The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet: Session 1


Last week I began a new copy at the NGA, this time The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet. I enjoyed copying the post-impressionist painting by Van Gogh so much, I thought I would challenge myself by once again painting in a style that is not quite what I personally strive for with my own work. The experience and knowledge gained by trying to paint in someone else’s shoes is so enlightening.

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{progress at the end of the day}

The week before bringing my canvas into the museum to begin the copy, I spent two hours in front of the original painting observing and taking copious notes on how I interpreted Claude Monet painted it. In these notes, I broke the painting into 20+ individual sections. In each section, I analyzed and recorded whether the ground showed through and how much, how thick the underpainting was and its color and value, and then how I interpreted the subsequent layers were applied.

This knowledge helped me develop a game plan on how to proceed once I began pushing paint around. It also gave me an opportunity to consider if I would utilize a historic paint palette that Monet would have likely used or choose to use my own color palette.

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{my paint palette}

I decided to use my own palette of colors, because I wanted to learn how to paint like him using the paints I use every day. When I copied the de Heem Vase of Flowers, is used my own paint palette instead of his historic color palette. It is fun to switch back and forth between contemporary and historic colors.

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{at the beginning of the day}

The size of the copy is 40 x 32 inches, the largest allowed by the program. And a few days before I begun the actual painting in the gallery, I applied a light ground to the oil-primed linen. I also gridded and drew in the main “landmarks” of the composition in order to keep the scale correct. When copying, I think keeping the scale correct is one of the hardest things to do because I spend so much time analyzing the brushstrokes and color, I tend to want to paint in a one-to-one sort of way, which is not allowed… So by having a photo of the painting with a grid superimposed on it and then a corresponding grid on my own painting, I typically can keep my scale accurate.

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{at the end of the day}