Month: March 2014

Sketches from SAM and Frye

My classmates and I visited museums to study baroque and neoclassical paintings. For me, it’s more like having fun than serious study.

We sketched several thumbnails for those paintings. I have to say that only by sketching can you notice how they made decisions of assigning light and dark to a picture. There’re many paintings I haven’t seen before, and they give me inspirations to make new things. And the paintings look much better than those images on the internet. Study with physical materials always give me surprise.


“Saint Augustine in Ecstasy”. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
c. 1665-75.Oil on Canvas.


My favorite part of “Saint Augustine in Ecstasy”


The Virgin Presenting the Rosary to Saint Dominic. Georges de la Tour.
Oil on canvas. 123.8 x 108.6 cm. Seattle Art Museum.


The Shepherdess, William Adolphe Bouguereau.
1873 165.1×87.6cm


Part of The Shepherdess.
This is a photo I took. Much better than the upper images! And the real painting is even more fabulous!

It’s very convenient to sketch in a museum. The only shortage is there’s no color.

My sketch book:





Romantic art starts in the middle 18th century. It’s more about expressing personal feelings such as pursuing of liberty, not the eternity which neoclassicism focuses on. Painters put their attention on people’s emotions, not the form of their bodies. The pictures are often imaginations of the painter, not life observations. Topics are usually about sex, death and violence, which is totally different from neoclassical aesthetic.


The Nude Maja (La maja desnuda), Francisco Goya.
1797–1800, 3′ 2″ x 6′ 3″, Oil on canvas.

Maja ubrana

The Clothed Maja, Francisco Goya.
1798–1805, 3′ 2″ x 6′ 3″, Oil on canvas.

Composition: There’s a woman lying in the picture diagonally.

Value:  Light is focused on her and the background is dark. There’s not much effort on the values of the body forms. Instead, the painter uses value to pop out the figure. For example, her hair is almost flat black and her face is so white. Her eyebrows and dark eyes are so black that pops out her flirting look.

Color: In the Nude Maja, the bluish green sofa makes her ivory body even more attractive. Pillows are light lilac and back walls are brown, they are both desaturaed. In the Clothed Maja, Colors are more saturated. She wears a yellow jacket, and she has a pink skin, these saturated colors drag our eyes to her face. And generally colors are warmer than in the Nude Maja. The sofa became grass green; the light is so warm that makes her white clothes a bit yellow.

Texture/ Patterns: There’s little effort on texture. We can tell some clothes are slick and some are a bit fury. Different from neoclassical paintings, we can hardly see the difference between the textures of her skin and hairs. Overall the painting is rough, no elaborate contours can be found. There’re also some rough patterns on her yellow clothes and the laces of pillows. They are not the interesting point of the painter.




Color thumbnails:

Francisco Goya-22228

A Village Bullfight, Francisco Goya.
1812-14. Oil on panel, 45 x 72 cm


Portrait of Victor Guye, Francisco Goya.
1810, Oil on canvas, 104,5 x 83,5 cm.


Neoclassical period starts at the early 18th century. After the solemn Baroque and frivolous Rococo, people calm down and come back to the modest classical style. Neoclassical artists are imitating the way of creating ancient Greek and Roman art, but they are more sophisticated in skill than ancient artists. There’re several obvious features of Neoclassical art: 1. Serious topics such as history or significant actual stories. Neoclassism is about rationality not sensitivity. 2. Balanced and integral compositions. 3. Clear edges and strict values. Characters look firm and sound in paintings. But they don’t care much about colors and hue. 4. Make the aesthetic more realistic, which is different from Greek or Roman art.

Madame Moitessier Seated, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. 1856. Oil on canvas, 120 x 92cm.
Composition: A maam sits in the middle of the picture. There’s a space around her except the bottom. Her dress fills the bottom of the picture. This is a integral, calm and peaceful composition.
Value: There’re lots of subtle changes on the character, but the painter controlled very well. The hair is generally dark and the skin is light. There are sharp changes on the dress which shows the texture just right. Overall, the value is rigorous.
Lines: Everything has a clear contour.
Patterns and Textures: Patterns are elaborately painted on the dress, furniture, and accessories. So are the textures of skin, clothes, gems, metal… and everything.
Colors: Actually there’re lots of colors in the picture.  However, there’s no clear cold or warm between light and dark. In other words, they are solid and realistic without personal imagination.
Here’s my Neoclassical version of Alice in Wonderland:
neoclassical alice 1
neoclassical alice
There’re something that is NOT Neoclassical in this painting:
The composition is pretty modern, because I always hope this painting can be used as wallpaper. The background is very flat, which is not Neoclassical, either. The flowers have some light and shade, but they’re not totally finished yet.
portrait-of-madame-moitessier-standing (1)

Portrait of Madame Moitessier Standing, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1851. Oil on canvas, 146.7 x 100.3 cm.

Here’s my Neoclassical painting of Zahra:

The Coronation of Napoleon, Jacques-Louis David. December 21, 1805–November 1807. Oil on canvas. 6.21 m × 9.79 m.


The Virgin of the Host – Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1866