“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


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.

Cherry Blossoms Alla Prima

Cherry Blossoms

Fun day painting the Cherry Blossoms at Tidal Basin in D.C. today “alla prima” .  Blossoms were past their peak but the crowds were down and the weather was perfect. A little more sun would have been nice to make the painting brighter but the temperature could not have more pleasant and best of all, no bugs (at least not yet).

Silverliners Visit the NGA

On Tuesday, March 10, fifteen of my friends from the Silverliners visited me at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  It was a very exciting day that began with Docent Bela Demeter treating us to a private tour of the museum with his delightful sense of humor . After the tour, Bela brought the group to the Impressionist Gallery where I am currently copying Oarsmen at Chatou by Auguste Renoir. We were all then escorted to the top floor of the East Wing for a lovely lunch at the museum’s VIP Restaurant.

Silverliners International is a group of former flight attendants from Eastern Airlines (one of the carriers from the “golden age” of air travel). It’s a fun-loving alumni group that also supports several charities, including Paul Newman’s The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. As a former Eastern Airlines flight attendant (1960’s), Eastern is very close to my heart and I’m proud to be part of this group.

Tuesday was a wonderful day. A special thank you to Bela Demeter for organizing a magnificent tour and lunch. Viva Bela!

Oarsmen at Chatou after Pierre-August Renoir

I’m still working on Oarsmen at Chatou after Pierre-Auguste Renoir.  It is a delightful painting with much detail and many intriguing brush strokes that are very time consuming to create but very enlightening.  I hope to complete this work by Tuesday, March 10 at which time I will be pondering my next copy.

For the next three weeks, I will be making my trip to the National Gallery and Washington, D.C. on Fridays, due to a change of schedule by officials at the NGA.  Unless that changes, I expect to be back to my regular Tuesday copying on March 10.   Stop by to see the El Greco exhibit before it leaves.  Get there soon as the last day will be February 15!  Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence will be up until May 2 and worth the trip.  The colors are glorious.

Stop by the Impressionist Gallery #85 and look for me on Fridays.

Copying “Oarsmen at Chatau” at National Gallery of Art

As with many of the originals I copy at The National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, D.C., some of the masterworks at first appear to be very easy to copy while some are deemed challenging from the onset.  Often the ones that look easy turn out to be quite difficult, and the apparent difficult ones turn out to be less challenging.  Oarsmen at Chatau by Auguste Renoir was completed in 1879.  Copying this masterwork is more difficult than it seemed when first studied.  The brush strokes are very loose and difficult to follow causing me to now estimate it will take much longer to complete than originally thought.  I was attracted to this painting because it reminds me of Renoir’s Luncheon of The Boating Party (1881) which is the best known and most popular work of art at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. The use of color and style are very similar. During this period of Renoir’s life, rowing was a very popular activity. Young folks would spend Sunday afternoons on the river boating, relaxing, and enjoying each other’s company. Renoir used some of the same models for both paintings including friends, fellow artists, and, it is believed, Aline Charigot who appears in many of his paintings and later became his wife. She was one of Renoir’s favorite models.

The Copyist Program is in recess for the week of December 25 through January 1. Therefore, I will not be at the NGA on Tuesday, December 30. However, on Tuesday, January 6, look for me in the Impressionist Gallery number 85 as we begin the exciting 2015 version of “your copyist at work.” Happy New Year to all!

Green Wheat Fields, Auvers – after Vincent van Gogh

A recent addition to the collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the subject of my latest copy is “Green Wheat Fields, Auvers” by Vincent van Gogh.  It took approximately 35 hours to complete the copy. The major challenge was trying to duplicate the many swirls of paint with very thick impasto.  Some visitors compare this particular painting to van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” which hangs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. It is seen as a daytime version.  I tend to agree as the sky with its many thick cloud swirls are very similar.  My copy is primarily painted using a palette knife, which I believe van Gogh used while creating this masterpiece.  In addition, he might have used the end of a paint brush to create the many ridges that give this beautiful painting its three dimensional feel and texture.  The color variation between the original and my copy is a result of the lighting variations in the gallery.  The original is illuminated with a warm spotlight while the copy has no special lighting.    It was lots of fun creating this copy.  From comments overheard, the original and, fortunately, my copy, appear to be loved by many visitors.

Beginning Tuesday, November 18, in the Impressionist gallery #86, I have a return engagement with Auguste Renoir to copy his very popular “Oarsmen at Chatou.”  This particular painting reminds me of Renoir’s famous “Luncheon of the Boating Party.”  Renoir created several similar scenes in his paintings emphasizing the brilliance of sun and water, summer and youth, and strong complimentary colors such as orange with blue and green with red.  The challenge will be recreating the silky texture and feathery brushstrokes that are seen in so many of Renoir’s beautiful works and are so loved. Tune in to my blog for a progress report.  Better yet, come visit me each Tuesday in gallery #86.