfect one. As the night progressed Shelly’s features became more and more prominent on the canvas.

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Start of Demo

 

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After the first fifteen minutes

 

 

 

 

 

Shelly’s defined jawline and beautiful hair became recognizable in less than fifteen minutes. Another noteworthy feature of Shelly was her well applied makeup. She wore a combination of shimmered eye shadows and completed her look with a dark purple lipstick. Such a look was definitely something new for the artist, but it was something he didn’t shy away from. Liberace grabbed a thinner brush to express her eye makeup and the deep purple color of her lipstick. He matched the color perfectly. DSC_0146

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The crowd watched as the artist developed a spectacular piece and led them through his process. Liberace engaged with his audience by describing the materials he used, how to create certain details, and how to paint the human body.

Meanwhile, other guests mingled, enjoyed the refreshments, and took in the incredible new exhibition featured in the front room of the gallery. Live painting demonstrations are such fun and exciting events, and we encourage anyone in the area to come and join us when we’re able to host them! Mark your calendars, because next month, after the opening of the two person exhibition for Valerio D’Ospina and Greg Gandy, Valerio will be treating us to a live painting demonstration on Saturday afternoon, September 23rd, from 1-4 PM!

To check out a time-lapse video of the Robert Liberace demonstration, check out our latest upload on YouTube here!

If you can, do stop by the gallery in the next couple of weeks to see the Robert Liberace exhibition– his works are just breathtaking in person! To make sure you’re up to date on all the latest news about exhibitions and events at the gallery, like live painting demonstrations, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter by filling in the “contact” form on our website here!

GC Myers “Truth and Belief” Opening Reception

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us for the opening reception of the GC Myers solo exhibition “Truth and Belief” last evening! It was a wonderful turnout and we’ve had such an exciting amount of sales so far in the show. We love giving you all the chance to meet and chat with the incredibly talented artists that we represent, and the artists love it as well. Last night, as you can see up at the top left here, we even had a young budding artist present GC Myers with some of her own artwork inspired by his paintings! If you weren’t able to make it last night and you’d like to meet GC Myers, you’re in luck– he’ll be back in September for an artist talk, so be sure to follow our social media pages or join the mailing list to be reminded of the date!

To see the images from the “Truth and Belief” show, check out our website here!

Technique Tuesday: Linear Perspective

Welcome back to a new Technique Tuesday post! This week we’re going to be discussing something called linear perspective, also known as the Unsung Hero of Realism. Truly, this is one of the most important techniques ever to be developed in art history. It changed the game completely, but we’re really so used to seeing it these days that we don’t think about it much! So let’s take a look:

What is it?

The term “perspective” in art generally refers to the manipulation of the image so that it appears to have the depth that we can perceive with our eyes. We talked once about atmospheric perspective on this blog series, and the way that blues and cool tones in the background help to give the illusion of far distances and vast spaces. Linear perspective refers to the use of what are called “vanishing points” and the way that everything in view relates to those vanishing points, which will depend on how far those things are supposed to be from the viewer’s vantage point. Don’t worry, I’m going to use pictures soon to help explain.

Examples from art history:

Before the Renaissance–which I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned before, but it was a pretty important time for art history– (<–kidding, I bring it up in nearly every post) artists used something known as oblique perspective, which is a fancy way of saying lack of perspective, really. Think about the drawings that little kids make, especially if there are a lot of people in them or houses or trees in the far background. Instead of figuring out precisely how all these objects relate to one another geometrically (because they are children and they’re just having awesome fun drawing), the kids just kind of spread everything in the picture around on the piece of paper, usually putting something that in reality is further “back” simply closer to the “top” of the page. For a very long time, this was the way even seasoned artists rendered their works. Let’s take a look at some pre-Renaissance works of art which, while gorgeous, are definitely before the discovery of linear perspective:

from left to right, examples of ancient Egyptian, Byzantine, ancient Chinese, and medieval German artworks

Even if you don’t know about geometry or linear perspective, these images would likely still look “off” in some way to you. It wasn’t really until the Renaissance, when super genius Filippo Brunelleschi made a nifty hole-in-a-mirror device, and then some subsequent paintings and drawings to prove his point, that artists began to understand linear perspective, and the very important notion it brings with it: foreshortening.

