Van Gogh's Bedrooms - An Exhibit

We all know Van Gogh as a person with a troubled personality, but he saw Art is a vocation not a career, something to be shared with others, not for his own glory.  The show is a deeper look at his surroundings.

From the Art Institute of Chicago:  

Van Gogh's BedroomsRegenstein Hall, February 14, 2016–May 10, 2016

Vincent van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles is arguably the most famous chambre in the history of art. It also held special significance for the artist, who created three distinct paintings of this intimate space from 1888 to 1889. This exhibition—presented only at the Art Institute of Chicago—brings together all three versions of The Bedroom for the first time in North America, offering a pioneering and in-depth study of their making and meaning to Van Gogh in his relentless quest for home.

Van Gogh painted his first Bedroom just after moving into his beloved “Yellow House” in Arles, France, in 1888. He was so enamored with the work, now in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, that after water damage threatened its stability, he became determined to preserve the composition by painting a second version while at an asylum in Saint-Rémy in 1889. Identical in scale and yet distinct from the original, that second work is now one of the icons of the Art Institute’s permanent collection. Van Gogh created a smaller third version, now at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, as a gift for his mother and sister a few weeks after making the second. While the three paintings at first appear almost identical, when examined closely, each reveals distinct and unique details.

This exhibition is the first to truly delve into the fascinating history of these three paintings. Beginning with Van Gogh’s early canvases of cottages and birds’ nests, the show explores the artist’s use of the motif of home—as haven, creative chamber, and physical reality—and follows the evolution of this theme throughout his career, beyond the Yellow House to the asylum at Saint-Rémy. The presentation concludes with Van Gogh’s final residence in Auvers-sur-Oise, where he once again painted a series of cottages—returning to the idea that first evoked in him a sense of home.

Van Gogh’s Bedrooms features approximately 36 works by the artist, including paintings, drawings, and illustrated letters, as well as a selection of books and other ephemera known to have been in Van Gogh’s possession. Enhancing the exploration of the artist’s works and his longing for a place of his own are several engaging interactive presentations. A digitally enhanced reconstruction of his bedroom allows viewers the chance to experience his state of mind and the physical reality of the space that so inspired him, while other enriching digital components bring to light significant recent scientific research on the three Bedroom paintings. The result is an innovative yet intimate look at one of the most beloved and often-misunderstood artists of all time.

Visit the exhibition preview site here:  Van Gogh's Bedrooms

 

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Charles Movalli Talks About Dark & Light Pattern

Charles Movalli was a student of Emile Gruppe.  In this short video he talks about finding the simple pattern in the painting and eliminating detail.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Adjusting Values

Values make our paintings work, so if the values in photographs are not always reliable we have to have a way to adjust the values in our painting. Here is an explanation at my thought process with values.  

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

The Illusion of Depth

In this latest video I talk about what it takes to take a 2-dimensional surface and make it feel 3-dimensional.  Since we paint on a flat surface, it's important to understand how to create an illusion of objects receding. This is a quick look at that illusion.

 

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Learning How To "See" A Photograph

It's important to “look correctly” at a photograph so our painting doesn’t look like one.  Here's a few ideas.  I've created a free checklist for you so it'll be easy check your photos when you work with them.  Just click the red button below and grab your free copy now. Please SHARE if you know of other artists who might enjoy this video.

Click the red button below to download your Free "Working With Photographs" Checklist.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

My Free Color Guide is Now Available

My new "Working With Color" guide is now available and it's FREE.  Yes, you saw that right!  One of the biggest problems students ask me about is how to mix and work with color.  With that in mind, I felt it was time to put out a guide to help with this issue.  If this sounds like something you struggle with, or you'd just like to do a little more study on color, download your FREE copy and dig in!  Leave a comment and let me know if this is something you've been struggling with.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Seeing Abstractly

This is a quick look at why its helpful to think abstractly when painting representational subjects.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Painting A Street Scene

When painting a street scene, or even a rural area with buildings and structures, there are elements involved that make things a little more complicated. First is linear perspective, finding the horizon line and the vanishing points to give the buildings and roads depth. There are a lot of small simple books online that explain artistic perspective, easy to read and understand. Just a simple understanding is all you need. John Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting has a good chapter on linear perspective. But the most important part is simplifying the scene. Finding that overall shadow pattern that sets up the larger shapes and makes it easier to paint. It's easier to see the whole composition and set up the drawing with an overall shadow pattern.

