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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many may not realize that Vincent van Gogh created several versions of “Roses”. The masterpiece created by VanGogh, “Roses” that is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. was painted in 1890, shortly before he was released from the asylum at Saint-Remy. It is among his largest and most beautiful still lifes, with an exuberant bouquet in the glory of full bloom.
Originally, the roses were pink which would have made a beautiful compliment with the green background. However, the pink has faded throughout the years. It is difficult to determine which roses and how many were originally pink. I am in the process of copying this piece for the second time. The first time I copied it just as the it looks today. For the second try, after doing some research, I took the liberty of painting it in the manner that I believe van Gogh created the original–with the pink roses. After careful observation, I decided that the flowers that have the slightest tinge of pink were probably the ones that he painted in pink. It’s been fun to see how this painting has evolved and how it will end up. It should be completed in about one more session.
One can view the original creation as well as my copy on Tuesdays from 10:30 AM until about 4:00 PM in the Impressionist Gallery #83.
I’ve put another check mark on my bucket list. As a high school student living in New York City, I often took trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As I walked through the great galleries, the feelings I experienced were multiple. It was almost unrealistic that someone could actually paint such magnificent works of art. I remember being entranced, walking around in a state of awe, not quite understanding what I was feeling, but happy to be there soaking in such beauty and color while observing the unbelievable skills of the master artists.
During the time period of July 8 through July 19, 2013, I realized a dream I thought could never happen. I became a Copyist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was doing what I loved in my own home town – the beloved city of New York. After a long application process I was accepted in the program, one of five copyists selected for the summer season. I copied Auguste Renior’s “Still Life with Peaches.” It was an unbelievable experience to be so close to that magnificent painting. I met art lovers from all over the world, exchanged stories, answered many questions while loving everyday and every moment. The museum staff was wonderful and helpful. The copy drew tremendous interest and many positive comments from the patrons.
A special thanks to my dear friends Camille and Joe who opened their city apartment to me. It is conveniently located and enabled me to travel daily to the MET with a load of art supplies. Without their generosity and support, this experience may have never happened.
On May 21, I began work on “Pont Neuf, Paris” by Auguste Renoir. This may be the most challenging of my work at the NGA. The enormity of the details, particularly the many windows in a city architectural scene, can be a tedious task as I’m sure it must have been for Renoir. Most apparent here and the focal point of this painting is Renoir’s transcription of the effects of sunlight. The midday sun suffuses the panorama, its intensity heightening the artist’s palette and suppressing incidental detail to clarify the crowded scene. Renoir pre-sketched the architecture before setting out to paint the remainder of the scene. I began my copy in the same manner.
Edmond Renoir, the artist’s younger brother and a novice journalist in 1872, later told how Renoir secured an owner’s permission to occupy an upper floor of a cafe for one day to depict the view of the famous bridge. Edmond periodically delayed passersby long enough for the artist to record their appearance in the painting. Renoir even noted Edmond’s presence in two locations, walking stick in hand and straw hat on his head. Renoir wanted to show the energetic crowd walking across the sun-drenched pavement and going about their daily routine on this clear sunny day. He depicted vendors pushing carts carrying goods across the bridge, children at play, dogs chasing children, and the hustle and bustle of daily life. Does it make you wonder what is on the other side of the bridge?
I am at the NGA, Washington D.C. every Tuesday, (gallery 89 until the completion of this painting). Stop by and say hello.
The images in this gallery are authentic copies from the masters at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Each piece is authenticated by the NGA as a copy from the original and painted in oil. Most are on a linen surface. Some are on gallery stretchers and do not require framing as they are painted around the sides of the canvas. Careful research and study was done to learn the process and use of color during the time period the original painting was created. These one-of-a-kind works of art are available for sale. Interested parties should contact me here.
I am also taking commissions to copy any master painting at the NGA that is available to me for copying. Visit the National Gallery of Art’s collection at www.nga.gov.