Technique Tuesday: Stylized Art

What is it?

Welcome back to Technique Tuesday! With the GC Myers “Truth and Belief” exhibition opening just a few days away, it’s the perfect time to take a look at stylization! Stylization is a technique that’s been around for a very, very long time. In 1979, The Great Soviet Dictionary provided an excellent definition of stylization, explaining it as “the decorative generalization of figures and objects by means of various conventional techniques, including the simplification of line, form, and relationships of space and color.” To look at it from a different perspective, stylization is a deliberate step away from mimesis, which is defined as the close mimicry of reality (in art, this is very generally referred to as “realism,” though that particular term has evolved and is rather nuanced). Rather than trying to represent the subject in a way that is close to reality, an artist can use stylization to create images that, while they contain recognizable subjects and forms, do so in a manner that places emphasis on the color, lines, and oftentimes the emotive qualities of the work.

Examples from art history:

Stylization is something that can be seen as far back as ancient cave paintings, as recognizable subjects were visually portrayed in a simplified manner. Part of this no doubt had to do with the fact that humanity was discovering the visual arts and experienced a learning curve over time when it came to more accurate mimicry of reality in drawing, painting, and sculpture. As time progressed, the goal for many artists became increased mimesis, and stylization began to slowly give way to more realism in art. We can see from the height of the Renaissance through the 19th century that artists took a great joy in creating highly realistic images and exploring the very accurate representation of architecture, human anatomy, natural plant life, etc. As Impressionism broke from academic tradition in the 19th century and brought a focus back to experimentation with colors and light, and stepped back from strict mimesis, it spurred a renewed interest in deliberate stylization and in using the portrayal of recognizable subjects as a platform in which to also revel in color, line, and shapes. Because of its accessibility (one need not necessarily go to school for art or train for years to create stylized art) and its celebration of line and color, stylization is frequently seen in street art and graffiti-style art, as in the case of the late 20th century artist Keith Haring.

(left to right) an example of ancient Peruvian pottery; Henri Matisse, “Chat aux Poissons Rouges”; Pablo Picasso, “Pitcher and Bowl of Fruit”; Gustav Klimt, “Tree of Life III”; Keith Haring, “Statue of Liberty”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

While we carry almost solely representational art here at Principle Gallery, it does certainly vary across the spectrum of mimesis. Some artists here are more stylized than others, but perhaps the most excellent example of stylization and its focus on line, form, and color here at the gallery is the work of GC Myers. GC’s work goes beyond representation of landscapes and adds an emotive quality to the subject and forms, as they portray imagined vistas and use symbolism to create feelings and messages in the artworks. If you keep up with the artist’s blog, over at redtreetimes.com,  you can often get a detailed insight right from the artist into the emotions and symbolism that infuse any given work of his, but the wonderful thing about his artwork is that it’s also something that can communicate on its own. Feelings of confusion, triumph, peace, frustration, joy, melancholy, and joy all make themselves known to the viewer purely through the interplay of lines, colors, and shapes in these landscapes. While these works come from a deeply personal place in the artist’s soul, one of the magical things about this art is that it also leaves so much space for interaction and interpretation from the viewer, independent of any verbal explanation from the artist.

We are thrilled to be opening an exhibition titled “Truth and Belief” this Friday, June 2nd, which will feature 55 incredible brand new paintings from GC Myers. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the beauties from this show, and if you’d like to see all of them, head over to our website, shoot us an email at info@principlegallery.com, or better yet, join us to welcome the artist and celebrate the exhibition this Friday evening from 6:30-9 PM at Principle Gallery!

“Truth and Belief”

“Race the Light”

“With Sanction of the Moon”

“Seeking Truth”

“So Well Remembered”

 

by Pamela Sommer

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!

Celestial Sun HR

Colin Fraser, “Celestial Sun”

Genuflection, HR

Colin Fraser, “Genuflection”

Pastoral Suite Viridian HR

Colin Fraser, “Pastoral Suite Virdian”

Technique Tuesdays: Arbitrary Color

Technique Tuesday arbitrary color

 

What is it?

Arbitrary color refers to a choice of color in an artwork that has no basis in the realistic appearance of the object depicted (think purple cows, yellow sky, pink sun, etc.). When painting, many artists choose their colors with the intention to portray the realistic appearance of their subject. However, sometimes an artist will change up the colors of what they are depicting, often with an emotional or expressive significance, but sometimes for the pure sake of playing with color!

Examples from art history:

Arbitrary color is widely seen in today’s art, from all areas of the world, but the Europeans were a bit later to join in with the use of it. Arbitrary color was not commonly seen in Western fine art until the 19th century, but it has certainly appeared in the art of many other areas of the world for a long time, with Aboriginal art, Mesoamerican art, and Asian art serving as only a few examples. As European artists began to broaden their spheres of influence, painters like Paul Gauguin were greatly inspired by the bold use of color found in Asian art, such as the brightly colored woodblock prints of ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai from 18th century Japan.

