Technique Tuesday: Atmospheric Perspective

Technique Tuesday Atmospheric Perspective

What is it?

Atmospheric perspective is a visual phenomenon that occurs when we view a landscape. A very simple way of understanding the phenomenon is through the phrase, “fading into the distance.” When we view a landscape, the objects in the distance lose contrast and detail and gain a blue hue. Essentially, this happens because the actual particles of the atmosphere–dust, humidity, pollen, air pollution–obscure the clarity of these objects, and the light becomes scattered. These particles also reflect the color of the sky (typically, blue, although some exceptions include sunrise and sunset) and give these objects in the distance a blue tint. Most of us have seen atmospheric perspective in action when looking at far-off mountains or hills. In art, atmospheric perspective (sometimes called aerial perspective) is especially useful for helping to emphasize distance and vastness in a two-dimensional depiction.

Examples from art history:

Like so many other aspects of art, this feature really started to appear in paintings during the Renaissance. Atmospheric perspective was especially notable in the portraits and figurative works painted by Leonardo da Vinci–just check out the distant blue landscape in the background of the Mona Lisa! It is an effect that became pervasive in nearly all types of landscape painting across cultures and for centuries after, and is still frequently seen in painting today.

atmospheric perspective AH collage

(left to right) Leonardo da Vinci, “Bacchus”; J. M. W. Turner, “Lake Lucerne”; Yuan Jiang, “At Mount Li Escaping the Heat”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

A great many gorgeous paintings here at Principle Gallery contain atmospheric perspective, and today we’ll take a look at just a few, including some from the now open Colin Fraser solo exhibition, “Inner Light”–click here to view the whole show online!

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Colin Fraser, “Whitespace”

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Colin Fraser, “Celestial Sun”

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Douglas Fryer, “Fog Lifting from the Wetlands”

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Bethanne Kinsella Cople, “My Leaves and My Cascades”

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Casey Childs, “Nocturne on the Reservoir”

 

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Technique Tuesday: Broken Color

TT Broken ColorWhat is it?

The technique we’ll be looking at today is a fun one: broken color. This term refers to a technique where an artist will apply colors to a painting in small strokes, but does not blend them, so that they blend optically rather than literally. The effect of this technique a life and vibrancy, and a strong sensation of the sparkle of natural light. The idea of blending colors optically is one you may remember from our post on pointillism, though broken color is not a technique limited to small dots of brushstrokes and can be done with a lot of types of mark making.

Examples from art history:

As you’ve probably noticed, a majority of these techniques we’ve been discussing became a big “thing” during one of two times: the Italian Renaissance, and the Impressionist movement of the 19th century. Broken color comes to us from the latter. The Impressionists, especially the French Impressionists, were primarily concerned with emphasizing the effects of light and color, and less about making their paintings appear very neat, tight, and realistic. A huge part of the way they acheived this loose, sparkling effect of light was the use of broken color. By allowing the viewer’s eye to blend colors together, these painters were able to capture the real sensation of light and imbue the painting with a lot of energy. Though it really began with the Impressionists, broken color is a technique that was used by many differet types of artists in many different movements that followed.

Broken Color Collage

(left to right) Claude Monet, “Haystacks”; Edgar Degas, “Woman In the Bath”; Vincent Van Gogh, “Still Life with Lemons”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

This week, the gallery is preparing for the opening on Friday of Colin Fraser’s solo exhibiton, “Inner Light.” Colin Fraser’s work is a remarkable example of the magical effects of broken color. As Colin’s preferred medium is egg tempera, he ends up doing a lot of thin, small brush strokes and careful layering. The way that he handles the blending of colors using this method is truly extraordinary, and the overall sparkle and life of the light in his work is just gorgeous, particularly in person. If you’re able to come to the gallery to view the exhibition, be sure to get up close to these paintings–it’s a whole adventure in color up close!

If you’re able, please do join us for the opening reception for the exhibition, Friday October 16th, from 6:30 to 9 PM. And DON’T FORGET! Saturday, the 17th, from 1-4 PM, Colin will be doing a live egg tempera painting at the gallery, which we’ll be broadcasting live on our YouTube channel!

