Friday, March 28, 2008
Before I leave, though, I want to draw your attention to the new links I've added to the side bar. Gurney Journey and Lines and Colors are both great blogs about art and artists. Also, please note that Peter has begun a new blog that allows him to post his fantastic photos in a larger format.
Check out these blogs and I'll be back on Monday. Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, March 27, 2008
If you’ve had a baby recently, are preparing to have a child, are an older brother or sister to a baby, or know someone with a young child, you’ve probably seen the “Baby Einstein” products put out by Disney. For that matter, if you’ve watched T.V. lately you’re probably seen commercials for “Baby Einstein” products. I am very impressed. I must tell you about this book I found called Windows to Color written by Julie Aigner-Clark and illustrated by Nadeem Zaidi. It introduces kids 9 months and older to color, using master works of art as examples.
First you see the painting, then you turn the page and find the name of the color written in large letters with examples of objects that are that color. There is a little window (the shape of which varies throughout the book—a star, a heart, a circle, etc.) through which you can see where the featured color is used in the painting.
Van Gogh’s fields of yellow wheat are shown opposite yellow ducklings. A Degas painting, along with a basketball, illustrate orange. Many of the most known and loved artists, from Marc Chagall to Gustave Klimt, are represented in this fantastic board book.
When I was shopping at the book store (where I bought a few more artsy board books that I’ll tell you about next week), the woman who helped me said that a lot of people seemed to be buying books as baby shower gifts. That comment was very uplifting. After all, what is more important than mind and spirit? Just a thought…
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008
When the Romans took over, they brought a classical style of art with them. This can be seen in the mummy portraits that were found in the Fayum (notice the map) and, to a lesser degree, throughout Egypt.
At first portraits were painted during a person’s life and then, after death, attached to the mummy. Later portraits were only created after a person died.
The portraits showed only the face and possibly the shoulders. The person always faced forward, which is different from other Egyptian art in which people always faced sideways. You’ll notice the big, open eyes and the fancy clothes worn in the portraits. Many even showed jewelry and flowers.
A portrait was painted on a wood panel and tucked into the wrappings of the mummy. The portrait’s face was lined up with where the person’s real face was.
If you compare the Fayum Portraits with artwork from earlier Egypt, I think you’ll see a huge difference. There’s not much more I can say that you won’t notice by looking at the two paintings below.
That’s it for Egyptian art (for now, anyway). Check back tomorrow for something new.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008
During the Eighteenth Dynasty, Akhenaten (the pharaoh at the time) started a new art movement. We call it the Amarna Period. During the Amarna Period, the pharaoh, his family, and the people of Egypt were shown in a more realistic way.
In all types of art (paintings, carvings, sculpture), the pharaoh (and others) was shown with a long, thin face and a round skull. His chin always stuck out and his eyes were almond-shaped. He had a feminine round belly and wide hips. The pharaoh’s wife was shown in much the same way. It can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart.
Akhenaten was often shown with his daughters. In the artwork, he played with them and showed them affection. This kind of behavior was never shown in art during the other dynasties. Pharaohs thought it made them look weak so they didn’t want anyone to see that side of themselves. They were supposed to look like strong warriors. Akhenaten didn’t think the people of Egypt would think he was weak if he played with his children and loved his family so he wasn’t afraid to have artwork show it.
You’ll also notice that the sun is shown in many of the images of the pharaoh. That is the sun god, Aten. He is shown as a disc with many rays. The rays have hands that reach toward the pharaoh, surrounding Akhenaten in warmth and protection. Aten is the only god shown in art of the Amarna Period.
When the Eighteenth Dynasty ended, Egyptian art reverted back to what it had been before Akhenaten.
EDITED TO ADD: Part 5- Fayum Portraits
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sculptures never showed illness. They never showed injury or deformity. These things had no place in the afterlife which was supposed to be just like life—if things were always perfect. The sculptures usually showed the pharaoh, sometimes with animal-formed gods, sometimes with family, sometimes holding offerings to the gods. The pharaoh always wore a peaceful expression and stood (or sat or knelt) in a confident pose that made him look young and strong.
