Edgar Degas’ paintings are some of the most well known art pieces of the 19th century. While many may not know the name Degas, they’ve all seen the paintings and sculptures of the lovely ballerinas.

Born in France July 19, 1834, Edgar Degas was born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas and is best known for his works in printmaking, painting, sculpture, and drawing. Ironically called one of the founders of Impressionism, Degas disliked this term and rejected it, preferring the term ‘realist’ instead. A master of depicting dance, nearly half of his works are of ballerinas. In fact, he is recognized as an exceptional painter of movement. Most noted for the detail and expert skill in his works, Degas’ paintings often express much psychological complexity. Early on, Degas desired to be a historical painter, studying classical techniques and enduring rigorous training for many years. It wasn’t until his 30′s that he switched direction and became a classically styled painter of modern depictions.

Serving in the military during the Franco-Prussian War, Degas all but abandoned painting for nearly two years. After the war, he swiftly moved to New Orleans, Louisiana to live with relatives. He resumed painting there and created the single painting to be purchased by a museum in his lifetime- “A Cotton Office in New Orleans.”

Returning to France only a year later, Degas began work on his most famous paintings shortly after his father’s death. Mocking the “plein aire” style of Monet, Degas admired the works of Manet and Van Gogh as well as El Greco. He later developed a love for photography and left himself to isolation much of the time, believing he could have no personal life. Many other painters of the time including Renoir thought his temperament to be far too combative to be agreeable to them and soon left him to himself.

Living to the ripe old age of 83, Degas lived much of his life alone and never married. He spent the last years of his life suffering from near blindness and wandering the streets of Paris following the demolition of his home until he died in 1917.

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Interested to know the man behind the famous “Water Lilies” painting that has captured the fascination of many people worldwide?

Here are some fun facts you may not know about Claude Monet:

  • He helped to invent and create the style we know today as “Impressionism”.
  • He was fascinated with painting things as they appeared when hit by sunlight.
  • He enjoyed depicting nature including plants, oceans and lakes, ponds, and boats.
  • He was seen as a rebel during his school years as he would frequently draw funny caricatures of his friends and teachers instead of working.
  • He never planned to be a painter and was never interested in painting much until he met future mentor Eugene Boudin. Eugene encouraged him to paint in “plein aire” or outdoors He then enrolled in art school only to drop out shortly after.
  • Before going on to paint “en plein aire,” he drew caricatures for locals, neighbors and friends to make money and was very prosperous at a young age for doing so.
  • Monet served in the military in Algeria for a time. His aunt helped him get out of service on the condition that he take an art course at a university. He left the army and  enrolled in the art, but because he disliked the traditional painting styles the university taught, he dropped out shortly after.
  • He was lifelong friends with Auguste Renoir, the painter with whom he founded the Impressionist movement and often painted with.
  • He painted his first wife Camille on her death-bed.
  • The Impressionist movement and consequent style were named after one of his paintings- “Impression: Sunrise.”

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Vincent Van Gogh was one of many posthumously famous painters. Whether his goal was fame or not, his talent is evident and famous even now, one hundred years later. His talent may be most obvious in one of his most famous paintings, “Starry Night,” which was painted during his stay at a mental asylum and depicted the view outside his room at night and was painted by memory during the day. Although beautiful, many of his paintings including this one show deep insight into man’s spiritual and social condition of the time. Utilizing postimpressionist styles and innovating them adventurously, Van Gogh passionately drew and painted all throughout his life. Although painting much until his death at the young age of 37 due to self-inflicted gunshot wounds, Van Gogh was rarely if ever happy with his works. In fact, he wasn’t happy at all with the beloved “Starry Night,” declaring in a letter to his brother Theo that the painting lacked “individual intention and feeling in the lines…”

Much of his unhappiness with his works and probably his life seems to stem from a tormented life of much suffering and loss. Vincent had an older brother who died at birth and whose name was also Vincent Van Gogh. He suffered from epilepsy as well as several ther mental and physical conditions as well as an addictin to absinthe. Many are aware of his famed chopping off of an ear lobe to give as a gift to a prostitute. He was arrested and hospitalized because of this incident. He also suffered from syphilis, lead poisoning and malnutrition from living in poverty. It seems mental instability and health problems were hereditary as he and his brothers all died young and his sister spent most of her life locked up in a mental asylum. Yet, in spite of the striking odds against this severely depressed and arguably unstable man, he painted and desperately tried to express his soul through his work.

