Saturday, March 15, 2014

Inspiration from the 19th Century

My Jacob Maentel style painting 

Inspiration that comes from the 19th Century 

By Kolene Spicher 

This is my version of a Maentel
I call her a School Teacher because of her Book and Pen 

Many times artist give you insight into their thoughts and ideas simply by including little objects within the painting.  I do this often and so did Maentel.  His work is amazing and if you get a second google him to see a wide range of beautiful examples that were painted long ago.  

Jacob Maentel was a German immigrant who painted more than 200 portraits of friends and neighbors in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Indiana.  His watercolors provide a little window into the time frame in which he lived and painted, 1807 to 1846.  He was so good, but ironically, there are only four signed examples of his work (or at least that was what I read and presume to be true).  He has a very long given name--Johann Adam Bernhard Jacob Maentel, and he was born October 15, 1778.  

His  medium is not unlike mine.  He worked in watercolor, gauche, ink, pencil, paper, etc.  

The picture above is a closeup of my favorite painting in the Maentel genre.  I have had this for many years and is a keeper.  I actually have seen real Maentels up and close.  I think he would be proud of this likeness, not to brag.  

Look at the details around the collar on her dress.  Keep in mind the image size on this painting is only about 7x9". So I used a very small brush and very little saturation in the paint, meaning it was watery with less pigment.  This same technique was used for the face.  

Check out the little blades of grass and bushes!

The bush scale is technically 'off' with this painting style, but that's what makes it folkart and individual.  I appreciate picture realism but I don't want to lose the painterly folky-ness of my artwork, either.  That's why I like artists like Maentel, or Porter, or even VanGogh.  Their scale or their technique or colors were not always reflective of reality.  It draws interest from the viewer.  

Next week, I will be starting a whaling scene for Nantucket Country of Nantucket, MA.  Check back to see how I collect reference material and progress with this painting!


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