Friday, October 28, 2016

Style Transfer

Computers are able to take any photo and reinterpret it in any given artist's style. You can give the computer some examples of an artist's work along with a photo of your own, and then the app will come up with an image that superficially resembles the style of that artist.

Neil deGrasse Tyson plus Kandinsky’s Jane Rouge Bleu.
Photo by Guillaume Piolle, Via Google Research

Modern apps can accomplish more than a Photoshop filter can, because they enlist neural algorithms to separate style from content when they look at images.

They appear to set up a hierarchy of what's important about an image. In the portrait above, they keep the eyes and mouth in place while scrambling the less important jacket and tie.

Image by Manenti1 using the Aptitude filter via Dreamscope
With all these deep learning apps, I notice that the realism of the photograph always asserts itself through the shapes and colors, much in the same way rotoscoping does with animation.

In order to better simulate childlike or naïve styles, such as those of Cezanne, Renoir or Matisse, the computer will have to redraw the image to make the placement and proportions deviate from photographic reality in ways that those humans practitioners do.

Nat and Lo, two Google employees who go around the company asking how things work, do a good job explaining how deep learning techniques help computers solve this problem. You may need to follow this link to watch the video on YouTube.

Understanding this process helps us understand how we humans see and interpret images, and it also can help us as artists if we want to develop our own style, or on the contrary, if we want to try to rid ourselves of stylistic conventions.
Previous Related Posts:
Using Computers to Create a Typical Rembrandt
Image Parsing

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Interview Podcast with Eric Rhoads

Eric Rhoads, publisher of Plein Air Magazine recently interviewed me about how I got started and my thoughts on painting on location. You can listen to the interview at this link.

Eric is also the host of the upcoming 2017 Plein Air Convention in San Diego, which I will be attending as a faculty instructor.

I also recommend his earlier interviews with landscape / marine painter Don Demers (Episode 26), and editor / painter M. Stephen Doherty (Episode 5).

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Grisaille with Warm Underpainting

I painted this creamer yesterday while waiting for my scrambled eggs. 
Creamer, gouache 3 x 3 inches
It's in black and white gouache, painted over a yellow-ochre square patch that served as an underpainting. I allowed the underpainting to shine through here and there. I painted that patch a few weeks ago. 

Sometimes it's nice to use paint that gives you a sealed or closed surface (that is, it won't reactivate if it gets rewet). On the lower left corner, I rubbed off the gouache paint with a damp rag to reveal the underpainting. 

I could have used acrylic or acryla gouache for the underpainting, but in this case, I used casein for the yellow square. 

Here's a very brief video with the voice of the diner's owner. If you're getting this post by email, you might need to follow this link to see the video.
Related previous posts:
Creamer in Casein
Transparency and Reflections (Creamer in Gouache)
Still Life in a Diner Booth
Nearly-Notan Gouache with Yellow Underpainting (VW Deakership)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Leibl Way

Study by Wilhelm Leibl
When he was an art student, Hermann Ebers remembered learning to practice the "Leibl Way" of painting, based on the method of the German realist Wilhelm Leibl (1844-1900).

"Take a grateful model," his teacher told him, "for instance an old bearded head. Start off with a small spot and bring it forward until you think that you have got it."

"From there on, set tone next to tone with the utmost precision until everything is together as a whole."

Wilhelm Leibl
Such a method, when carried carefully to finish, can result in very accurate and sensitive studies.
From "Heinrich von Zügel as a Teacher" by Hermann Ebers
Thanks to Christoph Heuer for the translation.
Previous post on Carolus-Duran's Mosaic Method

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mønsted Up Close

Christie's in New York City is currently showing an auction preview of 19th century European painting. 

Peder Mørk Mønsted (Danish, 1859-1941)
A View of Hornbæk, 1916, oil on canvas, 18 ¾ x 34 in. (47.6 x 86.4 cm.)

It includes this painting by Mønsted, which looks tight and photographic from a distance. But up close, it's a different story.

It's not fussily rendered at all. It's a good example of loose and rapid handling, rather than painstaking definition. 

The grass textures are suggested by dragging the brush lightly over the canvas, first with the brush thinly loaded with paint, and later with thick, generous impastos. 

For these tree saplings and thick grasses, he laid down that soft base layer of blended strokes and added thin light and dark strokes on top, with a few white sparkle dots on top. 

The dark strokes seem to be painted over dry paint, so if he painted this on location, I would guess it was a three or four day painting.

For the figures and the fenceposts, his treatment is rather soft and understated. The combined effect of this variety of handling adds to an overall impression of naturalism.

The close-up details here are rather large image files hosted by Google Photo. Please let me know if the page loads OK for you and if you like the files this large.
Christie's 19th Century European Art preview will go on through October 25th. The auction will take place on October 26 in New York at Rockefeller Plaza.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Grand Central Terminal

It's raining in New York City. My train won't leave Grand Central Terminal for another 45 minutes. 

There are no benches in the main area. I sit on the terrazzo floor at the edge of one of the hallways. The window of a tourist booth glows in the semi-darkness.

The man inside the booth leans through the ornate grillwork to arrange his brochures. Tourists pause to take photos on selfie sticks or to point their cameras up toward the ceiling.

This video takes you there. I squeeze various gouache tube colors onto the mixing surface of the watercolor set: perylene maroon, viridian, cad yellow, cad red, raw sienna, and burnt umber, plus white.

On the train ride home I add some finishing touches, such as white gouache dots for the white light coming from the window.

If you're getting this blog post by email, you'll need to follow this link to see the video.
More info:
Check out my Gouache Page on Pinterest
Follow me on Instagram
Watch my Gouache Playlist on YouTube
Previous post about Gouache Materials
Photos and history of Grand Central Terminal
Gouache in the Wild tutorial video