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Considered one of the greatest minds of  the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci was more than simply a painter. While it is true that he painted, he was quite the multi-talented genius. A true Renaissance man of the Italian Renaissance, da Vinci was truly a polymath having mastered many areas of study including painting, sculpting, architecture and design, mathematics, science, inventing, engineering, botanic studies, music, anatomy, geology, cartography and writing.

Studied and admired by many, da Vinci is widely recognized as one of the greatest painters of all time, having painted one of the most famous paintings in existence: “The Mona Lisa.” He also created one of the most famous and most reproduced religious paintings in existence:”The Last Supper.” Da Vinci is frequently studied, his works and inventions analyzed, and although highly logical and ahead of his time, he is still thought to mystify many.

Although he is considered by many to be a technological engineer way ahead of his time for his concepts for a helicopter, a tank, solar power, the calculator, and many others, Da Vinci’s life began humbly as the illegitimate son of a gentleman and a peasant. Amazingly, Leonardo da Vinci only ever received an informal education in geometry, Latin and mathematics. Courts of Florence record him as being charged and aquitted with Sodomy in 1476 and then disappearing altogether until 1478. Speculators claim he was studying with Medici during this time among other talented philosphers, poets and painters, but that has never been proved or disproved.

Later he was commissioned to complete many paintings for various churches, many of which were never finished. He was creator of many different mechanisms, was considered an exceptional musician and painter of many art pieces. Having never married, many speculate that da Vinci was homosexual and took many of his pupils as lovers, though this was never proven. He was under the service of Francis I and received a large sum of money as pension to reside near him. They remained lifelong friends until his death in 1519.

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Although maps were already invented at the time that Da Vinci created many of his strategy maps for the great leader Cesare Borgia, many historians have been shocked at their accuracy. Just as Da Vinci awed Cesare and his court with his map (seeing maps in person at this time was considered very rare and magical), historians have been astounded at the accuracy of his drawings. Having no way of aerial flight at that time, how is it that Da Vinci was able to scale such accurate aerial viewpoints of the land?

Aside from their accuracy, Da Vinci was also the first to differentiate elevation on land maps using colors. It is likely he used a hodometer, an instrument of his own invention that was rolled across the ground in order to measure distance, but the startling accuracy of mountains, roads and rivers show much more. Also fascinating of Da Vinci’s strategy maps were the amount of beautiful artistic skill in combination with strategic accuracy and practical use. He was able to paint the different levels of elevation using differing shades of paint colors while still maintaining a practical use for Borgia’s military. At first look, some may say that Da Vinci simply made ordinary maps, upon further investigation, all will agree that Leonardo Da Vinci was far ahead of his time in seemingly every area of study.

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Originally created as a test to prove to himself that man’s physical body could be imitated by mechanics in the same way, Da Vinci built his robot and dressed it as a knight in order to showcase it at the parties of his patron Lodovico Sforz and entertain guests who could see it in working mode. Powered by a crank mechanism at the back of the robot, Da Vinci presumably directed the mechanism at such parties in order to impress the guests. Utilizing his studies and theories in anatomy and kinaesthetics, Da Vinci designed the robot under the assumption that the human body was a mechanism made of a series of pulleys and levers and implemented this same idea during its creation in order to make it move properly.

Finally built in 1495, Da Vinci created his knight robot with the ability to sit, stand, walk, moves its head side to side, raise its arms up and down, and open and close its mouth. Created using several systems to move differing parts of the body, Da Vinci used a four factor system to control the wrists, hands, shoulders and elbows as well as a tri-factor system which controlled the knees, ankles and hips, all of which was motivated via a crank at the back. Although no doubt brilliant, Da Vinci’s robot was lost or broken and only the designs and notes remain.

Inspired by the designs for Da Vinci’s robot knight, NASA will be implementing the use of his designs for their own robots, referred to as anthrobots, in order to run their future space station and assist in colonizing Mars. NASA has depended heavily on Da Vinci’s designs for the development and creation of their own robots.

