Category Archives: Vincent Van Gogh

Segmation – A Digital Way To Paint

Thank you Country & Victorian Times! You are awesome!

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I have to say I was most impressed by a site I recently stumbled upon and thought I would tell you more about it. I tried the free version and knew I was hooked. Now mind you I am a grown man and have an ability to draw portraiture in almost exact likeness (or so I am told) but I found myself stuck there doodling along. I painted step-by-step until I had completed a piece of artwork. I was most impressed. I found my mind working hard and became engrossed in this process which was a good thing this week since we lost a family member this week. Before I knew it I had passed about twenty minutes and ended with a surprised smile on my face.

The site is www.segmation.com. I will let you know that this IS NOT A PAID ENDORSEMENT and I have received no form…

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Inspiring Digital Art

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I am a mother, educator, and neophyte artist; dabbling in mixed media and collage. My artistic journeys find me immersed in imagery and design constantly and I have had the pleasure of discovering so many fresh and contemporary artists and image makers along the way. I am writing to introduce you and other favorite artists of mine, to an impressive new digital art program; Segmation (www.segmation.com). It is my hope and genuine desire to see a happy partnership evolve.www.segmation.com

Segmation digital color by number is a relatively new program and is a small, upstart family business. They call this “the art of peaceful imaging” and it truly is a Zen experience for all ages. I initially purchased the affordable program this last fall and use it daily. I enjoy it to unwind after a busy day with work and family pressures. My five year old just loves it! Recently, I have begun to take it into preschool with me several times a week and my three and four years olds are growing more proficient with number recognition (and taking turns) every day. The privilege of my laptop in the classroom is also advancing their technology and fine motor skills. The program is also available for your iPad or iPhone, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/segplay-mobile/id395127581, and, thus, convenient for the kids on road trips and waiting rooms.

There are so many great features in the Segmation program! Different setting allow you to switch modes and play one number at a time or without any numbers at all in case one would like to choose where to place color. You can reset each picture to begin again, so the children tend not to fight if the one they wanted has been taken over by a classmate or sibling. My favorite feature, though, is the direct link that takes you to a shop with a fairly abundant selection of art to please any palette. The Classics are available, such as Vincent van Gogh, Michelangelo, Albrecht Durer, Rubens, and Manet. More modern works are offered, like Paul Klee or Gustav Klimt.

There are fun holiday packs and gorgeous scenic photography offered, too. I feel that all I am missing, as a customer, is the availability of fun and funky illustrations more representative of today’s art movements and attractive to a broader range of youth and young adult tastes.

Thank you for allowing me to introduce to you Beth Feldman (beth@segmation.com) and Segmation, http://www.segmation.com. I hope you will give consideration to many wonderful future collaborations with this excellent educational company!

Sincerely:

Jill, Lansing, MI

If you enjoyed this Segmation blog post, you will also like:

— The Expressive Vincent van Gogh
https://segmation.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/the-expressive-vincent-van-gogh-2/

— Colors Change What is Beautiful
https://segmation.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/colors-change-what-is-beautiful/

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London – A Town for Art Lovers

Each year visitors from all over the world travel to London to see Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Covent Garden, The London Eye, and Piccadilly Circus. But did you know that London is full of amazing artwork as well as landmarks? It’s true. In fact, art lovers are some of the main people who make their way to London each year. Here are just a few of the most famous pieces of art that are located in London:

Sunflowers, by Vincent Van Gogh

Located in the National Gallery, Sunflowers was painted in 1888. Sunflowers is a still life, oil on canvas painting that was created in Arles. Vincent Van Gogh reportedly painted Sunflowers with the intention of using it to decorate Gauguin’s rented home in the South of France. The National Gallery, Sunflowers’ home, also shelters other pieces of famous artwork from the 13th – 19th Century.  One of the best things about the National Gallery is that its artwork is free for viewing.

