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Film Review: ‘Loving Vincent’ (2017)

3 Apr

Loving Vincent (2017), directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, from a script by Kobiela, Welchman, and Jacek Dehnel; starring the voices of Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk, Helen McCrory, Josh Burdett, Holly Earl and others.

LovingVincent_

I missed this film when it debuted on the big screen in late 2017, unfortunately. It’s now out on DVD and is also streaming at Amazon and other sites.

I had awaited it eagerly after reporting about it on my blog three years ago:

A Polish film currently in the works features an animated treatment of the life of Van Gogh. The film, entitled Loving Vincent, features more than 63,000 paintings created in the artist’s style, rendered by a total of 80 artists.

This is an incredibly beautiful film. It isn’t done with CGI — the handiwork of dozens of skilled artists painted the animation artwork traditionally, in the style of Van Gogh’s most famous works. This labor of love shines throughout the film.

The story is less successful than the visuals, however. A friend travels to Arles and other places where Van Gogh lived, and interviews people who knew him. The friend, Armand Roulin (voiced by Douglas Booth), is the son of the Postman Joseph Roulin (whom Van Gogh pained in real life). Armand has a letter from Vincent to his brother Theo that was returned, and he’s trying to figure out what to do with it. He also wants to determine the circumstances of the painter’s death.

Van Gogh is commonly believed to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound; however, as the film unfolds, the viewer sees that there are irregularities in the state of the wound that put that belief in doubt.

As Roulin continues with his interviews, he visits many of the people and places that appear in Van Gogh’s paintings. Anyone who knows even a little bit about the painter’s work will recognize numerous famous figures, who’ve been given movement and voices by the animators. It’s a stunning achievement.

Eventually, Roulin concludes that it’s not possible to really discover the true story of Van Gogh’s tragic demise, so viewers who were looking for a big “reveal” at the end will be disappointed. The journey and the people of Van Gogh’s paintings are the story.

I recommend watching it for the stunning artwork and the clever way that Van Gogh’s portraits and landscapes have been assembled into a narrative.

 

 

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Nonfiction Work Traces Lost Velazquez

10 Jun

The great 17th-Century Spanish court painter, Diego Velazquez, once painted a portrait of the future King Charles I of Great Britain as a young prince; then the painting disappeared. In the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, there’s a review of a book by Laura Cummings which investigates a 19th Century English bookseller’s life-long association with the missing masterpiece.

The book is entitled The Vanishing Velazquez: A 19th Century Bookseller’s Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece.   According to the newspaper, it “captivates as detective story, art criticism and page-turning entertainment.”

This title sounds interesting. I don’t know that much about Spanish painters, so I put it on my Amazon wish list. Here’s a little bit about Velazquez.

Grisaille and All That

26 Mar

From City Journal comes an article about a New York school of art that introduces a modern generation of painters to  Old Masters’ oil painting techniques. The technique begins with an opaque under-painting, often in white and shades of gray (hence the term “grisaille”). Colored, transparent glazes are then laid over the under-painting in layers, until the final painting emerges. It’s painstaking and takes a long time for each layer to dry. I’ve tried it before and it does produce some wonderful effects, but I don’t have the patience to wait for the layers to dry on a regular basis.

Hence the term “all prima”, i.e. all one layer, which is the way most people paint in oil today.

New Etsy Listing: New Prickly Pear Painting

30 May
Prickly Pear Cactus, Livermore, Calif.

Prickly Pear Cactus, Livermore, Calif. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved. 

 

Title: “Prickly Pear in Summer, Livermore, Calif.”

Size: 18″ x 24,” horizontal
Date: 2013
Materials: Top grade oil paints, 1/4″ Ampersand Clayboard Panel**
Colors: Rendered in predominate shades of cool and warm greens, cool and warm violents, and yellow/orange.

Can be framed or wired and hung without a frame, but I recommend framing under glass or acrylic.

Available for purchase here. 

 

More On My Walls

6 May

This watercolor has been on my bedroom wall for years. It’s often the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning. The details and colors are a little blurred here, because I photographed it through glass, but you can get a rough idea of what it looks like from the pic. The china cream pitcher is from a pre-war gold-leafed china tea set that once belonged to my eccentric Southern California relative, Aunt Jett, whom I fondly portrayed in this post ages ago as “Aunt Jewel.”

China Cream Pitcher, watercolor on 140 lb cold press watercolor paper. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.

China Cream Pitcher, watercolor on 140 lb cold press watercolor paper. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.

Still Working on the Giant Prickly Pear Painting. . .

5 May

It’s still unfinished–you may remember it from this post. Here’s what the painting looks like right now. The colors are a bit off in the photo–the background is a bit more purple-magenta-ier than it shows here. But you can get the basic idea:

Giant Prickly Pear (unfinished). Oil on Ampersand Clayboard panel. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.

Giant Prickly Pear (unfinished). Oil on Ampersand Clayboard panel. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.

As I wrote in my first post about this piece, it’s my first experience using a Clayboard Ampersand panel. I think I like it. For one thing, the panels don’t take up as much room as a stretched canvas–always an important consideration for me, in my small 1950s ranch house! These panels can be stored in a flat file, unlike stretched canvas. And they appear to be very durable. Hooray!

Soft Pastel Work

5 May

These are all soft pastel on 300 lb. cold press watercolor paper:

Milo Mitchel, age 6. Soft pastel on 300 lb watercolor paper. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rigths reserved.

Milo, age 6. Soft pastel on 300 lb watercolor paper. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rigths reserved.

Brian Burke as an Infant. Soft pastel on 300 lb watercolor paper. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.

Brian as an Infant. Soft pastel on 300 lb watercolor paper. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.

Banana Grove, Maui. Soft pastel on 300 lb watercolor paper. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.

Banana Grove, Maui. Soft pastel on 300 lb watercolor paper. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.