Girl with a Straw Hat

I recently received a set of photographs of a beautiful 5 year old girl whose father, Bill Gekas, is a very talented Austalian photographer.  Mr. Gekas created a series of photographs of his daughter dressed in the clothing and settings of Renaissance Dutch, Flemish, and Italian masters.  I was so fascinated by the concept, the beauty of the child, and the quality of the photographs that I asked Mr. Gekas for his permission to use them to create a series of oil portraits.  Girl with a Straw Hat is the first in the series.  The purpose for creating these portraits is to practice and perfect my skills as a portrait artist and to further develop my ability to paint from photographs.  They will not be commercialized.  They may be shown but not sold.  I hope the viewer enjoys them as much as I have.

Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son

Tuesday, April 8, 2014, was the fifth day of copying Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son.  I love the atmosphere in the Impressionist Galleries.  Everyone has been searching for spring this year and we just haven’t been able to find it.  However, in the Impressionist Galleries, it’s always spring and I love being there!  Visitors are happy and the mood is grand.  I can feel electricity in the air when folks enter the galleries to view the magnificent works of Monet, Renior, Cezanne, VanGogh, Picasso, etc.  Color explodes inside these rooms and I enjoy every minute I’m there.  This is my second copy of Woman with a Parasol.  It was so much fun copying it the first time that I decided to produce a second copy, and try to make it even more perfect.   But mostly I am simply excited at being in that room.

Monet favored painting landscapes – a subject that was attuned to outdoor painting.  Impressionism evolved in the late 1860’s from a desire to create full-scale, multi-figure depictions of ordinary people in casual outdoor situations.  It is believed that Claude Monet painted Woman with a Parasol in just 4 hours, very spontaneously as is evident particularly in the clouds and conveyed by a repertory of animated brushstrokes of vibrant color.  Bright sunlight shines from behind Madame Monet making her appear in silhouette while color reflections from the wildflowers below touch her front with yellow.

This is the perfect time to visit the National Gallery of Art.  The cherry blossoms will be in full bloom within days and spring has decided to finally pay us a visit bringing an abundance of color inside and out.  I’m in gallery 85 every Tuesday.   Come by and say hello!

New Copy – “Woman with a Parasol”

On Tuesday, March 12th I began a new copy, Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son by Claude Monet 1875.  Landscape painting was a subject that Monet favored.  His skill as a figure painter is equally evident.  Monet delieneated the features of his sitters as freely as their surroundings.  He painted in a very spontaneous manner, outdoors, and probably in a single session with the intention to convey the feeling of a casual family outing rather than a formal portrait.  It is believed that he painted this masterpiece in about four hours.  The brevity of the moment portrayed is conveyed by a repertory of animated brushstrokes of vibrant color with the clouds being the most difficult to replicate because of the freedom and spontaneity of the brushstrokes and his style. I often wonder what Monet was thinking as he painted Woman with a Parasol.  In this case I think that Madame Monet is saying, “Claude, hurry it up, its windy up here.”

Woman with a Parasol is one of Monet’s most popular works and attracts a great deal of visitors to the National Gallery of Art.  I enjoy the opportunity to be able to speak and discuss this masterpiece with the public.

Paul Cezanne “Riverbank” Day 4

Looking at the latest photo of “Riverbank” you can’t see much difference between the previous weeks photo images and the current one.  One needs to see it in person and get up close to study the variations.  After an additional 5 hours of copying “Riverbank,”  I’m beginning to feel it is coming close to the end.  My last session will be toning down colors with glazes in order to make the painting look more like the original.  As I’ve mentioned many times before, my copies are always brighter in color, the result of newer, fresher paint.  Often the public prefers the brighter look.

By 1886, a year after Cezanne completed “Riverbank,” his financial troubles were at an end and he was free to pursue his commitment to painting without outside interference.  He preferred to spend his days in solitary pursuit of those ambitions in painting which were as vivid to him as they were obscure to others.  He begins to paint with confidence and robustness, with an ambition and clarity about his work that suggest an artist coming to terms with his own temperament and realization.  Many of Cezanne’s most distinctive subjects, like “Mont Ste-Victoire” and the “Card-Players,” made their definitive appearance at this time. The paintings of this period of his life show a rich interplay of colors, gestures and a massiveness that reminds us of the hard-won mastery that Cezanne had achieved in his thirty years as a painter.

The weather is getting milder (we hope) and visitors and art lovers are starting to venture out to see the sights in Washington, DC and the great new exhibits at the National Gallery of Art.  I look forward to seeing friends and family at the NGA.  Let’s have lunch together, I’m in gallery #84.

Paul Cezanne “Riverbank” Day 3

A difference that is immediately noticed in the above photo is the color.  “Riverbank” was painted in 1895.  One of the most asked questions from visitors while I’m painting  regards the noticeable differences in colors.  Am I purposely changing the color of my copy?  The answer is no.  The differences are traced to the age of the original painting.  Time, atmosphere, dust, and climate have faded and discolored many of the original works.  I often wonder if the original painting as it was painted looked more like my copy  in both color and brightness.   Eventually, my intention is to tweak and tone down the colors with a glaze to make them look more like the original.  However, in some cases, visitors or a client might like the brighter, more colorful look.  I may choose to stay somewhere in between.

Although Cezanne has always been considered an Impressionist and his masterpieces hang in the Impressionism gallery at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., his association with Impressionism was a brief and unsatisfactory one, a marriage of convenience rather than a true affair of the heart.  Initially, he welcomed the opportunity to exhibit his paintings in the company of some of the impressionists he respected, namely Pissarro, Renoir and Monet.  Cezanne was a ‘high strung’ individual, and often experienced dark depressions and irrational outbursts of anger with even his most loyal friends.  He eventually disassociated himself from the impressionists.  The weather seemed to affect his moods often having to deal with long periods of rain and dreariness which prevented him from going outdoors to do what he loved best, paint the light.