The Lady of Shalott, by John William Waterhouse

The Lady of Shalott was created by the masterful hands of John William Waterhouse in 1888. The painting is a depiction of Tennyson’s poem entitled The Lady of Shalott. The woman representing the Lady of Shalott in Waterhouse’s painting was, reportedly, his wife. This naturalistic painting is located at Tate Britain, which houses British art made in the past 500 years or so. Contemporary and international modern art can also be found at Tate Britain.

The Raphael Cartoons, by Raphael

Commissioned in 1515 by Pope Leo X, The Raphael Cartoons are said to be “among the greatest treasures of the High Renaissance.” Created by Raphael and his “assistants,” The Raphael Cartoons were used as tapestry designs for the Vatican. The paintings feature St. Paul and St. Peter. The Raphael Cartoons are currently housed at the Victoria and Albert museum, which is home to 4.5 million pieces of art, clothing, jewelry, ironwork, and much more.

English poet Samuel Johnson said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Indeed, one of the finest things that life affords is art, and that can be found in abundance in London.

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Giotto di Bondone – Father of European Painting (www.segmation.com)


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Giotto di Bondone (c. 1267 – 1337), known simply as Giotto, was a Florentine painter and architect. He is now considered the first great master of the Italian Renaissance and the founder of modern European painting. Giotto’s natural and realistic style broke away from the symbolism of Byzantine art and was the catalyst that marked the start of the Renaissance.

Giotto was born in a small hamlet north of Florence. His father was a farmer and Giotto probably spent much of his youth as a shepherd. According to art historian Giorgio Vasari, the renowned Florentine artist, Cimabue, who was the last great painter in the Byzantine style, discovered the young Giotto drawing pictures of sheep on a rock. Cimabue was so impressed by the young boy’s talent that he immediately took him on as an apprentice. That story may be apocryphal but by around 1280 Giotto was working in Florence and by 1312 he was a member of the Florentine Guild of doctors and apothecaries, a guild that also included painters. He traveled to Rome with Cimabue and may well have worked on some of the master’s commissions.

Giotto signed his name to just three paintings. All other attributions to him are speculative and the unresolved controversy has raged through the art world for over a hundred years. Nevertheless, his work stands at the brink of a new age in art. He concentrated on representing human emotions, people in everyday situations, and capturing the human experience through his art.

Although he lacked the technical knowledge of perspective, he created a convincing three-dimensional pictorial space. His genius was immediately recognized by his contemporaries; he was lauded by great philosophers, writers and thinkers of his day, among them Dante and Boccaccio. Under Giotto’s leadership the old, stylized Byzantine art forms slowly disappeared from Florence, and later from other Italian cities. His freedom of expression influenced artists of the early and high Renaissance, and changed the course of European painting.

One of Giotto’s finest works is the series of frescoes painted 1304-1305 for the Scrovegni chapel in Padua, usually known as the Arena Chapel. The 37 scenes depict the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary and are considered to be one of the masterpieces of the Early Renaissance. The figures in his paintings interact, gossip, and look at each other.

From 1306 to 1311 Giotto was in Assisi where some art historians believe he painted the fresco cycle of the Life of St. Francis. Although the style of the frescoes is realistic and breaks away from the Byzantine stylization, the controversy is caused by the stylistic differences between the St. Francis and Arena Chapel frescoes. Documents that could have proved the origin of the commissions were destroyed by Napoleon’s troops when they occupied the town in the early 19th century.

Giotto received commissions from princes and high officials of the church in Florence, Naples and Rome. Most scholars agree that he painted the frescoes in the Church of the Santa Croce in Florence and although he never signed the Ognissanti Madonna altarpiece, the Florentine work is universally recognized as being by him. It is known that Giotto was in Florence from 1314-1327 and the large panel painting depicting the Virgin was painted around 1310. The face of the Virgin is so expressive that it may well have been painted using a live model.