The sculptures were also very well finished and perfectly polished. In the 1000s BC, the power of the pharaohs weakened and the quality of the statues worsened. The sculptures were still pretty spectacular (and huge), and the quality of the early centuries of Egyptian sculpture eventually returned.
Because the sculptures of rulers were often several stories tall, scaffolding had to be used. The Egyptians tied sturdy reeds together to create wide ladders. The sculptors could stand on the ladders to reach the middles and tops of the sculptures. Using chisels and wooden mallets, teams of sculptors chipped away at blocks of stone to create sculptures.
Other sculptors then worked on smoothing out the stone. They created sandpaper by pressing sand between a rock and the sculpture. The sculptor would rub until the sand had all fallen away, then added more and continued. You can imagine that this would take a long time if only one person worked on it. This is one reason why Egyptian sculptors worked in teams.
When the sculpture is smooth and perfect, the sculptors carved the name of the pharaoh into the back of the sculpture.
There were, of course, smaller sculptures made for the tombs of other Egyptians, but they weren’t as large or well-finished as those created for the pharaoh.
More Egyptian art to come! Check back tomorrow.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Many people collect “Faberge eggs” but, unless they are millionaires, they are not collecting the ones that Peter Carl Faberge and his studio created from 1885 to 1917. Those eggs are very hard to get and some have sold for nearly 10 million dollars! While modern “Faberge eggs” are beautiful works of art, I will only talk about those 69 eggs that Peter Carl Faberge himself had a hand in designing and creating.
The first egg was made as an Easter surprise for the wife of the Russian Tsar (ruler) Alexander III. From the outside, it looked like a regular egg. It was made of white enamel with a little band of gold around the center. The egg could be opened and inside was a golden yolk. When the yolk was opened, there was a gold hen sitting in a golden nest. Inside the hen (yes, the hen opened, too!) was a necklace with a little ruby egg and a diamond crown. Sounds like a nice Easter gift to me!
The Tsar’s wife loved her egg and from then on Alexander III gave her a custom-designed Faberge egg for Easter each year. When Alexander III’s son, Nicholas II, became tsar, he continued the tradition. He had Faberge create eggs for his wife and his mother each year at Easter.
Faberge made about fifteen eggs for wealthy collectors but the rest were made for the Russian royal family.
Shown above is the Blue Serpent Egg. Notice the Roman numerals around the upper part of the egg. The serpent’s head points to the time.
How gorgeous is the Lilies of the Valley Egg? Faberge designed it because he knew the Empress loved lilies of the valley, her favorite jewels were pearls, and her favorite color was pink. Wouldn’t you love someone to design an egg based on your favorite things? I think mine would be made of polished opal nestled in a base of tiger lilies. What would your Faberge egg look like?
Below are two more eggs that I really liked, The Clover Egg and the Peacock Egg.
The eggs of Peter Carl Faberge are worth millions of dollars. Faberge’s grandson, Theo Faberge, began making eggs in the second half of the 1900s. His were not one of a kind like those of his grandfather. Theo made a few hundred of each of his designs and sold them to the public. Each of his eggs is worth several thousand dollars, far less than Peter Carl Faberge's. Theo’s eggs are not as ornate and do not have as many pieces.
On Monday I’ll post more about the art of the ancient Egyptians. Until then, enjoy you weekend and your Easter. And for those of you on spring break (like me), enjoy your time off from school!
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Thursday, March 20, 2008
A thin layer of plaster was spread over the wall, polished, and smoothed. An apprentice then marked the wall with a red grid pattern and copied the image from a piece of papyrus, carefully keeping the same proportion. At this point, the wall was ready for carving. The sculptor used a large, wooden mallet and a copper or bronze chisel to make the carving.
There were two types of reliefs: raised reliefs and sunken reliefs. When creating a raised relief, the sculptor chiseled away the parts of the stone around the image. This made the image stand out, like the one shown below.
To create a sunken relief, the sculpture carved away the image, leaving the background higher than the picture. An example is shown below.
