It is always a great joy to be inspired by new art and artists, especially when the artist in question is Frank Duveneck. For someone who studied art and art history for years, it is baffling how Duveneck’s art has largely eluded me. A charismatic teacher, Frank Duveneck inspired generations of great students including John W. Twachtman, Robert F. Blum and Kenyon Cox and helped usher in a new movement of art, characterized by a greater freedom of paint application.
As I walked the hallways of the Cincinnati Wing at the Cincinnati Art Museum, I was struck by the bold use of brushwork by an artist, who Henry James described as “an unsuspected man of genius”. In front of me hung an austerely emotional portrait “Guard of the Harem” ca. 1880.
Gazing upon this large masterpiece, I could not help but be transported if only vicariously to some far of exotic world. The model sits proudly, exuding confidence and danger, transcended well through Duveneck’s use of bold, dark and direct style of painting. Much of Frank Duveneck’s work, inspired by his years studying the Dusseldorf style of painting, is characterized with a rick dark palette and assertive paint laden brushwork. “The good people of Boston have recently been flattering themselves that they have discovered an American Valasquez” wrote Henry James in 1875.
The “Guard of the Harem” spoke to me on so many levels, not least of which was that it was unfinished. In fact, a lot of Duveneck’s work was left unfinished; leaving us wonderful examples of artist’s working methods. Much of Frank’s painting layers were kept loose. From his underpainting, gestural drawing to final model rendering, every brush mark seems calculated. Looking at the following two portraits, an astute art mind would say that the artist communicated all with the given brush marks and as thus the paintings are complete.
One can say that they are unfinished and yet providing everything we need to know. I discuss ways to establish centers of interest and rendering it in as few strokes as possible in my “Creative Artist” series.
Frank Duveneck’s art whether in his early dark color and somber lighting years or later with brighter more direct painting application, was always characterized with virtuosic brush control. I encourage everyone to view Frank Duveneck’s full gallery of work and acquaint oneself with his painting methodology. Or better yet go a view his work in person.
Getting ready to complete a 34″ x 26″ oil on canvas piece titled
As I drove home one evening, I was really struck with the bold and stark highway overpass, directly in front of me. The scene presented a pleasing notan composition, that I always find compelling to paint. Details of some of the “gooey” brusk work can be seen in the image 2.
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Having just returned from Cincinnati’s historic Eisele Gallery, where I was thankful for being invited to exhibit amongst other dignified artists, here are my impressions and highlights.
Firstly, our organizers OPA were very gracious and welcoming, and I would like to thank them for a successful event. I would also like to thank our sponsors and the hosts at the gallery for a wonderful turnout. Besides a successful opening night, all artists and collectors alike were treated to a painting demonstration by the Juror of Awards Carolyn Lewis. This was followed by a plain air painting outing at a charming village of Mariemont.
The goal for this year’s Eastern Regional was to assemble the finest display of representational oil paintings. The works from United States and Canada exemplified the highest quality in draftsmanship, color and composition.The awards were handed out that totaled in excess of $15,000 this year. Congratulations to the winners. Here are the winners along with some other pieces that I feel worth mentioning.
-Although not necessary, heavy duty canvas stretching pliers
-Canvas (not pictured) Stretcher bars (not pictured)
Most art supplies stores will carry the materials needed for this project. I am using gallery sized stretcher bars along with an oil primed 12 ounce cotton canvas, that has been cut 2″ larger then the frame. In an upcoming article I will discuss ways in which I size and prime all my canvases.
Note: Make sure to check that all of the corners of the assembled frame make right angles. Double check by measuring the length diagonally across the frame. Also if you are using stretcher bars greater then 24″ by 24″, cross support bar is recommended to strengthen the frame.
Lay your pre assembled bars down over the canvas, with the painting side facing down. Secure 4 staples in opposite bars, pulling the canvas tight.
Now add 3 to 4 more staples to each of the 4 stretcher bars, working in opposite direction. Pull the canvas evenly and firmly, and secure staples opposite each other, so that consistent straining is attained without wrinkling the fiber. Use canvas pliers to pull the cloth tight around the frame or just do as best as you can with your hands.
Repeat the process working your way around the whole canvas, leaving 3″ to the corners. The staples should be about 2″ apart and evenly spaced as shown. When working the sides of the canvas, apply the staples systematically, keeping each side in step and tight against the other.
The corners always pose the greatest difficulty to most people, so here’s an easy way to handle them as I was taught in art school. Because there is usually excess canvas bulk in the corners, use your scissors to cut an inch or so from all 4 corners. This will ensure a tighter and a cleaner corner.
The corners should always be finished of neatly as it will make for easier framing. Create a dimple in the corners so that the flaps fold parallel to the stretcher bars. Pull tightly and apply a few staples. Repeat for all four corners. If necessary use the hammer to drive the staples into the frame all around (in case you did not staple them all the way). You’re done and ready to paint.
Here is what the corners look like once completed:
Stretching your own canvas is really easy, once you get a hang of it. Please note that the steps described here are for a pre primed canvas. If a glue size is to be applied after stretching, the canvas should be taut but not as tight as a drum to allow for shrinkage. This gives you some idea on what it takes to stretch your own canvases. If you have any questions or comments send me a word. Happy painting.