The Dancer by Auguste Renior, is the largest copy I have attempted (30″x40″), the maximum size allowed by the NGA for a copy. The original measures 56 1/8″X 45 3/4″. All copies I have completed thus far presented a challenge but because of the size of The Dancer this one is even more complex. “The Dancer was one of seven works Renoir included in an exhibition in Paris which opened in April 1874 with a group of artists soon to be known as the impressionists. The Dancer inevitably calls to mind the work of Renoir’s fellow impressionist Edgar Degas, whose name is now synonymous with depictions of ballet dancers. The paintings scale and the figure’s prominence by being placed in the very center of the composition, dominate the entire canvas. Shown in profile, her silk-slippered feet placed in classic fifth position, Renoir’s dancer is poised and alert as she turns her gaze toward the viewer. Renoir accentuated the dancer’s youth and he masterfully captured the gauzy softness of the tulle which floats about her body like a cloud seeming to dissolve into the hazy background. The fabric as light and ethereal as mist. This painting, as did Degas’ “The Dance Lesson”, reminds me of my youth when I painfully endured ballet lessons and wanted so badly to learn to dance well and become a ballerina. It didn’t happen but I enjoyed it and now have had the thrill of producing a dancer on canvas.
The color in the digital photograph of the copy when compared to the original work appears to be different but when actually viewed in person they are as close as can be achieved taking into consideration that the original is over one hundred years older than the copy and the color has faded.
The Bridge at Argenteuil by Claude Monet, National Gallery of Art Washington, D.C. After almost a four hour drive to Washington, D.C. from Frederick, Maryland on a rainy, cold Tuesday morning, I was finally able to start on this wonderful and very popular masterpiece that is all about the glow of light, produced by pure and unmixed color. Monet shows the interplay between the short strokes indicative of the ripples in the water, the focal point of this painting, and the larger areas of color. The challenge for me will be to reproduce the sparkle of the refections that was so masterfully achieved by Monet. I have laid out the drawing indicating the larger forms on a toned canvas and have completed most of the underpainting, resisting painting in details. The details will come later and will be the fun part. That’s when the painting begins to sing, right now it’s humming.
This authentic framed copy is on exhibit and for sale during the Fall 2013 exhibit at Art at the Mill, Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood, Virginia. The exhibit will run from October 5-Coctober 20.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the most beloved and talented of the Impressionist artists. His works, especially in his early period, are noted for their soft edges and brilliant colors. On Tuesday, November 13, I will complete my first Renoir copy. The Girl With a Watering Can depicts a young girl, dressed in brilliant blue, and clutching her watering can while in the garden. This painting draws a crowd every day. Young and old, her pleasant smile captivates them all and ranks as one of Renoir’s true masterpieces. Interest in the copy has been high with several people stating they would like a Renoir in their home.
The copy is 36″ by 26″ available for sale, certified as an authentic copy of the original brilliant masterpiece at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Painting the copy has been a joy. I can’t count the number of photos that have been taken while working on this icon in Renoir’s life. The young girls smile is so sweet you want to hug the painting. Several people have remarked they look at the painting and get the feeling they would like to jump into the painting so they could walk with this beautiful young lady. Interested? Contact me at email@example.com.
Claude Monet’s Woman with a Parasol copied at the National Gallery of Art. The challenge with this particular painting is the spontaneous and quick way that Monet created it as have been most impressionist paintings. It is said that Monet painted it in four hours. It is easy to see the quickness in the painting. It took me much longer to try to duplicate this painting especially the clouds. I find Impressionism more difficult to copy but it’s a great learning tool and it helps me make quick decisions. This painting is located at the entrance to the impressionist gallery and the room is always filled with many visitors that love to make comments as I paint. Comments are helpful because often the public sees something that I don’t see or miss. I can’t step back to evaluate what I’m doing as there is always a crowd behind me but everyone is very kind and complimentary. I’ve become use to the tour groups coming through. I need to be prepared to explain to the crowds what I’m doing, the tour guides enjoy including me as part of their tour. It’s all fun, especially the young children who often want to help me paint.
I finished the copy of Roses – Vincent Van Gogh in June. This was a commission I truly enjoyed creating although it took longer to complete than I had planned. The drawing was complex and the impasto took considerable time to dry before additional layers could be applied. But, in the end, I was satisfied with the copy. Visitors to the National Gallery provided numerous positive comments regarding the quality of the work with two additional persons offering to purchase the painting. The copy is now safely in its new home and the client stated he is happy with the results.
The Needlewoman by Diego Rodriquez de Silva y Velazquez (1566-1660), Spanish, was the second project attempted in the Copyist program. Because The Needlewoman was an unfinished portrait with little detail, the copying process took only 4 Tuesdays to complete, about 20 hours. The head of The Needlewoman was modeled in light and shadow and is the most fully realized part of this painting as opposed to the remainder of the painting including the arms, hands, etc., which are sketched in only briefly. The resulting painting displays the Velazquez facility to portray gesture and his ability to suggest the subject melding into the background. It is believed that The Needlewoman was not completed by Velazquez. The painting was found upon examination of the inventory in his home at the time of his death. The Needlewoman is very similar to several of his other works.
I participated in a workshop entitled “Painting in the Manner of Velazquez” with Robert Liberace in the summer of 2011 at the Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia. I was intrigued by the Velazquez style and therefore welcomed the opportunity to copy an original at the National Gallery of Art. During the workshop I used authentic paints as were used in Velazquez’s time. I prepared my linen canvas according to conventions of the period. I felt transformed back in time. Many of Velazquez’s paintings were dark compared to other more colorful painters of his time. However, he put down paint beautifully, very thin paint, almost nothing at times and yet in chiaroscuro style achieved a luminosity that made his work glow.
I learned a great deal from the study of Velazquez. How much? You be the judge.
Miss Juliana Willoughby was my first copying project at the NGA. The most difficult part of copying the work of a Master artist is not copying the subject, it is trying to recreate the hues of the period the painting was created. It’s amusing that some visitors comment that they like my colors better. They don’t fully consider that the original painting is often hundreds of years old and the paint, of course, has dulled. Some ask if I painted the original. Come on….I don’t think I look that old, but I take that comment as a compliment. Some spectators will point out errors, and give me advise how I can perfect the painting. I take all critiques as a learning experience because as we all know, art is subjective. Actually, the visitors are often the most fun part of the copyist experience.
Although I sometimes feel frustrated at being interrupted, I must say the attention is flattering. I’m often swarmed by groups of visitors with cameras in hand. Each one wants to be photographed with me. How could I be upset with all that attention?
I began the Copyist Program at the National Gallery of Art on October 4th, and although I was excited and eager to begin, I have to admit I was a bit nervous. I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle the crowds of people who visit the museum on a daily basis. The application process for the program took about to 2 months to complete, but the wait was well worth it.
Stop by and see me if you happen to visit the NGA on Tuesdays. I’m on the main floor of the West Wing, from 10am – 4pm. If you don’t see me, I’m probably having lunch in the Cascade Cafe around 12:30 or 1:00.