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: Silverpoint

technique-tuesday-silverpoint

What is it?

Welcome back to Technique Tuesdays! After high demand, we decided to revive the blog series with new discussions on techniques, genres, and art history. With that said, we would love for our readers to participate in this series, as well. If you are yearning to learn more about a topic or have a burning question on the process behind a work, feel free to comment below and we will be sure to get on it!

Alright, back to the topic of the day – silverpoint! Compared to other metal drawing methods, like those of lead and tin, silver is capable of rendering fine lines and does not create a blunt mark like the other metals. Drawn upon a surface prepared with gesso, gouache, or primer, a silver rod can produce very smooth stroke marks. How this happens is that the tooth of the surface’s preparation mix takes away from the actual silver rod, thus producing a mark! If the surface is unprepared – which was more typical in the past -the silverpoint evokes a lighter color.

Though these qualities make silver a great medium for detailed work, it is however less forgiving. The way that silver digs into surfaces and the inability to erase it calls for intense artistic training for perfecting the medium. Also, when silver oxidizes or is exposed to air, it tends to tarnish and change to a reddish brown – you may have seen this reaction happen with outdoor sculptures, too. However, the intensity of its tarnish depends on how much copper the silverpoint contains. More copper equals more tarnishing.

So next time you run into a silverpoint piece, you can be an expert on the silver’s components and whether the surface was coated or not!

Examples in art history:

Silverpoint was popularized around the early Renaissance era in the Flemish and Italian regions – of course, where Renaissance art reigned! It was heavily used by goldsmiths for their design sketches and served as the primary method for artists’ sketches as well. Some of the most well-known Old Masters of silverpoint include Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Leonardo da Vinci.

The most notable, I would say, is Albrecht Durer who is famous for his mastery of etchings and line drawings. Unlike Rembrandt who used silverpoint for more of a sketching gesture, Durer drew disciplined, hard lines to create his pieces. It goes without saying that silverpoint was thus a top choice for Durer!

As with any art movement, the use of silver soon became outdated. The silverpoint technique was surpassed by the more accessible, more forgiving medium of graphite. The hassle of preparing surfaces mixed with its permanency and rarity quickly led to the technique’s impopularity in the 1500s. Its revival later came about during the modern era, around the 1900s, for the purpose of drawn portraiture. Artists, unlike the past, now have newer resources and more flexibility in creating surfaces easier for silverpoint. They experiment with mixed media, from crayon to casein-coated parchment, to produce such beautiful work.

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Typically, the gallery carries oil and acrylic paintings or works that incorporate wet mediums. It is on the rare, yet delightful occasion that we receive great drawings by our artists. One such instance came about when Susan O’Neill brought in “Woman in Silver” for our upcoming show, “Local Art, Local Eats.” In this particular work, remnants of Rembrandt’s silverpoint style are apparent in O’Neill’s gestural, sketch-like technique.

oneill-woman-in-silver

Another great artist who often practices silverpoint is Robert Liberace. His works are also reminiscent to the Old Masters’ technique, as seen with his work “Serpentine.”

liberace-serpentine-72

Come see these magnificent works in person whenever you stop by the gallery or at our opening reception for “Local Art, Local Eats” on Friday, February 17th at 6:30PM! And if you are specifically interested in silverpoint, contact the gallery and we can notify you when we receive such works!

Technique Tuesday: Nocturne

TT Nocturne

What is it?

Simply put, a nocturne is a painting of a night scene. James Abbott McNeill Whistler was the first to apply the term to paintings (it is originally a descriptor of a piece of music whose composition is evocative of nighttime) and in art circles, the word has come to refer to any scene that depicts the landscape or subjects as they appear during twilight or the darkness of nighttime.

