Saturday, August 30, 2014

Chris Evitts: An Artist's Process
The Lunatic (tentative title) by Chris Evitts

Always in awe of Chris Evitts' artwork, I saw this photo on Facebook and spontaneously commented, 
"I don't know how you do it."
Chris' response below, like his art, is classic:

well thanks tom, i do have my methods, i really take each painting as a moby dick like

 battle, sometimes the pieces don't work because of my own curses, trying to be too cute, or

 trying to be something that i am not. usually a painting 

will journey through many layers of lies

 and bullshit before the dirt settles in the right spots. 

this little painting is a great example, it

 seemed to be wallowing in these half formed characters that were distant 

and miserable rather

 than what i was hoping for, which was something more ballsy. i think the pivotal decision was

 introducing black to the pallet.  when blues were left to their 

own devices the piece couldn't seem 

to rise above morose, but once black joined the party, things got a little bit more 

edgy and grim. 

once black was in the pallet instantly my drawing improved and the drama of the man fearful

 of the moon was sealed. below is the painting that wasn't good enough, and had to go...

I love The Lunatic--actually, I covet it. Almost too much to post it for fear of someone else buying it. But that painting and Chris Evitts' words of wisdom are too inspiring to keep to myself, and way too worthy to be lost on Facebook don't you think?

Check out more of his work:

and read another post about Chris Evitts:

Thanks for checking this out!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Frankenstein Returns!
The Creature (detail). Mixed media.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has fascinated me since I was lucky enough to be forced to read it in high school. 

As a kid, I loved the 1930s movie. The fear Karloff's face inspired remains a vivid memory.

I didn't know of Thomas Edison's movie--the first film version--until adulthood. You can see the
whole thing here:

Mary Shelley's description of the creature has been ignored, attempted, and also revised by movie-makers and artists, but it is definitely evocative: His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid 
contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the 
dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.

I've ignored it for my versions as well. Following is the progression of the newest painting, done as a poster design soon to be released. Hope you enjoy it!

Lots of sketches preceded the final face. Here are a few.

After a search for a border I found this copyright free design in a Dover book.
I modified it greatly as you will see.

Here's the initial pencil prelim (on watercolor paper) of the lower part of the border...

...and here's the big guy, with his initial pair of boots, later changed to somewhat goofy slipper-shoes.

Inked with both pen and brush, it's ready for watercolor.

After an initial wash of raw umber, my colors were added in layers. Striving for a monochromatic look, my palette was mostly limited to ultramarine, burnt sienna, and raw umber. 

The bits of green came from raw sienna mixed with ultramarine, but I brightened his eyes at the end by adding lemon yellow and cerulean to the initial green mixture. (Shot with a camera phone, these look more saturated than the actual piece.)

For another rendition of the creature, you might enjoy

As always, questions and comments are welcome.  Thanks for the visit!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Feeling, not Facts

Willows in Bloom 
Arthur Wesley Dow

Dow was a great teacher and a great artist. He taught and influenced a long list of creatives from Georgia O'Keefe to William S. Rice.

Here he is in 1890.

My favorite Arthur Wesley Dow quote: "The artist does not teach us to see facts; he teaches us to feel harmonies and to recognize supreme quality."

Dow was part of a time in history bursting with invention, innovation, and discovery, he also believed in art for everyone; one of his goals was to provide quality art at a reasonable price. Peyton Boswell, writing about Dow's prints: "They occupy a middle ground between the art demands of the wealthy and those of the poor, and satisfy both. Although not costing much, they are real art and fulfill their mission to be decorative and bring happiness."

I offer the following artworks by artists taught and influenced by Arthur Wesley Dow. They are some of my favorites. I've learned from them as I've learned from the works and words of Dow. 
They give me feeling, not facts. I wish the same for you.

Alice Ravenel Huger Smith

Telegraph Poles 
Clarence H. White

Lamp Base 
Newcomb Pottery

The Pier Alvin 
Langdon Coburn

Paris Rooftops 
Max Weber

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pinocchio Versions from 1883 to 2014

Roberto Innocenti, 1988
Pinocchio kills the talking cricket.
Yup, Pinocchio smashes the cricket with a mallet in the original tale by Carlo Collodi. I like Disney's version, but am pretty much enthralled by Collodi's book. Unlike Disney's interpretation of a naïve and gullible Pinocchio, Collodi's puppet is a saucy, selfish, woodenheaded brat throughout most of his horrific adventures, which include being stabbed and hung by the fox and cat.
Roberto Innocenti's illustrations remain favorites of mine. They are gorgeous, dramatic watercolors that don't shrink from the violence within the tale, and also celebrate the evolution and eventual redemption of Pinocchio. Check out the atmosphere in these:
Pinocchio meets the fox and the cat.

Pinocchio is hanged by the assassins
The magical piece of wood from whence came Pinocchio.
The book is tough to come by, but be sure to see more of  Roberto Innocenti's artwork at
Many illustrators have tackled the irritating little puppet's story. Here are a few of my favorites, which range from early black and white engravings to lushly detailed paintings:

Enrico Mazzanti, 1883
Carlo Chiostri, 1901
Charles Copeland, 1904
Attilio Mussino, 1911
Luigi Cavalieri, 1924
Gianbattista Galizzi, 1942
And last, this inspiring, fresh illustration by Kayla Edgar, 2014.
It blew me away when I first saw it!
Please enjoy more of Ms. Edgar's amazing work at 
Thanks, as always, for reading!
*Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi, compiled by Cooper Edens,
was my source for most of the illustrations in this post. You can buy it used at

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Birds with Teeth, Again
I'm not a world traveler, not yet anyway, but I can pretty much find inspiration anywhere. Drew this sketch during a recent visit to Kansas, where we were lucky enough to find the Sternberg Museum in Hays. It is a decidedly worthwhile side trip if you're on I-70.

Among the many fossils, there were plenty of Plesiosaur-types. Dragons definitely come to mind, but so do birds with teeth.
I didn't pay much attention to the names of these dinosaurs--was too busy
photographing them for reference (and playing with Hipstamatic).
Nothing hits the sweet spot like bird skulls with dental issues...
...but this snaggle-tooth fish comes close!
I scanned my initial pencil sketch and have been playing around with a variety of approaches on different papers, most of which don't have happy endings--like this one. Still, more are on the drawing table, and lots more toothy birds are developing in my sketchbook.
Thanks for checking this out!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Heinrich Vogeler

 Die Hex mit Eule (The Witch with Owl), by Heinrich Vogeler, etching, 1895.

Recently ran across this work by Vogeler, which was unknown to me. Not only am I drawn to images of witches, ghosts, and the metaphysical, in this particular case it was the placement of the bright whites of the hair, trees, and toadstool. Check out that serene but creepy smile on the witch, and that exquisite door. 

Heinrich Vogeler

Thanks for the visit!

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