Sunday, November 30, 2014

Uncle Joe

Today we'll be fondly remembering Joe Fusillo, one of my uncles on Jeanette's side, who passed away earlier this week. I knew him as a fun-loving, larger-than-life person who organized the kids' games at family parties and he always had everybody laughing.

He was a great builder and restorer, and always had ambitious projects in the works. I did this sketch at a family party a while ago, and I remember that even when his hair was white, his eyebrows were always dramatic and dark.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gouache Master: Albert Brenet

Albert Brenet (1903-2005) was a French artist who painted primarily in gouache. 

As a child he loved to paint pictures of ships in port. Ships remained a favorite theme all his life. 
In 1921 he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. 

For seven months he sailed the Antilles on the Bonchamp, one of the last French sailing merchant ships.

He traveled widely and painted scenes of colorful locations around the world, including equatorial Africa and the West Indies.

His gouache paintings were relatively large, requiring a big board and easel.

He worked for many years for the magazine L’illustration, and he painted many posters depicting railroads, aircraft, ships, and architecture for the travel trade.

These subjects require accurate perspective and confident handling of detail.

In the painting above, note how he simplifies the far silhouette and the foreground textures to put the focus on the middle-ground train and the overhead wires.

He delighted in tight cropping, active foregrounds, and immense scale. He achieved scale by alternating big and little strokes, choosing unusual viewpoints, and setting figures back in space.

Look how he blurred the feet of the walking figures, and parked that sales wagon right in the foreground.
There's a 2003 Book on Albert Brenet, available here. It's 192 pages, written in French. Includes marine art, railroad art, and assortment of other subjects, mostly in gouache.
Read more online about Albert Victor Eugene Brenet:
Do you know these other artists?
Eugène Burnand
Josep Tapiró Baró

Friday, November 28, 2014

A.B. Frost in Illustration Magazine

A.B. Frost "The Power of the Human Eye" from Stuff and Nonsense, 1913
The new issue of Illustration Magazine has a feature on A.B. Frost (1851-1928), known for his humorous pen-and-ink illustrations and his realistic wash drawings of the American rural scene.

I love the early days of humorous illustration, when standard cartoon conventions weren't really established, and "straight" illustrators were finding their own ways to make drawings funny.

The article contains 42 illustrations by Frost, some reproduced full page, along with a biography by Gary Land. He tells how Frost got started with his popular "Uncle Remus" illustrations, and how his studies under William Merritt Chase loosened up his painting style, even though he was color blind.

The issue also has features on Virgil Finlay, Tom Miller, and William Meade Price.

You can order the magazine online or find it at your local newsstand.

Illustration #46
Wikipedia on A.B. Frost
Website about Frost (Thanks, Allen)
On Amazon: The A.B. Frost Book

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dinotopia Podcast, Episode 3

On this post we introduced the third episode of the Dinotopia audio podcast adventure.

Arthur and Will Denison continue their adventures in Dinotopia. Lee Crabb tells them about his sneaky plot, and they follow him to Volcaneum.

Arthur meets Tok Timbu and learns about the ways of the island where people live alongside dinosaurs.

...and they meet again someone they saw when they first arrived.

The Podcast Series
This acoustic adventure was produced by Tom Lopez, mastermind of the ZBS Foundation, with an original music track by composer Tim Clark. AudioFile Magazine calls it “A masterpiece of audio production.”

Episode 4 arrives in one week— Tuesday, December 2. Each 10-minute episode will only be live online for one week, and then it will disappear. So tell your friends, and be sure to check in to this blog each week. That way you'll be able to hear the whole production for free.

If you'd like to purchase the full two-hour Dinotopia podcast right now and hear all twelve episodes back to back in a feature-length production, check out Dinotopia at ZBS Foundation website for the MP3 download.

You can also order the original book from my web store and I'll sign it for you. It's the ultimate holiday gift for the imaginative person in your life. (US orders only for the book, please).

To listen to the full audio podcast, you can get a download at ZBS Production.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

LAX, Gate 35

We arrived at LAX an hour and a half before my flight yesterday, so I painted this study of the aircraft at the gate. It's about 5x8 inches in a Pentalic watercolor journal.

I used just four colors: white, black, cadmium yellow deep, and ultramarine. Those colors gave me a complementary gamut with warm and cool contrasts, and an interesting dull green.

Halfway through the painting, I was disappointed to see the aircraft depart. My model was gone. But I got lucky. Another identical airplane arrived to take its place, so I could finish the study.

To see a detailed step by step, with all the stages of this painting, check out my Facebook page.

Monday, November 24, 2014

CTN Portrait Sketchbook

At the CTN Animation Expo, I sketched quick portraits of Peter De Seve and Jake Parker.

Jake and I did a demo on stage. He drew a robotic dinosaur, while I drew him drawing.

...while Jeanette sketched me sketching Jake. 

Left hand is for the noodles. Right hand for the watercolor brush.

Fellow artists and animators at the Japanese Grill.

Sebastian Kruger knew that he was surrounded by caricaturists, so he pulled his hat brim down a little lower.

