Category Archives: Art Education

French Floral and Portrait Painter – Henri Fantin-Latour

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Henri Fantin–Latour was born in 1836 in Grenoble, France. As the son of an artist and art teacher, Fantin–Latour spent his childhood learning how to paint and draw under his father’s tutelage. This aspiring artist continued to hone his artistic skills at home, even after the family moved to Paris, until he was old enough to study professionally.

In the early 1850’s Henri Fantin-Latour found himself studying with many great artists such as Lecog de Boisbaudran. He was also privileged to study at many wonderful studios, one of which was the Ecole de Dessin. For several years he devoted himself to studying and copying the old painting masters in the Louvre. He worked hard to immerse himself in classic styles of painting, particularly from the Romantic period. During this time of study, Henri Fantin-Latour made numerous friends who encouraged his career and helped him achieve success as a well-known artist in both France and England.

Henri Fantin-Latour’s circle of artistic friends included Eugene Delacroix, Camille Corot, Edouard Manet, and Gustave Courbet. However, it was with the famous Whistler and Alphonse Legros that he formed the Societe des Trois in 1858. Whistler was the friend that encouraged Henri Fantin–Latour to make his way to England.

In London, Henri Fantin-Latour became associated with the social circles of the artistically-minded. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1864. London was where he started to paint his famous flower pieces. Henri Fantin-Latour was quite famous throughout England and there were many who supported his artistic career by purchasing his paintings. His success in England was such that he was virtually unknown in France during this time period.

When he returned to France, Henri Fantin-Latour joined the Societe des Aquafortistes. In 1861 he had his first exhibition at the Salon in Paris. It has been said that Henri Fantin-Latour left behind a magnificent gallery of Parisian celebrity personalities in the form of his group portraits. In 1879 he was awarded the Legion d’ Honneur medal.

Perhaps Fantin-Latour’s success was largely due to his independent nature. Though he was constantly surrounded by the Impressionist style, which many of his friends practiced, he remained true to his more conservative, Romantic style. He had an academic demeanor yet an independent approach to painting. Fantin-Latour never exhibited alongside his Impressionist friends and fellow painters. He was praised for the realistic aspects of both his group portraits and his flower paintings.

The subjects of his group portraits were primarily other artists in various fields of study. The rows of faces that Henri Fantin-Latour painted are believed to adequately represent the time period in which he lived as well as the colorful personalities of his day. It is a testament to Henri Fantin–Latour’s artistic talent that his knack for realism is still appreciated for its historical worth. This same realism is also apparent in his flower paintings; they have a certain attention to realistic detail that makes them truly memorable.

Some of Henri Fantin–Latour’s most famous group portraits include The Toast, painted in 1865, A Studio in the Batignolles, painted in 1870, At the Table, painted in 1872, and Round the Piano, painted in 1885. Interestingly, Henri Fantin–Latour also left behind twenty-three self-portraits. Henri Fantin–Latour’s style was incredibly delicate and imaginative, differing in ways from his realistic flower paintings and group portraits. His lithographs were greatly inspired by music. This style of art is essentially a printing process that involves ink being transferred from a flat surface, such as stone or metal, onto paper or another suitable material.

He enjoyed many of the great classical composers but was perhaps most influenced by Richard Wagner, whose music prompted him to create many imaginative drawings. In 1875 Henri Fantin–Latour married Victoria Dubourg, who was also a fellow artist. After his marriage, the French artist took to spending time at his wife’s family estate. It was there on the estate in the countryside that he passed away. Henri Fantin-Latour, a man who was both extremely academic and distinctly independent, left behind a gallery of paintings full of realism and imagination.

Our Segmation set of Fantin-Latour contain many examples of his floral paintings in still life renderings of flowers, roses, and fruit.

There are also numerous portraits including Marie-Yolande de Fitz James, Duchess Fitz James, Charlotte Dubourg, Two Sisters, Adolphe Jullien, Mr. and Mme Edwards, and several self-portraits.

This set contains 31 digital paintable patterns.

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Art Alive

If you’ve never been to the San Diego Museum of Art for their yearly event, Art Alive, this is the year you should participate. The San Diego Museum of Art challenges floral designers to make the artistic masterpieces housed in their museum come alive through their floral interpretations. This four day event, beginning April 12 and ending on April 15, will fill the museum with thousands of flowers and, hopefully, thousands of visitors. The pictures in this blog post are examples of what you can expect to see at Art Alive.

Floral designers of all levels, from amateur to professional, gather at the museum to create floral sculptures that mimic famous pieces of art. The sculptures of flower arrangements depict images painted on canvas, from portraits to landscapes. Throughout the four day-long festivities, these living floral arrangements will be placed beside the famous pieces of art they are interpreting.

