Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Roy Lichtensten

Technology has revolutionized art, enabling artists to become all the more creative because of the plethora of possibilities and media that they are given. Adobe Photoshop, one of the most powerful tools known to the artistic world, has opened up a brand new universe that is digital art, a media that can imitate traditional art laying down pixels using mathematically rendered brushes.
[like this! digital painting done by *likesummer at]
As we progress into the era of technology, we come to accept the luxuries that the copy/paste, paint bucket and path render tool give us, and we forget that not too long ago, artists did many things by hand -- and most still do.

Roy Lichtenstein was born on October 27, 1923 and lived until September 29, 1997. He was an American pop artist and walked alongside Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns leading the new artistic movement. Pop art came about in the 1950's, incorporating aspects of mass culture and advertisements. His works were mostly inspired by comic books, where he painted renditions of the comic strips on canvas.
[clearly inspired from the comic above, but he manages to make it his own]
 My favorite series of his work (this was also the work that he was most famous for) are his girl pieces. All his pieces feature great use of different techniques and aspects of his drawings that I admire and definitely working on getting better at.
[Drowning Girl (1963)]
First off, I think his usage of line strokes is extremely unique. Comic artists play around with using black ink strokes to represent shadow and space all the time. Roy creates a different effect with his paint on canvas than a ink on paper, taking advantage of the kinds of thicknesses of lines he could make with brushes. With just black lines and blobs, he is able to create the waves in her hair along with the waves in the water that is churning around her.

Another thing I found intriguing about his work was the intricacy of his paintings. He kept true to his inspiration, adopting the technique of Ben-Day dots to show certain colors. He used little red dots to make the illusion of the color of skin, bunched those red closer together to create lips and lined up red dots and blue dots to create a pattern for a picture frame.
[Good Morning Darling (1964)]

One last thing that really struck me about his work was that in the book Lichtenstein: Girls, Dorthy Lichtenstein said the following comment about his artistic approach: "...he designed an easel that rotated. This way, he could work on a painting sideways and upside down. And he usually worked with a mirror in the background to get as much distance from the canvas as possible, so he could try to see it as a whole and in reverse." This is a technique that I use a lot in my work and is something that I've seen many digital artists now use to check that their work is whole and looking great from every perspective. Using a mirror in the background is something that I do want to try out the next time I'm drawing, I really want to see how that works and experience the "distance"!

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