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Technique Tuesday: Etching

Another Tuesday, another technique! With our upcoming Friday exhibition Graceful Subtleties displaying works inspired by the Old Masters, we thought it only fitting to touch on a technique prevalent during the Renaissance era – etching.

What is it?

Commonly considered as a method of printmaking, etching is the process in which an acid or mortant is used to carve into a metallic material, such as copper, zinc, or steel. More specifically, etching is a form of intaglio, an ancient Italian method where a design is incised into a surface and the resulting depressions then hold a wet medium. To put it in perspective, intalgio is the opposite of relief printmaking. Remember covering a coin with paper and coloring over it to see its impression? That’s relief printmaking in the simplest of forms!

Now back to etching! Usually the metal is primed with a wax material, or “ground,” that acid cannot disintegrate. From there, the artist creates a design with an etching needle or a concaved, scooping utensil called an echoppe. After the image is made satisfactory, the metal is dipped into an acidic solution and dissolves, deepening the incised lines and cuts. The remaining ground material is wiped away, revealing the ultimate design. Ink or another wet medium is then poured into the depressions of the metal; thereafter, paper is placed on top of the metal plate and pressed together typically by a high-pressure printing press. The result is an ink design on paper that can be replicated a number of times without any variation in design.

Examples in art history:

There is much debate on where and when etching exactly originated. This technique is said to have been brought about when the Italians, and later Germans, began to create intricate designs on their armor during the Middle Ages. However, the majority believe Daniel Hopfer to be the original discoverer of etching placed on paper in the 1500s, having been inspired earlier by Johannes Gutenburg’s printing press in the 1450s. Later, it became a form of craftsmanship for blacksmiths and other artists whose work revolved around collectible, refined houseware, like fine silverware.

Typically when you think of engraving and art history, Albrecht Durer is the first artist to pop in your head. Though he is deeply associated with engraving and other printmaking methods, there are many other Old Masters who specifically practiced etching as opposed to engraving. For example, Rembrandt produced etchings, often times  for self-portraits. Other examples include Leonardo da Vinci and Antonio Pollaiuolo, whose work titled “Battle of the Nude Men,” you may recognize.

 

Another prominent figure to have produced etchings is the Spanish Romantic artist, Francisco Goya, who is considered to be the last Old Master. The most notable work of his is “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters,” where he has visually translated a dream symbolizing his frustration and torment of Spanish society. Below is his prepatory drawing alongside his ultimate etching.

 

Examples at Principle Gallery:

On the rare occassion, Principle Gallery has the pleasure of displaying works on paper, and lately, they so happen to be etchings! Paula Rubino and Charles Weed both have dipped into this technique in such a masterful way that we highly encourage you to view their works in person. For our upcoming show Graceful Subtleties, Charles Weed has prepared an etching titled “Man in Profile,” which features a style similar to those of the Old Masters’.

WEED Man in Profile ed 12 72

Charles Weed, “Man in Profile,” 3×3, etching on paper

Now that you have an understanding of etching, come apply your newly acquired knowledge to the pieces at the show this Friday at 6:30PM! All are welcome and free to enjoy the art, fine refreshments, and hors d’oeuvres. Feel free to contact the gallery if you would like any more information regarding the show, our artists, or their works!


Filed under: Fine Art

Technique Tuesdays: Series

You may have noticed that many artists produce multiple works of the same composition and subject. Of course, this redundancy is not by accident! Artists create works of similar nature to practice and improve upon a subject as well as to illustrate how individual pieces can be combined to make a whole. Each of these examples contribute to the various definitions of a series or serial works.

What is it?

As mentioned above, a series can mean different things in the art world. One definition refers to a theme that an artist consistently integrates into his/her work over a period of time. For example, an artist paints a certain number of pieces with the notable inclusion of a blue bird, ultimately becoming said artist’s “Blue Bird Series.” This is beneficial for the artist, for it offers an opportunity for him to perfect his practice and establishes a distinguishable artistic feature associated to only himself.

