de Heem

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.


Week 21: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem


{week 21: end of the day}


We are now on the home stretch of completing this painting! Yah!

Today I returned to the NGA to work on the copy and it was a a bit difficult to decide where to focus as all the main flowers and areas have had a least one pass over. So instead I decided to jump around the painting focusing on areas that need attention.

Areas worked on today include the orange flower below the hydrangea, which will get an orange glaze applied to it next week. {I made it lighter this week so when the glaze goes on it has some room to darken a bit.} The wheat stalk that falls down in front {this still needs some work}, and misc. items that dot the canvas like water droplets, insects, and highlights.

Week 20: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem


IMG_5553{end of day status}


On Monday I was back at the gallery working on the copy of the Vase of Flowers. The day was filled with fine tuning the area around the glass vase and laying in the window reflection, the main highlight in the glass vase.

IMG_5538 {beginning of day}

Typically when I begin the day I will rub a thin layer of linseed oil to re-wet the surface, this makes the new paint meld with the previous layers with a softer effect than painting directly onto a dry canvas.

This Monday I learned that there are times when you want a dry surface to apply paint onto, so I ended up having to wipe down the area of the window reflection where I had at first spread a the linseed oil. A dry spot is particularly important when you are starting off with a pretty wet paint, that is pigment that already has a large quantity of medium mixed into it, because once this wet paint touches the already thin layer of linseed oil the edges spread and start to diffuse. Something that is typcially a good thing but I needed a strong defining edge in this situation.

IMG_5540 {phase 1 of window reflection}

The first layer of the window reflection was a thinned zinc white with some blue and burnt sienna mixed to take the "whiteness" down some. Zinc white is the most transparent white available.

IMG_5541 {phase 2 of window reflection}

Later I switched to cremnitz white mixed with medium, it is a more opaque white and has a little more body.

Week 19: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem


week 18: end of day
{end of day status}


This is where I am on this painting, after spending so much time on it and seeing that the majority of the painting is complete I am having a hard time not rushing to the finish line... However I do not want to rush the experience and to make sure that the majority of the details are included, especially the ants and insects! It would be a shame to short cut the final stage.

For this week's visit I focused mainly on finishing the red poppy and fine tuning the black berries and immediate surrounding area.

week 18: beginning of day
{beginning of day detail}

week 18: mid-day

week 18: end of day detail
{end of day}

Next week the butterfly and the blackberries will get some additional attention. Then I will begin working on the highlights and reflections in the glass vase and the little flowers and misc details that fill up this area.

{detail of the original painting}

Week 18: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem


week 18: end of day comparison
{week 18: end of day comparison}

Today I was back at the gallery, happy to be inside on a damp, gray, and cold day.

One of the perks of painting in the NGA is that in order to preserve and protect the valuable art the building is kept year round at 72 degrees F with a 50% relative humidity. This prevents the shrinking and expansion that will usually occur under the typical atmospheric changes that occur season to seaon, day to day. So I was more cozy and comfortable than usual.

week 18: beginning of day detail
{week 18: beginning of day}

The focus for today was to work on the red poppy at the bottom right hand corner. I wanted to get it blocked in, establishing the outside edges and proportions of the flower in relation to the bottle and the table top.

week 18: middle of day
{week 18: status at lunch time}

Here is a detail from around the middle of the day and I realize that I did not get a close up shot of this area at the end of the day. Oops! My brain was pretty shot after focusing for so many hours on the minute detail of the petal edges... Next week I will definitely get a close up to share with you.

The painting I am copying has a new neighbor in gallery 50, Franz Snyders Still Life with Grapes and Game.

vase of flowers new neighbor

Frans Snyders Still life with Grapes and Game
{here is a close up of the still life}

This is a beautiful and large still life, and it is tempting me to copy it! Now that I am more than half way finished with the Vase of Flowers I have been pondering what will be the next painting to copy. With so many to choose from it is hard to narrow down the choices...

Week 16 & 17: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem


{beginning of week 17}


I am going to cover the past two visits to the NGA in this post. Two seperate areas of the composition have been worked on over the last two painting days. For week 16 the focus was still on the hydrangea and then a second pass was given to the red and white tulip to its left and the wheat stalk.

week 16: beginning of the day
{week 16: beginning of the day}

{week 16: end of the day}

As you can see the wheat stalk altered the most, this is because when I started to rework the area I realized it would be better to just start over. After painting the background color over the area {a mixture of burnt umber and french ultramarine blue thinned with some medium} I began to reapply the paint and block in the wheat kernals with greater accuracy. Capturing the gesture of the wheat was important because it leads the eye on such a merry journey in this area of the painting.