Always working with large shapes first, getting the right value and color relationships, then working smaller deciding what details to use and what to leave out.

It's a good idea to do a smaller value study first, using ivory black and white or raw umber and white. This way you can concentrate on the values without thinking about color. Remember values are always more important than color. Then do a color version, using the value painting to check the values of your color.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Using Color Schemes

Just taking a moment to talk about Color Schemes.  I know they can be a bit confusing, so here's a little help.

This short video tutorial teaches why and how to use color schemes. More info can be found at http://www.philstarkestudio.com

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Ash Can School of Painting

About 1900, a group of Realist artists set themselves apart from and challenged the American Impressionists and academics. The most extensively trained member of this group was Robert Henri (1865–1929), who had studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1886 to 1888 under Thomas Anshutz (1851–1912). Anshutz had himself studied at the Pennsylvania Academy from 1876 to 1882 with Thomas Eakins, who had defied Victorian decorum in his teaching principles and in his boldly realistic paintings. After spending the years from 1888 to 1891 working at the Académie Julian in Paris, Henri taught at the School of Design for Women in Philadelphia and gave private art classes in and around that city and, during return visits to France, in and around Paris. Beginning in 1892, Henri also became the mentor to four Philadelphia illustrators—William Glackens (1870–1938), George Luks (1866–1933), Everett Shinn (1876–1953), and John Sloan (1871–1951)—who worked together at several local newspapers and gathered to study, share studios, and travel. Between late 1896 and 1904, they all moved to New York, where Henri himself settled in 1900.

Henri and his former-Philadelphia associates comprised the first generation of what came to be known as the Ashcan School. A second generation consisted of Henri's New York students, of whom George Bellows (1882–1925) was the most devoted.

Although the Ashcan artists were not an organized "school" and espoused somewhat varied styles and subjects, they were all urban Realists who supported Henri's credo—"art for life's sake," rather than "art for art's sake." They also presented their works in several important early twentieth-century New York exhibitions, including a group show at the National Arts Club in 1904; the landmark show of The Eight at Macbeth Galleries in February 1908, which included the five senior Ashcan School painters along with Ernest Lawson (1873–1939), Maurice Prendergast (1858–1924), and Arthur B. Davies (1862–1928); the Exhibition of Independent Artists in 1910; and the Armory Show—an immense display dominated by modern European art—in 1913.

In their paintings as in their illustrations, etchings, and lithographs, Henri and his fellow Ashcan artists concentrated on portraying New York's vitality and recording its seamy side, keeping a keen eye on current events and their era's social and political rhetoric. Stylistically, they depended upon the dark palette and gestural brushwork of Diego Velázquez, Frans Hals, Francisco de Goya, Honoré Daumier, and recent Realists such as Wilhelm Leibl, Édouard Manet, and Edgar Degas. 

 
 

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Dwight Tryon 1849- 1925

One of the most prominent of American Tonalist painters, Dwight Tryon was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1849.  Though largely self-taught, he achieved enough early success painting in a Hudson River style to afford a trip to Europe in 1876. In France, he studied with Henri-Joseph Harpignies and J. B. Antoine Guillemet, but a decisive event in the evolution of his style was a summer spent studying with Barbizon artist Charles-Francois Daubigny. Upon his return to the United States in 1881, he took up residence in New York City. His search for more picturesque settings, however, led him to the fishing village of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, where he summered and eventually built a small house. Among the artists he met in New York were Thomas Wilmer Dewing and Robert Swain Gifford, with whom he remained close friends.

Like many of his Tonalist peers, Tryon preferred intimate and lyrical low-light landscapes of rather simple composition. In a statement quoted in a biography published shortly after his death, he summarizes the method which gives his work an uncanny dynamism: "Often in painting a bit of sky, I will put blue on it and scrape it off; I will put pink on it and scrape it off; I will put yellow on it and scrape it off; I will put green on it and scrape it off, and my sky will look almost white-but it isn't, for it will have in it the vibrations of all those colors.

 
 

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

The Difference Between Painting Outside and Painting in the Studio

One of the problems students have in a plein air workshop is trying to make their paintings look like a studio painting. For me painting outside and painting inside are 2 totally different approaches.

