NGA Copyist Work

The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet: Final Session

Copy of The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet

{progress at the end of the day}

Hello,

This copy is complete and now home, read to be framed...

In the final session, I only had a bit more to work on and I was able to get down to business rather fast.

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{progress at the beginning of the day}

Copy of The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet

{progress at the end of the day}

During this session I used the palette knife quite a bit, laying down and also scraping off. The experience reminded me of some advice my mentor, Danni Dawson, taught me about the usefulness of a palette knife. 1) you can lay down larger areas of paint with greater speed than you can with a brush, even when using a BIG brush, and 2) that you don't have to make it look like you used a palette knife, you can always go back in and refine areas with a brush if you need to, however where I used a palette knife on this painting, I kept the edges and texture.

The palette knife is a very helpful tool, it is important to find "springy" ones that mimic the springy-ness of a bristle brush, or those are the ones I like to use most when painting with a palette knife. If they are too stiff, I use the palette knife for mixing paint on my palette or scraping down, but never for painting.

Working on this large of a painting was an inspiration, and I am going to be trying my hand at larger pieces because of it.

I also have sowed a row of sunflowers in my garden this summer... a direct inspiration from working on this painting.

Copy of The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet

{finished}

...................................................................... Framed Painting: $5,000 {40″ x 32″ – oil on linen} Available for Purchase, please email me ......................................................................

The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet: Session 6

20140508 monet-2 copy

{progress at the end of the day}

Hello,

I am back after a long break {thank you all for your understanding and concern, I am feeling much better and really appreciate all the emails and comments} and, I am eager to share with you my progress with this copy from where we left off at session 5.

Entering gallery 85, I was rearing to go because I thought this was going to be my last day on this painting… however, once arriving I found out that the easel and drop cloth that the NGA provides, was not present in my gallery. As copyists, we are not allowed to procure them, even if they are only in the next gallery over. It is regulation, and I accepted that… so I cooled my heels for about 45 minutes waiting for an easel to be moved from the neighboring gallery.

During this time I set up my painting in front of the original so I could compare the two. This extra time to contemplate my work and direction was helpful, and once the easel entered gallery 85, I started on the day.

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{waiting for my easel and drop cloth}

I only had the bottom part of the painting to work on, because as a whole I am satisfied with the upper half of the painting. It was a close day, full of lots of energy… though, the day was not full of enough time. I did not finish by the time I needed to leave the gallery {4pm}, so only a bit more to finish, the blue and white flower pots and the grass on the right hand side.

All in all, it was a good painting day.

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{progress at the end of the day}

The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet: Session 5

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{progress at the end of the day}

After the last session, I came back to the NGA all enthused and ready to cover some canvas this session.

Using the skills I have been gradually gaining, I tackled the right side of the composition. Focusing on getting the values and color temperatures as close as possible to the original, I worked methodically top to bottom and left to right.

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{progress at the beginning of the day}

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{progress at lunch time}

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{progress at 3:09pm}

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{progress at the end of the day, 3:22pm}

The Next NGA Copy...

20140403 monet-garden-03{my current copy at the NGA}

Hello there!

As I am more than half finished with the copy of the Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet, I am in the process of deciding what to copy next… and I thought I would get your input on the next one I choose to paint.

The paintings I am considering are:

1. A Girl with a Watering Can by Auguste Renoir A14224.jpg

2. Mother and Child by Mary Cassatt E11334.jpg

3. Wivenhoe Park, Essex by John Constable A11034.jpg

4. Young Woman with Peonies by Frédéric Bazille E10564.jpg

Personally, I am leaning towards the Renoir or the Cassatt, because Naomi seems to really like these two, and because either painting would be a fun challenge to paint.

So, over to you, which one would you paint and why?

The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet: Session 4

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{progress at the beginning of the day}

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{progress at lunch time}

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{progress at the end of the day}

For session 4, I worked on the left side of the composition, and because I thought about how I was going to proceed before I got to the gallery, I was able to cover a lot of territory.

