The following works are now available for purchase exclusively at Nepenthe Gallery in Alexandria, VA.
Art Around The Corner
I was privileged to be asked by the Education Department at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. to teach a class to visiting school children. The class consisted of several groups from third to sixth grades. As a copyist, I often have to speak to students who come through with their teachers and chaperons. They are always interested in speaking with a real live artist, even more so than looking at the paintings on the walls. They ask all kinds of questions. “Did you paint all the pictures hanging on the walls?” “Did you do this in one day?” “Do you sell your painting for a million dollars?” The questions are endless and their curiosity is enormous. Although I’m asked some of the same questions occasionally from adults, the children are so much fun. They want to know how did I get to paint at the gallery, how do I begin, how long does it take to finish, at what age did I start painting? This time I finally had an opportunity to interact with them.
The Education Department wanted to develop a program so the children can see the process of a working artist. The course began in the East Wing in front of a painting Both Members of This Club by George Bellows. We talked about how to develop a drawing by studying the shapes of the subject or a model – picking out rectangles, cylinders, circles, squares that form a figure. The Bellows painting has many shapes. The children were fascinated by the bloody boxing figures, which are of course a bit violent for the younger children, but they were really more interested in picking out shapes in the composition than interpreting the meaning behind the subject.
During the second half of the course the children were able to spend time with me in the West Building watching me paint. The Education Department chose the Self Portrait by Vincent van Gogh for demonstration. I showed them how I prepare to begin a copy, from making a grid to drawing, underpainting and finally what they all long anticipated – the actual painting. Of course I didn’t have time to complete the painting for them, but the teaching team requested I finish the painting, which you can see in the photo above.
The background of the original portrait appears blue, but through the use of x-ray imaging, conservators at the NGA have discovered the original background was likely bright purple. Over the years, it seems the red pigment van Gogh used to mix his purple (a light sensitive pigment called “Geranium Lake”) has faded out of the mix he applied for the background. I chose to stay true to the original and paint my copy with a bright purple background.
The third part of Art Around the Corner was painting in the education studio where the children were able to do their own painting.
The Arts Club of Washington presents a one of a kind exhibit that will surely wow you. A magnificent collection of art has been created by some very talented independent artist and copyist at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Each copy has been created in front of the original masterpiece. As copyist, we learn and perfect our skills by studying the styles, history and procedures of great painters from the past as the master artists we copy did before them.
Come out, meet the artist and enjoy a fun evening of great art. Opening Reception will be on Friday, January 5th from 6:30-8:30, The Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I Street and 20th NW. Parking options include free street parking on Pennsylvania Avenue after 6:30 PM, metered parking in front of the of the Arts Club, and at the Colonial Garage, 2100 Pennsylvania Avenue, where you can prepay and reserve a space online. The club is also within a few blocks of both the Foggy Bottom and the Farragut West and North Metro stations. For more information go to the Arts Club of Washington. This event is free and open to the public.
Note: this exhibition is not organized, supported, or endorsed by the National Gallery of Art.
CHILDREN PLAYING ON THE BEACH
Mary Cassatt was the “new woman” of the 19th century – a highly-trained artist who never married. During the Impressionist Period, when female artists were generally dismissed with contempt and confined to painting indoors, she competed admirably with established male artists. She even developed a close friendship with Edgar Degas while living and working in France, and the two became close collaborators for a long period of time.
By 1866, Cassatt had established herself as a uniquely skilled painter of mothers and children. Many believe Children Playing on the Beach was a tribute to her sister, who died in 1882, and was perhaps inspired by a trip she took with her ailing mother to Spain, where the two sought the healing power of the seaside climate. Whatever the muse, this work was clearly special to her.
Children Playing on the Beach is very special to me. It was a favorite of my late husband, who never got to see it in person, and after it was relocated to Gallery #85, I simply couldn’t resist copying it.
I also love this work because it’s one of the best demonstrations of Cassatt’s superior skill with color and process. Palettes were quite limited at that time, and yet she’s able to bring out so many shades that the painting almost appears to echo contrasting moods. For example, the subtle blues of the ocean and sky effectively convey the feeling of cool, possibly dreary weather over the sea, while the vivid blues she uses in the girls’ dresses evoke a feeling of warmth, sunshine and happiness. She was an absolute genius with color.
