george inness -view of the tiber
sanford gifford- siout egypt
After working on a concept for a bigger painting I was in need of some inspirational input. What better reason to venture downtown to the Corcoran Museum and the National Gallery of Art? I had specific painters in mind- George Inness and Sanford Gifford.
I first visited Gifford's Siout, Egypt (above) and his The Ruins of the Parthenon: these two paintings blew me away. How did Gifford create light? Have you ever noticed the darkest dark he uses is a value 5 (which is technically a mid value!) and that is only for accents? Most of the painting is between 5 and 10!!!! The Luminists, of which he was one, were part of the Hudson River School. The factor that united the Luminists was their use of aerial perspective, hazy, light filled canvases. Brushstrokes were limited.
Next to his work is a huge George Inness called Summer in the Woods which has a more full value spectrum, very dark foreground and neutral light pinkish distance. Both paintings are filled with light, but in different ways. Inness does it with dramatic contrast and value, Gifford does it with temperature and value. Gifford's whole painting is filled with a heaven-like, soft, suffuse light and Inness creates a dreamy light, yet still part of reality.
Each man paints with a firm concept.
It seems to me that Gifford rarely deviated from his original plan,meticulously and incrementally aiming for the target. While Inness worked with a firm vision, but yet more trial and error as to how he attained his vision. I don't believe he tip-toed.
Sanford Gifford is the inspiration for my newest big work. I am trying to stay between 5 and 10 on the value scale. Tiptoe; something that is a challenge for me!