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Colin Fraser, “Celestial Sun”

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Colin Fraser, “Genuflection”

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Colin Fraser, “Pastoral Suite Virdian”

Technique Tuesday: Egg Tempera

Technique Tuesday egg tempera

What is it?

Last week, we took a look at oil paints and acrylic paints, but this week’s topic is a painting medium that predates both of them–egg tempera. Egg tempera is an ancient type of paint that is made by mixing powdered dry pigments with egg yolk as a binder, and typically with another ingredient like water, vinegar, or wine added to prevent cracking of the applied paint.

Examples from art history:

Examples of egg tempera painting can be found as far back as ancient Egyptian sarcophagi decorations and ancient cave paintings in India. Egg tempera was occasionally used alongside another method of painting known as encaustic (paint made from pigment and hot beeswax) and eventually took the place of encaustic painting as the preferred medium for panel paintings and illuminated manuscripts. By the beginning of the Renaissance, it was the primary painting medium for nearly all fine art painters. It was at the height of the Renaissance when oil paints began to take over as the preferred painting medium, for many reasons. Oil paint is slow drying, which means that it allows the artist a lot more control in blending colors and creating a three-dimensional appearance to forms. Oil paint also often has a thicker, more glowing color to it than egg tempera, and is more flexible as well. Egg tempera has its own charms, however–it is non toxic, water soluble, permanent, and will not yellow over time– and it made a comeback in popularity in the 20th century with great artists like Andrew Wyeth and Thomas Hart Benton dabbling in the medium again.

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(top left) “Judgment of Osiris,” tempera on papyrus, 1285 BC ; (top right) Michelangelo, “The Holy Family,” tempera on panel, 1507; (bottom left) Sandro Botticelli, “The Birth of Venus,” tempera on panel, 1480s; (bottom right) Andrew Wyeth, “Christina’s World”, tempera on panel, 1948

Examples from Principle Gallery:

The vast majority of our artists here at Principle Gallery choose to work with oil paints, but we do have one artist who prefers and regularly paints with egg tempera. Scottish-born artist Colin Fraser mastered many mediums, including oil paint, before deciding that egg tempera suited him best. Colin paints delicate, exquisitely beautiful still lifes, as well as some landscape and figurative works, and he uses the unique qualities of egg tempera paint to help him achieve the incredible brilliant luminosity of the colors in these paintings. Egg tempera is a type of paint that must be applied in thin, small brushstrokes and the layers and colors built up very carefully, so it is astonishing to see what Colin has achieved with this medium. We are thrilled that Colin himself will be joining us for the opening of his solo exhibition here on Friday, October 16th as well as Saturday, October 17th for a live egg tempera painting demonstration! Here’s a sneak peek at some of the incredible egg tempera works from Colin’s show. If you’d like to receive a digital preview of Colin’s exhibition, just send us an email at info@principlegallery.com!

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Colin Fraser, “Halo,” egg tempera on panel

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Colin Fraser, “West Coast,” egg tempera on panel

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Colin Fraser, “Whitespace,” egg tempera on panel

Technique Tuesdays: Positive & Negative Space

Technique Tuesday positive negative spaceWhat is it?

The concept of positive and negative space is a fairly simple one. The subject of a work of art occupies the positive space, while everything else is considered negative space. Nearly every piece of representational art contains positive and negative space. The way that artists make use of positive and negative space to enhance their artworks is less simple, but very visually interesting. Negative space can be used in a number of creative ways, from balancing a composition to focusing the viewer’s eye to  adding to the visual interest of the positive space. To start, let’s look at a fairly simple and well known illustration of the concept, called “Rubin’s vase.”

Rubin2This example illustrates the manipulation of positive and negative space, as depending on how your eye determines what the positive space actually is, two different images can appear. If the central shape is interpreted as positive space, it appears to be a vase, but if that same shape is viewed as negative space, the profiles of two faces become apparent. Some artists focus primarily on the subject when determining their overall composition for a painting, but many enjoy playing with negative space and using it to balance the work.

