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Painterly approach in painting, illustration, and digital painting

Painterly approach in painting, illustration, and digital painting

Virgil writes:
The "painterly" approach was originally an incidental effect most common in sketches and studies, the sole purpose of which was to help the artist solve some of the problems in the execution of a more refined painting. Titian and Rembrandt became more "painterly" in their later years, when deteriorating eyesight may have hidden the irregularities from them (one hypothesis). Franz Hals painted a number of paintings in the sketch style, probably for his own amusement and/or to cover his bar tab or whatever. He was capable of more refined painting, as is evident in most of his more important commissioned portraits, but employed the faster "alla prima" approach for painting more light-hearted subjects; probably his friends or interesting subjects encountered at the tavern, where no one was likely to pose for very long.
Bouguereau has been falsely characterized as disguising his brushstrokes, but his brushwork is actually visible from up close. In reproductions the strokes do not show, because the paintings are generally large, with the main figures life-size, and the brushstrokes are small. He also used palette knife very expertly for certain effects, especially in the vegetation and other parts of the background, but generally did not employ impasto.

The 'painterly' style became more popular with John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, and Joaquín Sorolla. Sargent actually worked very hard to achieve the effect that he had dashed the picture off effortlessly and accurately all at once. Many passages were scraped out and repainted over and over again until the desired appearance was accomplished. There is a certain charm in this type of painting, but its effectiveness depends on the values and colors being registered extremely accurately, or the result just looks sloppy. Sargent's eye was precise enough to make it work. Ironically, he expressed regret, late in life, that he had not carried his paintings to a higher degree of finish. The main trick to painting in this manner is to work fast, with large hog- bristle brushes and large amounts of paint available on the palette. palette knife can also be used for certain effects. A somewhat rougher texture canvas works best for this technique, in my experience. Some subjects are more suited for this approach than others. It is well for artists to be able to paint in more than one manner, and to choose whichever technique best suits the subject at hand.

John Singer Sargent's work

Anders Zorn's Work

Joaquín Sorolla's work

Regarding impasto highlights, the reason for this is to ensure that they remain opaque far into the future. Oil paint becomes more transparent as it ages, and the thinner the paint, the more transparent it will become. Highlights must be opaque in order to reflect the light which strikes them in the same way as it would reflect from the surface depicted.'

In the illustration era, in my opinion, Frank Frazetta's work is very close to painterly approach, though sometimes the dramatic lighting remind me of Bouguereau.

As the 21th century approach, the influence of painterly approach becomes really popular among the great living master digital concept artist painters such as Craig Mullins, Ryan Church, Nicolas Bouvier, David Levy and many more.
These guys open my eyes to the new world of painting and creating digital art process, thanks to the internet.

Here is PDF downloadable file Sargent Notes on Painting (9 pages) thanks to Craig Mullins.
Good useful info for you guys. :)

Also there are contemporary great traditional master painters who are still doing their masterpiece on oil to rock the 21th century using the same approach along the line of Sargent. They are also my most favorite, you have to check out their work. These master painters are Richard Schmidt, Jeremy Lipking, and Scott Burdick. There are actually many more, but these are on top of my head at the moment.

On that note, I am in love with very loose painterly effect, they create. Painterly approach is not like a totally finished tight illustration (every square inch has to be perfect and controled). On the contrary, it seems (sometimes unfinished, loose yet as the artist more, no less), to me at least, the strokes of paints dancing around the canvas (also digital) as if they are happy to live. And there is no need for any more strokes. *Thus, the artist intend to finish it that way.
Just some thought I've in mind and knowledge I want to spread from what I see, hear and learn during the period of the moment.

Let me know what you think and what I should add, I hope you learn something and I am expecting to learn more from you guys.


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Luca said…
Man the more I see these drawings the more I see how long and how far I'm still away! Drawing is really a never-ending process!

Great work...
Anonymous said…
Excellent post. Totally agree.
An-Tim Nguyen said…
I am a big fan of the painterly effect too.
XIA said…
Luca> I feel the same shame. :)
Anonymous> Thanks
An-Tim Nguyen> I too like the energy and scruffiness but yet precision and awesomeness.