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Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Most Important Painters in The World

Although this list stems from a deep study of the painters, their contribution to Western painting, and their influence on later artists; we are aware that objectivity does not exist in Art, so we understand that most readers will not agree 100% with this list. In any case, theartwolf.com assures that this list is only intended as a tribute to painting and the painters who have made it an unforgettable Art

1. PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) – Picasso is to Art History a giant earthquake with eternal aftermaths. With the possible exception of Michelangelo (who focused his greatest efforts in sculpture and architecture), no other artist had such ambitions at the time of placing his oeuvre in the history of art. Picasso created the avant-garde. Picasso destroyed the avant-garde. He looked back at the masters and surpassed them all. He faced the whole history of art and single-handedly redefined the tortuous relationship between work and spectator

2. GIOTTO DI BONDONE (c.1267-1337) – It has been said that Giotto was the first real painter, like Adam was the first man. We agree with the first part. Giotto continued the Byzantine style of Cimabue and other predecessors, but he earned the right to be included in gold letters in the history of painting when he added a quality unknown to date: emotion

3. LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519) – For better or for worse, Leonardo will be forever known as the author of the most famous painting of all time, the “Gioconda” or “Mona Lisa”. But he is more, much more. His humanist, almost scientific gaze, entered the art of the quattrocento and revoluted it with his sfumetto that nobody was ever able to imitate

4. PAUL CÉZANNE (1839-1906) – “Cezanne is the father of us all.” This famous quote has been attributed to both Picasso and Matisse, and certainly it does not matter who actually said it, because in either case would be appropriate. While he exhibited with the Impressionist painters, Cézanne left behind the whole group and developed a style of painting never seen so far, which opened the door for the arrival of Cubism and the rest of the vanguards of the twentieth century

5. REMBRANDT VAN RIJN (1606-1669) – The fascinating use of the light and shadows in Rembrandt’s works seem to reflect his own life, moving from fame to oblivion. Rembrandt is the great master of Dutch painting, and, along with Velázquez, the main figure of 17th century European Painting. He is, in addition, the great master of the self-portrait of all time, an artist who had never show mercy at the time of depicting himself

6. DIEGO VELÁZQUEZ (1599-1660) – Along with Rembrandt, one of the summits of Baroque painting. But unlike the Dutch artist, the Sevillan painter spent most of his life in the comfortable but rigid courtesan society. Nevertheless, Velázquez was an innovator, a “painter of atmospheres” two centuries before Turner and the Impressionists, which it is shown in his colossal ‘royal paintings’ (“Meninas”, “The Forge of Vulcan”), but also in his small and memorable sketches of the Villa Medici.

7. WASSILY KANDINSKY (1866-1944) – Although the title of “father of abstraction” has been assigned to several artists, from Picasso to Turner, few painters could claim it with as much justice as Kandinsky. Many artists have succeeded in painting emotion, but very few have changed the way we understand art. Wassily Kandinsky is one of them.

8. CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926) – The importance of Monet in the history of art is sometimes “underrated”, as Art lovers tend to see only the overwhelming beauty that emanates from his canvases, ignoring the complex technique and composition of the work (a “defect” somehow caused by Monet himself, when he declared that “I do not understand why everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love”). However, Monet’s experiments, including studies on the changes in an object caused by daylight at different times of the day; and the almost abstract quality of his “water lilies”, are clearly a prologue to the art of the twentieth century.

9. CARAVAGGIO (1571-1610) – The tough and violent Caravaggio is considered the father of Baroque painting, with his spectacular use of lights and shadows. Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro became so famous that many painters started to copy his paintings, creating the ‘Caravaggisti’ style.

10. JOSEPH MALLORD WILLIAM TURNER (1775-1851) – Turner is the best landscape painter of Western painting. Whereas he had been at his beginnings an academic painter, Turner was slowly but unstoppably evolving towards a free, atmospheric style, sometimes even outlining the abstraction, which was misunderstood and rejected by the same critics who had admired him for decades

11. JAN VAN EYCK (1390-1441) – Van Eyck is the colossal pillar on which rests the whole Flemish paintings from later centuries, the genius of accuracy, thoroughness and perspective, well above any other artist of his time, either Flemish or Italian.

12. ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528) – The real Leonardo da Vinci of Northern European Rennaisance was Albrecht Dürer, a restless and innovative genious, master of drawing and color. He is one of the first artists to represent nature without artifice, either in his painted landscapes or in his drawings of plants and animals

13. JACKSON POLLOCK (1912-1956) – The major figure of American Abstract Expressionism, Pollock created his best works, his famous drips, between 1947 and 1950. After those fascinating years, comparable to Picasso’s blue period or van Gogh’s final months in Auvers, he abandoned the drip, and his latest works are often bold, unexciting works.

 

The Top 11 Museums in The World

Which are the best museums of the Western World? While such list is entirely subjective, we have tried to be as objective as I can be, taking in consideration its collections and history. So here is a guide to the premier Museums of the Western World and a link to its websites.