Another form of serial works is the assembly of multiple, individual pieces to create a whole masterpiece. Though they are individual pieces, in order for the work to be considered serial, there must be a similar aspect between each piece, such as shape or theme. Often times, the similarities between these different units contribute to achieving gestalt. Gestalt is a German philosophy where the conglomeration of individual parts accomplish a sense of totality, completeness, or one-ness. There is also a supplemental notion that implies that an individual piece is a work within itself; however, without that specific work, the greater/larger piece could not be achieved or be as successful. Essentially, there can be works within a work.

Examples in art history:

The first artist to come to mind when discussing series is Claude Monet. Though famous for his Impressionist style, Monet was arguably recognized by his serial paintings of the Rouen Cathedral and haystacks, documenting light’s intensity and varying color shifts upon these objects. By aligning these separate pieces together, it is evident that Monet was trying to demonstrate the effect of light upon color throughout the day and capture the transition of time through light. But, as soon as one piece is presented by itself, this effect is lost and merely represents an Impressionistic image of a cathedral.

monet

Claude Monet, “Rouen Cathedral Portal,” oil series

Since Monet, countless artists have been inspired to incorporate serial aspects into their works in modern, contemporary ways. Jan Dibbets’ work, for example, exemplifies a series directly inspired by Monet. His photographic series, “Tides,” illustrates the approaching tide upon a tire’s track through time. Very similar to Monet, Dibbets attempts to display the transition of time through a number of individual parts. Again, without one piece, the concept of time could not be accomplished or translated well.

jan dibbets

“Tides,” Jan Dibbets, black and white photography

As time passed, artists began to refer back to the idea of the gestalt and heavily rely upon it. During the Minimalist movement in the late 1960’s, artists, like Donald Judd and Dan Flavin, produced serial light installations that incorporated gestalt. Typically, they would create separate, geometric light fixtures that laid in linear paths, ultimately alluding to a connected, completed work. They used the core concepts of minimalism to demonstrate the basic idea of gestalt.

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“Untitled,” Dan Flavin, light installation

Examples at Principle Gallery:

A Principle Gallery artist who utilizes the thematic, serial concept is G.C. Myers. Mostly known for his red trees and chairs situated in vibrant, desolate landscapes, Gary has also delved into painting a series concerned with archaeology. Though the “Archaeology Series” still depicts his distinct red trees, these works mainly reflect an archaeological theme and thus categorizes them into a series.

Other artists who produce series are Lynn Boggess and Jeff Erickson, though their intentions are more relatable to our second definition of series. To begin with, Lynn Boggess parallels Monet’s ideas of capturing a transition. In each plein air piece, Boggess paints a landscape during a certain season and titles the work based upon the date it was completed. Therefore, the artist’s whole oeuvre is a display of seasonal changes through the compilation of sequential nature scenes. As for Jeff Erickson‘s work, his art relates more so to the notion of gestalt. “Wetlands,” in particular, is a three panel piece that is intended to be displayed as one whole. Commonly known as a triptych, this composition style along with diptychs (two panels) demonstrates gestalt’s “parts to a whole” and “all or nothing” concepts.

Wetlands (triptych) 72

Jeff Erickson, “Wetlands,” oil and wax on panel triptych

 

For more information regarding Principle Gallery artists and their work, please feel free to contact the gallery! Also, remember to mark your calendars for April 7th for our upcoming group exhibition, “Graceful Subtleties,” featuring Louise Fenne, Jussi Poyhonen, Paula Rubino, and Charles Weed.


Filed under: Fine Art

Technique Tuesday: Glazing

What is it?