As most paints do, Mary Cassatt’s have aged over time. I could have chosen to copy Children Playing on the Beach using my interpretation of the colors she used in 1884, but instead I chose to create a copy as close to the current version as possible. As always, it will be a challenge because matching color is one of the most difficult tasks a copyist faces.
I’ve learned a great deal from Mary Cassatt. Her remarkable use of color as well as her ability to manipulate brush and paint to create beautiful strokes is inspirational. Join me in Gallery #85 where I’ll be working on copying another wonderful Impressionist painting The Harbor at Lorient, 1869, by Berthe Morisot.
Like many in the eastern part of the United States where snow measurements were 25 to 35 inches when all was said and done, I was snowed-in. But, the silver lining was that all that white snow inspired me to paint a “fantasy in white.”
I study Portrait and Figure painting at the Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia, with a well known portrait artist and teacher, Danni Dawson. Danni is a fantastic teacher who feels that in order to achieve the necessary skills to be a good portrait artist, students need to paint everyday and paint everything and anything. We have a weekly assignment, often a simple color study and sometimes complete paintings. Coincidentally, our assignment for this past snowy week was to paint white objects. One was to be done in natural north light and the other under warm studio lighting using every color on the palette for both assignments.
Have you ever studied a white object carefully or taken a good look at the snow? It is amazing how many colors you see. You may see warm colors, yellows, oranges, pinks, greens, or you may see cool colors, blues, violets, greens, browns, depending on the time of day and sky conditions when you make your observation. Painting with studio lighting will tend to warm the subject you are painting and can also pick up many reflective colors that surround your objects.
I have a north facing window near my easel so for my homework assignment I arranged a set-up of white dishes in front of the north light window. I painted “Soups On” each day at the same time, about 1:30 pm until about 5:00 pm in order to keep the light the same. I didn’t want to turn on any artificial lights so by 5:00 pm I was pretty much in the dark. I was able to observe not only the variations of cool colors in my set-up but in the snow outside the window as well. Although the light was not strong as the sky was cloudy, I managed to pick up a variety of colors on the objects.
To prepare for the study under studio lighting, “Dessert Anyone?”, I first had to bake a cake because I wanted to use my cake holder which I thought would add interest to the composition. Luckily, I had all the necessary ingredients on hand. Although natural north light is the preferred lighting for most artists, being able to paint at any time of day in the studio is an advantage and the lighting was much better. Observing the warm colors on the dishes and the cake frosting was an interesting study. Even though both are white, the frosting seemed to reflect a stronger, brighter white. Perhaps because the dishes were picking up the reflective light of their shinny surface or I was eyeing the cake with more concentration because I couldn’t wait to eat it!
Being snowed-in is not so bad if you can find interesting things to do that you love. I love painting and after two sessions with “Dessert Anyone?” I was able to eat the cake…..not a bad reward after a good day of painting.
“The Harbor at Lorient” after Berthe Morisot
I’m back in the Impressionist gallery, #85, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. I spent a couple of months in the American Gallery painting “Right and Left” after Winslow Homer. I love the excitement and activity of the Impressionist Galleries. It’s a bit noisier than other galleries but even some of the guards like it best for the same reasons I do.
The “Harbor at Lorient” is a little jewel that I’ve wanted to paint since it came into the gallery. But because paintings are often sent out on loan to museums around the world, I had to wait for it to come back from tour even though I had previous approval on availability.
Berthe Morisot is the first female artist whose work I have copied, although we have many wonderful paintings by women artists. The “Harbor at Lorient” was painted when Berthe visited her newly married sister, Edma Pontillon, in the summer of 1869 while she was living in Lorient, France. Edma was married to a navy man and did not have children. Since both girls were interested in painting they were free to spend their time painting outside. During this period Berthe was experimenting with a highly Impressionist style.
The “Harbor at Lorient” draws the eye to the sky’s refection in the water and expresses both movement and the future. The boats in the background are leaving from the port and moving to another location, a symbolic reason to create this work as she moved into Impressionism. The harbor is lit from the right hand side which is clear from the line of shading that runs across Edma’s body. Her parasol protects her face from the sunlight but the bottom of her dress is radiant in sunlight. The tone of this work is merry and positive.
When Berthe returned home she anxiously showed her painting to artist friends and colleagues and it was declared as one of her best works. It found it’s way to the first Impressionists showcase. Unfortunately, the “Harbor at Lorient” received a critical reception, deemed painted too spontaneously and casually for the time period and with an unfinished feel. However, after her death, the painting was displayed in a large number of countries and has been well-received by its many viewers who today acknowledge it as one of her foremost Impressionist paintings.
