The Studio of Eric Valosin

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Studio Visit from Pieter Bruegel

My independent study advisor right now is Julie Heffernan.  In case you're not familiar, she's one of the "names" at MSU.  She's an enormously talented and enormously successful painter with a very tight, fairly traditional style that blends classical master painting with dreamlike surrealism - google her work if you feel like being blown away.

Faced with her critique that my style hedged relatively unsuccessfully between pictorial narrative and calligraphic gesture, I realized that I had the unique opportunity to learn to beef up the pictorial aspect of my painting from one of the best out there.  Excitedly, I entreated her to let me be her sponge.  And then she told me to learn depth by reproducing a painting by Hieronymus Bosch's protege, Pieter Bruegel... (pardon the slightly yellowed image)

... at which point I considered becoming a purely conceptual artist.

I begrudgingly sat down to this monstrous task, thankfully having the wherewithal to at least crop down to the top left corner that contained all the good stuff as far as depth - foreground, middleground, background - was concerned.  It wasn't long before I realized that I truly know almost nothing about traditional oil painting.  Transparency?  Wait, that's a thing?  What do you mean ivory black and titanium white are the worst choices possible for underpainting?  Warm underpainting for cool colors?  Glazing??  Scumbling??  How did I make it to grad school without ever learning these things?!

And so, after beginning to underpaint (a technique I've previously used very sparingly to begin with), I went to the local art store to supplement my heretofore arbitrary set of paints.

Well, at least the 2 weeks it took my misguided underpainting to dry allowed me to put together a new website and blog!  Over the next few weeks, I couldn't believe how much I was actually learning, starting with the sky and moving forward towards the foreground, and I soon found myself enthralled in this behemoth of an undertaking.

Until I finally had this - in all its subtle peculiarities, to present to Julie yesterday: (drumroll please)

In another post I'll go more into the specifics of these peculiarities and take-aways - I've rambled enough for now.  Suffice it to say that Julie was at first incredulous as to the fact that this even came from the same person she had critiqued a few weeks prior.  All in all though, I surprise myself to say that Bruegel can drop by my studio any time, now a welcomed visitor.

1 comment:

  1. Just so you know, I may or may not be creepily following your blog from now on. Keep up the good work!