The term “glazing” when applied to paint refers to the play of colors and luminosity built up through applying thin, transparent layers of paint over an opaque layer of a different color. This is done with the use of a suitable type of paint (not all can paint colors can be easily manipulated to glaze with, but anything with “lake” in the paint name is a good bet!) and the addition of a glazing medium to thin the paint and help with transparency. It’s a simple concept, the idea of a transparent overlay of color over an opaque layer, but it takes a lot of practice and care to ensure that the right effect comes across in actual practice of the technique. If an artist can get it right, however, it adds a gorgeous depth and sense of the movement of light within the colors of a painting. We often see this effect of transparent color overlay in real life by observing light through a colored glass, like a stained glass window or the “rose colored glasses” of the old familiar idiom– it has a lovely resulting depth and brilliance!

Examples from art history:

Glazing used to be used sometimes out of necessity in addition to being used for its visually appealing effect. For instance, back when many artists did not have access to certain brilliant colors of paint pigment– often strong greens, purples, and oranges– they achieved the color by glazing one color over another so as to optically, rather than physically, blend them. Many artists throughout history (as well as many currently practicing artists) also apply these thin glazes of color over a base that is entirely painted in grays (called “grisaille”) or browns (called “bistre”) so as to add a depth unachievable from applying opaque layers of paint alone.

Johannes Vermeer’s exquisite paintings contain many classic examples of glazing. See here below, on the left the reconstruction of Vermeer’s “Girl With a Red Hat” shows some of the initial layers that would have been painted, upon which Vermeer would then apply transparent glazes to deepen and darken to his liking. You can observe the brilliance in hues and the effect of light pouring through that this creates on the finished work, also shown just to the right. Also shown here is a detail from another painting, “The Milkmaid,” in which Vermeer’s technique of glazing a transparent yellow layer over the blue layer underneath creates a unique green effect in the middle area of the fabric of the milkmaid’s sleeves:

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Two years ago, we discussed the 2015 Kevin Fitzgerald Solo Exhibition in a Technique Tuesday post when we addressed another type of layering effect in paint, known as “scumbling” or “dry brush.” Basically, this indicates that the top layer of paint is an opaque layer, and not a transparent, thinned layer as with glazing, which creates a different affect, more hazy and blurred and well-suited to Kevin’s frequent depictions of clouds, treelines, and ocean waves. To read more about it, check out the older post, here!

But the glazing technique is also highly prevalent in Kevin’s work, and is one of many ways that Kevin achieves the amazing effects of light, depth, and atmosphere in his peaceful, hazy landscapes. Take a look at each of the images below and try to pinpoint areas where Kevin applied transparent layers to add depth, color shifts, and luminosity (as well as those opaque, “scumbled” areas!)! And to take a look at the whole exhibition in person, stop by the gallery or visit Kevin’s page on our website here!

“Ocean Joy”

“Inlet Daybreak”

“October Light”

“Ocean Dawn”


Filed under: Fine Art Tagged: effect, glazing, Johannes Vermeer, Kevin Fitzgerald, landscapes, oil painting, paint, Scumbling, technique, Technique Tuesday, Vermeer

Technique Tuesday: Color Theory Pt. II

As promised last Tuesday, we are going to continue our discussion on color theory. Apart from how they interact with one another, colors have the capability to attract a viewer due to their emotional and psychological effects. From how they are paired together to where they are placed in the picture space, this artistic attribute is more powerful than you would think. So without further ado, here’s color theory part two!

 

What is it?

To have a recap on color theory, follow this link to be brought to our explanation from last week! As mentioned in the previous post, colors can be categorized as either warm or cool by splitting the color wheel down the middle – warm colors on the right, with cool colors on the left.

color-wheel-300

One of color’s functions within an artwork is to define spatial depth. Warmer colors tend to propel forward in space, whereas cooler colors rest in the background. The placement of these colors can intensify a composition and draw a viewer’s attention to certain aspects. For example, works that employ a monochromatic color scheme – one hue with the addition of black and white – have the opportunity to apply a focus point.