Because I am copying this painting, and I try to re-enact the entire painting, just not the end result, I spent some time during this session laying in some textural elements that will eventually be painted over.

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{detail of progress at lunch time}

Specifically I painted in the lower part of the stairs with thick highlights on the edge of the risers, however Monet must have decided that this element took away from the composition, because he later added all the vegetation to the left side of the stairs narrowing the stairs visually.  So consequentially, there is a ton of impasto paint under what seem likely to be nasturtium vines by the color of the yellow-green foliage and the orange specs that represent flowers.

So today I painted in the stairs with the thick impasto texture with the intention to paint over all this area during the next session.

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{progress at the end of the day with the stairs painted in}

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{detail of the layers of paint and texture}

The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet: Session 3

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{progress at lunch time}

This is my second day of really tackling the lush sunflowers that make up the middleground of this composition. And just as last week, it took me forever to get into the mindset that is required to paint this area accurately, while also maintaining the gesture and vitality this painting is full of.

This week I was even more prepared for the challenge, but it still did not make it any easier. So whenever I feel like I am barely treading water, I narrow down my focus and only work within a very narrow area, sometimes just a few inches at a time. This is what I did, and I choose to focus on placing some of the “landmark” sunflowers first and spreading out from them to neighboring areas. 20140327 monet-garden-03

{progress at the beginning of the day}

Monet painted in an alla prima method, where everything is painted directly, wet-into-wet, and just like the masters of old, he built his layers up. The first layer would be “rubbed in” {my terminology} typically in a color that heightened the visual vibrations of the planned for upper layers of paint. Then the subsequent layers would be laid on top of this wet underpainting, and depending on the pressure exerted, the under layer of paint would meld and mix with the upper layers, thus affecting the color purity of the upper layers. Which is masterful, because that would affect the color and value of whatever was being painted, thus affecting the visual affect of atmospheric perspective, and light and shade.

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{progress at lunch time}

Oh, it is amazing how many decisions can be made with just a single brushstroke!

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{progress at the end of the day}

I know Monet painted quickly, and now after three weeks of close observation of this painting I also realize he had remarkable accurate eye-hand coordination. I swear that in many areas, where he laid down daubs of color {the uppermost paint layer} he was probably not even looking at the canvas, but instead was looking at the actual sunflowers themselves.

So this skill of connecting my eye-hand coordination with greater effectiveness is something I am focusing most of my efforts on while working on this copy. And I am hopeful it will spread into my own work.

20140327 monet-garden-02

{progress at the end of the day}

I painted to the very end of my allowed time, so when I was breaking down my spot, I forgot to snap a photo of the end of day status in the gallery, so here it is before it gets put away in the copyist's closet... The coming session is going to be fun as I am moving into new territory, different vegetation and the steps and foreground.

The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet: Session 2

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{progress at the end of the day}

Last week, I was back at the NGA working on this copy.

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{progress at the beginning of the day}

Once seeing the painting again with fresh eyes, I realized I needed to rework the sky some before getting back to middle-ground area where all the sunflowers are in this painting.

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{progress at lunch time}

It took me awhile to get back into the mindset to paint like Monet, but once I did, things moved along...

20140320 Monet-garden-04

{progres at the end of the day}

I can't wait to dive in next time. I am hopeful that I will be able to cover a lot of canvas with bright and juicy paint, while learning how to paint more suggestively.

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

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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.

20140313 artists-garden-monet-4

{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}

Roses by Vincent Van Gogh: Sessions 9 & 10

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{Finished copy with the original in Gallery 83}

Last Thursday I finished the copy at the NGA.

Now I want to share the last two sessions that led up to its completion.

