Swarm: Art Exhibition at Sidetracked Studio in Evanston

This Saturday, June 4th, 2016 I will be part of a really great looking group show at Sidetracked Studio in Evanston, IL titled “Swarm”. I will have one of my recent moth pieces on display along side some amazing artists including (but not limited to): Lauren Levato Coyne, Rory Coyne, Jason McPhillips, Gail Potocki and Renee McGinnis. The show will be up until July 2, 2016.

Come by to check it out during the opening tomorrow June 4th from 6-9pm in Evanston.

Swarm Promo - painting by Jason Mcphillips
Swarm Promo – painting by Jason Mcphillips

This is my piece for the show, titled “Manifestation”. It’s 4×6″ oil on linen. Please contact Sidetracked Studios for inquiries.

Anthony Cramer Manifestation - 2016
Anthony Cramer Manifestation – 2016

Here is the piece framed in it’s custom painted frame. Wanted to go white to bring out some of the more subtle colors in the painting.

Anthony Cramer -  Manifestation - 2016 - 4x6"
Anthony Cramer – Manifestation – 2016 – 4×6″

April Update

Lately I have been spending most of my studio time working on a new series that I hope to begin sharing in the very near future. While working on this new series I have also done several more small pieces. This portrait study was done for fun while experimenting with some new ideas.

"Black and Red" Study, 8x10", oil on linen
“Black and Red” Study, 8×10″, oil on linen

Here are two new skull pieces as well. Both are 8×10″. More of a natural study, the first was done in normal daylight. I wanted to paint the piece as it appeared by the light of the window. The morning daylight out so many unexpected beautiful hues. It was a pleasure to be able to capture the impression in the early morning. Well, early for me anyway.

Anthony Cramer - "Window Skull" - 8x10", oil on linen panel
“Window Skull” – 8×10″, oil on linen panel

This blue skull began with the acidic reds and I wanted to use a strong blue to conceal some of, but not all the reds beneath. The thick strokes of cools and alizarin add even more vibrancy.

Anthony Cramer - "Night Skull - Blue" - 8x10", oil on linen panel
“Night Skull – Blue” – 8×10″, oil on linen panel

Next time I hope to share some progress on a new series of pieces I have started.


“Emergence: New Works by Juan Jr. Ramirez and Anthony S Cramer”

I am very excited to announce I will be showing along side Juan Jr. Ramirez during a two man show opening March 7th, 2014 at the Palette and Chisel in Chicago, Illinois.

There will be between 30-50 new pieces between us. In particular this show is so exciting for me  because Juan was one of the guys who really got me into painting in the first place. He has heavily influenced my attitude toward painting and has really helped me develop my skills. His paintings are modern but possess the skill of 19th century impressionistic masters. I’m personally excited to see what he produces for the show. Check out his work here!

Anthony Cramer - "Lace"
Anthony Cramer – “Lace”
“Queen Bee” – Juan Jr. Ramirez

Emergence: New Works by Juan Jr. Ramirez and Anthony S. Cramer

Palette and Chisel Fine Arts

Opening March 7th, 2014 6-10 p.m.

Show runs March 7th- April 1, 2014

Gallery hours: Weekdays 11-6pm, Weekends 11-4pm

Notes on Carolus-Duran’s Studio

In 1899 Robert Alan Mowbray (R.A.M.) Stevenson published a book about the work of Diego Velazquez. Stevenson was a student of Carolus-Duran at the same time as John Singer Sargent. Duran stressed fresh and direct painting from life, not the academic style of slowly building up transparent layers. This style was inspired by the directness of painting that Duran looked up to in Velazquez and encouraged his students to study. Duran is  quoted as saying, “Velazquez, Velazquez, Velazquez. Study Velazquez without respite!”

Stevenson’s book “Velazquez” can be found on google books for free. In addition there is more information, including how Duran set his palette on Gurney Journey’s Duran post.

Duran – 1880

Stevenson recorded the methods taught in Duran’s studio while he was a student. Perhaps equally important, we learn more about what Sargent was learning during his formative painting years.

Stevenson writes:

“For those who had asked his aid, Carolus-Duran formulated the principles of his own art, and enforced them by an appeal to the practice of others and, before all, of Velazquez.

“By his method of teaching, he hoped at least to give the student a knowledge of what he saw, and a logical grasp of the principles of sight. After a slight search of proportions with charcoal, the places of masses were indicated with a rigger dipped in flowing pigment. No preparation in colour or monochrome was allowed, but the main planes of the face must be laid directly on the unprepared canvas with a broad brush. These few surfaces – three or four in the forehead, as many in the nose, and so forth – must be studied in shape and place, and particularly in the relative value of light that their various inclinations produce.  They were painted quite broadly in even tones of flesh tint, and stood side by side like pieces of a mosaic, without fusion of their adjacent edges. No brushing of the edge of the hair into the face was permitted, no conventional bounding of eyes and features with lines that might deceive the student by their expression into the belief that false structure was truthful. In the next stage you were bound to proceed in the same manner by laying planes upon the junctions of the larger ones or by breaking the larger planes into smaller subordinate surfaces. You were never allowed to brush one surface into another, you must make a tone for each step of a gradation. Thus, you might never attempt to realize a tone or a passage by some hazardous uncontrollable process.