Examples from art history:

Whistler may have been the first to apply the term “nocturne” to paintings, and he did go on to paint a beautiful series of nocturnes in the nineteenth century, but he’s certainly not the first to paint a night scene! Artists during the early Renaissance began to use night scenes to depict Biblical scenes, and by the 16th and 17th centuries, the practice had broadened to include painting a large variety of subject matter in a nighttime light. One notable example is Rembrandt van Rijn’s masterpiece, “The Night Watch.” Rembrandt was among the first artists to paint night scenes on a regular basis, and “The Night Watch” was particularly celebrated for its colossal size (nearly 12 x 15 feet!) and its unusual depiction of a military portrait. Many artists throughout the centuries have continued to paint night scenes, enjoying the challenge it brings as well as the evocative mood set by the lighting.

Nocturne AH Collage

(left to right) James Abbott McNeill Whistler, “Nocturne in Black and Gold” 1874; Rembrandt van Rijn, “The Night Watch” 1642; Vincent Van Gogh, “Cafe Terrace at Night” 1888; Edward Robert Hughes, “Midsummer Eve” 1908

 

Examples from Principle Gallery:

We at Principle Gallery show many different artists who are incredibly talented at painting night scenes, and some who paint them quite often! Here’s a collage of crops of some of the fantastic nocturnes at the gallery:

PG Nocturne Collage

(top left to right) Gavin Glakas, “Firelight Sonata”; Bethanne Kinsella Cople, “By the Light of the Moon”; Nancy Bush, “Rising Moon”; (bottom left to right) Nobuhito Tanaka, “In the Rain”; Louise Fenne, “The Coming of Spring”; Gavin Glakas, “Night in Seravezza”

One of the undisputed masters of the night scene, Jeremy Mann, will be featured in an upcoming solo exhibition that opens here on November 13th, followed by a live cityscape painting demonstration in the gallery on November 14th from 1-4PM! We can hardly contain our excitement over the exhibition and the demonstration, and that excitement is only growing as we receive more images of the 35 brand new paintings (both cityscapes and figurative works) that will be part of the show! Here are just a couple of fantastic examples of what Jeremy can do with a night scene:

Yellow Night Above San Francisco

Jeremy Mann, “Yellow Night Above San Francisco”

Black Scarlet

Jeremy Mann, “Black Scarlet”

NYC 17

Jeremy Mann, “NYC 17”

Stay tuned as the show approaches for more sneak peeks at the paintings from the exhibition! And if you’d like to be put on the list to receive a full digital preview of the show, just send us an email at info@principlegallery.com!

Technique Tuesday: Surfaces

Technique Tuesday surfaces

Today’s Technique Tuesday post is going to take a look at an aspect of art creation that many art appreciators easily forget–the surface under the paint!

Surfaces collage

Here we have pictured just a few examples of the many different types of surfaces fine artists use to create their artwork. These are several of the most common–canvas, wood, masonite, paper, copper, aluminum, vellum–but there is truly an astounding variety out there when it comes to different artists’ preferred surfaces. They can all be divided into two basic categories: rigid (wood, panel, metal) and flexible (canvas, paper, vellum) materials.

Many different factors go into the choice an artist makes for what surface they wish to paint on. The type of paint, the aesthetics of the surface texture, the absorbency of the material, the “tooth” (the amount of surface texture), the stability, the longevity, and even the light permeability of a material may all play a part in the decision.

Early on in the history of art, the most commonly used surfaces for painting were rigid surfaces like stone and most especially, wood. Wood made for an especially good surface to paint on during the Middle Ages in Europe, when paintings were often created to be used as altarpieces, and wood could be fashioned into a nice multi-panel altarpiece, sometimes with hinges to allow it to open and close, as in the center example here:

Panel Collage

(left to right) Boy from Al-Fayum, 2nd century encaustic painting on wood; “Ghent Altarpiece” 1432 painting on 12 wood panels by Jan Van Eyck; “Mona Lisa,” 1503-1506 oil on poplar panel by Leonardo da Vinci

