Week 1: Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honore Fragonard


Week 1: The Beginning
{blank canvas and ready to go}


On Monday I was back at the NGA to begin the next copy, which is Jean-Honore Fragonard's Young Girl Reading. Typically I start with a neutral gray ground when beginning a painting, and since I buy rolls of canvas and apply the ground to the entire roll this is what I had available in my studio to begin the painting. However on investigating the original painting I realized that Fragonard painted this painting on a creamy neutral ground.

In this photo of the Fragonard painting you can sort of see the creamy ground of the painting, the thickness of the paint varies with the ground peeping through in many places.

{the original painting}

The first step was to get my base color correct. I used a mixture of yellow ochre, cremnitz white, and a smidgen of raw umber thinned with oderless mineral spirits (OMS) for this base coat.

Week 1: mid-day
{mid-day status}

After getting the cream ground on I worked at blocking in the image, the goal was for accuracy and proportions. I then left for lunch giving the paint an hour to set up some.

{end of day status}

After getting back, I reworked some areas adjusting proportion and then I proceded to remove the majority of the burnt umber lines I had placed before lunch. This is because the subsequent layers of paint will be various levels of opacity and I do not want my initial drawing lines to shine through when I am finished with this piece.

I am really looking forward to working on this copy, the brushstrokes are so loose and full of energy, something so very different from the tight control found in the de Heem painting...