Foreshortening involves the visual effect that objects in our line of sight will appear differently depending on the viewer’s perspective. For an example, think about preparing dinner on your perfectly circular dinner plate, and then sitting down to eat and placing that plate in front of you. As you sit there looking at the plate, you no longer see a perfect circle (even though the plate is perfectly circular!), because of your perspective. Depending on how something is angled toward you the viewer, parts of that building or person or object will appear shorter or smaller than they really are. In the example above and on the left, even a road which is the same width down its entire length will appear to get smaller as its distance from the viewer increases.

As I mentioned, this was a game changer for artists in the Renaissance. Many of the early examples from the Renaissance showing successful use of linear perspective focus on one-point perspective, viewed straight on, but artists later expanded this knowledge to work with multiple vanishing points, and higher and lower viewer angles, as we can see here:

(above, left to right) Renaissance examples of perspective, including Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” and Pietro Perugino’s “Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter” (below, left to right) examples of perspective use from later in history, including Andrew Wyeth’s “Wind from the Sea,” Camille Pissarro’s “Avenue de L’Opera, Paris,” and Mary Cassatt’s “The Child’s Bath”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Again, linear perspective, while crucially important, might not be the first thing you think of when admiring a work of art. We tend to take it for granted now that centuries of art teachers have passed the concept along, but it’s still so important to creating an effectively realistic scene. Because it is critically important in any work of art that involves things with straight lines like building and architecture, Geoffrey Johnson‘s solo exhibition (open now!) gives us a perfect segue to taking a look at the beautiful effect made when an artist accurately uses linear perspective. Let’s take a look at a few examples from the current show:

“Untitled”

“Skaters at the Museum”

“Station Interior”

“Study in Washington”

“Flatiron Evening”

To view the entirety of this absolutely spectacular and unique exhibition, stop by the gallery through the end of May, or check out Geoffrey’s page on our website by clicking here!

Technique Tuesday: A Painting Within a Painting

What is it?

Well, this week’s “technique” isn’t a difficult one to understand by any means, but it’s still plenty of fun to come across, and well worth a post! All kinds of art can be depicted in a painting– sculpture, architecture, jewelry, pottery, fashion, etc.– but today we’re going to take a look at paintings featuring paintings! (To my knowledge, there isn’t a concise term for this, but my personal vote is “paint-ception.”)

Examples from art history:

This is not a technique that’s going to go back as far as ancient times, but it does go back quite a ways and began to show up more regularly (you guessed it!) during the Italian Renaissance and in the centuries following. In fact, with the flourishing of artists and galleries in the Netherlands during the 17th century and the rise of “genre” paintings (scenes of everyday life), artists like Vermeer began to use the artwork he painted into his backgrounds to add to the message or story of the work. Let’s take a look at “The Love Letter” as an example:

Here’s a painting showing a young woman receiving a love letter, and there are two paintings visible on the wall behind her. The subjects of the paintings, it can be argued, relate to the receipt of this letter– the man walking a path in the top painting might speak of a lover who is on a journey of some kind, and the ship on a sea (often a metaphor for romantic relationships) depicting smooth sailing likely means the letter contains good news. It should be noted, however, that the artwork depicted in a painting doesn’t always have a deeper meaning; as art has become more and more a part of our lives over the years, it’s bound to show up in scenes depicting daily life! Here’s a look at a few more examples from art history (click for a better view):

(left to right) Diego Velazquez, “Las Meninas”; James Abbott McNeill Whistler, “Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1”; William Merritt Chase, “The Tenth Street Studio”; Rene Magritte, “The Human Condition”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

We’ve had many artists paint works featuring other paintings here over the years! Here’s a peek at a few:

(left to right) Lisa Noonis, “Red Couch”; Jeremy Mann, “Morning Light”; Hyseung Marriage-Song, “Studio Interior”; Philip Geiger, “Times Table”

If you happened to see Geoffrey Johnson’s fantastic solo exhibition last year, then you might remember “American Wing” and “American Wing II,” two paintings depicting figures observing paintings within a museum:

Geoffrey Johnson, “American Wing” (left) and “American Wing II” (right)

Well, we are THRILLED to be opening yet another spectacular exhibition from the unique and immensely talented Geoffrey Johnson. This exciting exhibition is set to open May 12th, but we already have a digital preview available, so feel free to email us at info@principlegallery.com if you’d like to see one! This year’s exhibition from Geoffrey includes several of his signature scenes of New York City, as well as several interior scenes, a Biblical scene, another museum scene, and to our delight, several scenes of Washington DC! Given the topic of this week’s post, let’s take a look at some of the paintings depicting paintings:

