February 25, 2011

feature friday...

Today is feature friday!  So grab a cup of coffee and let's have a chat.
I've decided to present to you (in my own words and way) a brief history of the lives of artists (past and present) who have been major influences in my life.

So today let's look at MY FAV...19th century painter John William Waterhouse.  Can you say, breath-taking?  Um yes.  It is.  I'll start with my all time favorite painting EVER. 

I'm not kidding you.  I practically LUST over this painting.  I drool.  I'm so in love.  the COLORS.  If you click on the title, it'll take you to a larger image of the painting.  Color affects everyone differently and psychologically speaking we are drawn to certain colors because of the reactions they produce within us.  There's red all over this painting (I think Waterhouse is my shrink); under the skin, in the knuckles and hair and cheeks, in the roses, layered into the bricks on the top right.  That's what gives her warmth...you can almost see the blood under her skin, pulsing through her veins.  The incline of her head...eyes closed, her soft pink cheek.  You can sense what she is sensing.  Not to mention the fact that she appears to be as tall as I am!  She's real, alive, smelling, sensing.  (I'm thinking his one of his base colors had to be a shade of red.  I'll have to figure that out.)

Portraying women in this manner (as real, full of life and passion) was typical of Waterhouse.  In fact, this aspect of his work is what set him above his contemporaries: the pre-raphaelites and the impressionists.  It's also the aspect of his work that I most admire, for I feel that he was able to capture the 'spirit' of a person with just a few brushstrokes and lines.

Here's another thing that's impressive: the man could draw.  I mean, a lot of painters and graphic designers today don't start with a well constructed drawing.  They don't draw, period.  No preliminary thumbnail sketches.  They just dive into a painting, not knowing where it's going.  And I understand that everyone has their own process, but what I absolutely love about studying Waterhouse is his draftsmanship.  Accurate proportions, beautiful shading technique, wonderful use of thick and thin lines for emphasis, focused detail.  He wouldn't have been the painter he was without his background in drawing (trained at the Royal Academy of Art in London). 

Now here's the third and final (only for the sake of time) thing I want to point out about John Waterhouse.  He was an illustrator.  In the case of the image above, he took Lord Alfred Tennyson's poem "Lady of Shalott" and painted the most poignant moment...the point at which the Lady of Shalott escapes her prison to sail toward Camelot in search of Sir Lancelot.  Doomed.

"She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott."
He'd often paint scenes from poetry and Greek mythology.  I love that every painting and every drawing was purely intentional.  Every stroke of his pen or brush was intended and worked toward the telling of a story or event.  Even if he was simply trying to depict everyday life. 

There is much to be learned from this artist, and that is precisely why I chose him for this feature friday!  Thanks for joining.  (Now get off your butt and do something!)
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