Egyptians often combined the two styles when decorating tombs and monuments, as in the example below. The pharoahs were done in raised relief and the hieroglyphics around them were done in sunken relief.
When the carving was complete, the wall was whitewashed before the natural, Egyptian paints were added.
Stay tuned for more about Egyptian Art.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Not just anyone could paint the pictures that appeared inside ancient Egyptian tombs and monuments. Those paintings were extremely important and had to be done perfectly because they were meant to help the dead in the afterlife.
Painters usually worked as teams with one master craftsman overseeing the work of several apprentices. First, a grid was drawn on a piece of papyrus. Then the image was drawn on top of the grid. In ancient Egyptian art, each figure had to be a specific size. For example, a grown man was always 19 squares from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head.
Egyptian art was standardized. Not only were certain figures always the same number of squares tall and wide, but the there was a formula for the way to draw figures. When you look at Egyptian paintings (and carvings) you’ll notice that the face is always sideways, the upper body always faces forward, and the legs and feet face sideways. This is not a natural position. You’ll also notice that the one eye that shows is always painted on the side of the face. The Egyptians wanted to show only the most important parts of the body and they wanted to show those parts in the most attractive way. They painted the eye on the side of the face so it could be shown looking straight out. Feet don’t look like feet from straight on so the Egyptians painted them from the side.
When the drawing was perfect, a thin layer of plaster was spread over the area to be painted. It was sanded and smooth until it was shiny. Some of the apprentices would then use cords dipped in red paint to create a grid on the wall. The image was then painted onto the wall in red paint by the apprentices. They had to be careful to paint the figure exactly the way it looked on the papyrus. The master craftsman corrected the pictures in black before the apprentices filled in the figure with colored paints.
Egyptians used only eight colors, all mixed from natural materials likes rocks and plants. The colors have stayed bright in some place because the sun doesn’t reach the inside of tombs to bleach away the paints.
Sometimes paintings were done on papyrus scrolls instead of on walls. The figures still followed the same formulas.
Check back tomorrow for the next post in this series on Egyptian art!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
A note to parents: This post is completely kid-friendly but be aware that other articles you’ll find about Beardsley probably will not be.
Aubrey Beardsley was born in England in 1872. His artistic talent was obvious even when he was a young boy. He was mostly self-taught, though he did study art at the Westminster School of Art.
In 1892, Beardsley illustrated his first book, Morte D’arthur by Thomas Malory. This included 300 illustrations and decorations such as the ones shown below.
Beardsley briefly worked for another, smaller publication before illustrating more books including Theophile Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin and Aristophanes’ Lysistrata.
In 1898, at only 25 years old, Beardsley died of tuberculosis. He had always been sick and weak and his body had finally had enough.
As I mentioned earlier, many compare Harry Clarke to Beardsley but I think they are very different. Clarke’s illustrations are creepy. Beardsley’s are certainly strange, but I wouldn’t call them creepy. I think the pictures have different feelings. What do you think?
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Monday, March 17, 2008
Clarke was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1889. His father was a craftsman who worked in design and stained glass, and his brother would also become an artist. Clarke’s passion was in stained glass but he also worked as an illustrator. I’ll be honest, it was the illustrations that first caught my attention, though his stained glass is extraordinary.
Clarke began his art studies in his father’s studio but was influenced by many artists and styles. He was influenced by Rosetti and Edmund J. Sullivan, and his illustrations were often compared to Aubrey Beardsley, who I'll post about later in the week. Clarke traveled in Europe during the height of the art nouveau moment and was inspired by the style. Also on these travels, Clarke visited many of the great cathedrals with their varied stained glass windows.
Clarke designed and created more than 130 stained-glass windows in his life. What strikes me about his windows is that the scenes have depth. The thick black lines of most stained glass windows makes it very difficult to create foreground and background. I think Clarke uses black differently than most stained glass artists, though. There’s a lot of black but it isn’t overwhelming. Click for examples of Clarke's stained-glass and check out the images below. What do you think?
Click here to see his fairy tale illustrations. When you get to the page, click on the thumbnail images because there are several pictures from each story.