“The Impressionist”

“The Sitting Room”

“Alvin’s Porch”

In case you’re curious, the painting depicted in “The Impressionist” is “Boulevard des Italiens, Morning Sunlight” by Camille Pissarro. As for “The Sitting Room,” the work shown is loosely based on Rembrandt’s “Descent from the Cross.” And for the final one, the large landscape shown in “Alvin’s Porch?” Well, that’s a lovely piece out of Geoff’s own imagination; this painting is a two-fer! Two original works by Geoffrey Johnson in one!

Technique Tuesday: Unblended Brushstrokes & Planes of Color

What is it?

Happy Tuesday! This week we’re looking at a style of painting in which depth, roundness, changing values, and changing colors are depicted using separate, unblended brushstrokes. If that still doesn’t sound very clear, no worries, let’s look at a visual example! Here are details from two paintings from our current (FANTASTIC!) exhibition, “Graceful Subtleties,” side by side:

(left) detail from Louise Fenne’s “Sisters”; (right) detail from Jussi Pöyhönen’s “Coconuts”

Take a moment and observe the two different ways in which these artists used the paint to describe rounded forms. Louise’s brushstrokes are blended beautifully and give a soft and even slightly blurred appearance to the roundness of the young woman’s face and shoulder, and to the body of the little bird. The colors, values, and brushstrokes are blended seamlessly, one into another, and present a more true-to-life three dimensional effect. Now look at the contrast between that and the roundness of Jussi’s coconuts. Jussi’s brushstrokes are decidedly more defined, and rather than blending seamlessly, the different colors and values present as separate brushstrokes, and visually as separate planes. It creates a fascinating three dimensional effect, that is less strictly realistic and more painterly, and serves to create a glittering effect of light on these forms. It is this unblended, planar approach to describing form with brushstrokes that we’re going to take a look at today.

Examples from art history:

For a long time, during the leap forward in realistic painting seen during the Renaissance and through many centuries after, the academic standard in painting was a detailed, fully blended, fully rendered depiction of form. This is why, during the emergence of Impressionism in the 19th century, the effect of separated, unblended brushstrokes and the focus on separated planes of color was so jarring, and at first, frowned upon. Perhaps anything less than  the academic standard to which critics were accustomed at first appeared primitive and lacking in artistic merit– but the innovation and brilliance of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist style did not take long to win many over, and today is still a popular favorite among art lovers. There is an energy in this type of painting, a glittering play of light and exaggeration of form that is visually very appealing. Furthermore, the paint itself becomes a theme of the work, rather than solely the subject which the paint depicts. One begins to see the beauty beyond the image portrayed, and finds it also in the simple application and texture of the paint strokes themselves. Some of the most notable innovators of this technique include Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, and Vincent Van Gogh, and some excellent examples can be seen here:

top row: (left) Henri Matisse, “Derain”; (middle) Paul Cezanne, “Mount St. Victoire”; (right) Vincent Van Gogh, “The Large Plane Trees” bottom row: (left) Paul Cezanne, “Still Life with Seven Apples”; Paul Cezanne, “Portrait of Victor Choquet”

As a fun side note, the separation of rounded forms into more geometric planes, particularly in Cezanne’s work, also gives us an exciting glimpse at an art historical movement still to come in the early 20th century, Cubism! Playing with paint in this new way truly opened up the minds of so many artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, and of this century as well!

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Many artists that we show  here at Principle Gallery make use of this technique of unblended brushstrokes and planes of color, some in more subtle ways, and some in more obvious ways. Jussi Pöyhönen and Paula Rubino, however, are two of the most striking examples, and their works featured in the current Graceful Subtleties exhibition are excellent samples of how lovely the effect of this technique can be. Take a look below, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the entire exhibition on our website here!

Jussi Pöyhönen, “Coconuts”

Jussi Pöyhönen, “Jasmine”

Jussi Pöyhönen, “Tomatillos”

Paula Rubino, “Laji”

Paula Rubino, “Summer Clouds”

Paula Rubino, “Universal Pleasures I”

Every Picture Tells a Story: Joseph Lorusso

Recently, we asked a number of our artists to write and share their takes on what their art means to them. We hope to give you the chance to connect with the artists in the same way they hope to connect with you through their paintings. With this post, the talented artist, Joseph Lorusso, explains his inspirations and what he desires to accomplish with his work.


