I'm a big fan of Mr. Paul Ingbretson's youtube channel and I just found out that he directly answered one of my questions in his video! I'm kind of speechless because I love his videos and to have my question addressed is amazing. Thank you Mr. Ingbretson!
The Players Collection + National Arts Club | Joaquín Sorolla’s Gouaches for the Vision of Spain
I had a real treat today, seeing some amazing work at two beautiful clubs in NYC. My first stop was to see some pieces at The Players. My top priority was to see their Sargent collection, but they have some other gems there, including a Gilbert Stuart portrait. I only found one Sargent and was disappointed that the portrait of Joseph Jefferson as Dr. Pangloss was hung way too high and above a mantle. It was really very difficult to appreciate it since, as a painter, I wanted to get nose-to-nose with it.
The rest of the club had work by other artists which was really nice to see in person. As always, seeing work in person is crucial for art appreciation and as a painter studying technique.
My next stop was to meet up with my friend, Prof. Neill Slaughter at the National Arts Club. Like The Players, the National Arts Club is a beautiful building with a classically designed interior; they're also right next door to one another, which was a surprise to me.
We were there to see a show of Sorolla's gouache "sketches" which were used in preparation for his Vision of Spain, which is at the Hispanic Society; I'm champing at the bit to see these massive paintings, but it's not open until April 6th.
I went into this exhibit expecting little gems and was quite surprised to find huge gouache paintings. Sorolla painted on huge sheets of kraft paper which was almost like something from a school project; the paper has a warm brownish tone and makes me want to give it a try myself.
Seeing the work in person showed me some interesting techniques also. One thing that Sorolla would do was to literally cut and paste sections to rearrange compositions. He would cut out individual figures or entire groupings and paste them to other areas... brilliant! These were very much working drawings and reminded me of a blueprint or rough draft. Many areas also had writing on them and some areas even had calculations written down.
Neill and I were thinking about how Sorolla probably never expected these works to be viewed in this fashion, but it was an amazing window into his working process. The whole day was great and I'm so thankful to Neill for sharing this experience with me. The exhibition is open to the public until April 26th and I highly recommend checking it out!
I recently finished reading the 2022 reprint of Hayao Miyazaki's brilliantly illustrated story, Shuna's Journey. I have a copy of the 1983 original which I purchased and read years ago so I thought it'd be interesting to do a comparison.
The first thing to note is the size different between the original and the reprint. The original is a pocket-sized book, about 6" X 4.25" and the reprint is larger at 8.75" X 6.25". I enjoy the size of the 1983 original, but that's a personal preference.
For the text, I enjoyed being able to read the translation because I don't read or speak Japanese. The placement and color of the text matches the original pretty closely. When I got the original version years ago, I found an online translation and read the book alongside that--not the best way to enjoy a manga/illustrated book.
The reprint still has the right to left format, which I was happy to see and it also contains an insightful note from the translator, Alex Dudok De Wit (son of the director of The Red Turtle (2016), Michael Dudok De Wit).
As I was reading the reprint, I was really distracted by the feeling that the artwork was really lacking. So after I finished reading it, I pulled out the original and noticed some major differences. The reprint is very bleached out and as a watercolor painter myself, I was really disappointed; the reprint almost looks monochromatic compared to the original (see below). Now, it may be the case that the original artwork has faded over time and the reprint is showing how the paintings look today; watercolor can fade over years of light exposure, but it's impossible to tell without seeing the original paintings.
Overall, I'm glad that this translated reprint was published and I hope some more of Miyazaki's work gets translated. I'd love to read a translation of Miyazaki's watercolor manga, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu).. Or maybe I should start studying Japanese..
"Hold Still!" is often a common phrase that you'll hear from artists. Certainly for painting and drawing you need stillness, right? I'm not so sure about that. For me, when I'm sketching, drawing or painting I enjoy some degree of movement. Sometimes the movement is subtle, like the small movements of a knitter's hands, and sometimes the movement is expansive, like a cat jumping onto an ottoman.
I think it's this movement that makes a work come alive. But how to capture it? For me, it's entirely about observation and quickness. Thinking is your enemy with this sort of work. You have to let your hand move freely and not worry about the results. Many of my sketches just come out as squiggles and trailing lines. Many of them are simply silhouettes of the subject. Nothing more than lines and shapes. However, I really believe this is the foundation of great art. Check out what Delacroix has to say about it ⬇below⬇.
During the summer, I became friendly with another student in the MA program. She admired my sketches and asked about them. I suggested that we sketch outside together and talk about it. We found a spot near the school where some construction workers were working on replacing bricks on a building. The workers were moving all about, moving up and down the scaffolding and ladders. Perfect! So we sat there and just drew these guys as they worked. Whether or not our sketches were good didn't matter. We had fun and created a memory. And my main takeaway was to silence the voice inside me that says, "This has to be perfect."
I don't have much advice in terms of technique, but I would encourage everyone to sketch from life. And for me, it helps to not judge my sketches. Some of them turn out well, but most of mine are not meant to be judged as works of art. So please be kind to yourselves also.
“If you are not skillful enough to sketch a man falling out of a window during the time it takes him to get from the fifth story to the ground then you will never be able to produce monumental work…Before you begin, study unceasingly, but once started…you must execute freely.” - Eugène Delacroix