Regarding the weather, I imagine many of us are feeling like Cezanne with the winter of our discontent this year.  We have barely recovered from the last snow and ice storm and must now prepare for an even larger amount of the white stuff.  We’re expecting up to  14″ of snow tonight and strong winds tomorrow.  We’re hoping not to lose power again so I’m rushing to get this blog published just in case.  I will try to keep my “dark depressions and irrational outbursts of anger” to a minimum.

Paul Cezanne “Riverbank” Day 2

My routine of posting a new blog on a Wednesday following a Tuesday copiest session at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. was derailed by an ice storm which hit our area hard leaving behind a half inch of ice on top of snow with down trees, limbs, power lines and a host of other problems.  Our power was off for two days forcing me to flee to a warmer shelter and unable to do any work related to art or blog.  We’re just getting back to normal.  Like everyone else feeling the effects of this winter, I’m hoping for better days ahead.

Tuesday, February 4, was day two working with Paul Cezanne’s “Riverbank”.  As one can see from the photo, while it is barely beginning to hum, as my favorite museum guard often says, it is coming along nicely.

Nature was the foundation and inspiration for Cezanne’s art.  He painted with feeling and his own strong emotion.  He had a personal, independent perception of the world which was formed by studying the great masters but always aspiring towards the intense and artless vision of a child.  He searched for his own temperament.  Cezanne asserted that art must strive to be ‘equivalent’ to nature and painted with a series of marks, colors and tones on a canvas that was the realization of his sensations.  As I copy “Riverbank”, my task is to figure out how those marks were made and the meaning behind them.  I discover as I work that Cezanne observed every nuance of light and tone in nature and every time the light changed, he would interpret that light with a different color layered thinly one on top of the other in a very determined fashion.  Copying “Riverbank” requires close observation and much thought and study.

The Gallery has several new and exciting exhibitions.  Let it warm your days viewing beautiful works of art and if you visit on a Tuesday, don’t forget to stop by to see me in gallery #84.  It looks as if I’ll be there for a while before going on to my next copy.

New Exhibit at the Delaplaine

The Frederick County Art Association will open its Member Exhibit with a reception this Saturday, January 4th from 3 to 5 pm at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center, 40 S. Carroll Street in Frederick, Maryland.  I have entered two works into the exhibit, “Young Dancer” and “Bridge at Argenteuil” after Monet.  I hope to see many of my friends and family at the reception.  It is also First Saturday in downtown Frederick which offers many activities to be enjoyed all over town, not to mention great restaurants and shopping.  So bundle up, come out and enjoy the town as well as great art during the opening of several new exhibits at the Delaplaine.

Young Dancer
Young Dancer
The Bridge at Argenteuil after Claude Monet
The Bridge at Argenteuil after Claude Monet

On Tuesday, January 7th I will be putting the finishing touches on my copy of Vincent van Gogh “Roses” at the National Gallery of Art.  I’m also very excited to see for the first time the NGA’s newest acquisition of van Gogh’s painting “Green Wheat Fields, Auvers,” which has not been seen publicly since 1966 and was painted months before the artist’s death in 1890.  It hangs right next to “Roses” in gallery #83 so I will be able to admire it all day long.

On Tuesday, January 21st I will begin work on Paul Cezanne’s “Landscape near Paris” in the Impressionist gallery.  This masterpiece is a bit different from the ones I’ve previously copied.  It is a very loose oil painting done in thin washes almost like a watercolor. It will be a new challenge for me.  I will keep you posted on the progress.

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from Frederick, Maryland 2013
Happy Holidays from Frederick, Maryland 2013

I would like to share a quote from Fritz Scholder, an artist whose work has been exhibited at the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  His words captured my attention, especially at this time of year when we’re all caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  My hope is that this message will be inspirational to everyone .

Spend time patting a dog or cat.  Look up and down.  Believe in the unknown, for it is there.  Live in many places.  Live with flowers and music and books and paintings and sculpture.  Keep a record of your time.  Learn to write well.  Learn to read well. Learn to listen and talk well.  Know your country, know the world, know your history, know yourself.  Take care of yourself physically and mentally.  Be good to yourself.  You owe it to yourself.  Be good to those around you.  And do all of these things with passion.  FRITZ SCHOLDER, MAY 12, 1983

For me it is a learning process.  Something I will continue to work on for the rest of my life.  

Dan and I wish all of you a very happy and blessed holiday season and a healthy 2014.  

Holiday Ornaments

It seems as if the holidays began in October.  I’m not the only one thinking this way;  others have expressed the same feeling.  This past Tuesday it felt strange not to be at the National Gallery of Art working on my copy of Vincent van Gogh’s “Roses.”  It was grandparents day at our granddaughter Caroline’s school, a yearly event we attend with joy and pride.  I’ll be back at the NGA next Tuesday and expect to be closer to completion of my copy.

This year I decided to create holiday ornaments depicting scenes of Frederick, Maryland.  Each ornament is hand painted in acrylic and shows a popular landmark around downtown.  The scenes are painted on glass ornaments from photographs I’ve taken and been collecting throughout the years.  Someone asked me to do a portrait of their home on an ornament so I thought painting Frederick scenes would be a fun project.  I’m going to try to paint a small facial portrait on one.  That will be a challenge!  Although, last year for a class assignment, our teacher asked us to paint a portrait the size of a quarter.  I didn’t think it was possible but I managed to pull it off. We’ll see what happens.

The Frederick ornaments may be seen in the gift shop of The Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center, 40 South Carroll St., Frederick, MD (301)698-0656.

I wish all of my friends, family and followers a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.