Happy Birthday Rembrandt!

Today is the 407th birthday of Rembrandt van Rijn, one of my all time favorite classical painters.

Born July 16, 1606 in Leiden, Netherlands, Rembrandt is widely considered to be one of the most influential and important of all art history. Celebrate his genius today by enjoying a few of his works.

I have had several opportunities to view Rembrandt’s works first hand as I have visited museums over the years and I never tire of studying  his brushwork, draftsmanship and technique. If you have never had a chance to see paintings from this master painter in person, I highly recommend a trip to any museum that houses his work. New York would be a fine choice.

I love to try to decipher the way he employed thick and thin paint. Rembrandt was arguably the godfather of modern oil painting in that he solidified many the patterns of classical patterns of oil painting that I learned in school and from workshops I have attended.

I particularly enjoy Rembrandt’s effective use of light and dark value patterning and the way he leaves all the shadows transparent and relatively flat while building up thick opaque paint in the highlight areas. The early self portrait below, painted when the artist was only 25, is a great example of the transparent, flat shadow principle.

The portrait of Christ above shows the evidence of the very thick opaque paint he used in the highlights. This balance gives life to the painting. The light side carries all the detail and color while the shadow side carries the form and gives volume to the portrait. These are probably the two most important aspect of painting that I have learned from the Dutch master painter. Though I don’t try to paint in the same manner as Rembrandt did, I know that studying his masterful works I can gain better understanding of what makes a truly great work of art and hopefully transfer those concepts into my own work. Happy 407th Rembrandt!

See full post here: LIFE NEEDS ART2013-07-15.