On Tuesday, January 28, I began a copy of Paul Cezanne’s 1895 painting “Riverbank”, a very abstract piece compare to most of my copies. After completing Vincent Van Gogh’s “Roses”, which was painted mostly in Impasto, I had to adjust my style, loosen my grip on the brush, dilute the paint to a transparent format, and paint quickly. The beginning was rather hesitant, not feeling the mood Cezanne might have felt as he dashed the paint all over the canvas. But after about an hour I began to feel the flow of the paint. It is obvious to me that Cezanne didn’t under paint but he definitely layered his paint strokes and in some areas allowed the paint to drip down on the canvas. I’m not an extremely neat artist so this process was not difficult for me. In fact, it was rather enjoyable to allow myself to be so loose and free. My preliminary drawing helped with the placement of shapes but the thin washes of paint did not cover the pencil lines and marks so I will have to work on removing them as I progress. Cezanne liked to work on a nearly white surface allowing some of the background to show through. Duplicating the tones and hues presents a challenge as it does with most of the masterpieces. Old paint fades with time. My colors are fresh so there is naturally a difference but I will try my best to develop the painting as close to the original colors as possible.
To my surprise, this painting attracted much attention for the first day. A copy is often ignored on day one. Usually, there is not much to look at but “Riverbank” moved along quite quickly. At the end of the session most of the canvas had some paint on it although there is much to be done and a bit more splattering to do.
Unless snow or some mysterious power shuts us down, Paul Cezanne and I will be in gallery #84, National Gallery of Art, for the next several Tuesdays. Stop by and say hello.