Impressionist Cityscapes by Eugenio and Nemo

Galerie Beauchamp, in old Quebec, had a lot of really fantastic contemporary art, ranging from abstract to photo-realistic. Seeing Liudmila’s european city/landscape paintings opened my eyes to the possibilities that landscape painting had to offer. These two artists opened them further.

Vertical reflejante 162706, 40 x 30 in, oil by Eugenio

Vertical reflejante 162706, 40 x 30 in, oil by Eugenio

Eugenio‘s paintings are a rainy blur of bright colors and lights. Big cities have so much going on that they can easily become overwhelming for those not accustomed to the bustle; by painting the details with splotches of colors, he unifies the space. One of the things that’s intimidated me about painting landscapes or city scenes are the thousands of little details, whether it’s the leaves, grass or the windows and straight lines that make up rows of buildings. Simplifying the process by painting the colors that make up these little details makes me feel like I could actually handle a project like this.

Seeing the boring made exciting is a huge creative booster shot. Like in the painting below, see how he makes the cobblestones tell a story about the city through their reflections. The scene is warm and exciting; the bar signs serve to guide your eyes through the streets lit by old-fashioned lanterns toward the crowd of people making their way up the street.

Perspectiva reflejada 163081, 36 x 24 in, oil by Eugenio

Perspectiva reflejada 163081, 36 x 24 in, oil by Eugenio

Nemo‘s work caught the eye of both myself and my husband; we were very tempted to take one home with us! If only I wasn’t about to be an art student… anyway, he brings cityscapes to life through use of mixed media. There is much to take in between textures, landmarks, and reflections. The foggy atmosphere gives a dream-like effect to his work. If you look at his paintings closely you’ll see that some parts are more in focus than others; this helps to guide your eye around the frame, taking everything in.

Let it be 4, 40 x 60 in, mixed media by Nemo

Let it be 4, 40 x 60 in, mixed media by Nemo

42nd street, 30 x 72 in, mixed media by Nemo

42nd street, 30 x 72 in, mixed media by Nemo

More and more I see cities painted with strips of color. Some areas, like the sky and background, are left out of focus on purpose because your eyes can fill in those details on their own. The mix of old weathered colors and bright primaries gives an interesting divide to the subject matter, calming it down.

Le rétro at night, 48 x 24 in, mixed media by Nemo

Le rétro at night, 48 x 24 in, mixed media by Nemo

The painting above lets the artist’s lines show through to the finished product, allowing us a glimpse at how he created the piece. It’s a bold move, but since the city is built on so many lines I find these elements work well together.

Tim took lots of lovely photos of the cities we visited, and over the summer I hope to take one or two of them and attempt to recreate them in an impressionist style. Though I’m not sure what materials to use (brush or palette knife?) I’m ready to jump right in! Landscapes can certainly be boring subjects, but I’m learning that it’s up to the artist to make them exciting, whether it’s through the use of color, embellishing details or by making them tell a story.

A Musical Color Wheel

I was on Facebook the other day when I noticed a music theory image that my older brother had posted. Right away I noticed that it looked like a color wheel, and asked him if there was any significance to the colors used for specific notes.

Chord Wheel (via Guitar Grimoire)

Chord Wheel (via Guitar Grimoire)

He wasn’t sure about it, but the question stirred my curiosity. In order to explain why, I’ll need to explain synesthesia. In a nutshell, synesthesia is when stimulation of one sense causes involuntary stimulation of another. For example, some people associate colors with numbers or dates and others associate images with sounds. Ever since I can remember, I’ve associated certain colors with certain kinds of music, even certain keys. While listening to a note, I immediately think of (or even “feel”) a certain color. To some “synesthetes” (people that identify with this neurological condition), these colors are felt strong enough to produce almost hallucinogenic affects, like seeing a colored aura around an object, though for me it’s only a mental visualization. It’s to the point where I can even relate certain weather conditions to different types of music (grey skies versus blue, green grass versus pavement, etc). Some of you may be thinking that this is all pretty trippy, but let me assure you that I was sober for this entire project! However, according to wikipedia certain drugs can reproduce these affects, though I don’t really condone that. ANYWAY…

It’s an interesting phenomenon that I haven’t really explored because I figured it was just a quirk of mine, one among many. Wanting to look into this in depth, I decided to come up with a playlist of songs, in as many different styles as possible, in each key of the musical scale (A, A#, B, C, etc all the way to G#). Using this playlist, I would paint a color wheel, with a sliver designated for each note.

