This month’s featured painting is Flaming June by Frederic Lord Leighton.
Brief Details About the Painting:
- Oil on canvas.
- 120 cm x 120 cm (47 in x 47 inches).
- Completed 1895.
- Location: Museo de Arte de Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Use this as an opportunity to test your ability to analyze master paintings. In the comments below, share what you think are the top 3 most important aspects of the painting. These could relate to areas such as composition, color, value, progress, brushwork, subject, or symbolism. Once you have done that, you can compare your thoughts with my own in the drop-down below.
Click here to see my thoughts.
- The reclining subject is a great demonstration of foreshortening and overlapping objects. If you’re unfamiliar with foreshortening, refer to this post. Here’s a summary:
Foreshortening refers to the way we perceive an object as it recedes in space. It is perhaps best explained visually. Take a moment to do the following:
Place your arm in front of your body, bent at the elbow so that your forearm aligns with your chest (refer to the photo below on the left). Observe the length of your arm, from elbow to fingertips. This is an example of limited foreshortening.
Now, extend your arm straight out in front. Notice how, from this perspective, your arm appears compressed. The perceived distance from the bottom of your elbow to your top finger does not reflect the actual length of your arm. This is an example of extreme foreshortening.
The photos below are examples of what you should see, modeled by yours truly. On the left: limited foreshortening; on the right: extreme foreshortening.
Two artists who are great with foreshortening and overlapping objects are Glenn Vilpuu and Steve Huston. Here is a drawing demonstration by Glenn Vilpuu. Watch as his pencil follows the contours up, over, and around the forms.
- There’s a contrast between rigid architecture and the subject’s soft skin tones and flowing drapery.
- The subject’s skin and features are depicted with fine rendering and compressed values (no strong highlights or dark accents). This conveys a sense of youth and softness.
- The drapery at the bottom helps lead our eyes into the painting. (Always looks for opportunities to arrange the composition in a way that leads the viewer into your painting. Richard Schmid’s landscapes are also a great example of this. He would use a few feature details to draw you into the painting towards the focal point.)
- The subject’s hair melts into the surrounding drapery and clothing. This is a simple way of connecting the subject with the surroundings. The subject is both distinct and part of this environment.
- The colors are strong, but they don’t appear out of place. Keep in mind, even the rich oranges in this painting appear to be tinted somewhat. Rarely will you need to use colors straight from the tube.