Recognizing Master Paintings: Achieving Vibrancy &  Freshness in Plein Air Studies

Mikhail Volodin (1912-1987) trained at Surikov’s Moscow Art Institute and was known for his lyrical land-scapes. This study for a larger work (Concert at the Building-Site, now in the Tretyakov Museum in Moscow) has a wonderful vibrancy and freshness.



Concert at the Building-Site

Mikhail Volodin (1912-1987)

Looking carefully at the aspects of this painting that lend distinction, the first thing that comes to mind is that Volodin distributed colors throughout the painting. I have shown how he repeated the warm red colors in various parts of the painting while maintaining subtle differences between those reds.


They are not all the same temperature; some of the reds are warmer (that is to say, they are closer to orange), and other reds are cooler (in the red-violet range). Another variation between these color spots is the saturation, or chroma, of the reds. The saturation is reduced in the distant space, and that helps give the painting depth. The variation also makes the ab-stract design, or “visual music,” of the painting more interesting. The repetition of each color throughout the painting keeps the viewer’s eye moving around the picture.

In figure 2, I have similarly shown the distribution of the blues.  In these blue color spots you can also clearly see that some of the spots are highly saturated blues, and others are much grayer. Repetition with variety is a hallmark of great paintings.

Another interesting thing about this work is Vorodin's use of rhythm lines. Rhythm lines, either explicit or implicit, give movement to a painting.


You can see that many of the curves in the painting have been repeated but all following roughly the same curving rhythm line. This line echoes the dancing and movement of the figures in the painting, giving it life and vitality. It is that vitality that gives this painting its "visual music".



Note: You can learn more about brush strokes techniques and creating visual music and poetry in workshops *,* & * of the Virtual Art Academy Apprentice Program

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