For the second to last session at the NGA, my goal was to cover the canvas and set up the shot for my final painting day when I would fine tune and unify the entire painting. As I shared before, Van Gogh painted in a very fast, almost frenzied, alla prima method. This painting of Roses was definitely completed like this, and most likely in one marathon 10+ hour painting session. Something he was prone to do. {I wish I had the stamina to paint like that and the time, having a toddler around makes it impossible to have marathon painting days}

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{progress at the beginning of the day, session 9}

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{progress at the end of the day, session 9}

As I was not creating from scratch, but was copying, it took me longer to complete my version. My goal was to get as close as possible to his original painting, with an emphasis on matching the gesture and energy of his brushstrokes.

Once I had covered the entire canvas with the thick impasto paint layers, I took a break from visiting the NGA. This provided time for all the thick paint layers to dry, which I needed to happen before my last painting session.

Because some oil paint colors shift as they dry and because I painted this painting in large sections, it was important to me to dedicate an entire painting session to analyzing the entire painting as a whole. So for the last painting session, I started the day by “oiling in” the dry painting surface with refined linseed oil. This rejuvenated the colors back to what they look like in their wet state.

By bringing up all the colors, I was able to assess how the various parts that were painted separately hung together. I set to work adjusting values and colors in the painting.

Luckily, most areas were fine, or only needed some minor adjustments, and I was able to finish this stage of the process by the end of the day.

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{progress at the beginning of the day, session 10}

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{progress at the end of the day, session 10}

The three main areas that required attention were: 1) lightening the value of the background on the right side of the canvas, 2) lightening the value of the foreground, and 3) adjusting the color and value of the vase.

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{Finished copy}

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{detail of the impasto layers of paint}

The painting is now home in my studio, drying further before I can varnish it. Once the painting is varnished, it will be ready to go home to the kind collector who commissioned me to paint this exciting painting for his wife.

In my eyes, she is a lucky woman

Roses by Vincent Van Gogh: Session 8

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{my setup at the end of the day}

When working on a copy you have to work within many parameters and time limits. Some of them are:

  • Only getting to work on the painting one day per week
  • Having to keep your easel four feet away from the original painting, meaning you end up standing 6-7 feet away.
  • Having to paint within the hours of 10am to 4pm, and with my mom responsibilities, I end up working within a more limited time period.
  • Tungsten bulbs shining on the painting, and only natural light from the skylights shining on your canvas.  This creates a color temperature shift from your painting to that of the original... I always am trying to make up for this difference.

Though, I find the most influential parameters are often what I impose on myself. Such as:

  • Setting over ambitious goals for each painting session. At the start of each session, I brainstorm what area of the canvas I am going to cover, and how I will sequence the steps. Often, I am over confident on how fast I will be able to accomplish such goals.
  • Forgetting a supply or tool, such as my paint tube squeezer. A great tool to squeeze the super-stiff lead white out of its tube.

During this session, I was guilty of feeling the pinch of all these parameters, but when I realized what was going on, I purposely paused and tried to become more thoughtful of my actions. In doing so, I noticed something special about this painting…

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{at the start of the session}

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{where I finished}

Van Gogh painted most of this painting as one direct layer of paint. You can see areas of the raw canvas peaking through in places when you get up close to the painting, however the branch of roses in the lower left hand corner were painted on top of the background and foreground paint layers.

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{beginning to block in the branch of roses}

This branch of roses was a later addition to the composition. It was like Van Gogh got the painting almost complete and then realized the lower left-hand corner needed something more.

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{branch of roses painted in}

This is a tricky technique to achieve because I had to lay a lighter paint color on top of the wet and darker background and foreground colors. It is all in how you handle the brush, and the pressure you apply. And it was important to paint wet-into-wet here instead of painting in the background and coming back next week to paint in the lighter roses because in some areas I needed the under layers to mix some with the upper layers of paint, to help me define form.

Also, as the painting ages and cures, the upper layers will become more transparent, creating a more nuanced effect.