The museum’s masterpieces truly come alive as they are interpreted by these creative floral designers. You will be surprised and delighted to see how imagination comes alive when flowers meet with paint. The floral designers make use of light, color, and structural ingenuity to make these canvas paintings take on a new dimension. Art Alive celebrates artistic masterpieces of all types.

The four day-long event will be packed with activities. The event begins with an opening celebration on April 12 and includes a dinner for guests and a sneak peek at the Art Alive floral designs with their painted counterparts. The exhibition is open to the public beginning April 13. The Art Alive exhibition will also included fun events for children and families. These events will be geared towards the idea that art is alive.

Flowers After Hours is another nighttime event in which guests can peruse the floral art exhibit while sampling tasty hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Behind the scenes, these floral designers are competing hard to create their own artistic masterpieces inspired by the famous works located at the San Diego Museum of Art.

If you plan on visiting the Art Alive exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art, be prepared to pay an entry fee. Rest assured that this fee is going to a good cause–Art Alive is one of the museum’s greatest fundraising events. The proceeds will go towards special exhibitions, educational outreach programs, and art conservation projects.

Can you imagine a more perfect way to usher in Spring?

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How Well Do You Know Your Colors?

Have you ever wondered how we go about distinguishing color? Have you ever considered why we call a color by a certain name? The world we live in is saturated with color. All throughout the day our eyes work to distinguish the various hues of color we come in contact with.

The human eye can distinguish over one- million colors. Most of us are familiar with basic color classes,

  • Achromatic Color terms: Black, gray, and white
  • Primary Color terms: Red, blue and yellow
  • Secondary Color terms: Brown, orange, green, and purple

However, these eleven color terms only make up a small percentage of the colors we humans are able to see and identify.  Is there any system we can use to name and organize the million plus colors that don’t automatically fall into the basic color classes?

In the 1930’s and 1940’s the British Color Council attempted to create a structure for naming colors.  What they came up with is viewed by some as slightly confusing.  For example, the British Color Council chose to use terms such as squirrel and bee eater blue to name colors.  What colors come to mind when you read these terms?  Do you think that others would agree with you or do you believe they might interpret the terms differently?

Currently, there exists a more scientific structure of naming colors.  A set of 267 colors exists that are named, or described, using familiar color language.  For example, this scientific method combines words such as, light, grayish and red to create a name for a color that we all might be able to identify easily in our minds.  Yet, a set of 267 color names is still only a small percentage of the colors our eyes can see distinctively.  Is it possible to create a more extensive set of color names that can be collectively agreed upon?

Think about the word you might use instead of light yellowish brown.  Did you come up with words like tan or khaki?

Now consider how you would scientifically define some commonly used color names.  Start with the color name puce.  Does purplish brown work?  What about the color name ocher?  Did you come up with a phrase such as, dark yellow or dark golden yellow?

The process of naming over one million colors seems to be more complicated that it appears.  Visit http://www.colormatters.com and take part in their Global Colors Survey to test you own color naming ability.

Images made available by Marian Kraus Photography Inc.

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Tips for Improving your Landscape Drawing Skills

Whatever your level of skill, these tips will help guide you in developing habits that will grow your abilities to draw and paint landscape scenery with just a couple of weeks of consistent practice.

Implement these for 15 or 20 minutes a day and the improvements will be greatly evident.

Tip No. 1 – Quick Impression Drawings

Get out of the house! Go to the zoo, the museum, a park, an apartment building complex, somewhere other than where you typically draw. Focus on drawing moving things. Drawing objects in motion will help you develop the flow. Every experienced artist can tell you about the flow. Your speed of drawing will increase by practicing these quick impression sketches, but will also help you to develop your perspective drawing skills and build up a repertoire of animals, objects, and people that you can readily access from your mental toolbox.

Tip No. 2 – Blind Drawing

This method is mentioned in all major drawing instruction books and often goes unnoticed or ignored by most artists. This method (also known as “blind contour drawing”) requires that the artist follow its subject with his/her eyes and not focus on the paper they are drawing on. This technique is a great way to keep your drawings vivid and has been dubbed the ultimate anti-stiffening tool in a professional artists bag of tricks.

Tip No. 3 Forget the eraser!

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” – Miles Davis

Every line you draw is a representation of your own handwrite. This is the unique signature of your artistic expression. Do you really want to erase that? Practice making every line work for you.

Tip No. 4 Take measurements!