Towards the end of his life, Giotto was assigned to build the Campanile of the Florence Cathedral. In 1334 he was named chief architect and, although the Campanile is known as “Giotto’s Tower,” it was probably not built to his design specifications.

Giotto died in January, 1337. Even his burial place is surrounded by mystery. Vasari believed he was buried in the Cathedral of Florence, while other scholars claimed he was buried in the Church of Santa Reparata. But Giotto left an artistic legacy that could not be ignored. His disciples, Bernardo Daddi and Taddeo Gaddi continued in the master’s tradition and, a century later, the artistic torch lit by Giotto was passed on to Michelangelo and Raphael, the great masters of the High Renaissance.

Giotto made a radical break from the Byzantine (abstract – anti-naturalistic) style and brought more life to art. Giotto primarily painted Christian themes depicted in cycles and is best known for his frescos in various Chapels (Arene Chapel, Florence Cathedral, Assisi, Scrovegni).

Our pattern set collection features many of his more familiar works including the Ognissanti Madonna, The Mourning of Christ, The Marriage at Cana, The Mourning of St. Francis, Crucifixion and Madonna and Child.

Giotto di Bondone

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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

The Interesting and Expressive Vincent Van Gogh – Dutch post impressionist

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Vincent Van Gogh was born on March 30 1853 in Grot Zundert, Netherlands in the southern Netherlands. His father was a minister and three of his uncles were art dealers, two vocations that were to pull Vincent in different directions at various times in his life.

He is known as a famous Dutch post-impressionist. There are a couple of interesting things about this artist that I find interesting. He became more famous after he died. This is sad, don’t you agree? I have found that he only sold one painting during his lifetime. This painting was “The Red Vineyard” to an impressionist painter named Anna Boch. Another fact about him is he fell in love with a lady and gave her his ear as payment as he had no money. I cannot find if she really took his ear or what she did with it. It has been written that he had bipolar depression combined with other ailments. Sadly, he committed suicide when he was 37 years old, which is indeed sad and a great lost.

His Post-Impressionist paintings laid the groundwork for Expressionism, influenced the Fauves and greatly affected 20th century art. He created more than 2,000 works, including 900 paintings, three of which make up the world’s ten most expensive pieces of art.

In letters, Vincent has described his youth as “gloomy, cold and barren,” and he left school at 15. With the help of his uncle, he was offered a job with the art dealer Goupil & Cie, and in 1873 was sent to London and from there to Paris. After complaining repeatedly about the commoditization of art, his job with the art dealership was terminated and Van Gogh returned to England to work as a teacher and minister’s assistant.

In 1879, after failing a course at a Protestant missionary school near Brussels, Van Gogh began a mission in the poor mining district of Borinage in Belgium. Choosing to live in the same poverty-stricken conditions as the local population, he was dismissed for “undermining the dignity of the priesthood” and returned home. His behavior over the following months led his father to enquire about having Van Gogh committed to an asylum.

Aged 27, Van Gogh eventually took up the suggestion of his brother Theo, now a successful art dealer, to focus on painting. In 1880, he moved to Brussels and studied at the Royal Academy of Art.

Van Gogh’s first major work, The Potato Eaters, was painted in 1885 shortly after his father’s death. Like many of his early works, the painting used sombre colors, especially dark brown, a preference which would make his paintings difficult to sell; buyers’ tastes were now influenced by the bright tones used by the Impressionists.

His palette however, began to change after he moved to Antwerp in 1885. He studied color theory and began using carmine, cobalt and emerald green. But it was while living in Paris from 1886 to 1888, where he met Emile Bernard and Toulouse-Lautrec and came into close contact with Impressionist art, that Van Gogh’s art really began to develop. He experimented with Pointillism and painted in the sunflower-rich region of Arles with the artist Gauguin. By late 1888 his behavior was becoming difficult however, and fearing that Gauguin was going to abandon him, he stalked the painter with a razor before cutting off his earlobe and giving it to a local prostitute, telling her to “keep this object carefully.” The following year, after suffering from hallucinations and believing that he was being poisoned, Van Gogh was placed in the mental hospital of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Arles.

