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
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Technique Tuesdays: the Art of the Self-Portrait

Technique Tuesday self portrait

What is it?

This week’s Technique Tuesday subject is not a new concept for anyone (particularly in today’s “selfie” filled world!). But not only is the self-portrait is an important exercise for an artist to undertake, it is also significant to view as well, and provides fascinating insight into an artist’s mind or mood. These artists, who spend so much time looking at, observing, and studying the world before them and then choose to focus on themselves as a subject often end up creating something quite remarkable.

Examples from art history:

It’s nearly impossible to tell how far back the history of self-portraiture goes; it’s probably one of those things that’s been around nearly as long as art itself–as human beings, we’re naturally fascinated by the body that we inhabit and the persona we develop day by day throughout our lifetime. As far as its popularity in fine art, though, we can trace the rise in popularity of self-portraiture back to the early Renaissance. For a long time, art featuring human figures was primarily created to tell a story, whether religious or mythological. As the Renaissance brought about a new group of wealthy patrons, interest rose in the concept of a single individual as a subject of a painting. Indeed, the depiction of one single person became a very popular subject for art. Many, many artists since the Renaissance have made a good portion of their income from painting portraits of others, but whether for practice, amusement, or expression, many artists have also delighted in dabbling in the art of painting or drawing themselves. Here are just a few of the fascinating examples of self-portraiture from art history:

AH Self Portrait Collage

From left to right, top then bottom row:

Rembrandt van Rijn, “Self-Portrait, Surprised”
Pablo Picasso, “Self-Portrait with Palette”
Zinaida Serebriakova, “Self-Portrait at the Dressing Table”
Albrecht Durer, “Portrait of the Artist Holding a Thistle”
Frida Kahlo, “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird”
Katsushika Hokusai, “Self Portrait at Eighty-Three”
Vincent van Gogh, “Self-Portrait”
Adrian Piper, “Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

The BP Portrait Award, given annually at the National Portrait Gallery in London, is one of the most prestigious award competitions of its kind today. This year, a record-breaking 2,748 entries from artists in 92 countries were considered, and the finalists were honored in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. We are so pleased to congratulate Principle Gallery artist Felicia Forte, whose work “Self-Portrait, Melting Point” was among these incredible finalist selections! Click here to check out all of our currently-available work by Felicia Forte.

felicia forte

A great many of the artists we work with at Principle Gallery have experimented with self-portraiture, and we have frequently been fortunate enough to exhibit these fascinating pieces! Here are just a few of the incredible self-portraits we’ve shown at the gallery in recent years, including one from Michael DeVore, which will be part of the upcoming International Guild of Realism 10th Annual Juried Exhibition, opening at Principle Gallery on August 28! Stay tuned for more details, and in the meantime check out our website for more amazing artwork by Mia, Teresa, and Terry.

PG Self Portrait Collage

from left to right: Mia Bergeron, “Harborer”; Michael DeVore, “Self Portrait in Black Cap”; Teresa Oaxaca, “White Collar 2”; Terry Strickland, “Self-Portrait with Beard”

 

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: 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!

Technique Tuesdays: Charcoal

Technique Tuesday CharcoalWelcome back to Technique Tuesday! Today we’ll be looking at a fantastic substance that has been used to make art for thousands of years: charcoal!

What is it?

In the most basic sense, charcoal is the remnants of burnt wood. It’s likely that it didn’t take long after man discovered fire for man to also discover the bold mark-making ability of the remnants of that fire. Charcoal as an artistic medium has come a long way, and artist’s charcoal today is a more deliberately crafted mix of powdered materials, often held together with a kind of gum or wax binding agent. Art charcoal comes in many forms, including hardened blocks or sticks, “vine charcoal” which is a softer form for sketching, as well as powders, crayons, and pencils. Charcoal is a fantastic and expressive dry medium that can be applied to a variety of surfaces, and is easy to smudge, blend, and lighten for a dramatic range of values.

Examples in art history:

Charcoal is arguably one of the oldest mediums for the creation of two-dimensional art. Cave paintings have been discovered all over the globe that show how charcoal has been used in art for well over fifteen thousand years.

Prehistoric Collage

Some prehistoric charcoal images found in caves in France

Unfortunately, the same properties that make charcoal so excellent for expressive sketching and drawing also make it a substance without a lot of staying power, and one that easily flakes off of paper or canvas. Artists used charcoal for many centuries to help them plan compositions, but it was always considered an ephemeral medium, and few of those works on paper survive today. In the late 1400’s, a method was finally discovered that helped “fix” the charcoal to the paper more permanently. This early process of fixing charcoal drawings involved dipping the drawings in a bath of gum. A short time later, Albrecht Durer began to really popularize charcoal as a primary medium rather than just a means of preliminary sketching, and by the 20th century more and more artists were exploring the medium. Thankfully, fixatives have come a long way since the gum baths, and today artists can choose from a variety of advanced spray fixatives to preserve their artwork.

Collage 2

(left) Michelangelo, “Study of a Man Shouting” c.1523-34; (middle) Albrecht Durer, “Knight, Death, and the Devil” 1514; (right) Pablo Picasso, “Marie-Therese, Face and Profile” 1931

Examples in Principle Gallery:

We thought it was an especially great time to take a look at charcoal art, since among the newest work to come in the gallery are some fantastic charcoal drawings! Many of the painters represented at the gallery enjoy working with charcoal for sketching purposes as well as a primary medium, and Casey Childs and Susan O’Neill are two who are certainly talented at using it. Seen below are just some of the drawings from Casey’s “Influtential Figures” series, and trust me–they’re even more incredible in person (click here to check them all out on our website)!

Childs Collage

(left) “Abraham Lincoln”; (middle) “Mark Twain”; (right) “Walt Disney” -drawings by Casey Childs

Also new to the gallery are some incredible and expressive figure studies by local Alexandria artist Susan O’Neill. Deeply inspired by the human figure, Susan enjoys crafting spontaneous and energetic images with charcoal. Here are just two examples of her latest group of fantastic drawings (click here to see them all!):

O'neill Collage

(left) “Lissome”; (right) “Lithe” -drawings by Susan O’Neill

Be sure to check out our website (www.principlegallery.com) and sign up for our mailing list to receive newsletters featuring other incredible new works like these!