Berthe was influenced by Carot, Manet and Monet. She was very close to her sister Edma, who was the model in many of her paintings. Berthe Morisot was a copyist at the Louvre. She is fast becoming my favorite female artist.
“Right and Left” after Winslow Homer
I completed the copy of Winslow Homer in mid-December and delivered it to the client on December 22nd. “Right and Left” was the first Homer I’ve copied and although it is not typically what I would choose to paint, I found that copying this painting made me very much admire Winslow Homer’s work. It was very educational.
The painting depicts two ducks in flight attempting to avoid a hunters bullets. The one on the left although possibly injured continues its escape while the one on the right falls victim to the hunter. It is almost monochromatic with many shades of gray. The more I looked at it, the more colors I saw. The many degrees of value required much concentration. Homer used some very strong tints of greens mixed into the black feathers of the birds and it required strict observation to see it.
I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to duplicate this magnificent piece of artwork for a client who wanted to surprise her husband with it as a Christmas gift . She told me it is his favorite painting and she also told me he is very happy with the results….I love what I do!
Scenes of Frederick Ornaments 2015 — Right and Left by Winslow Homer
Two years ago I began painting scenes of Frederick and other significant memorabilia on holiday ornaments. These ornaments have been very well received by the public and have become a valuable piece of one-of-a-kind artwork for many collectors. This year I’ve added additional scenes and have created some commission pieces of homes and pets.
The ornaments of Frederick landmarks as well as blank note cards of winter scenes in Frederick are available for sale at The Candy Kitchen, 52 N. Market St., Frederick, MD 21701 (301) 698-0442, and at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center, 40 S. Carroll St. Frederick, MD 21701 (301) 698-0656. For special orders and commissions, please contact me through the SALES AND COMMISSIONS form on this web-site.
Right and Left, a 1909 painting by American artist Winslow Homer, is the copy I’m currently producing at the National Gallery of Art. It’s quite a change from the Impressionist gallery where I painted for the past three years. It is a substantially different style. Also, I am physically located in a different gallery within the museum, one in which quietness and tranquility rule so I can concentrate with fewer distractions although I miss the hustle and bustle of the Impressionist galleries.
Homer painted Right and Left a year before his death and is a culminating achievement of an extraordinary career. The title, provided by a viewer during the works first public showing, refers to the act of shooting the ducks successively with separate barrels of a shotgun. Scholars have suggested that the diving posture of the duck on the right indicates it is the one which has been hit by the hunter’s initial blast. Its mate is attempting to escape the second shot which has just been fired, the flash of the shotgun barely visible within the gray smoke at the middle left.
This painting makes you want to stare at it and wonder what thoughts were on Homer’s mind as he worked. Perhaps he wanted to convey an ambiguous message deliberately, in order to illustrate that crucial moment of transition between life and death. Not ever being interested in hunting, I find this painting a bit sad but it is magnificently painted and although void of the brilliant colors of the Impressionist, it is filled with beautiful paint strokes and emotion.
I will be at the National Gallery of Art, gallery #68, working on this piece every Tuesday until mid December when I expect to complete my copy of Right and Left.
The Artist’s Garden at Vetheuil – Claude Monet
The latest project and the largest copy I’ve attempted is Claude Monet’s “The Artist’s Garden at Vetheuil.” This very popular painting seems to hang in every young girls bedroom, according to the buzz of the visitors at the National Gallery of Art. I remember when my daughter went off to college she decorated her bedroom with Monet posters. The attraction of Monet’s art seems to be the varied palette he used to describe light and shadows and its effect on objects. Everyone loves Monet!
Monet planted gardens wherever he lived. He described objects with the colors that surrounded and were reflected from an object but by the time he created this painting in 1880, the painted surface was more important than capturing a spontaneous effect of light and atmosphere.
This painting shows his young son with his toy wagon very spontaneously described as are other members of his family on the steps leading to the house. Monet could create a 60″x 48″ painting in just a few hours in order to capture the days long shadows often leaving the viewer wondering what the object actually is or is that really a person on the steps that lead to the house?
My copy is not yet complete. I am still working on details and color adjustment so I plan to be in Gallery 85 for a few more Tuesdays. Stop by and say hello.
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