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No artist before Leonardo da Vinci had been concerned with the internal workings of the human body. Many artists focused instead on only that external and physical appearance of people rather than what happened internally. Conducting even more research than medical doctors of the time, Da Vinci studied and dissected dead bodies in order to understand the functioning of the human body. He was especially interested in finding where exactly the human soul resided in the body. Because of these studies, he was able to get a more complete grasp on the inner workings of human beings and how the physical function and outward appearance worked together.

As a results of these studies and consequent understanding of human anatomy, Da Vinci’s drawings and paintings took on a more realistic appearance, thus giving fruition to the “Vitruvian Man”. Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” is said to be a culmination of his studies of human anatomy and understanding of the ways of the human body as well as their relation and connection to the universe. He deeply believed that the human body has an innate connection with the entire universe and attempted to illustrate this with the drawings and writings of the “Vitruvian Man.” This led to his distinct artistic style that we note as a signature of Da Vinci’s paintings and drawings that have fascinated us for centuries.

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With the immense popularity of anime art styles among the youth of the world, it’s no wonder artists of this generation have their own new medium to go along with their artistic style. If you haven’t heard of copic markers, let me enlighten you. Copic markers are an extremely high quality marker that have a very wet consistency. They are widely recognized, especially by animators, as the highest quality markers around. Copic markers have a consistency similar to watercolor and blend differently than conventional markers do. When used properly, the colors will dry without any lines in very vibrant colors. If you’re more a traditionalist when it comes to mediums, you’ll be surprised to find that these copic markers actually have realy diverse capabilities, especially when it comes to shading details and creating depth.

Ultimately, buying copic markers is a bit of an investment. Ranging in price from $100 to $350, copic markers might be considered too pricey to some, but fans of this medium have no buyer’s remorse. With their versatility and vibrancy of color, copic markers are felt to be the highest quality markers available on the market with a character all their own. It is recommended that if you wish to purchase or have purchase copic markers, you should check out some tutorials online beforehand in order to properly utilize the markers to their fullest potential and without wasting unnecessary ink as the markers have a watercolor type consistency.

Check out this great YouTube Tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sSA6nL_iPI

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Born July 14, 1862, Gustav Klimt was an Austrian symbolist painter and activist in the Vienna Secession. His art includes sketches, paintings, and murals for the most part. The center of most of his art is the female body with a signature touch of eroticism in his works. His most famous works include “Gold Coin,” “The Kiss,” “Beethoven Frieze,” and the portrait of “Adele Bloch-Bauer I.” Many thought his works to be outrageous and even pornographic, but still his works were sought out by high bidders. Even today his works are admired and coveted, some sold for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Born in Austria-Hungary to a gold-engraver father Ernst Klimt and mother Anna Klimt, Gustav lived most of his childhood in poverty. The second oldest of seven children, Gustav and his two brothers all were said to have displayed artistic talent early on. Of them, only Gustav was accepted to the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts, where he studied architectural painting until 1883. He then accepted academic work from Hans Makart, a historical painter.

Later, he helped to create a team of artists with his friends and brother Ernst called the “Company of Artists.” Together they painted murals in art museums and other public buildings in Vienna. In 1888, Klimt received the Golden Order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria for painting murals in Burgtheater in Vienna. He also became an honary member of the University of Munich and the University of Vienna. In 1892, his father and brother Ernst died tragically and he assumed financial responsibility for both families and soon met Emilie Floge, the woman who was to be his companion until the end of his life. Though he presumably had numerous affairs with other women throughout his life, Emilie Floge remained by his side all through his life. He fathered at least 14 children. Resuming work after such tragic ends, Klimt reflected this on all future works.

In 1897 Klimt became a founding member and official president of the Vienna Secession, an organization that focused its efforts on bringing the best foreign art to the country, assisting young artists in exhibiting their work, and publishing a magazine to showcase the work of its members. He went on to paint murals in many university and other public buildings as well as private paintings as he was quite famous by this time. He died in 1918 after suffering from a stroke and pneumonia due to the Influenza epidemic of 1918. Much of his artworks were left unfinished, but fame remained and grew further after his untimely death.

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