Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Russian Still Life

I thought this blog would be on how the Russian artists have influenced me. Upon my visit to Russia several years ago, I found various artists who incorporated antique vases into their art. The florals were super, most prominent is California impressionists is Franz Bischoff who painted wonderful florals. In the painting on the left, I have used red--okay, I admit I am a red guy--there are purple, yellow, blue, and green artists but I am not--I love red so I bring it into a painting whenever I can. The vase is actually from Belgium, on loan from one of my students but the colors are so amazing I thought I would tackle it. Just a few comments on technique-Note the warm cool combination and how the warm background sets off the cool vases. Also, the brush that extends lower left is a lead in, something my favorite artist would do--Sergei Bongart. Other favorite Russians are Surov, Repin, and Levitan. Ilya Repin is like a God over in Russia. You mention his name and heads drop--Equal to the great Russian Poet Pushkin( in fact they were friends). Not to dwell too much on him this morning but the genius of this man was incredible--each painting so different, so well executed that it seemed a different artist painted it. I am convinced a magical, fantasy painting Repin did in the 1930's with underwater sea horses, Merlin the magician and King Neptune served as inspiration for many of Disneys famous cartoon movies of the 50's. I guess I would describe the Russian impressionists, unlike other around the world, is passionate, lively, colorful without losing representational structure. I think real with a strong academic basis, unlike American art in the 1950's and later where modernism took precedance and everyone went Jackson Pollack and splattered paint on a canvas calling it art.
Other technical stuff--note the large small object contrast, how the cloth is handled with little detail, loosely. In the last class, we reviewed the problem with "student" grade paint, namely Winton which is so poor in quality, it simply adds to frustration. Cheapen up on other aspects of the process--brushes, canvas, etc but not oil paint--get the best you can afford. These student grade paints have too much filler, doesn't load or intermix well. Good brands that are affordable include Utrecht, Classic Colors, Rembrandt, Gamblin and Chevrin. Le Franc is quite good as well. I had problems with Pebeo as well so avoid that and Da Vinci--too much filler, waxes, sterates, etc. That is it. Got back from Tahoe on a mini vacation hiking, kayaking, and beaching it. All charged up now. Keep painting, ask questions!!

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