When I started trying to promote my own artwork online I kept coming across other people's art that amazed or compelled me in one way or another. This blog has been a way for me to practice thinking and writing about art, as well as learning more about my peers and all the incredible art that is being made out there.

Search for an Artist on this blog (or cut and paste from the list at the bottom of this page)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ken Tighe

"Salt Springs"  oil on panel  38" x 48"  2009
"Salt Springs #3"  oil on panel  16" x 16"  2010

"Broadmoor Sluice"  oil on panel  16" x 16"  2010

Clay Room Nocturne"  48" x 48"  1989

"Spectre of my Childhood Buick"  oil on panel  20" x 24"  1999
Ken Tighe is an artist who lives, paints and teaches in Massachusetts. He cites his former instructor George Nick as his most significant influence in the realist tradition, but he has clearly long since established his own visual sensibilities. His most recent work has been a stunning series of studies depicting rock formations in water. With little or no reference to the surrounding scenery it would be easy for these images to dissolve into abstraction. And in the rich heart of their detail that is where his work lives and breathes. And yet the whole is instantly recognizable for what it is. This is realism after all. If all he had ever painted were these rockscapes I'd recommend his work, but over the course of his long career he has hardly been content to settle for one particular type of imagery. On his website (kentighe.virb.com) you'll find landscapes, cityscapes, figure studies, portraits, flowers, interiors, various vehicles and even sculpture. There's loads to look at and some wonderful detail shots of certain pieces. And if you'd like to learn more about the artist there's a lengthy interview at paintingperceptions.com.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hui Zheng

CN12 65cm x 50cm  2011

CN5  100cm x 65cm  2011

CN2  100cm x 65cm  2011

N20  2011

N0 2008

Hui Zheng is an artist in France who has been developing a body of work exploring the human figure in largely realist terms, but always tweaking things just a bit. She has played with exaggerated expressions, subtle variations in color, distorted proportions and selected areas of focus. There is an interesting congruence in these images where she seems to be exploring not only the design potentials of her medium but the design potentials of the body itself. She has other work exploring other issues and techniques, but these slightly off-kilter riffs on realistic human forms seems to be her main focus and best work. No titles titles are provided other than the simple cataloging numbers. The medium is unknown but I can live with that. The dates of the actual work are unclear and I only provide the year in which the image was uploaded to her Flickr page. And as far as I can tell, that is the only place to see her work, which is not only very good, it appears to be getting better all the time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jens hesse

"Swimming Horse"  120 x 86cm  oil on canvas  2010

"Tell Me!"  120 x 73cm  oil on corduroy  2010

"Grassland"  155 x 100cm  oil and gesso on corduroy  2010

"Pope 2"  40 x 50cm  oil on corduroy  2010

"Woman on TV screen"  130 x 75cm  oil and acrylic on corduroy  2010

A long time ago I used to watch the erratic behavior of the signals on my old analog television set and wonder, why doesn't someone apply a photo-realist approach to that! For years I was convinced that someone somewhere ought to be doing something along those lines but as far as I could tell no one was (of course in a world of 7 billion people you can be sure that someone is doing it, no matter what it is). But now I know someone is. That someone is Jens Hesse, (a German born artist currently living and working in Antwerp, Belgium). He has taken this basic idea and run with it in multiple directions, applying photo-realism to multiple kinds of image distortion through both analog and digital means all incorporating a certain degree of randomness. The result is an eerily familiar reflection of our real life experience in a media saturated world. He occasionally uses subject matter that stands in direct comparison to famous images from art history. His paintings of the pope recall the horrifically distorted image by Francis Bacon which was in turn a direct reference to Velazquez. It's a bold comparison to make but this approach to image interpretation certainly has it points to make. How do we see the world when we spend as much time looking at subtly and not so subtly distorted lo-resolution interpretations of it as we do looking at the world itself?
You can see more work at: www.jenshesse.com

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Laura Bifano

from "Menagerie" a series of 10 polygonal animal paintings inspired by a love of nature and classic video games.

from "Menagerie" a series of 10 polygonal animal paintings inspired by a love of nature and classic video games.

“It would seem Sir, that we are at an impasse.”

