Why Copy?

Still Life with Apples on a Pink Tablecloth

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.

Riverbank after Paul Cezanne
Riverbank after Paul Cezanne

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Snowed-In

Soup's On
Soups  On

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.

Dessert Anyone?
Dessert Anyone?

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.

Still Life with Apples on a Pink Tablecloth after Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse was one of the most influential artists of the early 20th century.  He achieved this status primarily through the revolutionary use of brilliant color.  Matisse often exaggerated form to express emotion.  Born in 1869, Henri Matisse first began a career in law.  However, in 1891, he began to study art.  He started by taking a drawing class in the morning before he went to work.  Then, at age 21,  while recuperating from an illness, his true vocation as an artist was confirmed.  As has happened in the lives of many artists, Matisse decided it is never too late to follow your passion. Matisse went through many changes in his style and was influenced both by artists who came before him as well as contemporaries.  He was particularly taken by the work of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac who painted in a “Pointillist” style with small dots of color rather than full brushstrokes.

A love of bright colors is what Matisse is most known for today.  He produced major creative breakthroughs in the years 1904-05 eventually leading to the emphasis on capturing mood rather than merely trying to depict the world realistically.

I was drawn to Still Life with Apples on a Pink Tablecloth because of the unique placement of the composition and the majestic use of color.  Like many of the paintings that hang at the National Gallery of Art (NGA), the years have somewhat dulled the paint used by the original artist.  I try to imagine what the painting looked like when it was created in 1924 and try my best to reach back in time to recreate the luster that was intended by Henri Matisse.  It is always a challenge but what a privilege it is to be at the NGA doing what I love to do. I don’t even think twice when I have to wake up at 4:30 am every Tuesday morning to begin the 50 mile journey to the museum.  I’m currently in gallery #81.  Stop by and say hello!

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.

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.  

Vincent van Gogh Roses in Pink

Painting at the NGAMany 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.

The Dancer – Auguste Renior

The Dancer after Renoir, in copyThe 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.