This aging process that an oil painting goes through as it cures and dries (which can take over four years to occur) is one of the features I love about working in oils. That sometimes you paint a certain sequence not for how it will look today, but how the oil paint will cure and ultimately look.

As the artist, you are making decisions for the ultimate outcome, not just for the immediate result.

Roses by Vincent Van Gogh: Session 7

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{my setup}

Today was a day of progression. Working my way around the canvas.

Working on this painting has made me more decisive about my brushstrokes. My mentor, Danni Dawson, recommended that I do not try to copy every exact brushstroke, but instead I need to strive to emulate the gesture and energy that Van Gogh’s brushwork has. Saying all this, I also admit that at times I do observe brushstrokes, visualize making them exactly as they are on the canvas before me and then I return to my copy and purposefully paint the strokes.

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{at the beginning of the sixth session}

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{end of sixth session}

This practice of stopping to understand, imaging the sequencing and movement of laying down paint, and then actually laying down paint has made me more aware of how important it is to think while painting and how mental involvement is so important in gaining a positive outcome.

Creating art is as much mental problem solving as it is pushing paint around.

Roses by Vincent Van Gogh: Session 6

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{my setup}

When I began this session there was a tour of children with a guide and some parents in the same gallery as me. They were there looking at the new Van Gogh acquisition. While I was setting up I chatted with them about the copyist program and the reason why copying a painting is so valuable.

To me the most valuable result of the experience is how it enables me to really get into the mind of the artist. I have to think about how they created something, figure out the sequencing of the steps, and constantly compare their work to what I am coming up with.

Essentially it is learning through reverse engineering. Something that is proven to work and in my opinion it is one of the best ways to minimizing the time required to master a specific technique.

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{at the beginning of the sixth session}

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{in the middle of the sixth session}

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{end of sixth session}

With each copy I have completed, I feel as if I make gigantic leaps forward in my comprehension of how to create expressive artwork.

With this painting, Roses by Vincent Van Gogh, I am really learning the important of value and color temperature. How these two characteristics to paint application is so important in creating a sense of dimensional space on a 2-D picture plane.

When I copied, Jan Davidsz de Heem’s Vase of Flowers, I learned a ton about painting with layers of glaze. With this Dutch still-life painting, I also learned how to disconnect my time-oriented thinking from my creative-lose-track-of-time painting brain. It was with this painting that I learned the value of slowing down to really see what is in front of me.

And now with this Van Gogh, I am learning how to see and make decisive decisions in this alla prima method of painting.

Roses by Vincent Van Gogh: Session 5

20140109 van-gogh-roses-4{my setup at the end of the fifth session}

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For this session, this is where I began.

And keeping to my plan to work outward, painting in a very direct manner, I began by fanning out from last week’s session. When working in a such a direct manner, it is especially important to focus on setting up the correct values and building up the texture like Van Gogh did.

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Copying this Van Gogh has made me realize how this painting incorporates a lot of the affects of a bas-relief sculpture. The majority of the leaves are laid down with minimal paint texture compared to the full impasto texture of the roses, with the petals being built up in a three-dimensional way.

I have found that even the shadows that are cast by the thick impasto painting play an important part in giving dimension to the roses.

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Roses by Vincent Van Gogh: Sessions 3 & 4

20130102 van-gogh-roses-1{end of third session}

I have been to the NGA two times since I last shared an update on this copy.

20130102 van-gogh-roses-2 {blocked in with yellow ochre}

For the third session, I brought in the full-size linen canvas to get a new copyist permit after the 8 x 10 study was completed. I blocked in the composition with thinned yellow ochre, making sure my scale was correct as this copy is a bit smaller than the original painting.

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For the fourth session, I began the laying in of the actual painting. As Van Gogh painted in the alla prima method, which means his work was usually executed in one painting session, I must work to complete the area I am working on within the day I start in that area.

In order to keep with the expression and gesture of Van Gogh’s work, I want to minimize the amount of going back and correcting as I can.

