Sunday, February 03, 2008

Artists of the Month: Nielsen & Bauer

Well. I finally enough time to work a bit more on this (this, for the uninitiated, is my bi-monthly study of the artists Kay Nielsen & John Bauer -- search for their names on my blog searcher to find previous posts on them). I spent part of the afternoon working on putting color into the Bauer sketch I had done last time. I was pretty pleased with the sketch and so I was relatively amazed to find that I made an utter dog's breakfast of colorizing it. Seriously, it looks like a three-year old drew it -- and I have one on hand to prove it (a three year old, not a dog's breakfast). And no, I'm not being modest, it really is awful.

Part of the problem was that I did the sketch on drafting film, which is amazing and greasy and buttery feeling for drawing outlines on -- and very tricky for subtle color.


Moving on. I decided that, rather than agonize over that sketch, I'm going to try an entirely new one on either pastelbord or paper. Phooeey on drafting film this time around. I also decided that instead of going with something subtle, I was going to try something completely wild and in the style of Nielsen & Bauer. I've had a composition in mind for awhile now and I think this project is the right one to try it on.

So this week, I paid particular attention to Bauer and Nielsen's use of pattern. I also wanted to focus on the elongated forms and the Hiroshige wave that Nielsen makes such effective use of. See the nice wave Nielsen used on his queen's and dancer's butts? (Nielsen's work on left) And look at the patterns of the two dresses that Bauer uses on his queen and his pining swan-woman. I also liked the way that the dresses weren't just a part of the composition -- they were the composition.

I wanted to try something like that. In my head, I had this idea of a stylized queen looking over her shoulder with a dress that looked as if it was stained glass. I desperately wanted to put one of two profoundly beautiful crowns into a piece of 2D art (links to discussions on them here and here, for those of you who are into history); both of them are from the medieval era and both made me catch my breath when I saw them (this from a non-jewelry person)(yes, I am a medieval geek). Sounds like me, right?

So I stared at the Bauer and Nielsen women and tried to determine what made them unique. For one thing, they all had these lovely, Gwyneth Paltrowesque long necks. Man, while I'm going hog-wild with the photos, I might as well show you Gwyneth's neck. See, there she is with her mom. It's obviously genetic.

And fabulous hair! Check it out -- long locks, or major up-dos -- the hair is important. Important, but simplified. Note to Maggie, who likes highlights: simplify. Flatten. SIMPLIFY.

And the faces are delicate, understated, careful. Hmm, I thought, unwisely. I can do this. Of course, by the time I had done all of this work, I had completely used up my study time . . . so it's going to have to wait until next time for the sketches. But I think there's some exciting source material here, and it's something I've wanted to do for awhile . . . so maybe I'll actually finish an entire project next Sunday.

Is anyone else doing this project, or am I by my lonesome?


Kellie Hill said...

I'm so glad you posted today! You're not by your lonesome- I've got my idea for the piece I'm going to do, I'm just endlessly frustrated by my every attempt to sketch it out. I've decided I'm going to sit down with some Klimt sketches tomorrow to try and loosen up and get a little more comfortable with stylized females, and then come back to our January/February inspiration :) loving all the images you posted- especially the ones that I'm assuming are ones you've done, which look nothing like a dog's breakfast. or a cat's.

Kellie Hill said...

hm. now I'm thinking I was wrong- you didn't do those two over on the right just for kicks, did you? *sigh* I should be asleep, I'm sure. they just don't look like anything from those original links.... why didn't you post your wolf? it couldn't have been that bad.

Cooper Dragonette said...

Did you know that yesterday was Blythe Danner's birthday when you posted this? I just happened to read it in the paper and then voila! here she is in your blog!

Karen Mathison Schmidt said...

Maggie, I love reading about your studies of these artists-of-the-month. The simplicity, design and subtle color of these illustrations are just beautiful. I wish I could participate ... I'm fast running out of time slots for new projects in my schedule!

But I can't wait to see what you come up with ... the picture you're planning sounds fantastic!

Quilt Knit said...

I am confused! Which one did you sketch. None look like what I remember.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Kellie - none of them are mine, which is why they don't look like animal breakfasts! I'd love to see your Klimt sketches -- he fits in well with this in a lot of respects, doesn't he?

Cooper - I'm naturally psychic, as well as kind, generous, talented, rich . . . oh wait, maybe I'm just psychic. ;)

Karen - I'm really hoping to do it justice. If I've learned anything, it's that simplicity is far more difficult that the twiddly bits we use to hide behind.

Sherrie - none of 'em!