Hokusai collage

Katsushika Hokusai woodblock prints: “Waterfalls in All Provinces” (left); “Landscape with Two Falconers” (middle); print from series “One Hundred Poems” (Right)

Gauguin’s work began to reflect the influence of Japanese art like that of Hokusai, and works like his painting “The Vision After the Sermon” mark the introduction of the arbitrary color trend into European art.

1888-PaulGauguin-Vision_After_The_Sermon-Jacobs_Struggle_with_the_Angel

Paul Gauguin, “The Vision After the Sermon”

As it took a foothold in European art, the use of arbitrary color appeared more frequently, particularly in the brightly colored works of the Fauvist movement, as well as the Expressionists. Picasso’s famous “Blue Period” is also full of excellent examples of the use of arbitrary color for emotional significance.

AH collage

(left) Andre Derain, “Charing Cross Bridge”; (middle) Pablo Picasso, “Crouching Figure”; (right) Franz Marc, “Large Blue Horses”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Once again, a prime example from Principle Gallery comes to us from the feature artist from this month’s solo exhibition, GC Myers. Asian woodblock prints are one of many influences seen in his beautiful landscapes, and examples of arbitrary color can be found everywhere. Sometimes, it appears that the choice of color is tied to the emotional symbolism of the work, while in other examples, it appears to simply be part of his rich explorations of color harmonies. Either way, enjoy some of these gorgeous examples of the use of arbitrary color, and check out our website here to see the whole “Native Voice” exhibition!

Bejeweled 72

GC Myers, “Bejeweled”

A Call to Council 72

GC Myers, “A Call to Council”

Blue Zone 72

GC Myers, “The Blue Zone”

Odyssey 72

GC Myers, “Odyssey”

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:

Seurat detail

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:

3716

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!

The Singular Heart 72

GC Myers, “The Singular Heart”

Freed to the Wind 72

GC Myers, “Freed to the Wind”

Solitude and Reverence 72

GC Myers, “Solitude and Reverence”

Clair de Lune 72

GC Myers, “Clair de Lune”

Technique Tuesdays: Limited Palette

Technique Tuesday limited paletteWhat is it?

This week we’re taking a look at a method that some artists use to help enhance their work by creating color harmony and balance–the use of a limited palette. This is pretty much just what it sounds like. Thanks to the advances made over many centuries, artists today can go into an art supply store and choose from a vast plethora of paints in every imaginable color. This may at first seem like an advantage, but many artists in fact extol the virtues of using a very limited color palette. Working with only a few basic colors not only teaches beginning artists to explore mixing colors on their own, but also has a beautiful effect on the finished artwork. A limited palette often involves (though it does not necessarily include) the use of white and black, as well as one or two additional paint colors. All the varying values and tones resulting from these base palette colors end up having a harmonious flow to them thanks to those shared base colors. The choice to not use a large number of colors in a painting can also add to the sense of balance, increase the drama and mood, and even enhance the composition of a work by avoiding the distraction of too many colors and instead focusing on value, line, and form.

Examples from art history:

In a way, artists throughout history have necessarily worked with a limited color palette in comparison with the options available to artists today. But there were certain artists who experimented with a specific and very limited range of colors, to a lovely effect. Picasso’s “Blue Period” became an iconic part of his painting career, as he eschewed the full range of colors to focus on what he could communicate and emote through the spectrum of blues alone. Perhaps the most well-known proponent of the concept of a limited palette was notable Swedish painter Anders Zorn, whose unique palette of white, black, cadmium red, and yellow ochre has come to be known as the Zorn Palette and is still widely used by artists today. Edgar Degas, too, often experimented with different limited palettes to enhance the visual interest of his paintings.

AH Collage

(left) Pablo Picasso, “Mother and Child”; (middle) Anders Zorn, “Hins Anders”; (Edgar Degas) “Place de la Concorde”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

As is the case with many of the techniques we talk about on the blog, you’ll spot a good variety of our artists who sometimes incorporate the technique of a limited palette into their work. Next time you notice one of these artworks, take a minute to really look at the work and think about why the artist might have chosen to limit themselves to just a few colors. Does it give an interesting overall harmony to the colors? Does it bring the focus instead to the composition, or perhaps the lines? Does it seem to enhance the mood or atmosphere of the work?

Here are two great examples of the way some of our Principle Gallery artists play with a limited palette. On the left, you can see two works by California painter Felicia Forte, who enjoys working with and exploring the possibilities of the iconic Zorn Palette. Another great example of a limited color palette can be seen in the great majority of paintings by one of the artists from our upcoming two man show, Tempo and Pause (opening April 17th!), Valerio D’Ospina. Check out his works (seen here on the right) to see the way that Valerio’s limited palette brings amazing focus to the energy, line, and composition of his dynamic cityscapes.

PG Collage

(left two) Felicia Forte, “De Young Fountain” and “View to Alcatraz”; (right two) Valerio D’Ospina, “Looking Back” and “Warehouse at the Navy Yard”

Keep an eye out, because the preview for the Tempo and Pause exhibition featuring Valerio D’Ospina and Greg Gandy will be available very soon! Shoot us an email at info@principlegallery.com if you’d like to be on the list to see the digital preview as soon as it’s available!