I Am Torn Between Two Men

13 Nov 2012

Granted, this story gets a lot less steamy when I tell you that I'm torn between the work of two oil painting artists, Adolph Menzel and Jonas Lie. I've studied the work of both of these artists on my own for quite a while, trying to puzzle out why I like each of them.

Menzel's oil painting art is all clarity and light. His genre scenes like The Balcony Room are testimonies to seeing a scene and filtering out the details so that the essential beauty of it shines through. Menzel was a master at turning small things--like a curtain hung over a door or a pool of light on a floor--into extraordinary moments.

The Balcony Room by Adolph Menzel, oil on canvas, 1845.
The Balcony Room by Adolph Menzel, oil on canvas, 1845.

With Lie, I just wish I could watch him work. The oil painting techniques he used to build color and paint water show some serious skill. When you look at his oil painting pieces of the sea, like The Old Ships Draw to Home Again, you can almost feel the cold wind on your face because the artist's color choices convey the chilly air and early morning light so well.

The Old Ships Draw to Home Again by Jonas Lie, c. 1920, oil on canvas.
The Old Ships Draw to Home Again by Jonas Lie, c. 1920, oil on canvas.

I think what I am drawn to in both of these oil painting artists is the honest quietude and simple grace they bring to their work. Neither added needless drama to the scenes they depicted. Such bombast wasn't necessary when your colors are so interesting and your compositions so strong. So instead of "choosing" between these two artists, I think I am content to realize they both hold a place in my art-loving heart because they are two peas in a pod.

More than anything though, I think I am drawn to oil painting art like Menzel's and Lie's because of how the work is built from underpainting to final strokes. But with them I can only imagine how they created their work. In my attempt to learn how to paint with oil, I seek out resources that allow me to watch a painter's process because it gives me a better sense of how to oil paint more than anything else I've tried. Our Step-by-Step Painting Guide offers more than 20 painting lessons broken down to their essential steps. It's an eye-opener if you love to see the painting process unfold. And right now Step-by-Step Painting Guide and many other digital resources are 50% off! Enjoy!

 


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