Clarke died in 1931 when he was only 41 years old.
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Friday, March 14, 2008
Andre Derain was born in 1880 just outside of Paris to a pastry chef. He was a terrible student but he was great at drawing and, when he was fifteen, began painting lessons. It was because of these lessons that Derain met Henri Matisse who would also become a fauvist.
In 1900, Derain and his new friend, Maurice de Vlaminck, rented an old restaurant to use as a studio. During this time Derain studied the works of the masters that hung in the Louvre and he visited new exhibits to keep up to date on the happenings in the art world. He was called into military service at the end of 1900 but before he left he introduced Vlaminck and Matisse, thus paving the way for fauvism.
When he returned from the service in 1904, Derain’s career began to pick up. A wealthy art collector bought all the paintings in his studio in 1905, then Derain showed at the Salon des Independants where he sold four paintings. Later that year he showed at the Salon d’Automne where the fauvist movement got its name. (Shown below is Collioure.)
In 1906, the art collector who had bought out Derain’s studio wanted more paintings. Derain went to London to create these paintings which became some his most popular and most famous. Below is London Bridge, one of thirty paintings Dearain completed in London.
Late in 1906, Derain met Picasso. This friendship would last for many years and Picasso would influence Derain to experiment with cubism (like in the painting shown below, Cubist Grove, which is cubist more in color than in overall style) as the fauvists began to move on to other styles.
Derain illustrated two books around this time, one by Guillaume Apollinaire and a book of poetry by Max Jacob.
Around 1911, Derain’s work began to show the influence of the old masters he had studied at the Louvre. In 1914 he was again called into military service. When he finished his duty in 1919 he continued to develop in this more classical style. Below is Portrait of a Young Girl in Black, an early example of Derain's later style.
Derain became even more popular and he was thought highly of throughout the art world and beyond. In the year leading up to World War II, however, Derain’s downfall began. Hitler’s foreign minister wanted Derain to paint a family portrait. Derain did not paint the portrait but he did go to Germany on an official visit. This was not a popular thing to have done and after the war Derain could never regain his position in the art world. Several negative books were published about him during his lifetime which made him unsure about his work. He couldn’t create the way he used to.
He lived his final year with an eye infection and was then killed by a car in 1954.
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Current NaNoEdMo Hour Count: 13.5/50hours
Yeah. I'm not doing so well with this but those 13.5 hours have made a huge difference.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Anyway, on to fauvism (sounds like: foe-viz-um).
Fauvists used exaggerated colors when painting subjects. In fact, color was the most important aspect of a fauvist painting, with the subject taking a backseat. For example, when painting a portrait of a woman with very dark hair, a fauvist might choose to use blue in the hair to show just how dark it was. He might use yellow for the skin instead of a carefully mixed bronze. Shadows might be drawn in greens and purples instead of grey.
Shown above is Andre Derain’s The Turning Road, L’Estaque. I love this painting for the way Derain has taken the colors of the changing fall leaves and used those colors throughout the painting, in the trees, the earth, and the people.
Fauvism began in 1905, though artists were moving toward this color-based style of painting before this time. Fauvism in some ways grew out of the impressionism movement that van Gogh was a part of. Vincent van Gogh had a great influence on the fauvists. His use of color affected Henri Matisse (whose Woman with a Hat is shown below) and it affected Maurice de Vlaminck.
Most people didn’t like this new movement. It was called fauvism by an art critic. Fauvism means “the wild beast” and it was not meant as a compliment. Some wealthy art buyers did purchase paintings, though, which allowed the artists to continue working.
By 1908 the movement had run its course and many of the artists involved moved on to other styles. Georges Braque, for instance, moved on to cubism. You can see this in the two paintings shown below, Spared from the Storm (1906) and Houses at L’Estaque (1908). Look at the change in style that happened in just two years!