Examples from art history:

Chinese art has always been an excellent example of the use of negative space to create a simplified, quiet, and somewhat “zen” atmosphere in a work. Especially with traditional calligraphic painting, the delicate use of black ink meant that utilizing the negative space well could be extra eye-catching and effective. As art has progressed, many well known artists have incorporated a deliberate use of negative space to add interest to a composition and to enhance the mood of a work. Check out how the negative space balances and affects the mood of these works:

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(left to right) Wang Hui, “Ancient Temple in the Mountains” 17th century; Johannes Vermeer, “Young Woman with Water Pitcher” 1662 ; Francisco Goya, “Courtyard with Lunatics” 1794; Edgar Degas, “Ballet Rehearsal” 1873

Art in the twentieth century has seen a bit of a different and new trend when it comes to the use of negative space, as artists begin to play with optical illusions and the creation of images with the negative space itself. (This has become an even bigger trend within the realm of graphic design, and is a technique often utilized with logos, like the arrow formed between the “e” and “x” in the FedEx logo.) Here are some cool examples:

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(left) Coles Phillips, “A Young Man’s Fancy” 1912; (middle) M.C. Escher, “Sky and Water I” 1938; (right) Rene Magritte, “Decalomania” 1966

 

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Everywhere you look here at Principle Gallery, you’ll spy examples of skilled and thoughtful use of negative space. For some artists, however, it is an especially important design element. Consider the work of Laura E. Pritchett:

Pritchett Collage

(left to right) Laura E. Pritchett, “Faith”, “Projection”, “Passing Through”

Laura’s thoughtful and liberal use of negative space as part of her compositions plays a big role in the way these works possess a sense of stillness and peace, as if a moment has been captured. Imagine for a moment if Laura had continued to fill the positive space of these works with more background imagery, more colors and textures and objects. It’d really change the impact of the paintings, don’t you think? You can check out all of Laura’s gorgeous, peaceful work at Principle Gallery on our website here.

Now check out these other awesome pieces at Principle Gallery, and take a moment to consider how and why you think the artist might have played with positive and negative space the way that they did:

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(left to right) Valerio D’Ospina, “Rainy Day in NYC”; Colin Fraser, “Highwayside”; Kevin Fitzgerald, “St. Martin Snow”; Mia Bergeron, “Limitless”

For more incredible artwork from Principle Gallery, be sure to subscribe to our blog and follow our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!

Technique Tuesdays: Pointillism

Technique Tuesday PointillismWhat is it?

Pointillism is a painting technique that popped up in the late 1800’s as an off-shoot of Impressionism. Essentially, pointillism uses small, distinct dots or strokes of different colors in a pattern to form an image. This technique relies on the ability of the eye to blend the dots of color–it’s actually quite similar to the way that computer screens and printers use tiny pixels of just a few colors (most printers have just four inks, CMYK) and posititions them all just right so that our eye blends them and sees a smooth image with normal-looking colors. So instead of mixing colors on a palette, the artist presents dots on the canvas that we mix with our eyes. To give you a very basic idea, here’s a visual example:

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detail of a crop from Georges Seurat’s “La Parade de Cirque”

In the close-up detail on the left, you can see a wide variety of colors–yellow, orange, red, different shades of blue, and shades of green–but take a look at the upper left corner of the crop on the right. That’s where this close-up comes from. But, when we’re a bit further away, we see the dots begin to blend into a warm shade of green. And check out how blended everything becomes when we take another proverbial step back to look at the painting as a whole:

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Georges Seurat, “La Parade de Cirque”

Examples from art history:

Fun fact: when I (Pam) was in the eighth grade, my art teacher taught us our first art history mnemonic device with the rhyme “Seurat knew a lot about dots.” Yes, indeed he did! Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” is probably one of the most well-known pointillist images ever:

A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte,_Georges_Seurat,_1884

Georges Seurat, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”

Georges Seurat and Paul Signac were the original pioneers of the use of pointillism, referring to it as Neo-Impressionism. “Pointillism” was actually a derisive word coined by art critics, but the connotation of the word is no longer mocking. Many artists began to experiment with this technique, including Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, and Maximilien Luce, among many others. Later, a group known as the Divisionists would tweak the idea by using larger, more square brushstrokes to create similar blended colors and patterns.

