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Pushing it back: depth and repoussoir 2
In the first article of this pair yesterday, I explained and showed how trees to one side of the foreground of a painting strengthen the cues for depth, a compositional technique known as repoussoir, pushing back. This had become quite widely used by the end of the eighteenth century,... Read more
Rolling Thunder: lightning in the landscape
For many people in the past, the most awe-inspiring and impressive events in their lives were thunderstorms. Even today, lightning strikes make hot favourite movies and still images in social media. Although paintings of thunderstorms and lightning strikes may be pale imitations of their vivid and earth-shaking reality, they... Read more
The Balcony: Inside Out
In yesterday’s opening article of this pair, I looked at paintings of balconies; today we get to join the rich and famous on their balconies, and look out and down on the world below. Before cheap and easy travel became available in the late nineteenth century, standing on a... Read more
The Balcony: Outside In
Balconies have been a valuable device in painting, and this weekend I’m going to look at two groups of views which use them with effect. This article looks from outside the balcony towards it, and the interior behind; tomorrow I’ll reverse that and look at views from a balcony,... Read more
Medium Well Done: 8 Crayons, oil pastels, and more
Professional painters have long used brushes to apply paint for their finished work, but many used hand-held sticks of pigment only when sketching in preparation. Charcoal was widely used at first, with metal wire in silverpoint an alternative. In the sixteenth century, large deposits of graphite were discovered in... Read more
Paintings of Félix Vallotton: 4 War and the Land
At the outbreak of war in 1914, the former Nabi painter and print-maker Félix Vallotton (1865–1925) had turned to painting unusual landscapes showing transient atmospheric effects like fog, with the simplification of a print. He volunteered for the army, although at this time he was almost fifty and was... Read more
Paintings of Félix Vallotton 2 Mysterious Interiors
In 1900, the Swiss painter and print-maker Félix Vallotton (1865–1925) was granted French citizenship. He had cut back on his prints to paint more, and the paintings that he made were no longer Nabi, but explored themes and ideas which were to be influential later in the twentieth century.... Read more
Paintings of Félix Vallotton 1 The Foreign Nabi
Continuing my series looking at Les Nabis, I turn next to Félix Vallotton (1865–1925), a painter and print-maker whose work I thought I knew until I started to research what was going to be just one or two articles. I then realised that to do him any justice at... Read more
Medium Well Done: 3 Glue Tempera (distemper)
At some stage in the dim and distant past, our ancestors discovered that processing some natural products created glues. The raw materials either came from boiling animal bones, hide, and other offal, or from natural exudates of plants. In turn, these came to be used as the binder for... Read more
The beautiful icons of Maurice Denis 2
By the start of the twentieth century, the former Nabi artist Maurice Denis (1870–1943) was firmly in the avant garde, his paintings evolving away from his earlier Nabi style, and making series of prints. He had started serious print-making around 1890, and had made woodblocks for music by Debussy.... Read more