Here is our Parisian Seago again. I would like you to notice a few different things about it. First is the extreme velocity of the painting. It is LOOSE, this is not a small painting and it looks loose shrunk down to the size of a playing card.This painting is also colored almost entirely with shades of ochre and earth reds. Even the sky was pre painted in the warm ochery color and then the blue was thrown down into that. Then the decorative accents are applied on top of that foundation. One of these accents is of course that marvelous red awning. That was painted with vermilion, which is a lovely mercury based red. It is also extremely poisonous. When I learned to paint in the Gammell studios in the early 1970s it was still in common use, at least, by traditional painters. It w s often used by portrait painters as a color for the lips and cheeks of the maidens with which that age seemed so well supplied. I don't believe they make maidens any more. Today we would probably use cadmium red light instead. That's a hotter color than you'd use on a maiden, I think.
The painting is full of lines that direct the viewer in and to the "punchline" area of the painting. The red awning attracts our attention, but notice also the negative shape formed by the light to its left. It is, like the awning, a big arrow shape directing you deep into the picture. Seago reaches out and grabs you by the hair and drags you into this painting.
Here's another device Seago is using. Its called the string of pearls. Look at this, and compare it with the unaltered image at the top of the page.
Seago has arranged all of this interesting stuff, those little people and umbrellas and white dots along a horizontal line across the middle of his canvas. This makes a sort of decorated band. Which is like.....a string of pearls. Watch for this , you will see this device used routinely not just in the work of Edward Seapo but in lots of other landscape painters work as well. I believe I will throw an old Dutch painting at you with a string of pearls . Here's our old friend Jan Van Goyen, stringing some pearls 300 years earlier.
Seago lived in a lowland marshy area of England that was a lot like the lowlands countries. It was logical for Seago to model some of what he did on the little Dutch masters. He was routinely confronted with the same sort of painting problems.
Above is a simplified view of the darks in the painting. For the most part they are all linked as I have discussed in a previous post. This linking of the darks transforms many small "busy" shapes into a few large decorative ones. There is a strange sort of repeat relationship between the white awning on the far right hand side of the picture and the negative shape of the sky to the left of the red awning.I believe this is a rhythmic device, as it seems too planned looking to have just happened. Very little in the art of someone at Seagos level happens by accident. In fact I think I will now repeat one of the mantras of this blog which is:
NOTHING GOOD GETS INTO A PICTURE BY ACCIDENT.
There are now two available books on Seago,
Both are full of exclellent color reproductions, and are available from Amazon.
Tomorrow I will lecture on counterchange. That is a great way to make a picture dynamic, rather than a static.
I am going to do another critique of a readers image, so please send me an image of something you have made, I will probably choose a landscape, but not necessarily, lets see what you've got. You can send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will photoshop your signature off of the piece and I will tell no one whose work I am critiquing.