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Current NaNoEdMo Hour Count: 13.5/50hours
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Rembrandt was born in Holland in 1606, the son of a miller and a baker’s daughter. Like many artists of the time, Rembrandt learned to paint through apprenticeships. He worked first with a history painter, Jacob van Swanenburgh, and then with a more famous artist, Pieter Lastman. When he was 18 or 19, Rembrandt opened a studio with another painter and student of Lastman, Jan Lievens. Rembrandt soon began accepting students of his own and by the end of his life he had taught most of the well-known artists of his day.
Rembrandt’s first subjects were bible stories but he quickly expanded to paint historical scenes. He used oil paints so his paintings were glossy and he loved bright colors, though not the way the Nabis would use color in the 1800s; he used bright colors to create natural-looking paintings. You can see this in the picture below, The Scholar.
In 1632, he began to paint portraits. It was these portraits that made him famous. He made great connections that allowed him to paint many important people, including the prince! Rembrandt also painted portraits of himself throughout his life (about 100 of them). These portraits let us know what he looked like as he grew up (from a teenager to an old man with wrinkles, both shown below).
He was married in 1632, then had four children. Three of his children died when they were young, and then his wife died in 1642. Rembrandt became depressed and his paintings became darker. He exchanged his bright yellows and reds for deep blues and greens and darker reds. These later paintings are considered by many to be even more beautiful than the cheerier paintings of his youth. This painting shown below, The Mill, is an example of Rembrandt's darker style, painted in 1650.
Rembrandt lived in a large house which he should have been able to pay off. He earned a lot of money painting because he was fantastically popular. The house eventually became the cause of money troubles, however, and in 1657 it was sold along with his possessions.
Rembrandt died in 1669, having created more than 600 paintings and 1700 other works of art.
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Current NaNoEdMo Hour Count: 11.5/50hours
Monday, March 10, 2008
So, I was at the museum, enjoying the artwork, and I kept seeing this word that I had never come across before: aquatint. I wrote it down so I would remember to look it up and share the information with you.
Aquatinting is a way to create prints. The artist first creates a design or image. Then he applies resin to a copper or zinc sheet. (Resin is that sticky stuff that gets on your hands when you touch certain types of trees, especially pine trees. It's made into many types of things including the stuff used by artists when creating aquatints.) Once the resin is applied, the artist dips the whole thing in acid. Dipping the plate in acid makes it so that it will print darker than white. After this first dip, the plate would print grey all over.
Next, the artist etches, or scratches, his picture onto the zinc or copper plate. These etched areas will print black. He also uses a special material that stops the acid from further darkening any parts that he wants to leave white (or at least light grey).
Finally, he dips the plate in the acid again, using the acid blocking material as areas reach the darkness he wants.
If you remember my post on John James Audubon, you remember a great example of aquatint printing. His book, Birds of America, used aquatint prints as illustrations. The water color was added after the aquatint printing which can only be done in black and white.
Francisco Goya was a master at aquatint. Pomona College Museum of Art in Cleremont, California as an excellent collection of Goya’s etchings. (I have never been to California. I am judging based on their website and other resources.) Go check out some of the images they have posted and read a little about the artist if you are interested. At some point I’ll post about him here.
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Current NaNoEdMo Hour Count: 9.5/50hours
Friday, March 7, 2008
Bjork invites you to travel with Linnea and her elderly friend, Mr. Bloom, to Paris and Giverny where Monet lived and worked. Stroll through Monet’s garden with Linnea as she discovers the source of the great artist’s inspiration for his water lily paintings. View the river Seine in Paris as Monet saw it. And visit a museum with Linnea to more about Impressionism and Monet’s paintings.
Gorgeous water color illustrations of Linnea’s adventures compliment the text. The book also includes black and white photos of Monet and his garden, as well as pictures of his paintings.
The book was also made into an animated movie. I have not seen it but it looks good. If you’ve seen the movie, Linnea in Monet’s Garden, please post a comment and let me know what you thought!
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Current NaNoEdMo Hour Count: 7/50hours
You'll notice that I'm still a little behind...
