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.

Van Gogh and Me

On Tuesday, September 23, I began a new copy at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (NGA).  The painting bears the title “Green Wheat Fields, Auvers”, (1890).  A recent acquisition at the NGA, this masterpiece had not been in public exhibition since 1966 and probably not recognized by many as a van Gogh.  It is believed it was most likely painted during the spring/early summer of 1890, just weeks before the end of van Gogh’s life in Auvers-sur-Olse, France.  In this village just north of Paris, and as he did before in the countryside surrounding Arles and Saint-Remy, van Gogh painted what could be called “pure landscapes.”  Van Gogh eliminates the rural figures, stony walls, wooden carts, dramatic trees, and rustic buildings that populate so many of his landscapes and focuses instead on the windblown clouds and tall grasses.  Most of the composition consists of a field in a rich range of greens and blues, punctuated by outbursts of yellow flowers. The artist wrote of his return to northern France as a kind of homecoming, a peaceful restoration in which the vibrant, hot colors of the South were replaced by cool, gentle hues in green and blue.  Van Gogh’s energetic strokes describe the movement of grassy stalks in the breeze.  “Green Wheat Fields, Auvers” may be viewed at the NGA in gallery #83.  I keep it company on Tuesdays from about 10:00 to 4:00.  If you are visiting, stop by and say hello.

Holiday and Special Occasion Ornaments

The holidays always seem to be upon us before we know it. Therefore, to be holiday ready, I have started taking orders for my customized hand painted ornaments. These ornaments were very popular last year and, indeed, have remained a favorite gift item throughout the past several months. The hand painting requires much thought and time so I must begin now in order to meet anticipated demand and to purchase materials which sell out early.

The ornaments are of two types. One is a general holiday or special event scenes. They can also be a portrait of a house, place of worship or pet. The second type is a specified scene in the Frederick area such as the clustered spires, the city hall or a landmark in ones hometown.

My goal is to complete every order in time to use as a household decoration or to provide to a third party as a gift. Early ordering will make this goal attainable. These unique hand painted ornaments make a great addition to a permanent collection for any occasion. So order early to be assured of receiving your special treasure on-time.

The sample ornaments shown above are scenes of landmarks around Frederick City and County and Washington, DC. Other scenes may be created from a photograph provided by a customer or taken by me. Images can also be painted on a small 10″X10″ panel or canvas. The cost is $45.00 plus shipping. Please e-mail me at sgadra@me.com for more information and to order.

Japanese Footbridge after Claude Monet

Being in the Impressionist Gallery is quite exciting! It is also an extremely busy place.  The gallery is flooded with visitors from all over the world. Visitors seem to be very interested in the impressionists and the works of Claude Monet are probably the most requested of any of the master artists of the impressionist period. Of the large numbers of visitors who come to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., it seems the majority specifically want to see works of the impressionists.  I enjoy talking to the visitors as much as I enjoy copying Claude Monet’s work!  Perhaps that is why I’ve spent so much time in the Impressionist Galleries.  For me it’s almost like traveling all over the world in one day.  Those fluent enough in English to be able to communicate don’t hesitate to ask all kinds of questions and I make an effort to give them answers to the best of my knowledge.  I try to keep up with some of the art history regarding each artist I copy in order to pass on bits of information.  After all, the Copyist Program is an educational program so I’m not only perfecting my skills as an artist but I’m educating myself (and others) in art history.

Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840, in Paris, France.  Known as the father of “Impressionism,” he was most concerned with painting form and light rather than realism.  Monet grew up in Le Havre, France, a port town in the Normandy region.  Like many artists, he did not like being confined to a classroom and preferred the outdoors.  His love for drawing as a young child was preparation for his chosen career as he filled his schoolbooks with sketches of people in his community including caricatures of his teachers.  After meeting Eugene Boudin, a local landscape artist, Monet began to explore the natural world in his work.  The world of nature would later become the cornerstone of Monet’s paintings.  As a “plein air” painter he was often accompanied by his contemporaries, Renoir, Sisley and Bazille on his outings.  Monet won acceptance and entry to the famous and much desired Salon of 1865, an annual juried art show in Paris. After fleeing to London with his family during the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Monet eventually returned to France in 1872 and settled in Argenteuil where he visited with Renoir, Pissarro and Edouard Manet who, according to Monet, at first hated him because people confused their names.  Monet sometimes would become frustrated with his work, a common feeling among artists.  It is believed he destroyed a number of paintings, perhaps as many as 500 works.  He would simply burn, cut or kick the offending piece.  Wouldn’t we love to have those works today!

My latest project at the National Gallery of Art,  is Japanese Footbridge, painted by Monet in 1899 in his beloved home of Giverny.  He had the bridge built over a beautiful lily pond just so he could paint it under different light and various points of view.  He planted his gardens with the same purpose, never having flowers of the same color growing next to each other.   Instead, flowers were planted so complimentary colors grew side by side.

I’ll be in Gallery #81 for the next few weeks, come by for a Tuesday visit.

Four Dancers – after Edgar Degas

Work in progress. I’ve been working on this piece for five Tuesdays, approximately 22 hours. Lots of defining and details left to complete. I’m trying to imagine how the painting looked when Degas finished it.  My feeling is that the colors he used were much brighter than the original looks today.  The impressionist loved to paint the light so I can’t imagine he painted Four Dancers in such a dull, dark form.

Degas loved to paint ballerinas and also loved to work with pastels, preferring the chalky look in his work.  When painting in oils, he often would lay out his colors on a cardboard instead of a wooden palette so the oil could be absorbed out of the paint.  This would give the thin wash a pastel look.  Did you know that in Four Dancers, he used only one model posed in four different positions?

The National Gallery of Art currently has a wonderful Degas/Cassatt exhibit, running through October 5, 2014.  A MUST SEE! The affinity between the two artists is undeniable.  Both were realists who drew their inspiration from the human figure and the depiction of modern life.

If you happen to come by on a Tuesday, stop by and visit me.  I’m in the Impressionist Gallery #83 for at least another two Tuesdays.