Monday, July 8, 2013

Beatrice Townsend by John Singer Sargent - The finished copy

I just picked up my copy of Beatrice Townsend by John Singer Sargent.  I am pretty happy with it and wanted to recap the process.

As a Copyist at the National Gallery of Art I applied for permission...the piece has to be in a gallery that is approved for copyists and since only one copyist can be in a gallery at a time, I have to make sure there is a day available for me to work.  When I got the green light from the Registrars office I began my research...I had requested the Sargent piece and was thrilled that it was available for me to copy on Fridays.  First I looked up anything I could find on Beatrice Townsend but found precious little. I then researched Sargent and found a lot of good information including his palette.  It was explained and the author added colors I could use today since I was not familiar with some of the colors on the list.  I got this from Aaron Miller's blog and found it most informative. 

After reading a bit and researching I was itching to get started and I began sketching.  I usually sketch the piece two or three times just to see how everything lines up...where everything is on the canvas.  I like to have a good idea before I go to the gallery.  I also print out a small 8 x 10 copy of the piece to use for reference.  Once I feel comfortable with the sketches I head to the National Gallery of Art to begin. 

I brought a blank canvas and started at the very beginning.  Once I completed the sketching  and made sure everything was in the right place I started placing in colors.  I worked on matching brush strokes, especially with the little dog.  Those strokes were very definite and defining.  

Here are some pictures of me working a the gallery.

It is very common to have people stop and watch.  Solitude is the norm for my this sudden influx of interest in what I am doing takes some getting used to.  I am surprised at how well I am able to tune people out and just concentrate on the task at hand.  Having said that I try to be helpful and pleasant to anyone who has a comment or question for me.  

It was a challenge but great fun and I cannot wait to start my next piece.


  1. Fantastic, Maria! You certainly make it look easy and I know a lot of work and study goes into each copy you make. I can't wait to see what your next subject is!

  2. I love hearing about your process and find you courageous to do all the work in front of people. What do you use for your medium? And do you use a grid?
    Are other artists copying her on other days? And what's next?
    It's all very exciting! Thanks for sharing this experience!

  3. An amazing post, Maria!!! and this painting is absolutely beautiful!!! I wish I could do this as well..I only work from a photo and wouldn't know where to begin!!. Thank you for sharing your process with us.

  4. Thank you for taking us on your journey. This blog post was full of information and answered a lot of questions for me. Looking forward to your next copy.


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