By now, Van Gogh’s work was beginning to be recognized. The critic Albert Aurier called him a “genius,” and Monet declared that his work was the best in a major avant-garde Brussels art show.
The beginnings of success did nothing to help Van Gogh’s depression though, nor did the intervention of the physician Dr. Paul Gachet. On July 27, 1890, he walked into a field, shot himself in the chest with a revolver and died two days later.

Although there has been much speculation about the nature of Van Gogh’s mental illness, he is now recognized as one of the world’s greatest artists and a bridge between 19th century Impressionism and 20th century art.

I like painting the swirls and wavy lines of his innovative expressive style. His collections includes a few still life’s and self portraits, as well as some very popular images including Self Portrait, Still Life with Yellow Straw Hat, Potato Eaters, Houses Seen from the Back, Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, Red Vineyards near Arles, Café Terrace at Night, The Starry Night, Portrait of Dr. Gachet, Still Life with Absinthe, White House at Night, Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers, Bedroom in Arles (3rd Version) The Night Café, The Yellow House, and Irises.

Vincent Van Gogh

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Google Art Project Makes Art More Accessible

La Primavera by Botticelli - one of 1000+ artworks you can view in fine detail at the Google Art Project

The new Google Art Project, unveiled in early February 2011, allows viewers to digitally check out hundreds of important artworks from the leading art museums around the globe. The project offers digital images of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and artifacts that are extremely high-resolution, which means you can easily zoom right in on a Van Gogh painting (for example) to see the richness of every brushstroke!

The key feature of the Google Art Project that separates it from other “online museums” lies in the sheer quality of the images. The ability to view fine details such as brushstrokes and the texture of the canvas creates a more tactile approach to viewing artwork remotely – a quality that is typically missing from most art that is posted online.

The Google Art Project is handy for artists, students, teachers and countless others who would like to study specific paintings or artists, but who do not have convenient access to a major art museum. The Google Art Project allows everyone to browse art museums for free from the comfort of home.

Participating museums hail from the US, Europe and Russia, including NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of art and MoMA, the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, the National Gallery in London, the Palace of Versailles in France, and the Uffizi in Italy.

While the experience of browsing art on the Google Art Project is not quite the same as standing in front of the artwork in person, it is a worthy experiment in bringing the arts closer to the general public.

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Toxicity of Oil Paints: Past and Present

Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh

Many people attribute the shimmering, swirling colors and bold, choppy brushwork in Vincent van Gogh’s paintings to his lifelong battle with mental illness. Although his world-famous paintings now sell for millions, during his life van Gogh lived and worked in poverty, surviving on financial assistance from his devoted brother Theo. At times, van Gogh was so poor that he couldn’t even afford food because he had spent all his money on oil paints; his passion for painting overriding his basic human instincts.

As his mental instability worsened, van Gogh ate some of his oil paints, which contained lead. Ingesting the lead in his oil paints may have led to van Gogh’s seizure in 1890, precipitating his mental and physical decline that would lead to his self-inflicted death half a year later.

Lead is just one of the many toxins that were once a common ingredient in many oil paints. Mercury, chromates, sulfides, barium and antimony are just some of the other toxic ingredients that were used to create oil paints. The popular Cadmium Reds, Oranges, and Yellows contained cadmium, while cobalt contributed to Cobalt Blue and Cerulean Blue. Scheele’s Green rose to popularity in the 19th century, replacing the previous green pigments to become the green of choice for artists, used by Turner and Manet. Sheele’s Green contained arsenic.

