Returning to the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

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Claude Monet (French, 1840 - 1926), The Willows, 1880, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Edward C. and Mary Walker Collection) 2015.19.65
Claude Monet (French, 1840 – 1926), The Willows, 1880, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Edward C. and Mary Walker Collection) 2015.19.65

After a five month break for studies in Italy and other cities in Europe, and after a little rest and relaxation, I will be back at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC beginning Tuesday, March 19.  The next masterpiece I will copy is The Willows, which is a beautiful landscape by Claude Monet.  It’s located in gallery #80.

The NGA acquired The Willows from the Corcoran Collection and I am pleased that it’s now available for me to copy. I chose it because it reminds me of early spring – a season for which most of us are certainly ready.  This tranquil painting is full of Monet’s spontaneous brush strokes and subtle impasto.  It also features lovely variations of springtime green.

Come see me between 10:30 and 3:45 on Tuesdays starting March 19.  I can’t wait to get started!

Studying In Florence, Italy

Cortona
Cortona

I’ve dreamt of studying in Italy since I was young. In October, 2018, I finally realized that dream with an intensive course at the Florence Academy of Art.

Florence Academy of Art Class

The school’s main discipline is classical-realism painting and drawing, in the teaching style of Charles Bargue, using the sight-size method but at the same time addressing the creative and professional position of the artist in a contemporary environment.  Very careful and exact measurements are found using a plumb line, stick and careful, intense observation in natural light.

Duomo

Although I won’t always paint in this realistic style, the training and discipline I received will help me paint better in any style I choose.  The art history and anatomy studies were like no other, offered right in front of the Old Masters in the many magnificent museums and galleries in Florence.  The experience was invaluable.

Copying at The Scottish Portrait Gallery

Lady Charlotte Campbell

Recently, while traveling in Europe, I had the opportunity to copy at the Scottish Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland. The painting I copied was Lady Charlotte Campbell (1775-1861) by Wilhelm Tischbein, which I chose because I love children’s portraits.  It’s quite elaborate and proved a challenge, but there aren’t many portraits of children in the gallery and I was drawn to her innocent, youthful face.

Lady Charlotte Campbell is a very large painting so it was necessary to crop it to be able to complete as much of the portrait as possible within my allotted time.

I’ll never forget the personnel at The Scottish Portrait Gallery.  They, and the people of Edinburgh, are extraordinarily friendly and helpful.

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.

 

 

 

“Woman Holding a Balance” after Johannes Vermeer

Recently I was commissioned to copy Woman Holding a Balance by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). Vermeer was a Dutch painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life and was perhaps better known for Girl with a Pearl Earring. I was very excited for the opportunity to create this copy as the old masters (particularly the Dutch) and the chiaroscuro style of the 16th century were part of my earliest training and I’m very fond of them. After having completed many commissions in the Impressionist galleries, I welcomed this new challenge.

Several of Vermeer’s masterpieces are on display in an intimate room at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where I have been a copyist for the last five years. Because the room is small, copyists are typically prohibited from working inside and must instead work from memory and photographs.

Woman Holding a Balance takes your breath away as you enter the gallery room. It’s a dark painting with a brilliant focal point: a young girl and her fine fur cloak illuminated by sunlight streaming through a nearby window.  The young woman appears to weigh jewels and coins with a hand-held scale.  Vermeer positions a painting of the Last Judgment behind her on the wall.

Paintings-within-paintings were a common technique of the period, often serving as vessels for symbolism. Perhaps Vermeer includes the Last Judgment to remind us that just as the young woman weighs her riches, in the end God will weigh our choices in life.  Maybe greed and vanity should be avoided.

This copy required many layers of glaze to achieve the right amount of contrast between the darks and lights. Vermeer, having been self-taught and influenced by Caravaggio, probably used the same technique. It was a challenge creating this painting during this summer’s heat and humidity.  Each layer took quite a while to dry. However, the painting is now complete and ready for delivery. I hope my patron will be happy with it.  I certainly am.

A note to my followers: I am currently working on Farmhouse in Provence after Vincent Van Gogh in the National Gallery of Art. I always look forward to seeing fans. Please contact me through this web-site if you would like to visit.

“The Harbor at Lorient” after Berthe Morisot

Copy in progress
Copy in progress

I’m back in the Impressionist gallery, #85, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.  I spent a couple of months in the American Gallery painting “Right and Left” after Winslow Homer.  I love the excitement and activity of the Impressionist Galleries.  It’s a bit noisier than other galleries but even some of the guards like it best for the same reasons I do.

The “Harbor at Lorient” is a little jewel that I’ve wanted to paint since it came into the gallery.  But because paintings are often sent out on loan to museums around the world, I had to wait for it to come back from tour even though I had previous approval on availability.

Berthe Morisot is the first female artist whose work I have copied, although we have many wonderful paintings by women artists. The “Harbor at Lorient” was painted when Berthe visited her newly married sister, Edma Pontillon, in the summer of 1869 while she was living in Lorient, France.  Edma was married to a navy man and did not have children.  Since both girls were interested in painting they were free to spend their time painting outside.  During this period Berthe was experimenting with a highly Impressionist style.

The “Harbor at Lorient” draws the eye to the sky’s refection in the water and expresses both movement and the future.  The boats in the background are leaving from the port and moving to another location,  a symbolic reason to create this work as she moved into Impressionism.  The harbor is lit from the right hand side which is clear from the line of shading that runs across Edma’s body.  Her parasol protects her face from the sunlight but the bottom of her dress is radiant in sunlight.  The tone of this work is merry and positive.

When Berthe returned home she anxiously showed her painting to artist friends and colleagues and it was declared as one of her best works.  It found it’s way to the first Impressionists showcase. Unfortunately, the  “Harbor at Lorient” received a critical reception, deemed painted too spontaneously and casually for the time period and with an unfinished feel.   However, after her death, the painting was displayed in a large number of countries and has been well-received by its many viewers who today acknowledge it as one of her foremost Impressionist paintings.

Berthe was influenced by Carot, Manet and Monet.  She was very close to her sister Edma, who was the model in many of her paintings.  Berthe Morisot was a copyist at the Louvre.  She is fast becoming my favorite female artist.

New Exhibition at Art At The Mill

Turnips
Turnips

The Art At The Mill exhibit in Millwood, Virginia is one of the most recognized and prestigious art shows in the Washington, DC area.  Artists from all over America compete for this juried show.  This year, Art At The Mill is celebrating its 25th season of exhibitions that bring artists together and promote the region’s extraordinary talent.  Today I am proud to announce that Art At The Mill has chosen me to participate in this year’s exhibition with five pieces of artwork juried into the show.

Peonies in Vase
Peonies in Vase

The drive to Millwood is a beautiful drive peppered with horse farms and wineries along the way.  The Mill is an amazing relic from the 18th century.  After viewing the beautiful artwork, make your way across the street to have lunch at the Locke Modern Country store or have a picnic in the meadow.

Art At The Mill is located at the Burwell-Morgan Mill, 15 Tannery Lane, Millwood, Virginia.  The show runs from October 3-18th, Mon-Thurs 12-5, Fri & Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5, with an artist reception on Sunday, October18th, 2-5 pm.  Admission prices are as follows: Adults $5, Seniors $3, kids 12 & under free.  For more information visit www.clarkehistory.org/art-at-the-mill.html.