Tim’s talk on the American Illustrators

An example of one of his characterful illustrations

Tim Daost has been studying with us for some years. He has received both the De Laszlo Scholarship and was awarded Artist in Residence at Leighton House Museum. We have been fortunate that he has given a series of lectures at the studios on perspective and most recently on the American Illustrators. Here is a brief synopsis of his fascinating talk.

 

One of the main reasons I wanted to study traditional drawing and painting techniques was to improve my ability to tell stories visually.   I have always loved the way a good illustration can transport you to another world, and admire artists who can use realism in imaginative ways.

 

Although slightly less famous in the UK, the American Illustrator Norman Rockwell has long been considered a master of visual storytelling by the US public.

Norman Rockwell

 

The more I practiced traditional figure drawing the more I wondered how Rockwell and his contemporaries became such amazing figurative artists and illustrators.  I decided to explore this topic more in a talk I gave at the studio in November 2016.

A large part of the story of American Illustration comes back to the Art Students League in New York City.   Every time I found an illustration from the early 20th century with amazing figurative work and researched the artist’s background I discovered that they spent some time at the Art Students League or in Paris at Academie Julian.

 

Arts Students League

Researching a bit about the training at the Art Students League around the 1900s explains how its students became so influential.  At the time the League had three incredibly influential teachers:  George Bridgman, Robert Henri, and Frank Dumond.  All three of these teachers had trained at the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts or Academie Julian, some directly under the tutelage of France’s foremost academic artist, William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

 

Here are a few images of students training at the Art Students League – the setup should seem familiar to anyone who studies here at London Fine Art Studios.

 

 

 

Frank Vincent Dumont in Class

One of the longest standing teachers at the Art Students League, George Bridgman, wrote some of the most influential books on figure drawing that are still in wide use today and can be bought at the studio shop Lavender Hill Colours. Here you can see examples of the work from his class.

From a George Bridgeman class
From a George Bridgeman class

 

Robert Henri, another instructor at the League, wrote the highly influential book The Art Spirit.

Robert Henri Art Spirit

Frank Dumond, who exhibited at the Paris Salon and won a medal, can be seen in the photos above teaching cast drawing.

 

Frank Dumond

 

 

It is no surprise that instructors of this calibre were able to turn Norman Rockwell into one of America’s best illustrators by the time he was 20. Rockwell matured as an illustrator at a very fortuitous time, since the technical circumstances of the time made illustration the dominant form of advertisement.

 

 

During the 19th century lithography, photography, and printing were making it possible to mass produce black and white images cheaply.  Colour printing was a more complicated process, but by 1904 rotary offset lithography made it possible to mass produce colour images.  Although colour printing was possible, colour photography was still a challenging process until 1935 when Kodak introduced Kodachrome film.  This meant that mass produced colour advertisements required an illustrator from the early 1900s until about 1935.

 

This opportunity was taken up by many other Art Students League students:  Walter Biggs and Howard Pile were all former students at the forefront of American Illustration.

 

Illustrators from outside the League were also popular; a little research tends to reveal that they also had an academic background.  J.C Leyendecker was America’s leading illustrator before Rockwell.  He studied under John Vanderpool, the Dutch-American artist and author of the book “The Human Figure” which is still widely used in art schools today. Leyendecker continued his studies at Academie Julian in Paris.

 

Leyendecker’s images for Saturday Evening Post defined the modern look of Santa (often mis-attributed to a subsequent Coca-Cola campaign that clearly references these images), and his work for Arrow Shirts advertising helped define the fashion sense of the 1920s.

Leyendecker

N.C Wyeth is also considered one of America’s greatest illustrators.  He trained under Howard Pyle, who was in turn trained by F.A Van der Wellen from the Antwerp Academy of the Arts.  It is hard to find exact details on how Pyle was trained, but it is clear the Van der Wellen had his students draw from casts.  Pyle also briefly trained at the Art Students League, and it is reasonable to surmise that Pyle trained Wyeth using the classical techniques that he learned from the league and Van der Wellen.

N C Wyeth

Wyeth completed an incredible 3,000 paintings (an average of 6 per month during his working career)  and illustrated 112 books (2 -3 per year)  during his career.  Maintaining such a pace would require spending no more than 25 – 35 hours per painting.

8 Week Floral Still Life – Spring term

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detail
Detail of final painting.
Ruysch
Inspiration – A drooping marigold and other flowers spilling out of the vase (detail), Rachel Ruysch, Flower Still Life, c. 1726

This term I wanted to understand how to complete a longer more complicated still life. I planned to use a bountiful supply of spring flowers. Due to their short life, they would of course have to be replaced weekly. Here is a collection of images documenting these few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

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I started to build up the bouquet of flowers in my composition, a small bunch at a time. This meant I could concentrate on a small section of one or two flowers a session. This allowed time to finish each collection of flowers to the desired amount of finish and detail. The central poppy alone took me two full consecutive days in class.

 

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The most challenging part was designing of the composition. Not all the flowers I chose, worked in the set-up; when in the painting they sometimes clashed with the overall colour harmony, focal point, general feel and texture of the other flowers. So a lot of time was also spent editing in a variety of different flowers and painting over or wiping off what didn’t work.

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When adding in the flowers one by one, I had to be aware of keeping a natural flow and structure, to stop a staged feel. Paying special attention to creating natural overlaps and where light and shadows would consequently fall, helped do this. Near the end additional shadows were carefully glazed in, as well as reflected colours on some of the flowers to echo their surrounding environment.

 

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Final painting – Icelandic Poppies, oil on linen

 

Life Drawing with Flaming June

Flaming June | London Fine Art Studios

Last week Leighton House Museum opened a spectacular new exhibition which sees Flaming June returned home.  This painting is accompanied by the four other works that Leighton submitted to the Royal Academy the year before his death.  Together they form an exceptional and intoxicating body of work.