In cases like Geoffrey Johnson‘s paintings where Impressionistic black figures appear before golden cityscapes, there is an establishment of space as well as an increased focus on the figures due to the color juxtaposition. What makes Johnson’s work so interesting – and also successful – is that he redefines warmer and cooler colors. The warm golden colors, as seen in his studies below, remain in the background while black protrudes to the foreground. He accomplishes a familiar cityscape with anonymous individuals by using an atypical technique – the reversal of colors’ roles.

 

Colors not only contribute to how a work presents spatial depth, but they also affect your mood and the ambience of a piece.Without going into too much scientific detail, a color’s wavelength and how it is received into the eye can impact our emotions. Those with the shortest wavelengths, such as purple, blue, and green, tend to evoke tranquil feelings, while colors with longer wavelengths cause irritation. Studies have shown that the reason behind this behavior is due to how a color can strain our vision, i.e. the shorter the color’s wavelength, the lesser amount of stress caused upon us to perceive that color. For instance, yellow has one of the longest wavelengths, straining our visual reception of it and causing anxiety.

 

Examples in Art History:

One of the most renowned artists who incorporated color psychology in his works is Mark Rothko, a modern, abstract expressionist painter. Wanting his viewers to become immersed in color and feel their effects, Rothko painted large, wall-lengthed canvases of highly saturated, vibrant colors in rectangular forms. He would typically paint large blocks of similar hues upon one another to illustrate intense color pairings and their visual tension or contrast. The intention behind this composition was to have the viewer become engulfed in the purity of the painted hues, such that they have an emotional experience.

 

“I want to express basic human emotions – tragedy, ecstasy, doom…The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.”   –Mark Rothko

If you wander through a Mark Rothko exhibit at the Phillips Collection or another modern art gallery, you’ll notice the pieces hang lower to the ground and are typically in more confined spaces. This curatorial decision was chosen by Rothko, for this was how he both envisioned and painted his works. You’ll also notice that in comparison to other artworks you’re allowed to be closer to the paintings- 6 to 8 inches actually. Again, this is purposeful and necessary to manifest an artistic, emotional experience with the piece. It was Rothko’s trademark to create such an emotional effect on his viewers through visual perception.

 

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Arguably, Principle Gallery artist, Kevin Fitzgerald, employs color psychology in his abstract, landscape paintings. Though not an abstract expressoinist like Rothko, Kevin’s work still evokes emotional experiences in a different abstract technique called tonalism. This method of painting revolves around using a color’s middle value, as opposed to its heavily saturated hues, to create an atmospheric, soft haze (check out this link for a more in-depth explanation). Similar to Rothko’s paintings, the combination of colors in Kevin’s work can influence a viewer’s emotional state as well. Due to his application of tonalism, Kevin’s landscape paintings successfully impact the viewer in a tranquil, therapeutic sense.

 

To experience such a moving opportunity, we invite you to see Kevin Fitzgerald’s beautiful works at his annual solo exhibition this Friday! Principle Gallery is holding an opening reception starting at 6:30PM that is free and open to the public. We hope you are able to come and engage with his works with your newly acquired knowledge of color theory!


Filed under: Fine Art

Technique Tuesday: Color Theory

Color. One of the first aspects you notice about an artwork – the abundance and even lack of it. But, how much do you know about color? In this week’s “Technique Tuesday,” we will discuss color theory. Due to the complexities of the subject, we have decided to write two posts about color theory. In this post, we will introduce color theory, touch on some scientific facts, and then apply it to the works Principle Gallery displays.

color

What is it?

In the simplest of terms, color theory is the method of classifying colors based upon their interactions with one another and how we visually perceive them. Generally, colors are classified into “primary,” “secondary,” and  “tertiary.” Primary colors are those that cannot be made through any combination, whereas secondary and tertiary refer to the number of colors combined from the primary colors. For example, secondary colors are defined by the mixture of two primary colors and tertiary colors are the combination of three colors (primary or secondary).