1- The Louvre
in Paris is arguably the world’s most famous Museum. Take an online tour through its wonderful collection of antiquities and painting, including -of course- Leonardo’s Gioconda


2- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
in New York is arguably America’s greatest museum. Its spectacular collection is especially strong in American painting and Egyptian Antiquities.


3- The British Museum
is England’s greatest museum -and one of the best in the world- of Ancient Arts and antiquities, with an excellent collection of Art from Ancient Egypt to the Middle Ages.


4- The Vatican Museums
houses the inmense and outstanding Art collection of the Catholic Church, including the Sistine Chapel or Raphael’s The School of Athens


5- The Hermitage Museum
(or Ermitage) is the most important Museum in Russia and also the largest Art collection in the world, with more than 3,000,000 million of artworks


6- The Kunsthistorisches Museum
in Vienna is one of the premier museums in the world. It houses an important collection of antiquities and an outstanding collection of European painting.


7- The National Gallery of London
houses one of the world’s finest collection of paintings. It is arguably the most complete collection of European painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries


8- The Museum of modern Art
(MOMA) houses the world’s best collection of modern and contemporary Art, featuring masterworks as Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon or van Gogh’s Starry night


9- El Museo del Prado
(Prado Museum) is Spain’s most important museum, featuring the best collection of Spanish painting in the world.


10- The Museé d’Orsay
in Paris is without doubt the best museum of impressionist and 19th century French painting in the world. Features masterworks from Monet, van Gogh, Renoir…


11- The Cairo Museum
is by far the most complete collection of Egyptian Art in the world. Its most famous artworks are the objects from the Tomb of Tutankhamun, discovered in 1922

Tips to Create an Excellent Observational Drawing

What follows is a list of tips that have been written specifically for high school art students who are looking to improve the realism of their observational drawings. It is for those who have already selected something appropriate to draw (see this guide for selecting subject matter if you need help with this) and who understand how to compose a drawing well (this will be covered in a subsequent article).

Tip 1: Look at what you are drawing

Failing to look at what you are drawing is one of the most fundamental errors an Art student can make

This sounds obvious, but it is the most common error made by art students. Many students attempt to draw things the way that they thinkthey should look, rather than the way they actually do look.

The only way to record shape, proportion and detail accurately is to look at the source of information. Human memory does not suffice. Forms, shadows and details are hard enough to replicate when they are right there in front of you; if you have to make them up, they appear even less convincing. In order to produce an outstanding observational drawing, you must observe: your eyes must continually dance from the piece of paper to the object and back again. Not just once or twice, but constantly.

Tip 2: Draw from real objects whenever possible

(This doesn’t mean, however, that you should never draw from photographs. Students frequently traipse from home to school and back again: it can be impractical to carry and set up complex still life arrangements over and over again. Some subjects – such as landscapes and nude models – are also unavailable in most classroom settings. It can therefore be good practise to set up a still life arrangement in the flesh (or visit a location) and begin drawing directly from the subject, using photographs to complete the work at home).The phrase ‘observational drawing’ typically implies drawing from life (see the superb observational drawing exercise set by artist and teacher Julie Douglas). Ask any art teacher and they will list the benefits of drawing from objects that are sitting directly in front of you. You are provided with a wealth of visual information…changing light conditions; rich textures; views of the subject from alternate angles; as well as information from other sense…smells and noise from the surroundings etc. Transcribing from three-dimensions to two is ultimately much harder than drawing from a photograph, but it often results in drawings that are ‘richer’ and more authentic.

Tip 3: Don’t trace

Throughout history, great realist painters have traced from photographs or worked from projections blown up onto walls. But these painters are not high school art students; nor are they assessed on their ability to replicate form.

There is a place for tracing in IGCSE or A Level Art (such as when tracing over something you have already drawn or creating a repeat pattern), but tracing from photographs and then simply applying colour or tone is not acceptable. Such methods of ‘drawing’ involve minimal skill, teach you little and run the risk of producing clunky, soul-less outlines. Don’t do it.

Tip 4: Understand perspective

As objects get further away they appear smaller. The replication of this change of scale on paper (through the use of vanishing points) is called ‘perspective’. The fundamentals of perspective are usually taught in junior high school; by Year 10 at the latest. If you are a senior art student and have somehow missed this lesson, remedy this situation urgently. There are not many theoretical aspects of art that are essential to learn, but this is one of them. Please view the perspective handouts in the Student Art Guide free teacher resources to get you started.

Tip 5. Use grids, guidelines or rough forms to get the proportions right before you add details

Many students start with a tiny detail (the eye on a face, for example) and then gradually add in the rest of the image…ending up with a drawing that is badly proportioned or doesn’t fit on the page (or floats aimlessly in the middle of it). This can be avoided by approximating the basic forms before adding details or by using guidelines to ensure that proportions are correct.