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With this in mind, I choose to begin in the middle of the composition and to work out.

20130102 van-gogh-roses-5 {end of fourth session}

Roses by Vincent Van Gogh: Session 2

van-gogh-roses-at-nga-3 Two weeks ago I found myself back at the NGA working on another 10x8 study of Roses by Vincent Van Gogh.

During this session, I focused on scaling the study down in size to be more in line with what the final full-scale copy will be. I also worked to vary the paint thicknesses to be more in line to the original. During my first study, I did not realize how much of the under canvas peeped through and how that affected the overall effect of the painting.

By leaving areas of the canvas to peep through, the sense of depth is given more meaning in the impasto areas of the painting. Van Gogh was very masterful in how he used texture to reinforce the important areas of the painting and to visually create depth. This painting is almost like a bas-relief sculpture.

It was while working on this second study, I also began to notice how Van Gogh used color temperature to give the illusion of visual depth as well.

Lets look at this detail of the original painting….

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See how the background and leaf are almost the same value inside the circled area, and see how the leaf still pops forward visually. Yes, the dark outline helps with this, but I think what really makes this work is that the leaf is a warmer green (yellow-green) then the background green (blue-green).

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Choosing the correct color temperature is very important when working on a painting, but it is when I see details like this in a painting that I really begin to contemplate how effective the correct color temperature is in creating three-dimensional effects on a two-dimensional canvas.

See the image below where I edited the detail in photoshop to show the effect if the leaf had remained the same blue-green as the background...

van-gogh-roses-detail copy

Its not as effective. Color temperature is an important tool to use when painting.

Study of Roses by Vincent Van Gogh {finished study}

I am happy to share that the study was approved by my client, and I am now awaiting the arrival of the custom sized stretcher bars and linen so I can assemble the full-sized stretched canvas and begin on the final copy.

Roses by Vincent Van Gogh: Session 1

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20131114 copy-of-roses-study-day-1 Hello,

Yesterday I found myself back at the NGA beginning a new copy. This time, I am focusing my effort on Vincent Van Gogh’s still-life painting of Roses.

A16983.jpg {Roses by Vincent Van Gogh, 1890, oil on canvas} 71 x 90 cm (27 15/16 x 35 7/16 in.)

The copy is a commission, a thoughtful husband wants to celebrate his upcoming 10th wedding anniversary by surprising his wife. Vincent Van Gogh's Roses is an important painting, he proposed to her in front of this painting... I think this is one of the most romantic gestures I have ever heard of and I feel so honored to be a part of it.

Because Van Gogh’s painting technique is all about decisive brushstrokes, impasto paint application, and bold color, I am beginning this copy by first completing 8x10 studies at 100% scale of sections of the painting. These studies will give me a chance to practice his paint application technique.

When copying a painting with such energetic paint handling it is very important to move with confidence and speed. My mentor, Danni Dawson, always asserts that when copying such work, it is more important to capture the sense of gesture and emotion rather than copy each exact brushstroke. This is because people are drawn to confidence and mastery of the medium that is exhibited in such paintings.

So if you intend to copy a Van Gogh or a Frans Hals, it is important come with a strong understanding of the subject and the paint process, that is, the sequence of layers of paint to lay down first, second, and third, and so forth…

My goal with completing this first study was to get used to the way Van Gogh was likely to paint this subject matter. I wanted to learn about the sequencing of this painting, how he used color, texture, and pattern, combining all these aspects into a single composition.

I began with a Prussian blue mixture, by blocking in the main shapes of a specific area of the painting, an area that had some of the background, table surface, the clay vase, and various rose foliage. Most of the roses were painting directly on the canvas surface with patches of the cream canvas tone peaking through, only a few areas were painted on top of previous layers of paint, making this painting an interesting one that requires a lot of pre-planning on my part.

vincent-van-gogh-roses-detail-2 {detail of the original painting}

vincent-van-gogh-roses-detail-1 {detail of the original painting}

With this study, I learned a lot about how Van Gogh layered color and used value to create visual depth.