However, the colors placed in these classifications differ depending upon the means in which they are used — either through digital print media or more classical media, like painting. As a general consensus and what classical media typically follows, the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. These three colors, or rather pigments, are the only ones that cannot be recreated using other colors. On the other hand, the primary colors for digital print media are cyan, magenta, and yellow. Since our gallery mainly carries paintings, we’re going to stick with red, yellow, and blue as our primary colors. But before we get into the artistic side of color theory, I wanted to touch on the scientific side.

Did you notice that the primary colors, no matter the media, are comprised of three colors? Well, it’s because humans are considered to be trichromats, meaning we can only perceive three colors and their combinations. Located behind our eye’s retina, we have these mechanisms called photoreceptors that absorb light in different intensities. To sum it all up, rods help us see in the dark and don’t really absorb light, while cones absorb most of the light and aid us in seeing our color system. For you animal lovers, the reason why certain animals can see in the dark is because they have more rods than humans (there’s a fun trivia fact).

It’s actually pretty interesting how the human brain functions in order to process light. Our eyes only have three cones that absorb the light of three specific colors – red, green, and blue (the reason why all electronic screens use red, green, and blue light rays to emit color). When two of these cones are stimulated, we are then able to see even more colors. And when all three cones are stimulated at equal rates, we are able to see white. Of course, when none of them are stimulated or there is no light, we see black.

But enough about science, let’s get back to art!!

All of these colors can be paired together to create a fluid, coherent circle displaying the transition of one color to the next, which everyone knows as the color wheel. By analyzing the color wheel, we can see how colors complement one another and harmonize, or what is called color harmony. The epitome of color harmony is complementary colors – colors that pair well together and lie across from each other on the color wheel. For example, yellow is a complementary color of purple. For more information on color harmony and the different variations of color schemes on the color wheel, I highly suggest following this link – it goes into defining analogous, triadic, split-complementary, and many more color schemes! (Great to use for home decor, I would say!)

complementary colors

Illustration of complementary colors

Using the color wheel below, we can also classify colors in a number of ways. If we were to split the wheel directly down the center, we are left with warm colors on the right and cool colors on the left. Warm colors tend to cause intense, energetic emotions and propel from space, while cool colors recede into space and evoke a somber feeling.

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Illustration of the color wheel

 

With this wide spectrum of colors also comes some terminology. The purest form of a color, meaning the color is derived from any category between primary and tertiary, is called a hue. Though white, black, and grey are not considered a color or hue, they are considered to be neutral because they are defined by the lack or presence of light. As soon as white is added to the hue, the color is a tint. When black is added, the color becomes a shade. And when both white and black (grey) are added, the color is considered a tone. All three of these techniques can be displayed within a scale, beginning with a hue and ending in the additive neutral color.

scale

Illustration of a shade, tone, and tint scale for purple

 

Examples at Principle Gallery

Though there are many Principle Gallery artists who utilize color in their works, Jeff Erickson‘s paintings exemplify the different aspects we have touched upon in this post. Without the distraction of a defined subject matter, Erickson’s abstract pieces are perfect examples illustrating the fundamentals of color theory.

 

 

As an example, “Glimmering Light” displays a selection of cool greens and blues with strokes of warmer yellows. The cooler colors, as discussed before, seem to recede or lay flat in comparison to the yellows that advance in the space. Though not mentioned above, Erickson also illustrates an analogous color scheme, which is defined by the grouping of three adjacent colors on the color wheel. In this case, Erickson primarily uses the three dominant colors: yellow, green, and blue. Another instance where Erickson uses color theory as the basis to his works is “Whitecap.” Again, the artist demonstrates his understanding of analogous color schemes along with his comprehension of a hue’s tone scale, such as blue.

We hope you have the chance to view his works in person and apply what you’ve learned today during your next gallery visit! Please don’t hesitate to contact the gallery if you would like more information concerning Erickson‘s works or those by other Principle Gallery artists. And don’t forget, we will continue our discussion on color theory for our next “Technique Tuesday” – so stay tuned!

 

Written by: Haley Clouser, Gallery Assistant

 


Filed under: Fine Art

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