I was able to do this because my father taught me piano/keyboard essentials at a young age, and in high school I studied guitar, which was greatly encouraged by my older brother. The point is, early on in my life I learned chords and how to associate letters with keys. I’ve since learned that I have “perfect pitch”; this means that I can identify a note on the piano simply by hearing it, and that I can sing a note when given the letter. This was extremely helpful when compiling my playlist, though I did need to refer back to the keyboard a bit just to make sure I was on the right track (no pun intended). This is what I came up with:

Musical Color Wheel by Jess Lingley

Musical Color Wheel by Jess Lingley (the image on top done with songs, the image below done with individual piano keys)

Initially I was worried that the color distinctions between notes wouldn’t be strong enough, but I was quickly proven wrong. I also thought that I’d be able to narrow it down to one color per note, but I was only able to do that using individual notes on a keyboard, and not songs. Songs are made up of so many different arrangements and instruments that it would be nearly impossible to sum it all up with one color. Instead, I blended a multitude of colors and textures, inspired by whatever I was listening to. If anyone’s interested in the playlist I used, leave a comment and I’ll share it.

I don’t know that I really learned a whole lot with this exercise, but it was really fun to do and a subject I’d like to explore more in depth in the future. More often than not I have some kind of music on while I do art and I’ve certainly painted some things with certain music in mind. It’d be great to understand this a little better and tailor paintings to music, or vice versa. In the future I’d like to make more color wheels using major, minor and harmonic minor scales.

30 Minute Desk Sketch by Jess Lingley

30 Minute Desk Sketch by Jess Lingley

Wanting to try something different after all the painting I’ve been doing, I decided it was high time I got back into sketching. Here’s a thirty-minute sketch of my desk that I did earlier last week. I tried to keep it fast and loose, not focusing too much on details but paying attention to the way objects were placed against each other. My desk is normally very cluttered; I attempt to clean it up regularly, but more art materials come in to fill the space again. This was a fun, relaxing drawing. I’m going to make it a point to sketch more often! Good drawing skills are the foundation for almost everything else in the art world, after all.

I’ve only made a little progress on the models painting, brightening the two dresses on the left and refining the design of the middle dress slightly. I’m starting to think that I should let it dry as much as possible, in case we end up moving in the next few weeks. Tim’s had a few opportunities to talk to people in Halifax and my fingers are crossed! I am dreading the moving part a little bit though, just because we’re going to have to go through all the stuff we’ve accumulated in the past 6 years living here. You can be sure that I’ll be making room for all my art supplies, though.

slight progress on models painting

slight progress on models painting

Enjoy the rest of the week! Looks like we have a heat-wave coming, meaning wide open windows if I’m going to take this oil project any further.

Must-Sees at the MoMA

Our upcoming roadtrip is taking us through NYC, meaning I will get a chance to see the Museum of Modern Art! I wasn’t sure what they had on display, so I visited their website and discovered that, thanks to Google’s art project “Artworks”, most of the work is available to view online! I plan to go to MoMA with somewhat of a battle plan, since we only really have one full day there and we’ll want to explore other areas of the city. Here are some of the paintings I want to get a closer look at: the links at the top take you to the high resolution versions at Google Art Project, and clicking the images will take you to Wikipedia for more information (or Google Art Project if there was no wiki entry).

The Starry Night by Van Gogh

The Starry Night by Van Gogh

The Starry Night by Van Gogh

The Birth of Venus by Botticelli Sandro Botticelli

The Birth of Venus (Botticelli)

The Birth of Venus (Botticelli)

Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais

John Everett Millais - Ophelia

John Everett Millais - Ophelia

Charing Cross Bridge by Claude Monet

Charing Cross Bridge, Monet

Charing Cross Bridge, Monet

Marie-Antoinette With The Rose by Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun

Marie-Antoinette With The Rose by Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun

Marie-Antoinette With The Rose by Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun

The Two Crowns by Sir Frank Dicksee

The Two Crowns by Sir Frank Dicksee

The Two Crowns by Sir Frank Dicksee

The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse

The Lady of Shalott by Lord Alfred Tennyson

The Lady of Shalott by Lord Alfred Tennyson

I’m hoping that seeing these pieces in person will help give me a better understanding on how they were composed, maybe some hints on technique. Starry Night has been a favorite of mine for awhile (this may or may not have been influenced by his recent appearance in Doctor Who) and so has Ophelia. I remember being struck by Ophelia for the first time while sitting in English class in middle school. I believe the Lady of Shalott was there as well. I applaud the teachers the show art in their classrooms! It’s a great way to get conversations going and you never know who you might inspire!

Seeing how the masters rendered both nature and fabrics in stunning detail has always fascinated me. I’m also excited to see some more abstract works, especially since my abstract course last summer. I have such a better appreciation for the likes of Monet and Gogh, and am itching to see their works close up.

Looking over the museum maps, it looks like I’ll be starting on the top floor and heading downwards. With any luck I’ll be able to see all of these paintings and not feel too overwhelmed. I’m also told that the MoMa has an excellent cafe with delicious mochaccinos, so I know where to go to fuel up! I’d like to get a look at some of the current exhibitions at well, but we’ll see how I feel after the fifth floor…

…any pieces you guys would recommend visiting?