Finished: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem


{My copy of the original painting}


This Monday I was able to get to a point in copying the original painting that I consider to be the closest I will ever get to finishing. I know that is a bit long winded, but the point is I got to a place where I was satisfied with the progress made and know that if I continued to refine the copy, it would feed my compulsive personality traits more than helping me learn more about the craft of painting. And this is my ultimate goal with being a copyist at the National Gallery of Art.

Completing this copy took 22 visits to the gallery, typically painting between 10am and 4pm, with a one hour break for lunch and wandering the museum. Along the way I learned to slow down, observe, imagine, and execute. While working on this painting I gained a deeper understanding of how to use glazes and how they build upon each layer, adding to the depth and complexity of the paint surface.

This painting was my first copy as part of the program and I am very glad I chose a painting that was lightyears ahead of me in skill, because it forced me to learn, grow, and adapt. I remember the first two or three visits to the musuem where I seriously questioned if I had made the right decision and if I should cut and run... however once I realized how to go about the process of copying and to be satisfied with only covering a 3" x 3" area of canvas with a developed and refined image each day progress on completing the painting seemed to speed up. I think it was because I no longer wasted time with what was not getting accomplished but instead I would focus more on the present and what was being transformed.

From this experience I learned that it is always a good idea to bite off more than you can chew, because eventually you learn how to make it work out.

{my copy below the original painting}

details of the original painting:
Vase of Flowers, c. 1660
Jan Davidsz de Heem (artist)
Dutch, 1606 - 1683/1684
oil on canvas
overall: 69.6 x 56.5 cm (27 3/8 x 22 1/4 in.) framed: 90.1 x 77.8 cm (35 1/2 x 30 5/8 in.)
{my copy is 24" x 18" (61 x 45.7 cm)}

Next week I begin a new copy, it is going to be something totally different than this painting in style and subject and I am looking forward to all the challenges it will bring.

Thanks for being part of this experience and I hope you will continue to visit.