When I'm painting outside I'm in practice mode, more so then in the studio. I'm gathering material for larger studio pieces, trying different approaches to color and brushwork, and responding quicker to what the light is doing to my subject. Detail is at a minimum. I do better if I set a time limit to keep things simple and to the point.

Studio painting is more methodical. I spend a lot more time composing and recomposing my subject, more so than outside. Design becomes really important, it's what carries the painting. I will also give more thought to a color scheme or mood that I want to create.  Outside is more about responding to what's there. Work in the studio generally has more broken color and more attention to edges.

The big difference is the atmosphere, being outside and seeing real color as opposed to being inside with photo references and color sketches. It's a different thought process. I like both equally, they just have different purposes.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Emile Gruppe on Values and Eye Fatigue

Emile Gruppe painted in and around Gloucester, Massachusetts in the early and mid 20th century. I saw a lot of his work when I was in Chicago and I really liked his strong color and bold brush work. Later I came to realize that it was his accurate use of values that made his paintings so strong.

While we're drawn to paintings by the use of color, it's the value relationships between the large shapes that make a painting work.  When I'm unhappy with the color in my painting, 9 times out of 10 it's the values that are off, not the color.  When my values are off in my paining it's usually because I'm looking right at the area I'm trying to mix and the more I stare at the value the worse it gets. When I was told to look at the values next to the value I wanted to mix, then I could get the right value relationship in the painting. This is also true with color.

Gruppe described it as eye fatigue. He has a good paragraph in his book, "Gruppe On Color" that talks about comparing values and color:  “You might think that the best way to analyze an area of color is to stare at it intently. But that's just the wrong way to do it. The longer you stare at an area, the grayer it gets. Your eye becomes used to the color; it fatigues; your sense of color dies. The only way to judge color (and value) of an object is to compare it with the color of objects near it.”

Lets say, for example, that you want to determine the color of the sky at the horizon. It can be anything from purple to green. But to see it, you should first look over your head for a few seconds at the color of the zenith. Then quickly lower your eyes. For a few seconds , you will see vivid color near the horizon. Then the color will quickly fade. That's why I constantly move my eyes over a scene, comparing values and colors.” -- Emile Gruppe- Gruppe on Color.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

The Importance of Thick Paint

When we think of contrasts in painting what comes to mind is dark and light value contrast, or cool and warm color temperature contrast, or the contrast of hard and soft edges.

A real important contrast is thick and thin paint. The thickness of the paint, when we apply it to the canvas, goes a long way to suggest form and depth as well as enhance sunlight and shadow contrast.

When we mix a color for a sunlit area the value and the color temperature is really impacted when we use thicker paint. I can mix a color for a light area and if it's not thick enough it won't have the impact of sunlight, even if I mix the right temperature and value. Thicker paint stands out more and looks lighter than thin paint.

As a learning tool, thick paint forces you to simplify (it's hard to get too detailed with a brush full of paint), and helps to understand color better. It's easier to understand the impact of a color with thicker paint.

Just like watercolor is designed for transparent washes, oil paint is designed for thick opaque brush strokes.

The painting below is a detail from a painting from the Teton Mountains. All the paint is thick but the light areas are thicker so they stand out from the darks. The thicker paint also makes the brushstrokes more important. I'm thinking about mass and value more than detail or trying to render objects.

image1.jpg

This is a detail from a John Carlson painting. The darks seem to recede from the thicker lights. The stronger colors have more impact because of their thickness.

I painted this in southern Utah and used the thicker paint to show more form. The brushstrokes follow the shape of the trees and hills to accentuate their shape or direction. This also helps to keep things simple. When using photographs to paint from, it's more effective to think in terms of the light brushstrokes following the form, it keeps me from being too literal with photos.

image 3.jpg

At first it can be hard to paint thick enough. Our tendency is to paint thin if we're unsure, so use a palette knife or painting knife to mix your paint. It's hard to mix thin paint with a palette knife.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Appreciating Winter Paintings

Since we are well into winter, I thought it would be a good idea to post some winter or snow paintings to appreciate.

Snow is interesting to paint because of the strong contrast of value, temperature and texture. Snow is wholly different from all the other landscape parts. It provides instant value contrast, it's so white, it jumps off the canvas. It's a different texture than branches, rocks or foliage, it can be as smooth as glass.

The color of snow depends on the type of light that hits it, and reflected light that's bouncing around in the shadows.

It looks easy to paint but the subtleties in the value and color make it hard to paint well.