Thankfully, the oil paints that are manufactured today contain very little of these toxic substances. Oil paint tubes are required to carry a warning label if they contain even the slightest traces of toxic materials. Although these labels cause some artists concern, the risks of becoming poisoned from modern commercial oil paints are quite minor if the paints are used as intended.

Although it may go without saying, artists should never follow in van Gogh’s lead by eating their oil paints. Likewise, artists should never put paintbrushes in their mouths or open stubborn tubes of paint with their teeth. Although you’d actually have to eat an entire tube of paint to become sick, it’s not worth the risk of getting oil paints anywhere near your mouth to begin with. Maintaining clean studio habits, which includes minimizing skin contact with oil paints, will assure that today’s artists run minimal risk of toxic exposure through their oil paints.

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The Art of Tibetan Sand Painting

Can you imagine spending several hours, days, or even weeks on a work of art, and then destroying it? The idea of creating something only to wipe it out when you’re finished is illogical and counterproductive to many people in the Western world. But in some cultures, this is a common procedure, and one that serves a deeper purpose than meets the eye.

Sand painting is the perfect example of ephemeral art – that is, art that is meant to be temporary. To create a sand painting, colored sand is poured carefully into predetermined patterns. Sand painting is a common practice amongst many diverse indigenous cultures from around the world, including the Australian Aborigines, the Native Americans, and the Tibetans, as shown above.

Tibetan sand painting is a perfect example of making art that values “process” over “product”. In the Western world, it’s often the opposite – artists labor over paintings for the purpose of selling them for profit. The art, even though it may be a labor of love, is also a “product”. The “process” of making art is treated as a means to an end.

In Tibetan sand painting, the process of creating the intricate sand mandalas is far more important than the final product. Tibetan sand paintings are created by Buddhist monks for ritual purposes related to healing and blessing. As the sand mandalas are painstakingly created, viewers are often allowed to watch and admire the precision of the artists and the beauty of the design.

Destroying the finished sand mandalas contains a ritual purpose as well; it is a lesson on impermanence. Perhaps artists from Western cultures can benefit from some of these ideas by paying closer attention to the process of making art, rather than worrying about how the final product will turn out.

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Tips for Making the Most of Your Next Art Museum Visit www.segmation.com

Visiting art museums can be both fun and daunting. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example, contains over 2 million square feet of exhibition space – now that’s a lot of art! With room upon room filled with treasures from various civilizations, a visit to a major museum such as the Met is certainly an eye-opening, educational experience… but it can also be exhausting. Almost against your will, you’ll find that after awhile, your mind shuts down as you stare blankly at artwork after artwork.

Follow these tips to avoid that zombie-like state and glean the most from your visit to an art museum:

  • Study the museum map before you enter to familiarize yourself with everything the museum has to offer, then plan out a logical route that takes you through everything you want to see.
  • Don’t try to see everything at once. Prioritize your visit by planning to see the artwork you’re most interested in at the beginning of your museum visit, while your mind is still fresh.
  • Read the placards that explain what each exhibit and artwork is about. If you start to get burned out after awhile, don’t try to retain all the information. Just let your eyes skim over the information and absorb the key information. Look for artist, time period, medium, and location, if applicable.
  • Linger awhile in front of the pieces that most interest you, and contemplate why you like that particular piece. It is better to spend time examining the artwork you really enjoy, rather than to rush through rooms full of art that you really don’t care about.
  • If photographs are allowed, take photos of the pieces that most interest you. You should also photograph the title card of the piece, so that you can research the artist and artwork later.
  • Carry a sketchbook with you to jot down notes, ideas, impressions, and sketches of artwork that catches your eye. If photographs are not allowed, a sketchbook can be a useful substitute.
  • If you need a break, sit down in the museum cafe and rest your eyes for awhile. Fresh air can help if you’re feeling burned out, but if you leave the museum to step outside, make sure it is okay for you to re-enter without having to pay the entry fee again.

Follow these tips and your next trip to an art museum will leave you happily saturated with creative inspiration!

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