It was a grand time with amazing artists! Just to name a few, above left to right: Armand Serrano, Mark Oftedal, Armand Baltazar, Pascal Campion, Robh Ruppel, and Sebastian Kruger, plus so many other pros and students.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Book Review: "Graphic LA" by Robh Ruppel

At CTN Animation Expo I bought a copy of Robh Ruppel's new art book Graphic L.A., and want to share it with you.

Robh is one of those rare artists whose work spans imaginative and observational painting. He has worked as a designer for video games and films, and has taught at Art Center. He has also been a leader in digital plein-air painting.

While the book contains some landscapes, the bulk of the images are urban scenes. What I like most about his work is his ability to find beauty in commonplace scenes.

The book includes a mix of finished paintings, thumbnail sketches and step-by-step sequences. The sketches are in tone, most often in marker, while the colored finished paintings appear to be all digital.  

Many of the paintings have evocative lighting ideas that go beyond what photos can capture.

Accompanying the images are helpful chunks of advice, such as "Reduce, refine, interpret." Before he commences a painting, he always explores the possibilities of the subject in two or three tones. "Good value design," he says, "is the clear simple arrangement of a few tones."

He says, "Searching out the composition should take as long as rendering the image. Ultimately, the staging is what tells the story."

The book is 144 pages, about 8x8 inches.
Book: Graphic L.A. by Robh Ruppel

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cast Shadow in the Foreground

I painted a watercolor demo during a daylong visit to Favilli Studio, a multidisciplinary design group in South Pasadena. 

I walked down to the Arroyo with a group of designers and chose this view toward the York Avenue Bridge. I wanted to paint the forms—arch bridge, trees, and embankment—as realistically as I could.

But the light was overcast the whole time, so I decided to invent some light and shadow effects. 

I figured that I could make the planes of the retaining wall much more clear if I cast a foliage shadow across it, with the dappled spots of light following the vertical, horizontal, and diagonal planes.

The cast shadow serves two purposes. It invites the viewer to move from the dappled foreground shadow, where they seem to be standing, into the brightly lit middle ground, where Jeanette is standing.

The foliage shadow also helps to define the plane changes as the ground slants up and over the embankment wall.

Shadows can be a powerful tool for expressing plane changes, as Arthur Guptill demonstrates in this plate from Color in Sketching and Rendering (1935).
Previous posts:
Learn more methods in my video  Watercolor in the Wild

Friday, November 21, 2014

Beloved Friends

Here are two gouache portraits I painted while waiting for supper.

Our beloved art-teacher friends David Starrett and Sam Clayberger mentored us 35 years ago when Jeanette and I were were just sketching companions.

When we're with old pals like these, the years disappear, and we live in a moment that I wish could last forever.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Grayed CMY Experiment

Here's a color experiment that I tried a couple of days ago.

I set up for an outdoor gouache painting in Laguna Beach, California. I limited the colors to intense versions of cyan, yellow, and magenta, plus white.

I picked the most highly saturated or high-chroma versions of them that I had: Holbein Prussian blue [PB 27] (I could have used phthalo blue if I had brought it), Winsor and Newton lemon yellow (I could also have used Cadmium Yellow Light), and Holbein Carmine red (Naphthol), plus Caran d'Ache white.

Using these ingredients, I tried to paint a grayed-down painting out of them. I didn't want to allow any bright colors in the final image.

What a fun and strange feeling that was, like trying to drive a racing car in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Just touch the accelerator and it wants to blast off. Each of those colors has so much firepower, but I had to put on the brakes at every stage, restraining each color by using the other two as a complement.

No matter how hard I tried to achieve quiet, neutral colors, one of those strong colors wanted to dominate.

This challenge is the reverse of starting with a limited palette of pigments and trying to stretch those colors to be as pure as possible, such as in the painting above, which used a limited palette of weak colors: raw sienna, Venetian red, cobalt blue, and titanium white.

For more about limited palette experiments, see previous post on Limited Palettes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

At the Sarasota Chalk Festival

Last weekend at the Sarasota Chalk Festival in Venice, Florida, the theme was Extinct and Endangered Animals, and I was honored that two of the artists chose images from Dinotopia to recreate as gigantic street paintings. 

Jennifer Chaparro, photo by Craig Houdeshell

Jennifer says, "The finished piece is 12’ x 12’. The white base is just kid’s washable tempera paint, to help the paint stick, with soft pastel chalks on top. I use four kinds of chalk. Your basic Koss pastels, plus Eternity Chalk, and Richeson Street Stix Pastels, and Mount Vision Pastels. The surface was not the best. It was rough and gritty, and I ripped through quite a few gloves and sponges."

Lori Escalera painted "Small Wonder." She says it was surprisingly cold and windy with a lot of distractions, but she stuck with it and did a beautiful job.

Here's the original painting from Dinotopia: The World Beneath, which is only about 14 inches square. The painting itself was exhibited in Florida at the Norton Museum of Art in 2010.
Thanks, Lori and Jennifer!