This is a George Innes painting. He kept it simple as far as the detail and it has a strong temperature contrast between the warm, yellow orange sky and the cool violets in the snow. What detail there is seems to fade into the soft edges.

Here is a John Francis Murphy watercolor. He really doesn’t paint much snow in it but he suggests the snow with the value of the paper. It still feels like winter.

In this painting by Willard Metcalf you can see the strong design of the light and dark shapes and very subtle value changes in the flat snow. It has an abstract feel to it.

This is a painting by Walter Luant Palmer. Very subtle value changes that give the snow a lot of form, and a strong contrast between the warm water and cool snow and background. He gives the painting a lot of atmosphere by pushing the background cooler and making the edges softer.

This last one is a drawing by Issac Levitan. It looks like a tonalist painting, all the value relationships are there, it doesn't need any paint.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Merry Christmas and a Free Painting Lesson

This year for the Christmas season I'm offering a Christmas gift of a FREE Painting Lesson on PDF.  The lesson is "Stages of a Painting", and is a total of 14 pages.  If you're friends with me on Facebook, or have "Liked" my Starke Studio Facebook Page, then you may have seen and had an opportunity to download this free gift.  If you haven't gotten a chance to receive your lesson, you'll need to do it soon.  This free lesson will be available until January 1, so click the link below to get your free copy now before time runs out.  This has been a wonderful year and I hope 2015 will be a wonderful year for all of us.  Thanks for staying in touch throughout the year.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Faces of Impressionism: A show at the Kimble Art Museum

The Kimble Art Museum, in Fort Worth, Texas, is having a show on a variety of portraits painted in France from 1850 to 1900. Here are a few of the pieces in the show.

fantinlatour_atelier_test.jpg

Also a catalog is available.


Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Creating Interest with Broken Color

This is a short video on broken color, one of the many subjects I cover in my Online Mentoring Class. If your interested in learning more about the classes visit this link:  http://www.philstarkestudio.com/onlinementoring/

 

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Starting At the Center of Interest

When we start a landscape painting, one of the things we need to establish is depth so it helps to start, back to front, getting the value and color temperature differences to make planes and objects recede.  But there are some paintings where depth isn't part of the focus. Paintings where the center of interest is not just the main focus, but the only focus, no messing around with background or a secondary center of interest.

Everything is simplified so the one object is what the viewer looks at. Composing is very important in these vignettes because there isn't much depth to pull the viewer in and move them around the canvas. So it's important to spend time cropping and eliminating unwanted stuff.

In the painting by Robert Vonnoh, American impressionist, early 20th century, his focus is entirely the trees but he still composed the canvas so that it isn't just a tree study but a composed painting.

Robert Vonnoh

Robert Vonnoh

Phil Starke

Phil Starke

When we're painting outside it helps to focus on a center of interest and barely suggest the rest of the composition. In this painting of some fallen trees, I zoomed in and spent 90% of the time on the trees. It helped me to keep things real simple by just focusing on the trees.

Phil Starke

Phil Starke

This is another demonstration of focusing on the center of interest and eliminating detail on all other parts of the landscape. The tractor has the strongest color, the most contrast and the most detail. Everything else fades away.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit

Anatomy of a Tree

Trees are like the human figure, they have a particular anatomy to them. (Read John Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting chapter 9.) The trunk is the skeleton of the tree, it sets up the motion and movement. The trunk should always gradually taper so the wider the trunk, the taller the tree. Also, make the trunk and branches more angular when you paint them, don't round them off, that tends to make the trunks and branches look like wet noodles. Angular brushstrokes look stronger, like they can hold up a lot of weight. Like most objects in painting, the trees have to look solid and 3-dimensional and are generally darker because they are an upright plane. Making trees too light gives them a feeling of floating, not heavy.

 
This is a painting by John Carlson, notice how angular the trunks and branches are. It makes the trees look stronger.

This is a painting by John Carlson, notice how angular the trunks and branches are. It makes the trees look stronger.

This is a painting by T C Steele, an early 20th Century painter. Agian, angular branches make the tree look solid.

This is a painting by T C Steele, an early 20th Century painter. Agian, angular branches make the tree look solid.

I painted this tree in the spring and kept the values darker than the ground which helps the tree look more substantial.

I painted this tree in the spring and kept the values darker than the ground which helps the tree look more substantial.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit