June Monthly Challenge

Nighthawks (1942) by Edward Hopper
Oil on canvas, 33 1⁄8 in × 60 in
About the Art
Nighthawks portrays people sitting in a downtown diner late at night. It is Hopper’s most famous work and is one of the most recognizable paintings in American art. Within months of its completion, it was sold to the Art Institute of Chicago for $3,000 and has remained there ever since.
Josephine Hopper’s notes on the painting starting shortly after their marriage in 1924, Edward Hopper and his wife, Josephine (Jo), kept a journal in which he would, using a pencil, make a sketch-drawing of each of his paintings, along with a precise description of certain technical details. Jo Hopper would then add additional information in which the themes of the painting are, to some degree, illuminated.
A review of the page on which “Nighthawks” is entered shows (in Edward Hopper’s handwriting) that the intended name of the work was actually “Night Hawks”, and that the painting was completed on January 21, 1942.
Jo’s handwritten notes about the painting give considerably more detail, including the interesting possibility that the painting’s evocative title may have had its origins as a reference to the beak-shaped nose of the man at the bar:
“Night + brilliant interior of cheap restaurant. Bright items: cherry wood counter + tops of surrounding stools; light on metal tanks at rear right; brilliant streak of jade green tiles ¾ across canvas—at base of glass of window curving at corner. Light walls, dull yellow ocre door into kitchen right.
Very good looking blond boy in white (coat, cap) inside counter. Girl in red blouse, brown hair eating sandwich. Man night hawk (beak) in dark suit, steel grey hat, black band, blue shirt (clean) holding cigarette. Other figure dark sinister back—at left. Light side walk outside pale greenish. Darkish red brick houses opposite. Sign across top of restaurant, dark—Phillies 5c cigar. Picture of cigar. Outside of shop dark, green. Note: bit of bright ceiling inside shop against dark of outside street—at edge of stretch of top of window.”
Hopper chose to paint a scene located at a sharply-angled street-corner, rather than at one of New York’s many right-angled intersections. This choice was not unusual for Hopper, who painted a number of other scenes of this kind of corner. A sharp corner gave him the opportunity to display his subjects from a nearly frontal point of view, and also allowed him to display the dimly visible street scene behind the patrons. Hopper often painted scenes in which a part of the exterior view could be seen through two panes of glass. The shape of the diner in Nighthawks, when seen from Hopper’s chosen angle (which is also the point of view of a passer-by walking past on the sidewalk), allows this second glass surface to fill the entire centre of the painting. The further pane of glass forms a rhomboid, close to the center of the painting and recalling, with slight distortion, the shape of the entire canvas, and framing much of the action.
The back window serves as a background for all three customers, but not for the server. Its variance from the shape of the painting as a whole also hides a curious symmetry that would otherwise be obvious: The head of the customer who is sitting alone is at the precise center of the frame-within-a-frame (which is also the exact center of the painting as a whole). Although they sit around a bend in the counter, the heads of the couple are directly to his right, so that a horizontal line, drawn precisely halfway between the top and the bottom of the canvas, would bisect all three heads. The entire human element in the painting is therefore contained within the lower right-hand quarter of the canvas.
As Jo Hopper’s journal entry notes, the brightest spot in the painting is the “bit of bright ceiling” close to the hidden fluorescent light that illuminates the interior. The ceiling is obviously of limited relevance to any narrative that might be unfolding among the customers below; this is Hopper’s realism at work.
Outside the diner, dull colors predominate, as might be expected at night. Inside, the counter-top and the men’s suits are also dull. The two brightly-colored spots in the entire interior are the white outfit worn by the server and the female customer’s red blouse. Indeed, her red blouse and lipstick represent the only use of red in the entire composition, causing her to stand apart from everything else in the painting. Hopper left no written record to indicate whether the elimination of all other red is intended.
About the Artist
Edward Hopper (July 22, 1882 – May 15, 1967) was a prominent American realist painter and printmaker. While he was most popularly known for his oil paintings, he was equally proficient as a watercolorist and printmaker in etching. Both in his urban and rural scenes, his spare and finely calculated renderings reflected his personal vision of modern American life.
Always reluctant to discuss himself and his art, Hopper simply summed up his art by stating, “The whole answer is there on the canvas.” Hopper was stoic and fatalistic—a quiet introverted man with a gentle sense of humor and a frank manner. Conservative in politics and social matters, he accepted things as they were and displayed a lack of idealism. Cultured and sophisticated, he was well-read, and many of his paintings show figures reading. He was generally good company and unperturbed by silences, though sometimes taciturn, grumpy or detached. He was always serious about his art and the art of others, and when asked would return frank opinions.
Hopper’s most systematic declaration of his philosophy as an artist was given in a handwritten note, titled “Statement”, submitted in 1953 to the journal, Reality:
“Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world. No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination. One of the weaknesses of much abstract painting is the attempt to substitute the inventions of the human intellect for a private imaginative conception.
The inner life of a human being is a vast and varied realm and does not concern itself alone with stimulating arrangements of color, form and design.
The term life used in art is something not to be held in contempt, for it implies all of existence and the province of art is to react to it and not to shun it.
Painting will have to deal more fully and less obliquely with life and nature’s phenomena before it can again become great.”
Though Hopper claimed that he didn’t consciously embed psychological meaning in his paintings, he was deeply interested in Freud and the power of the subconscious mind. He wrote in 1939, “So much of every art is an expression of the subconscious that it seems to me most of all the important qualities are put there unconsciously, and little of importance by the conscious intellect.”
Blog Tour
The Blog Tour deadline is June 27th.
***Note Change***
Links must be added to the Art Bead Scene flickr page where you upload your entry
The Blog Tour will be on the 29th.