Study 1 of Roses {10 x 8 inches - Study of Roses I}

At the end of the day I scraped down what I had painted, because I want to complete another study next week and investigate another area of the painting before I dive into the full-size version.

Second Beach, Newport by Worthington Whittridge: Session 5

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e-floyd-20130517-whittridge-6:: my setup in the gallery ::

At the end of the last session, I had left off finishing the bottom left-hand side of the sky.  This is because I like to work on important edges with everything being wet, and the edge between the sky and rocks and hills are VERY important edges.  The edges of the hills and the large central rock vary in quality, some are soft, some hard, and some were laid down with pigment and medium that eventually lends a bit of transparency to the edges after the painting is fully cured.

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Even though I knew most of my attention for this session would need to focus on how the sky meets the land, I spent the first hour of the day, going back and refining the large cloud masses first.

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Once I felt the values and cloud formations were close enough in the upper sky, I began the task of working on the lower left-hand clouds and how the landscape connects with the sky.

As clouds recede in the distance, the whites actually get warmer in color where when land recedes the landscape gets bluer, so a lot of warm yellows were used for this portion of the sky.  And for this painting I have been using a lot of yellow ochre, Old Holland's Gamboge Lake Extra, and Venetian Red.  Colors that are not regularly on my studio palette, but colors I have really been enjoying with this painting.

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The sky got to where I wanted it to be for the time being, so I began to move forward with the middle field landscape.  Working the large central rock and the adjacent slope and the hills.

The day was almost over when I realized that the central rock was too big and a bit too dark in value.... errrr, I hate it when I realize a mistake like this, and I only have a few moments to fix it before the end of the day and the time to start packing up is looming over me.

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So in the last fifteen minutes, I scrapped down the top part of the central rock, blocked in the corrected mass, and lightened the value some and reworked the clouds some where they "touch" the rock.

For the next session, hopefully the central rock will look correct enough, that way I will not feel the need to work in that area of the painting, because I want to move onto the water and beach areas.   I would like to get the entire painting covered with this first "refined" layer, because I know this painting will require another layer of refinement.

 

RELATED POSTS:

Second Beach, Newport by Worthington Whittridge: Session 1

Second Beach, Newport by Worthington Whittridge: Session 2

Second Beach, Newport by Worthington Whittridge: Session 3

Second Beach, Newport by Worthington Whittridge: Session 4

Second Beach, Newport by Worthington Whittridge: Session 4

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After finishing the third session on this copy, I went home and thought a lot about this painting and how I wanted to proceed for the next session. Between the painting sessions, I spent time thinking about how I would begin my next session and also trying to figure out how to accomplish the soft and layered quality of the sky.  When it was time to came back to the gallery, I arrived with an action plan. With the beginning of the fourth painting session, I pulled out my oil cup and poured out the first medium I planned on using for this layer of the painting.

e-floyd-20130405-whittridge-1 :: Status at the beginning of the day ::

My goal was to get through the first "refining" pass through of the sky.

I wanted to begin to introduce the more soft and subtle effects of the sky and clouds.  I also needed to shift the colors some and lighten the values also, so while I was working on the clouds I was also laying in a new sky color, so the entire area of the sky got a new coat of paint.

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Occasionally I will lay in a big splat of paint in a location to help me key my values correctly.  This is what the large white square of paint is doing in the photo above.

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:: Further along in the day ::

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The clouds are full of colorful passages.  Pinks, purples, yellows, and muted oranges are all present in these clouds, however I am constantly striving to lay them in softly, like Whittridge did, where my tendency is to hieghten the contrast when painting skies.

e-floyd-20130503-whittridge-3 :: At the end of the day ::

I did not get the entire sky complete, I left the lower left-hand clouds untouched because when I work those, I will also need time to work the rocks and hills also.

