A wide variety of drawing techniques were used in creating works currently on view at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, and those pieces offer inspiration for contemporary plein air artists. Bob Bahr wrote about the ink, graphite, charcoal, and chalk drawings for the digital edition of the January 2013 issue of PleinAir magazine.

“Landscape With the Flight into Egypt,” by Jan van Huysum, n.d., red chalk over traces of black chalk on cream laid paper, 10 1/4 x 14 in.

Bahr writes:

Plein air painting as we know it didn’t solidify until the invention, in 1841, of collapsible paint tubes, and didn’t gain significant popularity until Impressionism gave it new relevance and respect. But artists have long sought to capture the truth of things by working from life. While earlier artists could paint on location by transporting paints in pig bladders or small pots, plein air artwork was most often accomplished through drawings. The Crocker Art Musueum, in Sacramento, California, pays tribute to these important roots of plein air painting with The Artist’s View: Landscape Drawings From the Crocker Art Museum. The show, which will be on display through January 6, 2013, features works on paper from the museum’s permanent collection, spanning art history from the 1600s to the 1800s.

“Ruins of a Castle,” by Wijnand Nuyen, n.d., graphite, brush and point of brush and grey and brown washes on cream wove paper, 8 1/4 x 10 in.

Some of the pieces of the exhibition were likely executed entirely onsite. Others were almost assuredly created in the studio based on field sketches — similar to how many contemporary landscape paintings are painted in the studio but informed by plein air studies.

“Mary Magdalen in the Wilderness,” by Antonio Carracci, n.d., pen and dark brown ink on cream laid paper, laid down to cream laid secondary support, 10 1/4 x 8 in.

The Artist’s View: Landscape Drawings From the Crocker Art Museum is on view through January 6, 2013. For more information, visit www.crockerartmuseum.org.


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