Monthly Challenge Winners
Winners will be randomly chosen from all the qualifying entries on July 1st.
Our Sponsors
Our Sponsors this month are Second Surf and B’Sue Boutiques.
Please visit us tomorrow to see the prizes!
Featured Designer of the Week:
From all the entries during the month, an editor is going to pick their favorite design to be featured every Monday here on ABS. We want to give our participants more time in the spotlight! Our Featured Designer will be this Monday, so get those entries in soon.
How to enter the Monthly Challenge:
1. Create something using an art bead that fits within our monthly theme. We post the art to be used as your inspiration to create. This challenge is open to jewelry-makers, fiber artists, collage artist, etc. The art bead can be created by you or someone else. The challenge is to inspire those who use art beads and to see all the different ways art beads can be incorporated into your handiwork. An Art Bead must be used in your piece.
***Beads strung on a chain, by themselves and beads simply wire or cord will not be accepted.***
2. Upload your photo to our flickr group. Detailed instructions can be found here and click here for a tutorial for sending your picture to the group.
Please add the tag or title JUNE ABS to your photos. Include a short description, who created the art beads and a link to your blog, if you have one.
Deadline is June 30th. Photos are approved by our moderators, if a photo hasn’t followed the guidelines it will not be approved. You may upload 2 photos a day.
What is an Art Bead?
An art bead is a bead, charm, button or finding made by an independent artist. Art beads are the vision and handiwork of an individual artist. You can read more about art beads here.
***A bead that is handmade is not necessarily an art bead. Hill Tribe Silver, Kazuri ceramic beads or lampwork beads made in factories are examples of handmade beads that are not considered art beads.
Beaded beads, stamped metal pendants or wire-wrapped components are not considered art beads for our challenge.***
p.s. If you have a blog, post your entry and a link to the ABS challenge to spread the beady goodness.

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8 Comment

  1. Cristeen
    June 4, 2012 at 11:09 am

    fantastic post thanks for sharing
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  2. sandi m
    June 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Love this piece and so grateful to live near its home at the Art Institute. Will be fun to see how designers interpret it.

  3. Ben @ Cardprinting.us
    June 4, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    This one's classic. I've been a big fan of Hopper and the Nighthawks is one of my favorites!

  4. Rebecca
    June 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I absolutely love this picture. It was featured on a really interesting programme I watched a few months ago – Art and the Night, on BBC4. I found myself incredibly intrigued by this one at the time. Thanks for another wonderful choice Heather!

  5. Donna
    June 10, 2012 at 4:27 am

    Awesome… Can't wait to give this a try!

  6. A Polymer Penchant
    June 27, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Just finished. What a great choice, so much room for interpretation. Oh how I love this monthly challenge!

  7. Designed by Vera
    June 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Finished mine finally. Can't wait for July.


  8. Attorney Angela Lund-Logan
    June 28, 2012 at 3:20 am

    I just uploaded my submission. I have posted my submission on blog: attorneyangelalundlogan.blogspot.com. The link is http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=320341850953600380#editor/target=post;postID=6754296051153881983

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