One of the largest sources of complaints of growing artists is that their proportions are off. You don’t need to get fancy here. Use your pencil or other small stick, extend your arm as far as it will go (in order to ensure accuracy for each measurement), and note with your eyes how much of the length of your stick that particular object runs. Drawing roofs, chimneys, beaches, trees, animals, and many other things become much easier to make proportionate when you implement this small technique.

Tip No. 5 – Draw negative space

When you see a bale of hay, a fishing net, or long strands of hair, are you trying to individually draw the lines in the net, the fence, or the hair? Try implementing this technique and draw the negative space and see what objects it works best on. It’s a nifty trick that, when mastered, provides a faster, easier, and better looking drawing of more intricate items.

So grab your pad and pencil and practice, practice, practice! After all, this is the one surefire way to improve!

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The Op-Art of Josef Albers

Josef Albers, photograph by Arnold Newman, 1948. © Arnold Newman

In a recent post, a popular art form of the 20th century was introduced. Op-Art puts thought provoking optical illusions onto a flat canvas. During the early 1900’s, the art form flourished with the creative use of lines and patterns. At the start, artists used black and white paint or ink to create captivating images; color was incorporated later. One artist and theorist at the forefront of this art style, who also pioneered the technique of adding color, was a man by the name Josef Albers.

German-born American artist, Josef Albers studied at the Bauhaus school for arts and crafts in Germany. The school existed at the time of Nazi dominance in Germany and, subsequently, closed in 1933. After spending decade at Bauhaus as an art instructor, Alber’s emigrated to the United States, where he continued his career as an artist and teacher.

After spending some time in the United States, Albers accepted a position at teaching at Yale University. It was there that Josef Albers was able to advance the graphic art program before retiring from teaching in 1958.

In the early years of his retirement, as a fellow at Yale, Albers received funding to exhibit and lecture on the art form he had done so much to advance. By this time, Albers had catapulted many artists into successful careers. The list of notable students includes Richard Anuszkiewicz and Eva Hesse. Both artists are considered major forces in the Op-Art movement that swept the world during the 1960’s and 70’s.

Aside from his artwork and teaching, Josef Albers added another form of art to his long list of talents: In 1963, his book, Interaction of Color detailed the theory behind colorful op-art. This writing built upon a foundational thought of Albers — that colors have an internal and deceptive logic all-their-own.

Albers continued to paint and write until he died in 1976. However, the impression he left on the world of art, especially as an abstract painter and theorist, continues to live and influence abstract art today. Even though much of his work is well known and recognizable, it continues to thrive because of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. To this day, the organization supports exhibitions featuring the work of Josef Albers and his wife Anni, who was a textile artist.

The contribution Josef Albers made to the world of art is undeniable. He was successful at merging traditional European art with modern American art, to create an abstract style all his own. While his roots were grounded in the type of constructivist thinking that allowed Bauhaus school of arts and crafts to flourish, his experiences in America allowed him freedom to explore patterns and colors that are now the signature of optical art.

Op-art and graphic art continue to advance while consistently affirming Josef Albers influence. The world renowned teacher, artist, and color theorist is very much alive in the work of abstract artists today. Whether it is through his written words, paintings, or students who survived him, Albers will influence young artists for years to come.

No words can conclude a story about the life of this great man, except, perhaps his own. Alber’s was quoted as saying, “Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature. I prefer to see with closed eyes.” Others are happy to have their eyes opened by the influential life and art of Josef Albers. May his legacy and art been seen for years to come.

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Is an art education necessary?

There’s an ongoing debate about whether an artist needs a ‘proper’ art education before they are considered a ‘true artist’. Some say yes, others say no. What do you think? Does an art education matter in this day and age?

First of all, what is an ‘art education’? Generally speaking, an art education can include anything like:

  • studying art in college
  • attending art workshops at a local center, or
  • taking private art lessons.

For some people, a ‘real’ art education means getting a college degree or studying for years with a master artist, like an apprentice.

Yet, there are also many ways for budding artists to educate themselves without attending college for art or studying under a master – and without spending a fortune.

Instructional videos, artist forums and art websites are readily available for free on the Internet, where you can learn just about any technique you can think of. Plus, magazines and books are available from local libraries.

Attending college for fine art is cost-prohibitive for many people, especially since a fine art education does not produce any qualifications for well-paying jobs. Engaging in ‘self-education’ allows an artist to save money and learn what they want to learn, at their own pace, instead of being forced through the college structure.

On the other hand, there are undeniable benefits to learning art techniques firsthand from a skilled artist – whether it involves watching an art professor paint on a canvas in a certain style, or looking over the shoulder of artists sketching at a figure drawing workshop. Those benefits can’t be gained from self-education.

As you can see, there are many pros and cons to getting an art education versus self-educating. Is either one better, or are they just different? What do you think?

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