Sunday, February 1, 2015

Howard Pyle's Palette



Blog reader Walt Morton asks:

"Did Howard Pyle teach or endorse a particular palette of colors? He was so methodical and analytical, I believe he had an ideal palette underlying his methods.
Yet I find no printed evidence."

Offhand I didn't know the answer, so I reached out to my lifelines.

Kev Ferrara says:

"It is my understanding that Pyle's emphasis was always on values, and color was of secondary consideration. [Harvey] Dunn said that Pyle 'preached tonal values 24-7' and had a very negative view of his own abilities with color. In fact Dunn reported that Pyle claimed he didn't really understand color at all. Given the many beautiful pictures in color by Pyle, we may take this anecdote with a grain of salt... something Dunn said which was designed more to drive home to his own students the preeminence of values in picture making.

"Regarding actual palette set up, Harvey Dunn said that Pyle taught his students to 'Keep shadows and light absolutely separate both on palette and on picture.' Dunn elaborated elsewhere: 'Keep light colors and shadow colors separate on palette, shadow colors on left, leaving a division between, and then light colors on the right.'"

Howard Pyle, The Dancer, 1899
Ian Schoenherr, author of the Howard Pyle blog, says:

"I have almost nothing to add to what Kevin said. In my transcribed records, there’s little mention of the specific pigments Pyle used.

"However, in a letter Gertrude Brinckl√© wrote from Italy on March 12, 1911, she said: 'Mr. Pyle colored a print of Holbein’s ‘Richard Southwell’ for me - not just tinting, [but] modeling with water colors, white, vermillion, cerulean blue, thick colors.'

"And two observers assumed that Pyle added vermillion to his black and whites (starting in the early/mid 1890s). Likewise, an 1897 news item said, 'He even uses color sparingly where that will add to the ‘value’ of his scheme. Black and red is his favorite combination, with the introduction now and then of blue and yellow.'"

"Like Kevin said, there are a few photos of Pyle with palette in hand - and I think only one (from early 1899 - above) shows the paint side - but that doesn’t help much."

Thanks, Kev and Ian. 
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Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Action Art of Mort Kunstler


On Thursday we visited the exhibition "Mort Kunstler: The Art of Adventure" at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  
Mort Kunstler, "Buried Alive for Four Months," Stag Magazine, 1965.

The exhibit spans his entire career, celebrating his well-known Civil War paintings, but I'd like to focus here on his earlier work for the men's action magazines, which doesn't get exhibited as often. 

When Mort Kunstler started doing illustrations in the early 1950s, he said that the field of mainstream magazine story illustration was already beginning to die away. "Color photography and television was coming in," he says, and advertising money was going to television. Dramas were broadcast on TV instead of being published in magazines.


But there were over 130 separate titles of men's adventure magazines still going strong, catering to veterans of World War II. The magazines had names like Adventure, Real, True, Saga, Stag, Swank and For Men Only

The illustrations were often printed in limited color palettes, such as red and black, and they required tight deadlines. Kunstler produced a vast output of complex images, usually staged with maximum drama and sex appeal. Most of these early paintings were executed in gouache on board.



Still at the easel in his 80s, Mort has remained busy for all these decades, with one assignment or painting idea following another. He has done it all: movie posters, plastic model box covers, commercial advertisements, and limited edition art prints.


He painted this spoof on Jaws for Mad magazine. He wasn't sure if it would alienate his fans, so he signed it "Mutz," just one of his pseudonyms.


In the 1970s, after the era of men's magazines was over, he painted paperback covers, such as "The Kansan," above. He switched to oil paint, and found his main calling painting scenes from American history, particularly documenting epic moments from the Civil War. 

All these aspects of his career are well represented in the three large rooms of the exhibition, along with examples of his preliminary sketches, comprehensive drawings, and tearsheets that show his process.

The exhibition "Mort Kunstler: The Art of Adventure" will be on view at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts through March 8. 

Books:

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mosaic Imps Sweater

Yoo hoo, knitters! Jeanette says: "I began this sweater in 2011, and almost frogged it, but I persevered and 4 years later it’s done.


I usually knit in the round, and this flat knitting really slowed me down! Mosaic knitting requires flat pattern pieces, done on straight needles. But I HAD to do that tessellated imp mosaic pattern!

The tessellation pattern includes both white and black imps. The imps are both right side up and upside down.
I was intrigued by Barbara Walker’s “shadow patterns” in her book “Mosaic Knitting”, and I chose to use her little black and white imps for my fabric. She was a genius.

I adapted a basic modified drop-shoulder pullover pattern, by Heather Lodinsky in Knitter’s Mag.#57, winter 1999. She named it “Woven Weekenders”, and also used a mosaic stitch pattern, but I wanted those imps. I used her pattern schematic as a base, for stitch counts and measurements.

I did corrugated ribbing (red and black) on the cuffs, bottom hem, and neckline, because the sweater needed a red color accent. The rest of the sweater is garter stitch in black and cream. The mosaic imp pattern is all slip-stitch. The sweater is heavy and warm, but not as impossibly heavy as stranded worsted-weight would have been.

Today when my husband wore it into the library, it stopped the librarian in her tracks. She was a knitter, and those imps definitely got some attention."

For more info about yarns and needles on this sweater, visit this page of Jeanette's Ravelry account

Animation Exhibition in Mexico



"Watch Me Move," an exhibition that explores the art form of animation from its origins to the present day, is currently on display at the Museo Marco in Monterrey, Mexico through March 1. (link to video)

Museo Marco website

WAMC Public Radio Interview



Yesterday in Albany, New York, I visited our public radio station WAMC and had a 20 minute conversation with my favorite radio guy, Joe Donahue. Link to audio interview.

They'll be giving away sets of my art instruction DVDs as a pledge premium during the fund drive next week.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dinotopia Exhibition coming to Connecticut




Next month, the Stamford Museum and Nature Center will host a major Dinotopia exhibition.


There will be over 50 original paintings from several of the books, including Dinosaur Parade, Waterfall City, and Dinosaur Boulevard. The artwork is completely different from the Lyman Allyn show a few years ago.
The show will also include preliminary sketches, reference maquettes, and several dinosaur fossils.
I will be in attendance for a few special events:

Farm to Table Supper with Chef Tim LaBant
Saturday February 28, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Enjoy a casual, rustic winter supper in the warmth of the Bendel Mansion featuring Tim LaBant, Owner/Chef of the Schoolhouse at Cannondale. Guests will begin with cocktails and artisanal hors d’oeuvres in the Museum Galleries with artist James Gurney who will provide a tour of the Dinotopia galleries, with stories behind the paintings. Here's the link for tickets.

Fantasy Drawing Workshop with James Gurney
Sunday, March 1, 2015, 1:00-3:00
Leonhardt Gallery in the Stamford Museum

James Gurney will present a digital slide program and a hands-on drawing workshop for artists of all levels of experience. Gurney will demonstrate the water-soluble colored pencil techniques he uses for many of his observational and imaginative sketches. Participants will get a chance to try out the watercolor pencils as they draw dinosaur models and still life objects. The workshop will take place in one of the exhibition galleries. Materials will be provided. The class size is extremely limited. Link for more info.

Book signing and public presentation
Sunday, March 1, 2015, 3:30-4:30
Leonhardt Gallery in the Stamford Museum

After the private workshop, all museum guests are invited to meet the author/artist. Mr. Gurney will offer a mini-lecture about the making of Dinotopia, followed by a book signing. Copies of Gurney's Dinotopia editions and art instruction books Imaginative Realism and Color and Light will be available at the gift shop.
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Stamford Museum and Nature Center
Farm to table sign-up