On Tuesday 15 November, 1-4pm, Ann will be teaching life drawing in Leighton’s Grand Studio.  A unique opportunity to hone your drawing skills and view Flaming June and friends, up-close and away from the crowds.  Book tickets through the Leighton House Museum website or by following this link.

Also, Wednesday 16 November, 7pm: My Love to the Academy: Leighton’s Last Works.  Learn more about the peculiar history of the collection and its place in the wider context of RA exhibitions.  Book tickets through the Leighton House Museum website or by following this link.

Back to school

Art Courses in London

The Autumn Term begins 19 September.  We look forward to welcoming back old and new faces.

Few Foundation spaces left, additional courses include:

Beginners Sculpture, Mondays, 7-9pm

Printmaking, Wednesdays, 1-4pm

Urban Landscapes, Saturdays 10am-1pm

Apply online here or for more information email: info@londonfineartstudios.com.  Want to find out more?  Watch this short video about the school.

Henry Yan is back…

Henry Yan Art | London Fine Art Studios

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The silence is amazing, you can hear a pin drop as students listen intently to the wisdom and experience of Henry Yan.

Back in London for two workshops at London Fine Art Studios: Drawing the Figure, 5-8 September and Painting the Figure, 9-11 September.

Students are encouraged to ask questions, to learn through trial and error and to cultivate the habit of hard work and practice.  At the end of the day they come away inspired and happily exhausted.

 

 

 

 

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts (Aristotle)

portrait steps alla prima oil painting course

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts (Aristotle)

 

Today London Fine Art Studios celebrates a fabulous first year! Three terms of cast drawing, of oil painting, of nudes and portraits have flown by and we are enjoying a buoyant start to the summer courses. To mark the occasion and show that artists can party as hard as they work, we will be found picnic-ing and generally making merry in Battersea Park.

 

Highlights from the year have included an inaugural lecture from Simon Schama at Leighton House Museum; a talk by Alison Smith, Curator at Tate Britain; workshops and artists-in-residence at Dulwich Picture Gallery; filming with ACAPmedia; Griselda Murray Brown, FT Arts Editor, speaking about the synaesthesia of music and art; and so much more!

 

However, most exciting has been the expanding programme of classes to include Advanced Cast drawing, Printmaking & Etching, extended Sculpture schedules and new workshops with international artists. We are still looking forward to Henry Yan’s arrival in September.

 

And yet, though we be young in years, we are rich in experience. As with the Welsh football team, LFAS is greater that the sum of its parts: Ann Witheridge, Founder and Director, brings years of teaching, drawing, painting, exhibiting to bear on her leadership and vision for the Studios; our teachers are also established artists, represented nationally and internationally with creative projects a-plenty under their belts; our art store stocks the best materials from around the globe, offered at affordable prices to our students with a generous lashing of expert advice from Director Scott Pohlschmidt.

 

Then there are the students, hungry to learn, of all ages and backgrounds, with enriching life experiences of their own. The best will draw on the support of their peers as well as the knowledge of their teachers to further their craft; they will make the most of the lectures, partnerships and events that the Studios organise to help further their professional development.

 

Thus, the staff, the students and even the spaces (imagine artist’s paraphernalia and worn wooden floors) provide a unique and enormously productive learning environment.   Add to this a method that has lasted centuries, classical techniques handed down from one European Master to another. Newcomers begin with the Foundation Course, they learn the fundamentals and train their eye to see afresh, they learn what Aristotle knew: the delicate interplay of parts and whole, never fixating on the detail, always stepping away from the easel to see the bigger picture.

 

All this amounts to a carefully considered and honed training for amateur and professional artists, for part-timers and full timers alike. One that is supportive yet challenging, consolidated through tradition and wholly contemporary.

 

I would like to say how much I enjoyed my term at LFAS. The staff is amazing, welcoming, and all around wonderful, the store far too tempting, Chris’ tea some of the best in London, and the general atmosphere inspiring, lovely, and motivating. And as frustrating as it sometimes was (is) to learn a new way of doing something you think you already know how to do, the technique taught as LFAS is exciting, engaging, and expansive. I feel so fortunate to have found LFAS. Many thanks to all of you who make it work so very well.

 

Testimonial of LFAS Student

July Foundation Course began today!

Advanced Cast Drawing

Today we welcomed a new intake of artists to learn the fundamentals of drawing and painting, techniques passed down from the most accomplished European Masters.  It was a joy to share the Studios with these enthusiastic and talented individuals.  We are looking forward to the week ahead!

 

 

July Courses at LFAS

Introducing our award-winning artist and barista... Painting by Archie Wardlaw

LFAS’ much anticipated July Courses are two weeks away and very few spaces left!

4 weeks of 5-day intensives each focussing on a different discipline:

Foundation: 4-8 July, £350

Figure: 11 – 15 July, £385

Printmaking: 11-15 July, £350

Portrait: 18 – 22 July, £385

Landscape or Sculpture: 25 – 29 July, £350 (Sculpture £400)

Single weeks as priced; 2 weeks £700; 3 weeks, £1000; 4 weeks, £1200.

Full details here, to apply email info@londonfineartstudios.com

Looking forward to Pintar Rapido 2016!

atelier london event events landscaping pinter rapido

Thank you to Roger Beckett, founder of Pintar Rapido, for an entertaining and informative talk about this year’s outdoor painting festival.  

We are looking forward to joining many more artists on the streets of Kensington and Chelsea on 16 & 17 July for a weekend of plein air painting, workshops and exhibitions.  Full details here.