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Friday, July 7, 2017

Amazing Painting & Discussion About An Artist's Time


Hi!

I saw a very interesting post on artist James Gurney's blog.

Gurney is famous for his instructional books, illustrations, paintings — and is perhaps best known for being the creator of his Dinotopia series — an world he inhabits with human characters who share their lives with "sentient" dinosaurs.

I own a copy of his book, Color and Light — which is a tutorial book for painting.

If you are an artist or enjoy looking at cool artwork — I encourage you to check him out.

On July 4th, 2017, a day when Americans celebrate Independence Day, Gurney posted a blog entry about an awesome Howard Chandler Christy's painting called "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States."

Howard Chandler Christy "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the  United States"
Howard Chandler Christy - "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States"

According to Gurney, "Christy researched the subject for five years and spent seven months painting it. He studied portraits of almost all of the people represented [like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin], and he looked for whatever authentic props he could find.

The Smithsonian Institution lent him George Washington's breeches, and The Library of
Congress let him borrow some of Thomas Jefferson's books, which appear next to Franklin’s
chair. The painting hangs in the Capitol building in the east stairway of the House of
Representatives."

gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2017/07/christys-signing-of-constitution.html

Something struck me about Gurney's description of the research and time that Christy devoted to this painting.

Christy spent FIVE years in research — and this likely means doing portrait and studies for each of the individuals in the painting — and studies for the clothing and interior, the furniture, the drapes and flags, the chandelier and so on.

Howard Chandler Christy - "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States" - Detail Showing George Washington
Howard Chandler Christy - "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States"
Detail Showing George Washington

Having read books on other artists and their work — these studies are usually smaller, and are often pencil or charcoal — but some artists do larger color "roughs" — trying out different poses for their characters, different arrangements, changes in lighting, etc.

I have several books on Salvador Dali, Norman Rockwell and Frank Frazetta —and all of them did an amazing amount of this work — including full color "rough" versions of final paintings — before they'd settle on the right feel and look for them.

Anyway — the reason why the amount of time Christy spent painting that work struck me so deeply is that many artists I know tend to churn out their work — and they boast about how quickly it took them to do a piece.

On the flip side I've had people ask me how much it would cost for commissioned artwork from me.

Especially when their requests involve a extensive detail that I know will be time consuming — some have been surprised about the price I ask.

Hearing the amount of time that Christy put into his painting — I thought about how often artists short-sell their work — either being afraid to be paid fairly for their time — or by compromising with low detail, impressionistic work that requires less effort.

If that is an artist's preference —then I'm not knocking it.

On the other hand — those of us who prefer spending more time on our work shouldn't be afraid to talk about that — and be fairly compensated for it as well.

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Alright — I'll step off my soap-box — and get back to my work!

Hope you are having a great day — and thanks for stopping by!

BTW — please check back — I've been having a blast with some new work and will be posting some new pastel and digital paintings soon. 

Howard Chandler Christy - "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States"  Detail Showing Benjamin Franklin
Howard Chandler Christy - "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States" 
Detail Showing Benjamin Franklin In Center






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