Interior Places

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Snowstorm
nude, night, screen print contrast, reproduction, limited palette, light/dark, figurative, interior, furniture, window,couch,blanket, high realism,sleep, vulnerability, calm, quiet, snow, exterior, storm, weather,
description

In Snowstorm Jeremy Smith presents an interior and exterior view, with snow dominating the view out of a picture window. At the bottom of the  printAn exactly repeatable visual statement which exists as two-dimensional physical material.  a nude female lies on a couch, either sleeping or looking out at the snow. The entire scene is presented in muted  shadesDark value of a colour made by adding black.  of blue, creating an impression of calm and coolness. A blue blanket lies behind the woman, suggesting she is warm and protected without it.

From our viewpoint, in this work from the MacKenzie Art Gallery collection, we have only the woman’s body position to tell us what she might be thinking. We cannot see her face. She appears to be at rest as she stares out the window, gazing at undulating mounds of snow that gently suggest a female torso and breasts, unifying the interior and exterior scenes.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • What is your initial impression on seeing Snowstorm? What techniques does Smith use to achieve this?
  • Smith uses realistic techniques to create the details in his print, and yet the overall effect is not quite “real.” What is it about the work that leaves you with the feeling that it is not “real”?
  • In other works in the Interior Places theme, such as Ron McLellan’s The New Mysticism and Molly Lamb Bobak’s Interior with Moroccan Carpet the artists allow us to look into the scene, as though we are looking in through a door or window. In Snowstorm we look out through the room to the out-of-doors. What reasons might Smith have for using this perspective?
  • In McLellan’s and Bobak’s works there are no people present, whereas in Snowstorm we see the woman inside and the snowstorm outside the window. How does a human presence change our response to the work?
Advanced Activity

The values of old traditions in  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (Artlex.com)  art practice

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” is an old saying that can mean that we should not necessarily discard things just because they are old. It might be a good motto for lifestyles in this “throw-away” society of the 21st century. It is also true in the visual art world. Artist Jeremy Smith has taken this motto seriously. His work Snowstorm, shown here, is a reproduction of an original painting, but the originals were made using a very ancient  mediumAny material and technique used to produce a work of art (paint, glass, clay, fibre, video, sound, etc.). It may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint. Note that the plural form of “medium” is “media.”  called egg tempera used by artists before the discovery of  oilSlow-drying paint made when pigments are mixed with an oil, linseed oil being most traditional. The oil dries with a hard film, and the brightness of the colours is protected. Oil paints are usually opaque and traditionally used on canvas. They can have a matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finish. To look at examples of works in oil paints, see the articles under the names of every period from the Renaissance onward. (Artlex.com)  paints in the 14th century. Some artists have continued to use this egg  temperaA paint and process involving an emulsion of oil and water. It was in use before the invention of oil paints. Traditionally it involves an egg emulsion; thus the term egg tempera. The pigments or colours are mixed with an emulsion of egg yolks (removed from their sacs) or of size, rather than oil, and can be thinned and solved with water. Also known as egg tempera and temper. A varnish for tempera paints, called glair may be prepared by mixing egg whites with a little water, then beating them, and applying once the bubbles are gone. Because some of its ingredients are organic, tempera may spoil, and get very smelly. Claims have been made that when any one of the following substances are added, it reverses the growth of bacteria in tempera: benzoate of soda, bath salts, table salt, soap or cleanser such as 409, alcohol or bleach (one capful per gallon of tempera). (Artlex.com)  medium even though it is painstakingly slow and requires patience and special techniques. Artists who practice in this medium appreciate its ability to portray a delicacy of details. Egg  temperaA paint and process involving an emulsion of oil and water. It was in use before the invention of oil paints. Traditionally it involves an egg emulsion; thus the term egg tempera. The pigments or colours are mixed with an emulsion of egg yolks (removed from their sacs) or of size, rather than oil, and can be thinned and solved with water. Also known as egg tempera and temper. A varnish for tempera paints, called glair may be prepared by mixing egg whites with a little water, then beating them, and applying once the bubbles are gone. Because some of its ingredients are organic, tempera may spoil, and get very smelly. Claims have been made that when any one of the following substances are added, it reverses the growth of bacteria in tempera: benzoate of soda, bath salts, table salt, soap or cleanser such as 409, alcohol or bleach (one capful per gallon of tempera). (Artlex.com)  provides a unique painterly quality, unlike that of any other  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  medium.

For more information on the art of egg tempera  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  follow these links:

Other artists who use egg tempera are:

Advanced Activity

As a theme to explore both art history and art making processes, “windows” can be used. They could be used as a device (showing the outdoors as in Smith’s painting), or as a  metaphorUsed in art as in speech. A term, regularly used for one object, is used for another and suggests a likeness between to the two.  for looking into the  contentThe subject matter of a work of art and what it suggests about that subject matter. This includes the ways in which that work of art can be plausibly interpreted.  of art (for example, a window into the world of interior paintings or a personal interior emotion.)

  • Create a “brainstorm” chart or web to encourage and explore as many ideas as you can on this topic.
  • For example, consider Windows in Dreams.  Windows often feature in dreams.  Dream interpreters suggest that:
  • looking through a window at a stormy landscape implies that the dreamer is struggling with an inner conflict.
  • a window represents a time frame.

Here are a few examples of other artists who have used windows as compositional features in painting:

  • Henri Matisse in the paintings Open window, The Red Room, and Portrait of Lydia
  • Andrew Wyeth in the paintings Day Dream, Master Bedroom, Wind from the Sea, and Up in the Studio;
  • Early Flemish painters: Robert Campin and Rogier Van der Weyden. Most of their  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  matter was religious in nature, but windows frequently feature in their work . Landscapes shown through windows are painted in as much detail as the interiors. In images of the Virgin and Child, windows full of light might represent spiritual awakening.  For example:

Do you think the use and interpretation of the meaning of windows in early  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  is connected to ways that 20th and 21st century painters use them?

How much do you think modern painters owe their knowledge to the artistic/technical inventions and creativity of earlier artists?

Online Activity
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Pick the weather or landscape that you want to see outside the window. Click on your choice to put it in the window space.

Studio Activity

Through the window

Windows have often been used as compositional devices in painting.  Here are some thoughts about windows in visual art:

  • Windows let in light to show contrast, for example:
  • the contrast of light between the inside and the outside.

Study the image

Look at the scene outside the window and guess the location Smith has depicted. Write down how you think the artist has shown:

  • the cool light of a snowy evening landscape shining through the window
  • contrast
  • atmosphere.

Make your own artwork with a window

Here are some suggestions for three different ways to create your own artwork with a window:

  • Make an altered book work with the first page as an interior. Cut out a window to show what is behind the window and paint that on the second page.

To see other work by this Jeremy Smith go to the Mira Godard gallery website.

To find out about interpretations of “window” as a  motifRepeated unit to create visual rhythm.  and links to other artists who put windows into paintings, go to the Advanced Activity section

References

Author unknown.  Jeremy Smith: New Works on Paper and Board.  Exhibition catalogue.  Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, 1977.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning