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Chiaroscuro and Fuseli

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Well, late night surfing the public domain images for inspiration and found this.  There is just something about it, that made me look at it for a long time. The contrast appeals to me and the way that the drapes of gown and throws take on an abstract form. I like that the gargoyle pulls you into direct eye contact.

So I, of course, had to read up on the artist. I think it is important for an artist take time to just drink from the cup. Especially during times when you are unable to work for whatever reason. It keeps you making discoveries and improving your eye.

John Henry Fuseli The Nightmare

John Henry Fuseli The Nightmare

“Henry Fuseli (German: Johann Heinrich Füssli) (7 February 1741 – 17 April 1825) was a Swiss painter, draughtsman and writer on art who spent much of his life in Britain. Many of his works, such as The Nightmare deal with supernatural subject-matter. He painted works for John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, and created his own “Milton Gallery”. He held the posts of Professor of Painting and Keeper at the Royal Academy. His style had a considerable influence on many younger British artists, including William Blake.”

And I found his technique… I think I want to try it. It is called chiaroscuro and it might help me get more of the 3-d feel I am after. With my photography background of high contrast work, I think I would really enjoy the process.

 “Chiaroscuro (English pronunciation: /kiˌɑːrəˈskjʊər/; Italian: [ˌkjaroˈskuːro]; Italian for light-dark) in art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures.[1] Similar effects in cinema and photography also are called chiaroscuro.  The more technical use of the term chiaroscuro is the effect of light modelling in painting, drawing, or printmaking, where three-dimensional volume is suggested by the value gradation of colour and the analytical division of light and shadow shapes—often called “shading“…
“The Nightmare simultaneously offers both the image of a dream—by indicating the effect of the nightmare on the woman—and a dream image—in symbolically portraying the sleeping vision.[2] It depicts a sleeping woman draped over the end of a bed with her head hanging down, exposing her long neck. She is surmounted by an incubus that peers out at the viewer. The sleeper seems lifeless, and, lying on her back, she takes a position believed to encourage nightmares.[3] Her brilliant coloration is set against the darker reds, yellows, and ochres of the background; Fuseli used a chiaroscuro effect to create strong contrasts between light and shade. The interior is contemporary and fashionable, and contains a small table on which rests a mirror, phial, and book. The room is hung with red velvet curtains which drape behind the bed. Emerging from a parting in the curtain is the head of a horse with bold, featureless eyes.

He painted three versions and this is his most famous work.

If anyone out there is using chiaroscuro in their work, please leave  a comment and/or post a photo of your work.  Let me know if you have an artist in mind I should check out or a good book for me.



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