Many factors played a part in the popularization of canvas toward the latter years of the Renaissance. The fact that canvas was lighter, more portable, relatively affordable, and stood up better than wood to time and damp environments all quickly made it a very popular choice among artists for centuries to come. It became a particularly handy material due to its portability by the time plein air painting (painting on location outdoors) became popular in the 19th century. Here’s an example, from Impressionist painter Claude Monet:

poppies

Claude Monet, “Poppies” 1873, oil on canvas

There are many varieties of canvas used today, such as hemp, cotton, linen, and flax, and within these categories are also varying degrees of quality, stiffness, and tooth. If you ask ten different artists what their favorite type of canvas is, you might very well get ten different answers! Personal preference plays a large role in the choice of canvas, but as with most painting surfaces, the most important aspect is to prime the surface well (usually with a gesso-type material).

While wood panels and stretched canvas are the two most commonly seen surfaces used for painting throughout art history, there have also been many other materials experimented with, many of which are becoming more and more popular with today’s artists, who have a wide variety to choose from.

OTHER COLLAGE

(left to right) Rembrandt van Rijn, “Self Portrait,” oil on copper, 1630; Andre Derain, “Maurice de Vlaminck,” oil on cardboard, 1906; Joan Miro, “Painting,” oil on masonite, 1936

These “other” surfaces range from metals like copper and aluminum, to pressed boards like cardboard and masonite, to more obscure surfaces like glass and plastic. Each surface has its pros and cons, both in regards to how it “takes” the paint as well as how it stands the test of time, but once again it all really comes down to the personal preferences of the artist, and you’ll find excellent pieces of artwork created on all kinds of surfaces.

The International Guild of Realism 10th Annual Juried Exhibition, currently hanging here at the gallery, features 91 paintings and drawings by 81 different artists, and it’s a really great example of the variety of materials and surfaces that fine artists use to create their incredible artworks. Here are a few great examples from the show illustrating the variety of surfaces included, but if you haven’t seen the whole show yet, be sure to check it out, either at the gallery on on our website here!

Diane Davich Craig-Ride 'Em High-30X24-oil on panel72

Diane Davich Craig, “Ride ‘Em High”, oil on panel

 

Beth-Sistrunk-Time-Lapse-21x28inches-Oil-On-3-Acrylic-Panels72

Beth Sistrunk, “Time Lapse”, oil on three acrylic panels

Lorena Kloosterboer -Autumn Sun II - 8 x 8 - Acrylic on Aluminum Panel72

Lorena Kloosterboer, “Autumn Sun II” acrylic on aluminum panel

Josh Tiessen-Streams in the wasteland - Harbinger - 24x15-oil72

Josh Tiessen, “Streams in the Wasteland: Harbinger”, oil on braced birch

Nadia Lazizi - Spirit - 14 x 9 - Oil on Linen72

Nadia Lazizi, “Spirit”, oil on linen

Technique Tuesday: Palette Knife

Technique Tuesday palette knife

What is it?

A long-time standard in the artist’s toolkit, the palette knife is a tool consisting of a handle and a blunt blade, and was originally used for mixing paint on an artist’s palette. Since the 1800’s, it has seen an increase in popularity as a painting tool as well as a mixing one. Artists use the palette knife itself to thickly apply the paint to the canvas or panel (sometimes mixing colors directly on the surface with the knife), often to get a nice impasto effect.  Here’s an example of a set of differently shaped palette knives:

Palette Knives

 

Examples from art history:

Palette knives used for applying paint has a relatively recent history, as until the 19th century, these tools were primarily just for mixing paint on the palette. A few artists here and there, including Rembrandt and Francisco Goya, used palette knives in addition to brushes and other tools to create a nice effect, but it wasn’t really until the 19th century when Gustave Courbet started using them to thickly and smoothly apply paint on his landscapes that the technique began to really grow in popularity.  Other well known artists who used palette knives for painting include Camille Pissarro (a student of Courbet), Paul Cezanne, Marc Chagall, and Henri Matisse. Many of these artists used palette knives in addition to brushes and other painting tools. It was in the 20th century, however, that more artists began to experiment with painting an artwork entirely using palette knives. Many artists today who use palette knives dabble in a bit of both methods!

