This is the piece I have chosen to copy at the National Gallery of Art. It is titled "Masked Ball at the Opera" by Edouard Manet. The sketch, by Manet, for the original painting was done at the event, but then he completed it in his studio. He spent months working on it often using friends to model. It is thought that he included his likeness in the piece...one of the many top hatted gentlemen. At the bottom right of the painting is a fallen dance card. Manet chose to place his signature on the dance card.
I chose this painting for many reasons not the least of which is to challenge myself. I love the energy in the piece created by the crowd of people. The top hats intrigued me...as I do love hats...and I love the line the hats create that move the eye across the canvas. The pops of color strategically placed also lets the eye dance across the sea of black. I knew the hats would be a challenge and I knew all the black would also test my abilities.
So I begin. I gridded the canvas and counted the hats in each quarter of the painting. Even with the grid and counting getting the correct number across in the correct proportions was daunting. That occupied most of my time at the gallery. I will be seeing top hats in my sleep!
As always, I encountered some interesting characters. A group of home schooled children were on a field trip and stopped by to watch for a while. I was on a brief respite from my sketching so I offered to take questions. It is so rewarding to see young people interested in art and actually be able to answer their questions!
So I look forward to next wednesday...the journey continues...