If working from a photograph, using a grid can result in highly accurate work. It allows students to focus on one small segment of the image at a time and gives arbitrary lines from which distances can be gauged. This can be a helpful strategy when precise, detailed images are required and can itself become a celebrated component in an artwork. As gridding is methodical and involves meticulous plotting of lines, however, it is important to acknowledge that this approach runs the risk of producing tight and regimented drawings that lack in ‘spirit’ and should thus be approached with care.

If working from life, roughly sketching outlines of the major forms will allow you to get the proportions right, before you add the details. While you do this, you should constantly check which points line up (i.e. edge of nostrils lining up with edge of eye) and the size of every object should be estimated in relation to the things that are beside it. You must get used to seeing things not in terms of absolute scale, but in terms of how one thing compares to another.

Tip 6: Be wary of ellipses

Ellipses – the oval shapes that are visible at the top of cylindrical objects such as bottles or jars – frequently ‘trip up’ a weak drawer. They can send an immediate signal that a student isnot looking at what they are drawing. All ellipses, no matter what angle they are viewed from, should be rounded (not pointed) at the ends, as illustrated in the image to the left (by Rachel Shirley) and below (sourced from IDsketching).

Tip 7: Keep the outlines light

As your drawing is fleshed out in more detail, with attention given to the subtle variations in shape and form, the natural inclination – especially of the novice drawer – is to want to darken in the outlines, to help ensure they are visible. Do not do this.

Real objects do not have dark lines running around every edge. Edges should instead be defined by a change in tone and/or colour, as in the beautiful graphite drawing by an IGCSE Art student shown to the left.

If you are producing a line drawing, a cartoon or some other graphic image, outlines may be darkened, but in an observational drawing – especially one which you wish to be realistic – dark outlines are never advised.

Tips to Develop Your Ideas in an Art project

‘Development’ means systematically working towards better artwork: trialing, refining and exploring compositional devices and technique, demonstrating to the examiners that you have gone through a learning process and arrived at a successful final piece.

As an example, the following process was undertaken by my A Level Painting students (this process could be easily modified for Graphic Design, Photography or Sculpture) during the course of the year:

1. Complete 4-10 drawings of your chosen topic in your A Level Art Sketchbook.

using a range of black and white and coloured mediums such as graphite pencil, Indian ink, acrylic, coloured pencil, watercolours, oil. The level of realism achieved in these drawings will be dependent on your own drawing style and preferences. Mix and layer mediums as appropriate.  Include photographs if desired. The drawings may be semi-incomplete and can merge into each other. At this point, do not worry so much about what you are achieving in terms of composition. You are merely conducting visual research and exploring your topic.

2. Fill gaps around the drawings with notes discussing your theme / issue / message

why this is personally relevant to you; what appeals to you visually about the subject; how the subject matter might be composed in order to support or convey your ideas. Look carefully at what you have drawn and make notes about how the visual elements (line, tone, texture, space, colour etc) interact… For example, are there strong contrasts between highly detailed areas and sparse areas? Are the negative spaces as interesting as the objects themselves? Are there repetitions of certain shapes and colours? Are you exploring frames within frames? …In essence, establish what you are dealing with visually.

3. Select an artist model whose work relates to your subject matter and inspires you.

Research this artist. Complete several pages in your A Level Art Sketchbook, including composition studies, imitations and pastiches of their artwork, using a range of mediums.  Fill spaces around the illustrations with notes explaining/discussing their technique/s (mark-making methods); use of media / materials; style; composition (i.e. the relationship between the visual elements: line, shape, colour, tone, texture and space. Discuss how these elements form ‘visual devices’ that ‘draw attention’, ‘emphasise’, ‘balance’, ‘link’ or ‘direct the viewer through the artwork’ and so on). Write notes about the ideas, moods and subjects explored within the drawings and how all of the above relates to your topic or theme. Your comments should show evidence that you have researched your artist (using proper terminology) and should also contain your own thoughts and responses. Under no circumstances should it appear as if you are just regurgitating information from a textbook. Learn from this artist and establish how this artist is relevant / useful for your own project.

4. Complete 10 – 15 drawings and paintings that show a smooth transition from your original artworks.

Do not leap in and copy everything the artist does. It may be, for example, that you simply copy the way a particular artist uses foreground, mid-ground and background, or the way in which they apply paint onto a scratched, irregular surface. The purpose of this exercise is to learn particular techniques or compositional strategies – not to copy their work in its entirety. The result should be a series of paintings which show gradual changes and exploration. After each one you should have a discussion with your teacher about what you can do next to help convey your ideas more successfully.

5. select another artist and repeat the process.

Once you have learned from this artist, repeat again. The intention is that by the time you get to your final piece, your work is a beautiful combination of your own ideas and the influence of several others. Your work should look absolutely original – a beautiful mixture of wisdom gained from a multitude of sources. It can be good practice to choose a range of artist models – ie. national / international, contemporary / historical etc…but this is not always necessary. The best outcomes occur when students choose artists whose work really moves them. It can be typical for an AS student to have 2-4 artist models and A2 students to have 3-10 artist models.