Category Archives: Oil on Canvas

The Many Different Hues of Blue

The Many Different Hues of Blue.

The Many Different Hues of Blue

The Many Different Hues of Blue.

The Many Different Hues of Blue

The Many Different Hues of Blue.

Painting from Real Life vs. Painting from a Photograph

Which is better: painting from real life, or painting from a photograph?

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Before the invention of photography, artists had to work from real life. How did that affect artists’ working habits?

The necessity of working from life meant that in order to paint a portrait, the sitter had to pose for hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months before the artist was finished. To paint a still life, the artist would have to make sure the set-up stayed the same day after day, and could only paint when the lighting conditions were the same as the previous day. For landscape painting, artists would have to finish as much as possible on-site and often complete the final painting in their studio, often surrounded by smaller studies that contained notes on which hues and values to place where.

The invention of photography – especially digital photography – has changed the way artists work. Thanks to the convenience of affordable digital cameras, artists can easily take a variety of high-quality pictures of whatever they want to paint, and then instead of working from real life, they can work from their photographs.

In many ways, this has made representational painting easier for artists. They no longer have to wait until weather and lighting conditions are just right for outdoor painting, and sitters no longer need to spend precious hours posing for a portrait. While many artists now embrace the use of reference photos as aids to creating paintings, others still prefer to work in the style of the old masters. Which way is better?

One drawback to painting from photographs is that the resulting artwork may appear “flat”, because the objects, scene, or person depicted in the painting was first translated into 2-D form via the camera. When an artist works from real life, she has to use her artistic skills to transform the 3-D view before her into 2-D form on her canvas. When working from a photograph, an artist may become too reliant on depicting the actual 2-D photo, as opposed to depicting the 3-D scene that the photograph itself depicts.

Even so, the use of reference photos has largely aided artists in their working process, although each artist has his or her own preference between working from photos or working from real life.

So artists, when it comes to working from real life vs. working from a photograph, which do you prefer, and why?

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Introduction to Fauvism (www.segmation.com)

Henri Matisse, Woman with a Hat, 1905, Oil on Canvas

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How would you describe Henri Matisse’s painting, shown above? First you will probably note that it is a portrait of a woman – however, it is an unusual portrait because of its strange use of color and its choppy, energetic brushstrokes.

This painting by Matisse was part of the Fauvist movement, which lasted only a few years in the early 20th century in France. The French word “Fauve” means “wild beast”. When you look at this painting, can you figure out why the word for “wild beast” came to symbolize this art movement?

The Fauvists interpreted the world around them through color, but they did not seek to represent the world using real-life colors. Instead they utilized bright, bold colors in unexpected places. For instance, take a close look at the woman’s face in the painting above and notice all the different greens that Matisse used to shape her face. Matisse’s composition is so masterful that the greens don’t seem out of place, even though in real life her face wouldn’t normally appear green.

Due to Matisse’s balanced use of bold color and his strong, painterly brushstrokes, he is able to depict the energy, or essence of the people and places around him. These two visual characteristics defined the Fauvist movement, which evolved from a combination of Post-Impressionism and Pointillism.

The most well-known painters of Fauvism are Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, and Maurice de Vlaminck. They created landscapes and portraits that can be described as “simplified” to the point where they are almost abstract – yet they are still recognizable as landscapes and portraits. Even though the movement was short-lived, the Fauvist artists left behind a body of work that is both visually and mentally stimulating.

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Maurice de Vlaminck, The River Seine at Chatou, 1906, Oil on Canvas