AH Collage

(left) Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait; (middle) Paul Signac, “Le Clipper, Asnieres”; (right) Camille Pissarro, “Apple Picking at Eragny-sur-Epte”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Several artists that we represent here at Principle Gallery occasionally dabble in pointillism in their works (check out the work of Mia Bergeron and Colin Fraser!), but one artist springs to mind in particular, with his classical and frequent use of the technique. GC Myers, whose annual solo exhibition opens THIS FRIDAY, has a knack for using pointillism to create a lovely and magical effect in the skies of many of his colorful landscapes. The dappled effect can give a sense of starlight, the glow of a sunset, the sparkle of bright sunshine, or sometimes just pure, magical texture.

The whole exhibition will be on display at the gallery by the end of this week, so please join us for the official opening on Friday, June 5th, from 6:30-9 PM! If you’d like to see a complete digital preview for the show earlier in the week, just send us an email! For now, please enjoy this sneak peek!

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GC Myers, “The Singular Heart”

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GC Myers, “Freed to the Wind”

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GC Myers, “Solitude and Reverence”

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GC Myers, “Clair de Lune”

Studio Selfie Saturday: Colin Fraser

Colin Fraser square selfe

We hope you’re enjoying this new tradition of Studio Selfie Saturdays as much as we are! It’s a treat to see the creativity with which our artists give us a peek of themselves in their work environment and with which they answer the questions in our mini interview. Today’s selfie features the incredible Colin Fraser. The snapshot cleverly shows a peek of him in the midst of a set up for one of his paintings.

Originally from Scotland, Colin and his wife and children now reside in Sweden, where Colin pursues his passion of painting with egg tempera. Egg tempera paint consists of pigments mixed with an egg yolk, and was the most prevalent medium for painting for many centuries, until oil paints became widely popular. While many artists avoid using this type of paint (as it is so sheer and quick to dry, it is quite challening to correct mistakes, achieve certain effects of texture, and to blend colors) Colin Fraser has come to prefer it. With egg tempera, he is able to achieve the awe-inspiring effects of light and brilliance that make his still-life compositions so extraordinary. His skillful application of colors and his ability to capture the luminosity of his subject has made Colin’s work a favorite for many gallery visitors. To see all his available work, check out Colin’s page here!

10 Questions for the Artist

1. Paint is egg-tempera
2. Cats/Dogs? Cats
3. Your first car: 1968 white VW beetle
4. Favorite painting music (Colin’s gotten clever and answered his favorite painting AND his favorie music!): Lady Agnew by Sargent/Music for a Dancer by Jackson Browne
5. Your “spirit animal”: Horse (palomino)6. If you could time travel and witness an artist create their masterpiece, which work would you choose? Vermeer’s “Milkmaid”
7. All-time favorite movie: The Searchers. Every scene is a painting!
8. Place you’d love to travel to: Alexandria! (Aww, Colin, we’d love that too!!!)
9. Morning person or night owl? Morning
10. If I weren’t an artist, I think I’d be a football (soccer!) manager.

 

Art in Place

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There is no greater pleasure than seeing artwork from the gallery come to life in a collector’s home. A great painting activates the four walls of a space and can complete a room. The right painting can instantly infuse a room with color and energy, add warmth, create harmony, or lend drama. Here is a glimpse of some beautiful art in place showcasing some of our very talented artists.

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Wilfred Moizan and Ray Donley

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Kevin Fitzgerald, Jeremy Mann, and Ray Donley

  
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Bethanne Cople and Colin Fraser

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Colin Fraser

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Geoffrey Johnson

 

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Paula Rubino

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Mia Bergeron

Sometimes it is hard to envision a painting you absolutely adore in your space. Collecting art is a highly personal venture and we want you to be in love with your piece, which is why we allow our collectors to experience paintings at home before making a purchase. Our approval program ensures that you will enjoy a work of art for years to come!