Georges Feydeau – 1900 by Duran

“M. Carolus-Duran believed that if you do not approach tone by direct painting you will never know what you can do, and will never discover whether you really feel any given relation, or the values any contrasting surfaces. The first stages of this work looked like portraits of wooden figures cut with a knife in sharp edged, unsoftened facets. The effect on the Ruskinian of this hideous and pitiless logic was terrible. Most  of them sickened at the strong medicine and fled from the too heroic cure for the namby-pamby modeling which trusts for expression to a red line between the lips, a contour line to the nose, and a careful rigger track round the eyes and eyebrows. I have felt the first spasms of this disgust, and I praise the master who stayed, not the pupil who fled. If Duran was not squeamish at criticizing and touching these awful dolls, why should the pupil take pride in the weakness of his stomach. Duran had little patience with the aesthete and conventional sentimentalist, and nothing amused him more than the “loss of my originality,” a plea often put forward by men still blind to the ordinary aspect of nature. He was pitiless to the transparent colour dodge, the badger-hair hypocrisy, and the hopeful haphazard glazings of the sentimentalist who cannot shape a nose, and would show all Browning’s works in a face.

Edouard Manet – by Duran

“This severe system, it must be remembered, served merely as the gymnastic of art, it was a means of education for the eye not a trick of mannerism, or a ready-made style of painting. Had not Duran’s studio been already described, I believe in the 19th century, I should have said more of the teaching of a great painter whose only recognized master was Velazquez. There is, however, on point that i must mention, as it throws a light on the simplicity of Velazquez’s flesh tints and the surprising subtlety and clearness of his modeling of shape. Everyone knows that insubordination of the eye or that false estimation of comparative importance’s in nature which led some painters to exaggerate spots of local colour, definitions of detail, reflected lights, or, in fact, anything dangerous to the peace of the ensemble. They so treated the skin, as to embarrass modeling, which is the first quality in a face, for the sake of accidental spots, which are of little count in that most even and luminous of substances, flesh.”

Hannah in White and Purple Pt. 3

Hannah “Purple” – Anthony Cramer

The second painting I did of Hannah, was completed in a much quicker time period. I finished the head, with the exception of a few final touches in one afternoon. The thick paint, practice sketches and painting the previous portrait of Hannah all helped me to prepare for this one.

Initial block in wit charcoal to place shapes, and paint to get value and color.

Again I used thick paint, with a very small amount of medium for the block in. From the block in, I brushed more paint into the fluid wet paint, which allowed me to work the edges and push the values once I had the basic drawing down.

Tightening up the drawing and color.

Once the head was completed I loosely worked the coat, hand and background. I had to do several studies of the cherry blossoms color and value, eventually going back and doing one from life again. As I finished, I tried not to over refine sections of the painting. I wanted to keep some sections loose and the face to remain the tightest section. And just to show I was done, I put a gold frame on it.

Hannah in White and Purple Pt. 2

In my last post I showed the color studies I painted prior to tackling the finished paintings. Additionally, I worked out some drawing and composition problems before I began a very loose charcoal drawing in which I placed my big shapes on the canvas. From there I blocked in the head first trying to get the right values.

The very beginning strokes of the block in.

Loading my brushes with a lot of paint and just a touch of medium allowed the paint to stay wet for a long time, so I could work out my edges and drawing.

Refining the block in.

From here, I felt I had a good start and wanted to begin working out how the color of the blouse, hat and landscape would harmonize. Once I had those colors and values loosely blocked in, I was able to go in and refine the head to completion. It took a lot of tweaking, blending and refining.

Detail of “Hannah in White” by Anthony Cramer

Hannah in White and Purple

Last spring I did two larger paintings of the same subject for my recent show. I thought it would be fun to share some work in progress shots and a little about how I used photographs for reference. I knew that I wanted to do an outdoor portrait of the subject and we decided to meet before hand to pick out the clothing that I thought would best fit the painting. One thing that made this particularly easy was that I  had seen a picture of her in the big white floppy hat and I loved the way it changed the way the light fell on her face, so I had a starting point.

Color Studies for “Hannah in White”

After picking out the costume we went to Humboldt Park, a sprawling quiet park away from the noise of downtown Chicago. We tried several poses while I shot some photos. Eventually we decided on a simple straight forward look as she turned slightly away. Once the pose was chosen I set up and did a few couple of quick color-sketches in oil on an 11×14 panel (each took between10-20 minutes). After I had done the sketches, we began to walk toward the car, but I found a cherry blossom tree in bloom and asked if she wouldn’t mind posing for a few more shots . With a minor change of wardrobe, we tried some more poses, finally agreeing on her pulling her hair off her face.

Color Study for “Hannah – Purple”

These color sketches became invaluable in painting the two finished portraits. They allowed me to work out the fleeting color’s of the season and time of day without having to worry over drawing or getting too stuck on the idea of creating a finished sketch. The color that I captured in oil was both richer and more accurate to what I saw than any of the photos that I had taken. The two types of reference materials together helped to create  more vibrant and convincing paintings in the end. I will post more about these two paintings in the next few days.

Tetra Opening

Last night was the opening of “Tetra.” It was a really great show and lot’s of people came by to check it out. I was really happy to be able to show with three artist’s who are currently attending the American Academy of Art in Chicago. The show took place at the Palette and Chisel Art Club, where I originally met the other artist’s in the show: Adam Nowak, Hanna Amer and Lucas Bianchi.

Small Gallery – Palette and Chisel

Large Gallery – Palette and Chisel

Adam and Lucas at Tetra Opening