Aug 022009
 

(Hint: Click on any of the images to enlarge them.)

In a color demonstration from a photograph, Lynn showed us how she delineates the basic contours of her subject, creates the “bug line,” where the light striking the curved surface divides the image into light and dark parts, blocks in the light and dark, then begins to lay in the relative tones of light and dark with the approximate colors. She checks her drawing regularly to make sure her proportions are correct and the shapes of light and darkness are correct. Sometimes, it is useful to look at the image upside down in order to “see abstractly.”

On Thursday evening, the night the Minneapolis Art Institute stays open until 9:00, we went to see an exhibit of William Holman Hunt paintings. Hunt was one of the three original members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood or PRB. I was so excited to hear his paintings were in Minneapolis that I could barely contain myself until Thursday. I have been a Pre-Raphaelite junky since I bought a poster of Waterhouse’s Lady of Shalott in college. (It is still probably my favorite painting in all the world and I still have it up in my bedroom.) Pre-Raphaelite paintings are not easy to see unless one travels to England, where they are scattered about with the greatest concentration being at the Tate Gallery. I have known these paintings for years, but many of them I have not seen in person. Among the paintings available for viewing until September 6, are Hunt’s The Lady of Shalott, The Awakening Conscience, Jesus Found by His Parents in the Temple, the sheep painting (for want of its real title) that I had pasted in the cover of my Far From the Madding Crowd, Il Dolce Far Niente, for which his mistress Annie Miller (ironically also the model for The Awakened Concscience) originally posed, over which he painted the “coloration” and features of his wife, Fanny (mmmmmmmm….She still looks more like Annie Miller to me), The Flight of Madeline and Porphyro from Keats’ Eve of St. Agnes, Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus from Shakepeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona, this one, the title of which I can’t remember, but that lace on the dress is beyond belief! and The Boy’s Choir Singing from Magdalen Tower on May Day Morning.

The PRB originally exhibited in 1851 and were roundly condemned. Their work, painstakingly copied from nature was painted into a wet white ground with small brushes, one square at a time, in imitation of fresco paintings. The colors are brilliant. Some of these huge paintings were painted en plein aire! It’s difficult to imagine setting up so huge a canvas outdoors and not having it blown over by the wind. One of the other founding members, John Everett Millais, always my favorite, eventually gave up this painting method, but Hunt persisted throughout his life. I do believe the flora of Millais’ painting of Ophelia was painted outdoors. His model, Lizzie Siddell, floated in a vat of water warmed only by candles burning underneath for hours while Millais painted her. Little wonder she later died of consumption. The incredible vibrance of their frescoesque technique shows in Millais’ paintings of Marianne and Christ in the House of his Parents.

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