Every Picture Tells a Story

Whenever I visit a museum or gallery, as most of us do, I find myself gravitating towards certain types of paintings. For me there are obvious reasons causing this gravitational draw – to try and unlock some technical secrets a great artist might be hiding, to discern how the artist was able to achieve certain effects, to admire their mastery of drawing, etc.

“But in the larger scope , I’ve always found myself drawn to works that tell a story.”

From my first days of artistic training, I was always drawn to the great illustrators who painted narrative scenes to support a story, such as N.C. Wyeth , Norman Rockwell, Howard Pyle, and Maxfield Parrish to name a few. Upon further self- education, I realized that great story telling was really at the core of all art. In essence, one of the first ways “modern” humans where able to communicate was to tell their stories through art – as evidenced by the now famous Lascaux cave paintings in France and elsewhere around the world.  These first images illustrated daily life, including hunting and religious rituals, all in attempt to hand down our human experience long before we were able to develop a workable language or alphabet.

As humans developed and time passed, the technical side of this storytelling may have advanced, but the meaning and reason, I contend, remains the same – we have the need to connect. Visual language and storytelling are ways in which we achieve that. It is no mystery that going to a museum or gallery leaves many people with a spiritual experience in many ways; it allows us communion with a deeper sense of ourselves.

The visual artist, in my opinion, has a unique opportunity to create the world he wishes, and often finds that his world is also shared by others in need of the same type of outlet or escape.  In my work, my goal is to give the viewer a starting point, a springboard from which they can then expand the narrative by adding or reflecting their own experiences. For me, this is the essence of image making in whatever form you choose as your vehicle.

Over the years as a visual artist, I have found myself drawn to various types of scenes, but mostly scenes that involve a strong emotional theme, usually romantic or passionate scenes that seem to resonate with viewers. Some examples of this are paintings that depict scenes of everyday life that most of us not only can relate to but may actually have experienced. Paintings,  such as  “The Long Fare,”  shows a couple either saying hello or goodbye, making the most of the moment, while their taxi awaits them.

 

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“The Long Fare,” 26×24, oil on panel, Gallery #16666

Not all scenes need to be romantic in nature to express a strong emotion or mood. A particular scene I enjoyed creating was the painting “After Hours;” a man and a woman stand in a dark doorway as she gazes invitingly toward the viewer, while the man stands behind her, mostly in shadow, his face only lit by the glow of a match intended to light his cigarette. The intent of the piece is meant to be mysterious and engaging, suggesting overtones of a darker side of life, nevertheless allowing the viewer room for interpretation.

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“After Hours,” 30×30, oil on panel, Gallery #CS30805

Another great example of work that resonates with others is the painting  “After the Bath,” in which I depict a very personal scene from my own life. Here, my wife and oldest daughter are getting ready for bed for their night time ritual. While this is a common scene in many ways, it is universal and touches a chord with most people in its sensitivity and intimacy. We all in some ways can relate to scenes like these because of our shared human experience, thus allowing us to connect through the dignity and commonality of our daily lives.

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“After the Bath,” 21×14, oil on panel, Private Collection

Ultimately, my goal as a painter is to bring all aspects of the composition together, from technical to aesthetic, in order to create the strongest and most effective statement. My work has been called nostalgic in many ways, though not by intention – perhaps we all are naturally drawn to images that evoke simpler, more “idealized” times.  In many ways, the era depicted in my paintings is almost arbitrary, as the emotion and story remains universal. A good example of this is the painting “Waiting at the Station.” Here, I challenge myself technically and compositionally by creating a larger composition all while trying to set several potential stories into one scene. The goal was to keep the viewer engaged by moving through the scene from story to story, yet remain in one setting.

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“Waiting at the Station,” 48×48, oil on panel, Gallery #16627

Fortunately, we as people will always have stories to tell and emotions to express, giving me ample opportunity to create more work than I can hope for in several lifetimes. Hopefully, the work I am creating will continue to have resonance with its viewers.

“For me, it is this personalized connection that is the true test of the piece’s success, which in turn completes my painting.”

-Joseph Lorusso


To view all of the works we have by Joseph Lorusso, click this link! And stay tuned with our blog to see which artist takes it over next!

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