Second Beach, Newport by Worthington Whittridge: Session 3

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20130308-4 worthington-whittridge-copyHello, I am still working on the copy of Second Beach, Newport by Worthington Whittridge, I have just been remiss in sharing the details here. And this is because sometimes as an oil painter you need to embrace the idea that you paint to destroy what has already come before.

Embracing this part of being an artist is a good thing to do, but it does not show well. And this has been the summary of my most recent times at the gallery...

Here is how the painting looked at the beginning of the day. 20130215-1 worthington-whittridge-copy-end-of-day

I focused the majority of my attention on the area of the water. Focusing on correcting the values more and to begin setting up the shot for later layers of glazes that will create the effect of the shallow sea.

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Here is how the painting looked at the end of the day. 20130308-2 worthing-whittridge-copy

I am hopeful that soon the copy will be in a place where progress begins to move forward rapidly and that the fun final layers will laid down soon... Until then, think of this phase as the second act of a three part play, where the story is a bit dull and is slowly ascending to the final climax that makes the experience so worth all the invested time.

Second Beach, Newport by Worthington Whittridge: Session 2

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20130201-second-beach-newport-session2-1{halfway through the day}

When working on a copy, the thing I am constantly being reminded about is that painting with oils is a process, one that needs to be thought out and the sequence of steps planned for.

With Worthington Whittridge’s Second Beach, Newport, this is something that I have had to just accept and try to figure out how to plan the sequence of actions.  During the first session, I realized that this painting for its seemingly direct sense, was in fact a very developed and multi-layered composition, where Whittridge used many layers of paint, with different textures, and often mixed with medium.

Armed with this knowledge, the first thing I did during my second session at the NGA was to get out a palette knife and squeeze out a lot of paint. I needed to add an under layer of texture to the water area. I laid in paint heavily with the palette knife to create a sense of ripples with the paint that would set up for when I return for the third painting session.

20130215-second-beach-newport-session2-3 {detail of the thick textured layers trying to emulate ripples in the sand}

I anticipate that when I paint over this sculptural layer some of the ridges will become subdued with the successive paint layers, and hopefully will resemble the effect of rippling sand under water.

20130215-second-beach-newport-session2-4 {building up texture in the clouds}

For the sky area I also worked to build up texture where the cloud formations were. For both areas I used some of my precious Old Holland Cremnitz white (because a big tube is more than $100.00 from DickBlick) because it gets so thick and sets up faster than the Blue Ridge Cremnitz white that I now predominately use.  (as an aside, Old Holland is still the zenith for Cremnitz white because the more you work it, the more creamy is becomes, but it also sets up fast.   I liken it to being stiff like cold cream cheese at first, but as you work it, is becomes smoother and more malleable,  but once you lay the paint down, and if you leave it alone, it will set up and become stiff again, back to how cream cheese is when still from the block.  So you can lay paint on top of it in a few hours, and this is all without using any medium or additive).

I needed the areas that were laid in during the morning to be stiff enough for a second round of building up the texture later in the afternoon. You see, this is where the process of planning is so important, by making decisions on how to proceed in the morning that would affect my ability to do certain things in the afternoon. This is where also understanding your paints is also very important because it allows you to be able to plan and in your mind work out problems that may arise.

20130215 second-beach-newport-session2-2 {texture, texture, texture in the underpainting}

However, even with all this mental work, sometimes you just need to jump in and begin pushing paint around… and this is where I learned something new… when I was first working on building up the texture in the clouds, I was having difficulty getting the edges of the texturized areas to blend well with the less textured areas of the sky. At first I was using a large bristle filbert (filberts being my favorite brush shape), but it just was not working out… and as luck would have it, I had a large bristle round with me. So ditching the filbert for the round made all the difference, and now I am wondering where else I can start using rounds where typically I would avoid using them…