Friday, 28 August 2009

By the Lez river - watercolour

This a watercolour was done in plein air, by the river Lez. Under the cover of the trees, the summer temperature was bearable.

Near the Lez river - watercolour by Benoit Philippe

Monday, 24 August 2009

A welcoming door - watercolour

At the beginning of August, we spent ten days or so in the South of France, near Montpellier. It was great, even if I did not get to paint a lot. I managed two watercolours and this is one of them.

In the morning, the front door of the house was gently lit by the sun. By 10:00 am, it was too hot to stay in the sun and the intense light was just flatening all colours.

A welcoming door - watercolour by Benoit Philippe

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Mucha exhibition – Fabre Museum Montpellier (France)

While in Montpellier, I visited the Mucha exhibition.

The Czech painter Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) was a very popular Art Nouveau artist. Mucha applied to join the Prague Academy of Fine Arts but was turned down. He studied in Munich and then in Paris (Académie Julian and then Académie Colarossi), and at one point he shared his studio with Gauguin.

The exhibition shows numerous illustrations by Mucha, the famous posters he did for the French actress Sarah Bernhardt as well as posters and illustrations for a number of brands of alcohol, cigarettes and other goods. Are also on show some jewellery, pieces of furniture and pastels. The exhibition also features the complete full scale reconstruction of the interior decoration of the Bosnia-Herzegovina pavilion commissioned to the artists for the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition.

At the end of the exhibition are displayed two large panels from the Slav Epic, a gigantic scale work painted using the tempera technique.

The commentary in the exhibition quotes the artist as saying, at the end of his life: “I was happy to be engaged in an art for the people and not for the closed Salons. It was cheap, accessible to all and belonging as much to the wealthy families as to poor families.” (Mucha, Life and Art – 1966)

Mucha’s works are a mix of geometric and organic patterns, characteristic of the Art Nouveau movement. Women are a central subject in his work and mythology is never far away.

If he was living now, Mucha would create some elaborate comics. In fact, his book illustrations around the Slav mythology are really close to comics and contemporary comic artists such as the genius Enki Bilal have certainly been influenced by Mucha.

Exhibition details

Exhibition Alfons Mucha (1860-1939)

20 June 2009 - 20 September 2009. The exhibition will be open everyday from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. except for Wednesdays, which opening hours are from 1:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

More about Mucha

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Monday, 10 August 2009

Boats in Honfleur - second session

Back in May, I did a post titled Boats in Honfleur - first session. I stopped the session at a point where the work with painting knifes was becoming difficult. I gave this painting a rest and only re-worked it recently. Here is the final painting.

Boats in Honfleur - Oil on canvas (12" x 10") by Benoit Philippe

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Left-handed Conjecture

I am left-handed; so I speak from personal experience. However, what I am about to describe works for left handed and right handed (but in reverse).

It is a conjecture because I do not have any statistical data to back-up what I am about to say and I did not had the chance or the time to test this idea against paintings from the masters.

Left handed conjecture: Left handed drawers and painters will have a natural tendancy to represent portraits looking towards the right. It would be the reverse for right-handed artists.

This would make sense anatomically because if you use your wrist as a pivot, it is much easier to trace a convex curves than a concave one. Therefore, it is easier for a left-handed person to trace the main curves of a portrait (the nose, the side of the face) if the model is looking to the right.

If this is correct, you should be able to predict if an artist is left-handed or right-handed by studying the orientation of the composition in a significant number of her or his works.