Last week saw the launch of the National Portrait Gallery’s new major exhibition, Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends. This exhibition focuses on John Singer Sargent’s more personal and experimental paintings. Portraits of prominent actors, writers and musicians of the day. Many of whom were his close friends, including sculptor Auguste Rodin, artists Claude Monet and writer Robert Louis Stevenson.
This major exhibition of over seventy portraits spans Sargent’s time in London, Paris, Boston and New York as well as his travels in the Italian and English countryside. Important loans from galleries and private collections in Europe and America make this an unmissable opportunity to discover the artist’s most daring, personal and distinctive portraits.
As an extra treat, throughout the exhibition’s run, it will be accompanied by a range of events including lectures and life drawing.
Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends is on now and will be concluding on the 25th of May. This is without doubt a must-see exhibition. I highly recommend, if you can, that you make time to go see it.
Presenting the beautiful background art of Amanda Winterstein. A graduate of California Institute of the Arts, more informal known as CalArts. She cut her teeth at animation studio Divide Nine before going on to become a designer for late-night Fox animated series Friends Night ADHD. Winterstein has now found a home at Cartoon Network working as a background painter on their popular series Steven Universe.
Winterstein’s work for both Steven Universe and much of her previous work use soft pastel tones to great effect. Harmonising colours to create relaxed airy environments. Her paintings often mimic watercolours which help add to their calming appeal.
Pop over to Amanda Winterstein’s tumblr to see more Steven Universe backgrounds and more of her personal artwork.
Amid much of Paul César Helleu’s lifetime he was famous on both sides of the Atlantic. His artistry was praised by fellow impressionist painters Manet, Monet and Renoir. Yet, his name seems is less widely known to the public today.
Helleu was an exceptional oil painter, a skilled draftsman adept in pastel and maestro of drypoint. He was an influential part of the Impressionist movement, who created many still lifes, landscapes and portraits, most famously of beautiful society women of the Belle Époque.
Born 1859 in Vannes, Brittany, France. Helleu went to Paris to begin his academic training in art. At age 16, he was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts where he studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme. Attending an Impressionist exhibition he met artist John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, and Claude Monet for the first time. The showcased works were modern, employing the bold alla prima technique. All of which made a lasting impact on Helleu.
After graduating, in order to make some money, Helleu started working for Théodore Deck hand-painting fine decorative plates. All the while Helleu was becoming more and more discourage. He had not sold a single painting and was on the verge of abandoning his studies. Upon hearing this, his now close friend, John Singer Sargent went to Helleu, priased his techniques and bought a one of his pieces for a thousand-franc note.
In typical artist fashion, after being commissioned to paint a young socialite named Alice Guèrin, Helleu feel in love with her and two years later they were married. They became part of French social elites, and Guèrin would introduce Helleu to many aristocratic circles of Paris.
In 1885, on a trip to London, Helleu was introduction to James Jacques Tissot. This meeting opened up Helleu’s eyes to the possibilities of drypoint etching with a diamond point stylus directly on a copper plate. Embracing this technique wholly, Helleu would apply his same dynamic pastel style to his etching. His prints were very popular, with the advantage to create several proofs, people would often give them to friends and relatives as gifts. Over the course of his career, Helleu produced more than 2,000 drypoint prints.
In 1920 Helleu exhibited his work in New York City, but the experience brought a sudden realization for him that the Belle Époque was over. Helleu felt that his had lost touch and after his return to France he destroyed nearly all of his copper plates. However, a few years later he started planning a new exhibition with Jean-Louis Forain. Sadly the exhibition never came to fruition when in 1927 Helleu died.
There is a few places you can find out more about Paul César Helleu, a nice collection of his work and more information can be found here and here. There is also a beautiful book of his work by Frederique de Watrigant both in English and French.
We have a real mixed bag of styles and media from today’s feature, Ewa Ludwiczak. Born in Poland and currently living in Berlin, Ms Ludwiczak is a freelance illustrator specialising in tradition materials, in particular watercolours.
Ms Ludwiczak has illustrated various children’s books but has an obvious keenness towards fairy tales. Recently she has been showcasing a lot of portraiture and figures drawing on her Facebook page. The figures themselves sit still as a mouse, as she using watercolours to create loose and expressive imagery with splashes, drips, and small dabs of bold colours. They are beautiful and a delightful progression of her work.
Based in Rome, Italy, Daniela Volpari is a freelance art director and children’s book illustrator. She graduated in 2009 from the Scuola Internazionale di Comics (International School of Comics), which is quite possibly the best school I have ever heard of. Ms Volpari landed her first published work the very same year creating editorial illustrations for Un duetreStella and Grazia. Also in the same busy year publishers Paramica released a children’s book based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème, retold by Fbrizio Silei and beautifully illustrated by Ms Volpari. Since then Ms Volpari has work consistently. She has received multiple awards and regularly exhibits her work at Gallery Nucleus, most recently taking part in the Imaginary Friends event.
Ms Volpari’s gouache paintings are warm and playful. They are harmonious in tone but often dynamic in composition. I particularly love her illustrations for Oliver Twist. They have a very “Illustrator’s Lounge” feel to me, that may just be because of all the top hats. You can find Daniela Volpari on twitter, facebook, and etsy, and find more of her work on her website and blog.