Thursday, 30 December 2010

6 ways your image manipulation software can help you judge your work

By the time we have finished a painting, we spent so much time looking at it that it becomes difficult to judge it.

You need to put some distance between you and your work. One way to do this consists in taking a photograph of the work. Picasso once told Brassaï: "It’s strange indeed, but it is through your photographs that I can judge my sculptures… Through them I can see my sculptures with a new eye..."

Image manipulation software like Photoshop Element Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 (PC/Mac) or GIMP (a free open source alternative) let you do much more.

1. Watch the photograph of your painting as a thumbnail. This is the equivalent to stepping back from your painting. The minute details disappear and you can check the overall composition.

2. Flip the image horizontally. This is like looking at your painting into a mirror. If the vertical elements have a slant, you will see it immediately.

3. Make a black and white copy of the photograph of your work. This way you can check values. If you took a reference photograph of your subject, you can also turn it into a black and white photograph in order to compare the value range on both photographs.

4. Convert your picture to pure black and white. Turn the black and white photograph of your painting into a notan by pushing the contrast. In Photoshop, use the “Threshold” filter in the Image/Adjustments menu. Mid-tones disappear and you are left with pure light (in white) and pure dark (in black). This way you can judge the balance between large planes of light and dark areas. This contrast dictates how well the painting will stand when looked at from a distance.

5. Frame your work. Adding a frame to your work changes the way it looks. It is easy to add a “virtual frame” to your painting. The first way to do this in Photoshop is just to create a rectangle slightly larger than your work and to put the cropped photograph of your work on top of it. Then try different colour (black, brown, gold, etc.) for the rectangle so that it complements or contrasts with the painting. You could also photograph one of the real frames in your stock, extract the frame from the picture and copy it onto a transparent background, so that you can put it on top of the photographs of your paintings.

6. Hang your work amongst masterpieces. A painting may look good on its own and look different when surrounded by other paintings in an exhibition. You can create a virtual gallery of paintings you like with an empty space left to hang your own painting. Wikimedia Commons will give you a choice of images of works by past masters to copy into your virtual gallery.

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Monday, 27 December 2010

Moebius Transe Forme exhibition (Paris – France)

The Fondation Cartier in Paris (France) exhibits Moebius work until March 13, 2011. The theme of the exhibition is transformation or metamorphosis. The artist’s science fiction work, in particular, shows morphing worlds where characters dissolve into their universe.

There is a long tradition of “bande dessinée” (comic strips) in France with a multitude of authors. Jean Giraud is a prolific author and uses various styles. Under the name or Gir (Short for “Giraud”), he created with Jean-Michel Charlier the series Blueberry, the story of a cowboy in the Wild West.

He also developed some science fiction stories under the alias Mœbius. He took this alias after the famous Moebius strip and explained: “Going from Giraud to Moebius, I warped the strip, changed dimension. I was the same and I was different. Moebius is the result of my duality.” this strange one sided volume. These science fiction comic strips have a surrealist touch. The artist uses his exuberant imagination to create poetic and strange parallel universes. He published Arzach in1976 and Le Garage hermétique in 1979. In 1980, he collaborated with Alexandro Jodorowsky on a new series titled L’Incal.

Giraud also collaborated on a number of movies, like Alien, Tron or Besson’s “The Fifth Element”, for which he created the Diva character.

The exhibition features many original ink drawings from Blueberry as well as science fiction works, in black and white and colour. A master of the line drawing, Giraud’s technique is reminiscent of Albrecht Dürer. Some of the paintings in ink or acrylic have a luminescent quality, with a great attention to details.

Visitors will also watch “La planète Encore”, an eight minutes animation 3D movie co-created by Geoffrey Niquet and Moebius, and travel even further inside the artist’s unique world.

Discovering Moebius
Practical information

Moebius Transe Forme
12 October 2010 to 13 March 2011
Fondation Cartier
261 Boulevard Raspail
75014 Paris, France

Monday, 20 December 2010

Travel sketches

The Channel crossing from Dover (England) to Calais (France) gave me an opportunity to sketch. I was able to set-up on one of the coffee table in the lounge and make a couple of quick sketches. Drawing is also relaxing after you drove for a few hours on snowy roads.

The advantage of sketching figures on a ferry is that people tend to stay longer in the same place: they sleep, rest, read a book, or check messages on their mobile phones.

This sketch was done with a black Faber Castell PITT artist pen on a Moleskine sketchbook. I tried to add a wash of watercolour, but the paper of the skekchbook is coated and does not take the water. I had to switch to my selection of Faber Castell PITT artist pens to add some colours.

The sketches above and below were done on a different sketchbook (made by Hahnemühle FineArt). It is in a landscape format and the paper, of excellent quality, takes watercolour well. Like Moleskine notebooks, it has an elastic band to close it, a pocket on the inside of the back cover and a bookmark ribbon. I had with me a Sennelier travel box with 12 half-pans of watercolour.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Visual art, not literature

Paul Signac: Portrait of Félix Fénéon , 1890 [Source: Wikimedia]

“En art plastique, la pensée ne vaut rien si la matière est mauvaise et la forme médiocre. C’est l’œil que la peinture doit émouvoir, et non par la littérature des sujets et des titres.”

That can be translated as:

“In visual art, the thought is worth nothing if the texture is bad and the form poor. It is the eye that paintings must move, not the literature of subjects and titles.”

Paul Signac in “The subject in painting”

Monday, 13 December 2010

Autumn walk in Clouts Wood

I have reworked Autumn in Clouts Wood, a painting done on site (see my previous post). I wanted to give it more texture and achieve more definition for some of the threes.

Autumn in Clouts Wood - Oil on canvas panel (6" x 8") by Benoit Philippe

Monday, 6 December 2010

Another try at art exhibitions labels

For my last exhibition, I tried a different way to print my exhibition labels. Instead of using a heavy card, I printed them on paper and then mounted the paper on foam board. The idea is to come closer to the type of labels you see in galleries and museums.

I proceeded this way:

  • Printed all labels using PowerPoint, each label being in a black frame (to make sure they are the same size)
  • Cut the labels leaving a seam
  • Glued the paper on a 2 mm foam board and
  • Cut each label on the foam board with a sharp craft knife, using the black frame as a guide.

The overall result looked good. The labels were light and sturdy and easy to affix to the wall with whitetack . The foam being quite fragile, I had to transport the labels in a plastic sandwich box.

There is still room for improvement:

  • I had to redo some of the labels because the paper was torn away while cutting the label. I found out that the different density of the material caused the issue. The trick was to have a first pass with the blade to cut the paper and then a second pass to cut through the foam.

  • Some labels had a thin black line on some of their sides. I will have to be more careful to cut “inside the line”. Getting rid of the frame would solve the problem, but it would also make more difficult to cut all labels to the same measurement. I should try to print the frames in a very light grey. This way, even if the line appears, it should be almost invisible from afar.

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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Watching The Blind Girl

This is another painting of visitors watching the art in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Watching The Blind Girl – Oil on canvas panel (6” x 8”) by Benoit Philippe

The Blind Girl is a painting by John Everett Millais.