Monday, 22 July 2013

Artist Spotlight: Toyen


Marie Cerminova, who took on the pseudonym Toyen when she was 21, is, in my opinion, the most important woman in Czech Surrealism. And yet she is shockingly unknown even among Art Historians (at least in Germany), it seems. Let´s change that, shall we?

I apologize to all Czechs in advance for the oversimplified letters. I would use the correct ones - if I could find them…

Phantom object 1937

She was born 1902 in Prag and joined the Avantgarde-Group “Devetsil” in 1923 which later became the Czech Surrealist movement. She was in contact with the French Surrealists as well and took part in almost all the most important events and exhibitions. Even during  the occupation by the Nazis from 1939-1946 she still created paintings and even hid her colleague Heisler in her home. She was calling herself a Surrealist even after the disbanding of the movement in 1969 and until her death in 1980.

Shooting Gallery 1940

While, as I already wrote, she is in fact not a Horror-Artist, but a Surrealist, her paintings and drawings definitely have an element of “spooky calmness” to them, since – among other things – it was the intention of the Surrealist movement to alienate or even shock the viewer with what s/he sees, plus, her main motives are the war and sexuality. Something shocking is bound to be found.

Paravent 1966

After the performance 1943
Message of the forest 1936


Weiss, Judith Elisabeth; Byzovska, Lenka a.o.: "Chronologie Paris-Prag 1919-1969"
Debatin, Sarah; Guntrum, Anja a.o.:"Biografien"
in: "Gegen jede Vernunft, Surrealismus Paris-Prag"

Monday, 1 July 2013

Mrs Two-Face Work-in-Progress

A work-in-progress where I took a scan about every 10 to 20 minutes
First I sketch the overall outline of the upper body, position of the hand and position of where the mirror is supposed to be. I use a 1:8 head to body ratio and sketch the middle line to keep the position of the body in check.
 Aaand I add the arms. It´s important to note that the ellebows are in line with the navel. I use a circle-construction to understand what needs to be where.
 Adding the hat and detailing the body further. I also use lines on the legs once again to determine the middle and to better understand the 3rd dimension.
 Adding more details like the clothes. The cloth follows the rules of gravity, of course, as seen with the sleeves. Still it is a rather thight-fitting suit and the cloth is rather stiff, making little wrinkles. The face is symmetrical. Yet.
 And there comes the monstrous/fun part: Next to detailing the clothes by adding buttons and the blouse underneath, I differenciate the two sides by making the hair more messy, adding a structure to the face and oversubscribe the expression. Note the corner of the mouth reaching way up on the one side but not the other. I also emphasize the knuckles.
 Drawing the outlines... nothing special. Adding a few wrinkles here and there, especially on the blouse,since it´s made of lighter and softer material. It´s also sensible to vary the thickness of the lines depending on the shading. It just makes the outlines more vivid.
 Dubidubidah, structures! ... I don´t really know what to add, to be honest...
 Starting to shade. There are different techniques to shading, of course, the one I am using here is rather stylized. I first draw the outlines of the shadow itself while in real life this is something you would not see, of course. The light source is in the upper left corner.
 To really drive the point home, I use different ways of shading for the two halves. Clean and orderly lines for the left, sketchy and scratchy ones for the right side. The impression that I want to convey is that the left half is made of silk while the right one is made of velvet that is partly covered in mold. But as I said, it´s stylized. Also I decide to make the suit and blouse the opposite color respectively.
 Lah lah lah, shadiiing...
 Moar shadiiiing...
And done!
What a lovely lady :D

PS: This work-in-progress is not up to date with my expertise,
One can see that my anatomical knowledge is rather limited, as such I do advise anyone not to use the same method. Look into anatomy, sketch bones, then muscles, the the skin, if you aim for a realistic looking human being.