"The Erl King" oil on canvas


"Lotus Eater"

Laura Bifano is another illustrator who does a lot of "personal work". Assignments for illustrators often produce work that is chained too much to the editorial content to really express the artit's personal vision. They itch to express themselves more freely, even when there is no guarantee of any financial gain. One could hope that her career follows a trajectory to encourage more of it. Her series, "Menagerie" consists of ten paintings of animals comprised of large blocks reminiscent of old-fashioned video games, but rendered consistently with her delicately textured realism. It is this pairing between realism and stylized design that really defines her best work (a not uncommon combination employed by fine artists like Gustav Klimt and other illustrators like Leo & Diane Dillon). She fits nicely into the contemporary art movement called pop-surrealism but like any of the best of that movement's practitioners, her imagery stands out mostly as being very much her own.
Check out her website: www.laurabifano.com
I came across her work through www.artistaday.com

Monday, August 8, 2011

Brad Nelson

Even Mountains Cast Shadows #11  48x60 in  oil on canvas  2011

Even Mountains Cast Shadows #3 26x34"  oil on canvas  2010

Even Mountains Cast Shadows #10  48 x 60 in.  oil on canvas  2011

I Breathe Your Breath (Title Piece) - Detail

I Breathe Your Breath (Title Piece)  18x24"  oil on canvas  2009

Bed Blown Bare  30x84"  oil on canvas  2007

Brad Nelson's work bridges an interesting divide between realist representational painting and more modernist conceptual approaches to art. He has on his website (brad-nelson.net) five distinct bodies of work represented. The most recent is entitled "Even Mountains Cast Shadows" in which he deals with the deceptive nature of space in relative terms of scale. It is difficult to say if these represent strange mountain ranges or crumbling bits of plaster. Using incongruous color schemes and no reference for size we are left in doubt. His stated intention is that these images also operate as metaphors for scales in time as well, in which we might question the influence of historical belief systems on our own lives. Whether or not such ideas can be evoked in this manner, the images are intriguing enough for us to at least ask questions concerning their intent, providing the opportunity for the artist to make his case. Take the time to look through it all and make up your own mind. For my part I'm sold enough to want to see where he takes it next.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kurt Solmssen

Flat Bottom Skiff
"Flat Bottom Skiff"  Kurt Solmssen, oil on linen, 50 x 60 inches, 2005
"Sunshine beach House", oil on canvas, 46" x 62", 2010
"Las Nina", oil on canvas, 50" x70", 2008

Snow on 7th St.
"Snow on 7th St.", oil on linen, 26 x36 inches, copyright ©2011

"Yellow Boat Evening", oil on canvas, 50 x 50", 2009

Like the artist in my previous post (William Elston), Kurt Solmssen is a member of the Northwest Figurative Artists' Alliance, a group of like minded painters who insist on the relevance of figurative and realist image making in the face of the contemporary art scene's dismissive ambivalence. While much of my posts are focused on more narrative imagery, with occasional forays into the conceptual and abstract, I will always harbor a soft spot for those who are able to master the elegant craftsmanship of simply depicting the world around them. Kurt Solmssen's work in particular can be described as both elegant and simple. The simplicity is deceptive. The ability to capture light, composition and mood so breathtakingly with such seemingly rapid gestural brushwork is not a mere matter of quick sketching but the obvious evidence of long years of practice.

You can see more of his work through the link above, or at his website: www.kurtsolmssen.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

William E. Elston

"View from the Temple at Asakusa"  oil on canvas  30X40 inches  2006
"View From Sauvie Island Bridge II"  oil on canvas  48X72 inches  2006

"Chi-town"  oil on canvas  21X30 inches  copyright   1991
"Elliott Bay with View of Alki Point"  oil on canvas  82X110 inches  1989
"Tramp Steamer"  oil on canvas  36X36 inches  2006

Painting in this mode, a very traditional academic approach, presents both an exceptional challenge and certain benefits. The benefit is that it is a style so firmly entrenched in our cultural understanding of what a painting is, that it has a very broad and immediate appeal. To put it more bluntly, it's marketable. But for those very reasons, the world is flooded with it. Most of the artists who contribute to that flood have not nearly the level of skill that William E. Elston displays here. It can be a difficult task trying to bring quality and nuance to a field saturated with mediocrity. But artists like Mr. Elston as well as many of his peers, do it not for the money (which under even the best of circumstances usually ain't all that) but for the love of doing it. There is a real passion on display here, for simply going out, looking carefully at the ordinary world around us, seeing how extraordinary it actually is, and trying to capture some sense of that with paint and brush. Nothing truly meaningful in art ever goes away, despite the art world's obsession with the new. It gives me a certain amount of comfort to know that, despite the wild fluctuations of contemporary art trends, there are practitioners of more traditional approaches out there who take it every bit as seriously.
You can see more of his work, a lot more, at www.elston.net.
Mr. Elston, who lives in my neck of the world (The Pacific Northwest of the U.S.) also works on a blog/website for the Northwest Figurative Artists' Alliance where you can see work by other like minded talent.