AH PK Collage

(Left to right) Gustave Courbet, “The Wave”; Francisco Goya, “Two Old Men Eating Soup”; Henri Matisse, “Odalisque with a Tambourine”; Paul Cezanne, “Uncle Dominique”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Palette knife painting can give a really gorgeous texture and accentuate colors on a canvas or panel. Many techniques that we’ve discussed in the Technique Tuesday post, such as impasto or the multi-loaded brush, can also be accomplished using a palette knife as well as a brush! Principle Gallery carries several artists who excel in the use of palette knives for paint application, as well as some who have dabbled in it from time to time, with some lovely results. To see more great examples of palette knife painting, check out our website, specifically the pages for Barbara Flowers, Mia Bergeron, and Lisa Noonis! Here are some cool examples, including a brand new work from Mia Bergeron titled “Somewhere Else.” To keep up with all our new incoming works and upcoming events, be sure to join our mailing list! To sign up, just fill out the form here on our website, or shoot us an email at info@principlegallery.com!

PG PK Collage

(Left to right) Barbara Flowers, “Sunflowers”; Mia Bergeron, “Somewhere Else”; Lisa Noonis, “Morning Sky”; Cindy Procious, “Deer”

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: Tenebrism

Technique Tuesday Tenebrism

Remember the Technique Tuesday post where we took a look at chiaroscuro? Today’s post is going to take a look at a very cool technique, closely related to chiaroscuro: tenebrism.

What is it?

Tenebrism, like chiaroscuro, is all about the use of lights and darks. Where chiaroscuro is used to create a sense of depth, three-dimensionality, and realistic texture, tenebrism involves using the stark contrast of light and dark for dramatic effect in a composition. It’s sometimes called the “spotlight effect”, and almost always features a stark, black background with the foreground, or at least some parts of it, dramatically illuminated.

Examples from art history:

The quintessential master of tenebrism in art history is the Baroque era Italian painter Caravaggio. Caravaggio’s work always bore a characteristic sense of drama, partially from the emotionally charged subject matter he would choose, but mostly thanks to the intense tenebrism. The concept of dramatic illumination became a popular one during the Baroque period following the Renaissance, and is seen frequently in both Italian and Dutch works from that time. Tenebrism has an exquisite way of creating a dramatic and powerful feel in a painting, but it also has a way of making the illuminated forms and colors absolutely glow.

caravaggio collage

Works by Caravaggio: “The Conversion of Saint Paul”, “The Taking of Christ,” and “The Calling of Saint Matthew”

You can get an idea from just these three works how Caravaggio manipulated contrast and areas of light and dark to not only set the mood, but also to draw the eye of the viewer to the most important focuses of the composition. Here are a couple of examples of the way tenebrism was used by painters further north, in the Dutch “Golden Age.”

tenebrism collage 2

(left) Rembrandt van Rijn, “The Night Watch”; (right) Abraham Mignon, “Still Life with Fruit”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

As art has evolved over time, popular trends have come and gone, but tenebrism is an effect that can still be seen used frequently by today’s artists, each in a way that complements his or her unique painting style. Here are a few examples of dramatic tenebrism on works here at Principle Gallery: (click the artist’s name to see more works by Jeremy Mann, Richard Murdock, and Brian Martin)

pg tenebrism collage

(left) Jeremy Mann, “The Melancholy Passerine”; (middle) Richard Murdock, “Wrapped Lilacs”; (right) Brian Martin, “Departure”

And last but not least, here’s a truly gorgeous example of a still life featuring tenebrism. This work by Greg Gandy is titled “Flowers with Insects,” and is a part of the current two-person exhibition, “Tempo and Pause” featuring works by Greg Gandy and Valerio D’Ospina. (Click here to view all the works in the show on our website!) Click the image to get a closer look, and check out how beautifully the contrast between the dark background and the illuminated flowers and vase makes the colors really glow!

Flowers with Insects 36x24 HR

Greg Gandy, “Flowers with Insects”