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Monet was born in Paris in 1840 but his family moved to Normandy when he was 5. He knew from a young age that he wanted to be an artist rather than go into the family grocery business, and so he went to school to learn technique. When he was 16, Monet met Eugene Boudin who taught him to paint outdoors, “en plein air.” When he went to Paris, many painters cooped themselves up in the Louvre and copied the works of the masters, as you’ve read about already on this blog, but Monet chose to develop the methods taught to him Boudin. He worked outdoors, painting scenes as he saw them rather than the way they were seen by artists who came before him.
Monet served briefly in the armed service until he became ill and had to return home. He met several budding artists, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and they began experimenting with the new style that would become impressionism.
During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), Monet lived in England and studied works by great landscape artists such as John Constable.
In 1873 he painted Impression, Sunrise (shown above), the painting for which the entire Impressionism movement was named. The term “Impressionism” was originally meant as an insult by an art critic but the painters liked it and used the name to describe their style of painting.
After his wife died in 1879 (shown above on her death bed), Monet began in earnest to produce. He continued in the Impressionist style and tried to create a portrait of France with his paintings. In 1883 when he moved to Giverny and, over the next 10 years, planted his grand garden. He loved to paint the garden and the lily ponds. He painted his many series during this time, which showed the same subject at different times during the day. You’ve seen some of these series already, including Water Lilies, Rouen Cathedral, and Etretat.
Toward the end of his life, Monet developed cataracts in his eyes which affected the way he saw colors. He continued to paint anyway, but you can tell which paintings were created when his eyes were bad.
In 1926, at the age of 86, Monet died and was buried in Giverny.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Like the Venus de Milo, which you read about yesterday, Nike of Samothrace was discovered on an island in the Aegean Sea. A French archaeologist found the sculpture on Samothrace (thus the name) in 1863. Her arms and head were (and still are) missing and the right wing is a reproduction based on the left wing.
Despite the condition of the sculpture, Nike of Samothrace stands grandly upon the ship on the landing of a prominent staircase in the Louvre. She continues to attract hordes of visitors and to stun even those who didn’t expect to see her.
Unfortunately that’s it for today. I’m taking a graduate school entrance exam early in the morning so I must get some sleep. Wish me luck!
EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to add the pictures last night! Luckily, blogs can be edited. Also, the test went extremely well. I am 99% sure I passed. (I only scores for two of three section and they're unofficial scores. I don't want to jinx myself!) I'll keep you updated.
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Current NaNoEdMo Hour Count: 5.25/50 hours
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
She was found hidden away in a cavern on the island of Milos in the Aegean Sea in 1820. She was broken in pieces: upper body, lower body, top of left arm, left hand holding an apple, and inscribed base. The peasant who found her, Yorgos Kentrotas, knew that he should turn her in to the Turkish authorities but he found her beauty so great that he kept her for himself. He was probably also interested in how much money he could make if he sold her to the right buyer. Eventually, the officials learned of the discovery and took Venus de Milo from Kentrotas’ barn.
While visiting the island, a French naval officer d’Urville discovered the sculpture. He knew it was valuable and wanted to buy it for the French. The peasant was willing to sell it but d’Urville’s captain, uninterested in antiquities, said there was no room on the ship for her. When his ship reached Constantinople, d’Urville showed sketches of the sculpture to the French ambassador who immediately sent someone to buy the Venus de Milo for France.
The French arrived as the sculpture was being loaded onto a ship. It was to be delivered to the Sultan of Constantinople’s translator as a gift from the natives of the island. The French fought for the Venus de Milo and were victorious.
Once at the Louvre, the sculpture was put back together but the arms were not as well finished as the rest of the sculpture so they were left off. Experts later determined that the arms were original pieces of the Venus de Milo. The inscribed base told us who had created the sculpture, Alexandros of Antioch, but it dated the Venus de Milo much later than the French had originally thought. That piece of the base has mysteriously disappeared, though we haven’t forgotten the information it taught us.
French sculptors worked to create a new set of arms for the Venus de Milo but she was ultimately left armless. We do know that the right arm originally rested on the raised knee to hold up the drapery. The left arm crossed her body and held an apple. The sculpture was once painted in bright colors and decorated with jewelry but none of that remains.
Current NaNoEdMo Hour Count: 4.25/50 hours