Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lady with a Parasol - Monet today

I am copying  "Woman with a Parasol" by Claude Monet at the National Gallery of Art.  Monet painted his wife and son on a family outing.  It is thought that he completed the painting in one sitting and the portrayal was meant to be a casual setting rather than a formal portrait.  

I, on the other hand, have been working on copying this piece for a month now and this is how far I have gotten.  I worked on the sky quite a bit today and while painting "quell horror" I noticed the bottom of the dress was not close enough to the boy!  So I worked on that too...reworking the skirt folds and swirls.  

The things I am really working on with this piece are the palette and brushstrokes.  Monet's palette is quite different for me.  I long for yellow ochre...but I am getting used to his colors and getting better at mixing to get what I need. Such a good exercise for me.  The other big challenge is trying to capture the spontaneity of his strokes.  They seem to be haphazardly splashed on the canvas though I am sure more thought was given to their placement.  

I must say the National Gallery was crowded in spite of our frigid spring weather.  I had MANY more people ask me questions than ever before.  Asking if they could take pictures and about the copyist program.  I really had to concentrate to get anything done.  One little girl asked me how many of the paintings on the wall I had done.  I had to confess that I did none of the ones currently hanging at the gallery.  >sigh<  There were many people walking by quietly whispering "good job" which is nice.  Once lady told me "at least you got the umbrella right"...not sure how to take that.  All in all it was a great day and I am pleased with my progress.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Resting - a ballerina's respite

16 x 20
Oil on Raymar Panel


I was fortunate to have a lovely ballerina pose for me a while back.  Alice is gorgeous and showed up with pointe shoes, tutus and a leotard.  It was such fun to see her in action...such a graceful young dancer.  Capturing that grace is the hard part!  Alice was gracious to continue to pose and then sat on the floor to rest...I loved this shot.  I always like paintings that tell a story...even a story of an exhausted ballerina. Of course, Alice wasn't really is just a good story.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Adventures of copying Lady with a Parasol by Claude Monet - National Gallery of Art

When I select a painting to copy at the National Gallery of Art I always try to stretch myself.  I began this piece by Monet because I love it AND because the palette is so far out of my comfort zone.  Monet is said to have disliked browns!!!  I LOVE browns, ochres, umbers and all earth tones.  As I did my research about this piece I shuddered when I laid out this palette of colors.  They are:  Lead White, Cadmium yellow light, Cadmium Yellow, Viridian Green, Emerald Green, French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Vermillion and Ivory Black.  I decided to only use those colors for this piece.  So, along with the challenge of copying this piece I am also mixing colors I am not too familiar with using colors I am not used to using.  It has given me the impetus to revisit making my own color charts as Richard Schmid suggests in his book "Alla Prima II"  Making color charts has been on my "to do" list for some time and this exercise has opened my eyes to the value of that task.  


Here is a picture of my painting and the original in the background.  As usual there was quite a bit of traffic through the gallery.  Many, many kind comments and well wishes from many, many different countries in many, many different languages.  One of the things I like best about living in the area is the diversity.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Work in Progress (WIP) Me

16 x 20
Oil in Raymar Panel

I paint a lot of self portraits.  The main reason is because I always available and I like to paint from life.   I am always working on artwork and my life.  I am always looking to improve.  When Jerry's Artarama announced their self portrait contest I had just completed this piece.  I decided to enter.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Sister's Secret - revisited

My Sister's Secret
18 x 24
Oil on Canvas

This is a piece named " My Sister's Secret"  It is my two lovely grand nieces telling secrets.  I painted it a couple of years ago and it has always been one of my favorite painting...though there were things about it that I wasn't quite happy with.  I remember painting it and not knowing what to do with the background.  Then I took a class from Carolyn Anderson who said if you don't have the background decided then you do not have a good vision for your piece.  That is extreme paraphrasing...but it is one of the main things I took from her class.  I try to have a complete vision before I begin any piece now.  So with that in mind I decided to revisit this painting and see if I could complete my vision.  I really like the placement of the girls but wanted to work on the background and the clothes a bit.  I darkened the background with a deeper color using ultramarine blue, raw sienna and some yellow ochre.  I love the rich tones and the loose edges on the left.  Then I saturated the color of the dresses with cadmium red and alizarin crimson shading with some ultramarine blue.  I love revisiting pieces and seeing how much I have learned.  It makes me hungry to learn more.  

Below is the piece as it was originally...