Ugh, after all the holiday eating I've been doing, I should
probably go exercise or run laps. But as a warm up I thought I would talk about
physicality, power, and movement in oil painting. Maybe this'll be the
inspiration I need to get off my duff and workout. Or maybe not.
First of all, I maintain that physical force in a fine art
oil painting doesn't have to be interpreted literally with bulging muscles and
sweating brow. Degas' dancers are often presented at rest or stretching and
this still implies physical action without being overt. And even in the
paintings that show more activity, a mere extension of the arms or an arched
back is all that is needed to convey the movement.
|Dancers by Edgar Degas,
1899, pastel painting.
||Two Dancers in Blue by Edgar Degas,
1899, pastel painting.
Sometimes the energy and spirit of a sporting event isn't
about the athletes' prowess as much as the spectacle of it all. Tafa, a
Harlem-based contemporary artist, conveys the frenzied liveliness of big-time
basketball games through the crowds that surround the court--the players are all
but specks. Every time I look at his oil painting, Game 7, it is almost as if I can hear the roar of the fans. And the
way the paint is dabbed on in varied colors that get lighter toward the center
of the painting makes me feel like I'm being pulled into the action.
|Game 7 (Just Like Nike series) by Tafa,
oil on canvas, 56 x 68.
Yet there will always be a place for painting the human
figure pushing its physical limits. From George Bellows' boxers to Steve Huston's
work, which features men at peak condition doing physical labor, the ways in
which the body can be displayed with a sense of motion have been around for
generations. What unites all successful paintings of this kind is that the
artists evaluate the body as a composition in itself---with limbs positioned with
a sense of direction and dynamism.
|Stag at Sharkey's by George Bellows,
1909, oil on canvas, 92cm x 122.6cm.
||Grabbing Hold by Steve Huston,
2009, oil painting, 20 x 16.
To celebrate how thankful we are to have you as
part of our Artist Daily community, we are having a holiday sale right now on
our back issue magazines, such as Drawing
Spring 2010, which discusses how to draw the core figure with power and
accuracy, or Workshop Fall 2009,
which has an article from Steve Huston about the shapes, patterns, and
relationships he sees when painting the figure. These are the resources that actually
inspired today's newsletter--and you can get them in their entirety. Plus you
get free shipping on all orders. Enjoy!