Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Ashcan School

I might have completely misunderstood the concept - "gritty urban scenes" is one phrase the challenge used to describe the art, and my picture is hardly that. The challenge also describes the Ashcan School as a group of artists who wanted to depict real life, and even if its not gritty or urban, hopefully this picture does that much. Because I looked at Robert Henri's art, and I saw many portraits, a few city streets showing the weather, but nothing that really seemed to stand out as a representation of what the Ashcan school was about...

So I did a picture set as America enters World War I (1917 - the U.S. declared war against Germany), and the first soldiers are off to war. It's supposed to be this guy and his wife and kids, but I'm afraid the soldier looks too young, and his wife looks too old (I think it's just her hair style, which I tried to keep accurate for that time period, but it turned out with bits of grey in it...). It almost looks more like a son/big brother than a father :P Oh well.

I also got a little impatient with it, so that my lines can still be seen and are extremely messy in some places (like the little boy, or the soldier's hands). And I didn't mean for that boy's eye to be sooo dark. I had to look up what the soldier uniforms looked like back then and everything, and I tried (and failed) with the lady to do clothes in the right style... by the time I got to the kids, I gave up, obviously. The boy is nearly naked. I'm not as much of a perfectionist as I thought I was :)

I probably won't submit it. I kind of like just doing it for fun and leaving it at that. If I did get the wrong idea from the challenge, its okay, I kind of like the idea of this picture anyway.

(I don't like drawing people. I get their proportions right, but they always look cartoonish.)


  1. I think this very well captures the basic ideology of the Ashcan school. As always, I think it is fabulous and your style is so unique. You've had a style for years and I so wish I could do what you can do, Jess. Awesome piece and truly one to tug on the heartstrings. Love the little boy in diapers! teehee

  2. By the way; is that the painting of Harley you did over there on the right? Jordan told me you had done one (she said Harley was sleeping in it); it is fabulous and I can so see Harley in that particular pose!

  3. Welcome to blogdom, Jess. I can see that you're every bit as talented as your Mum has suggested. This figurative piece is very atmospheric.
    I also love the little Harley cameo on the right sidebar.
    You'll find that art blogging is addictive - and oh so helpful. Have fun.

  4. Hey Jess!!
    Glad you decided to jump in!! Your work is terrific!! Your mom is a very smart woman.....encouraging you!!

  5. Mom - by the time I got to that boy, I was done with trying to find 1917 clothing. I think I gave up on the girl, even. She's wearing a pink blob from head to toe.

    To Gillian and Manon, thanks for the warm welcome and compliments :) My mom brings this up maybe every other time she calls me. She is unrelenting.

  6. Hi Jessica, You've really done a masterful job on this painting! You've given it so much feeling and captured what the Ashcan School is all about..."real life". BTW...The gritty urban scene was only a suggestion :) I would love to be able to post it on the Following the Masters blog if you will allow me to.

    PS - Remember, you don't always need a lot of detail to make a great painting. Sometimes all you need is a pink blob for a dress. ;)

  7. Hello Michelle, thank you so much! I figured it was a suggestion, but when I scrolled down on the challenge and saw a couple people comment on their excitement over doing a "gritty" picture, that's when I began to have second thoughts, as it seemed others were focusing on that aspect specifically! I'm glad you find it acceptable!

    (I'm starting to enjoy things that don't have tons of detail, such as my little dog picture in my header and sidebar.)

    If you want to post it, certainly, since you were so nice about it :) I'll formally email it tomorrow.

  8. I think you did a fabulous job!! So glad you submitted it.

  9. This is better than any original Ashcan painting in my very opinionated opinion LOL.

  10. Thank you Pamo, and Chartan - I'm speechless over your comment! lol

  11. I love your paintings, and your blog, Jess! Bravo!


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