May Day Central Park painting is an oil canvas painting. The background has a green lawn and a few children running around. The features are in three dimensions an effect mostly created by effects of shadow, light and brush strokes. The people in this painting appear to have been painted one at a time, in a freeze-like flat backdrop. He uses a heavy impasto to show the children as playful in a smooth lawn in the background. He deployed full bodied features and chiaroscuro to show three dimensional paintings (Brown 157). We can even see the children’s swollen cheeks and the face of everyone in the painting; the focus is on the people in the painting. Glackens was a cartoonist, in this painting; he has combined several features to show several activities in order to attract attention.
The background in John Brown’s painting has soldiers surrounding him in a triangle, and the effect of this is to attract a viewer’s attention to the central figure. In the May Day Park painting, attention is attracted by the many activities, made clearer by the combination of several features. The background has buildings and a rectangular shaped door and courthouse, the lighter color contrast with the soldier’s dark colored uniforms in order to attract a viewer’s attention to them (Kennedy et al 405). Everyone in the first painting is looking at John Brown except one soldier who is looking at something outside the painting. His rifle is pointed in such a way that it attracts a viewer’s attention to the main subject. Focus on the main subject is also made by the light colored clothes of the woman with a baby, and the soldiers holding their rifles in a vertical manner. The overall mood is somber in John Brown painting, but the mood in the second painting is lively with children playing and everyone is happy from their faces. In the painting in May Day Central Park, there is depiction of equality, everyone is dressed in almost the same way and they seem to share a lot in common.
In John Brown Painting, the slave woman has faded clothing; John Brown is kissing her Negro baby. The significance of this is to show what John Brown is protecting the most. The soldier’s uniform is supposed to be sarcastic because the uniform was previously made to depict revolution. Most of the people seem to adore John Brown, but the two men in Suits look at him sternly to show they despise him. Therefore, this is mostly a political painting. This is in contrast to the May Day Central Park painting, which is meant to depict people and their daily lives in the urban areas. The place is obviously a park where social functions occur, people meet and make merry.
The models appear in three dimensional an effect mostly brought about by using oil painting and the effects of shadow and light in both paintings. The brightest image in the first painting is John Brown probably to attract attention to him. If the painting is studied carefully, you will notice that the technique of using cast shadows is used to show that the light is coming from the right side, the people standing on the left side appear brighter than the ones on the right side. To show outlines of figures, the effect of shadow is used in the steps when the painter used shadows. The figures are outlined using shadows to depict the face and clothes in both paintings. In the painting on May Day Central Park painting, the use of cast shadow is also used to show that light is coming from the left side. The shadow of the tree and everyone else is inclined to the right.
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The painting of John Brown is an oil canvas painting and has different shades of dark and light colors. The light colors are meant to show effects such as bricks and stairs. The lighter tones are also in the black woman’s clothes to contrast with the soldiers' clothing. Color is also used to represent race, the black people are looking at John Brown in a hopeful way, and all the soldiers are white. The May Day Central Park painting contains a combination of light and dark shades. To bring attention to the front features, a lighter shade is used, in the background and to show the direction of light, a darker shade of green and black is used. Vegetation, the faces of people and their different clothes are depicted by the use of color.
As explained earlier, it could be said that the source of light is from the sun and it is on the left side of the painting due to the shadows orientation. The figure of John Brown is fully illuminated from top to bottom. The people around him can be seen clearly; even the onlookers can be seen only that they cannot be counted. Light is used to the extent that we can even see the bare feet of some of the black onlookers and the soldiers’ shoes. This is probably meant to show the status of the black people as slaves. Light shines brightly on the main theme and the area around him to help us viewers focus our attention to him. The effect of light in the May Day Central Park painting is seen when the items in the direction of the source of light are much brighter. To bring a happy mood, light is used to show happy faces and merry making.
Different brush strokes are used for different effects. In John Brown’s painting, for the bricks, short dabbed strokes are used (Cedar 109). For the stairs and steps, long brush strokes are used. Curved short strokes are used for the facial features. In May Day Central Park painting, short light brush strokes are used on the trees and the faces of people. For the trees, such strokes are meant to show the leafy branches while in people, the fat cheeks of the children and the smiling faces of people. It could be said that smooth strokes were used to show facial features in both paintings. Longer brush strokes are used for the lawn and in the background. For the lawn, a lighter stroke was used compared to the trees. There is the presence of impasto where they applied paint on the canvas before both paintings were done. This is also evident where there is the effect of crevices at the end of the steps in the painting of John Brown and to show the landscape in May Day Central Park painting.
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A combination of color, shadow, light and brush strokes are used to create a somber mood in John Brown’s Last Moment painting and a happy, merry mood in the second painting (Rybczinsky 409). The artists used these techniques to show us the situations in the paintings. John Brown was an activist against slavery; the painting was made to show his arrest, most of his followers are sad yet the soldiers have a sort of a triumphant look on them. With May Day Central Park, all the elements are combined to show the lives of people as being social. Shape is used to show physical features of the face. The artist is trying to convey the message about the situation in each painting.