A few entries ago I posted a beautiful drawing by Assael called 'Amber in Peacock Feathers 5.' I couldn't attach an Assael drawing to a measley article on Academic Art and leave it there! I don't even think that particular piece was very academic to tell you the truth, but it is a beautiful example of the places you can go.
I have to devote at least one entry to Assael because he is a living master.
I can't honestly say that I love every single thing he does. His artistic tastes and choices sometimes leave me dry. For example, the photo on his website's homepage leaves me little to blog about. In fact, I don't even think his best work is posted on his site (I find the work on his site rather dark and/or boring, but even there you can't deny his skill). If you google Assael and see some of his work posted on the Forum Gallery website, by whom he is repped, you see: 1) that he's capable of good taste; and 2) he is an amazingly skilled fine artist with a humbling mastery of his craft.
While I like his paintings, I love his drawings. They all have this luminous quality that draws you in.
Take this drawing for example:
Steven Assael, Seated Figure with Sunglasses, 2005
Courtesy Forum Gallery, Los Angeles
You can feel the texture with your eyes. The hair looks smooth and light, the skin fleshy and real. The way he renders his figures gives them a certain glow, as if the light is eminating from under their skin and shining out towards the viewer. His figures manage to pop from the page despite the plain white background. You can feel the weight of the body and it looks real and natural. As for context, I really enjoy that there is no background (like with so many of his drawings). It leaves the context to the viewer's imagination and invites each person to connect with it in a unique and intimate way. I picture a beach around the figure. You may picture a bed. To me, her body language reads as relaxed yet pensive. To you, it may read as sad and disappointed. His drawings allow for individual interpretation and connection, thus making it universal in its appeal.
This is my goal. Everything he has achieved in his drawing is what I long to have in mine.
The drawing of Amber has this same quality, but that drawing is even more exquisite because of the refined and light quality of all those peacock feathers. And look how she glows! It's just amazing.
I wonder if James Jean took his classes . . .