Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yet more Homer watercolors.

Images from the athenaeum.org

Here are a few of the watercolors from Homers trips to the Bahamas. Notice the serpentine design in this one. from the lower right corner the seaweed runs back to our drowned mariner and then continues into the distance. It straps the whole painting together. The dark cloud counteracts the downward slope of the beach below it. A lot of white paper is left in this one to make it very high key. The intense glare of the tropical light is all through these Bahamas pictures. The New England pictures are in a totally different key and run towards grays and earth colors.

Here is another example of that "glare". Homers watercolors are the model for generations of watercolorists yet to come who worked the high key glare of the white paper to advantage and then to death. Most of the galleries I am in show no watercolors. The market just doesn't seem to want them, at least here in New England. Its all oils here. This started about 20 years ago. Before that watercolor was huge. I think it was done by so many amateurs using tricks and the same tired formulas that the whole medium fell into disrepute. It will of course return gain, I am sure this is cyclical.

Here's another, the red and black at the subject is a visual climax, that is, the brightest color and darkest value and lightest lights are all clustered at the artists core subject matter. What a nice effect that jib has. That was certainly done from observation.

Here is another that is almost certainly done on location and one shot.

Here is a sporting picture probably from the Adirondacks. An avid hunter and fisherman, Homer traveled to, and stayed at private sportsman's clubs, I suspect this is from one of those trips. The water in the foreground reminds me of the technology in a Frederick Waugh. There is so much typical seascape method in this, yet it is almost never in his seascapes. Odd.

The tangle of roots up against the sky is so stylish. It looks a little like a Burchfield or some 30's painter. This is a daring design and must also have been done from nature.Tomorrow or the next night I am going to speculate a little on Homers working methods and I still have a series of Fishermans wives paintings that I would like to show, So a little more Homer and then on to some new topic. I have several in mind.

7 comments:

Teresa J said...

Thank you for these wonderful art lessons on Homer. I am not a watercolorist, but the design work and your teaching when pointing out the designs are wonderful lessons for me. I have enjoyed spending time reviewing the paintings and your narration of them. I really love the depth of Homers work. i would like to see continued posts like this reviewing the work of other master artists also.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Speaking of Burchfield, here is a link to a slideshow of some of his work, put up by The New Yorker this week:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/multimedia/2010/07/05/100705_audioslideshow_burchfield

asdas said...

Quality is better than quantity.....................................................................

Stapleton Kearns said...

Teresa:
Check in my archives, there is loads of art historical stuff. A long run on Inness.
...................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Michael;
Thanks for the link.
...................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

asdas:
Quanity has a quality all its own.
-Joseph Stalin

Peter Hemmer said...

Thanks for the Home(r) run. His mastery of design and watercolor medium is amazing. I have the 4th image down in this post as my computer desktop. By the look of the clouds and the saturation of color in the foreground,it appears that a rain shower has just passed through with the sun breaking thru the clouds. This effect lights up the sailboat, overexposing it and fuzzing the edge, making it the only pure white in the painting. I imagine him squinting while painting it beacuse the bright white would make it hard to look at in a low light situation. Awesome!