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 (original and copy in progress)
Children Playing on the Beach, 1884, Mary Cassatt (original and copy in progress)

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.

 

 

 

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 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.

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.

Girl with a Watering Can

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 sgadra@me.com.

Addiction and Art Exhibition

"Loneliness" - Winner, Addiction and Art Exhibition/ Competition 2012 International Nurses Society on Addiction, Washington, D.C.
“Loneliness” – Winner, Addiction and Art Exhibition/ Competition 2012
International Nurses Society on Addiction, Washington, D.C.

The International Nurses Society on Addiction conference and Art Exhibition at the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C. on September 5th was a big success.  It highlighted the human experience of addiction and recovery.  My entry “Loneliness” was selected as the first prize winner.  For more information go to:

http://www.intnsa.org/Events/2012Conference.asp

Annual Education Conference of the International Nurses Society on Addiction
Madison Hotel, 1177 15thSt., NW Washington, DC
September 5, 2012,  Reception: 5:30 – 8:00 PM
 

Girl with a Guitar

Girl with a Guitar, Sonia Gadra
Girl with a Guitar, Sonia Gadra

Portrait of Julia, a lovely girl who models in Danni Dawson’s class at the Art League School in Alexandria.  The painting was done from life during class.  Julia, an exceptionally good model, posed with a guitar to which she added a wonderfully mysterious and pensive look.

The Needlewoman – Diego Velazquez

The Needlewoman, in copy
The Needlewoman, in copy

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.

The Needlewoman, after D. Velazquez
The Needlewoman, after D. Velazquez

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.