I also went over the tulip for a second time, it was a little flat and needed a little more modeling. The hydrangea got another pass of refining, however I am holding off on applying the last hairline highlights until later in the process.

For week 17 I shifted gears and decided to revisit the lower right hand quarter of the painting. Working to finalize the large red flower with the dark leaves and the purple flowers, both of which I cannot identify what they are... Maybe they are creations for the artist's imagination, whatever they are they really add to the painting. I love how the bright red is hidden and really gives a sense of volume to the bouquet, where the purple flowers are actually more forward but because their values blend so well with the dark background they are almost hidden except for a few highlights.

{week 17: beginning of the day}

{week 17: end of the day}

When working on this area of the painting I started to flush out the location of the red poppy stem, so as to verify the massing of the large dark leaf that is below the red flower and visually bridges the poppy with the main body of the bouquet. With this item in place, I felt comfortable about finalizing the other elements of the area.

I am hoping to begin the red poppy next week.

Thanks for stopping by :) Liz

Week 15: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem



I am back to share the details of yesterday's work at the NGA. Just as a benchmark, this is what I am trying to achieve... A pretty detailed rendering of a white hydrangea, that has visual depth and dimension.


Even though I did not get much painting done during December, time was spent contemplating the next step to take on this project and researching some technical questions. Recently I had read two helpful notes on glazing from Robert Massey's book Formulas for Painters

Here are the notes:

Note No. 8 : Glazes and dimension
By a judicious use of glazes, the painter can control to some extent the illusion of three dimensional space. The more heavily an area is glazed, the more it tends to recede; opaque surfaces, by contrast, appear to advance. By controlling the degree to which he glazes the various areas, the painter can push back or bring forward these areas.

Note No. 6 : Opaque Glazes
Though opaque glaze sounds like a contradiction in terms, it really works. Mix just enough lead white (Cremnitz or flake) with your glaze to render the glaze opaque. The immediate effect of this kind of glazing looks exactly like direct - or alla prima - painting. Within three or more years, the inevitable alteration of the pigment particles in the glaze layers will occur, allowing light to penetrate them, producing an opalescent quality in the glaze color. As in the use of any glazes, the entire painting should be glazed to some extent to maintain an optical unity.

These ideas got me thinking about the entire painting and what makes the hydrangea such a beautiful flower, but rather enigmatic. I had painted this flower earlier and was really not satisfied with how it turned out, so I had scraped that part down with the goal of returning to it.

{at the beginning of the day}
week 15: midday
{status at the middle of the day}
By taking the idea of using an opaque glaze I started working on this area by mixing some basic values and blocking them in some. I also re-worked all the edges where the hydrangea intersects, having total control of edge quality.

It was a slow going process originally and I ended up painting over areas multiple times trying to get the scale and values correct. This flower has so much detail that it requires constant attention to relationships. Before finishing the day I tried to get the entire flower blocked in, setting up for where the work will begin next week.

A few other things tackled this week included going over the morning glory again with new glazes to capture the warm yellow center and to enhance the variations of blue.

week 15: end of day detail
{at the end of the day}

week 15: end of day
{end of week 15}

Glazing is the most important aspect of this painting and learning to think about the steps it takes to setup the desired affect has been the biggest reward of copying at the NGA. For instance in order to accomplish the quite subtlety of this painting each object must be worked on a minimum of three times with varying glaze layers. Some layers will be predominantly transparent in the pigments used, however recently I have also begun to investigate the affects of using more opaque pigments in the glazes. And as the effect of opaque glazes do not show up immediately I just have to have faith that eventually the magic will appear.

Week 14: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem



Progress for this week was really more of the same as last week. I ended up refining the initial block in of the red flower and leaves below the tulips, expanding a little to the purple flowers. The detail was kept to a minimum due to the need of verifying and adjusting scale some. I got off some, making the leaves a little to big for this side of the canvas.

I also completed the second pass of the outer tulip, refining some of the value variations and shape of the petals and I began to paint the yellow butterfly, one of the most important insects in the painting.

week 14
{at the end of week 14}

week 13:  end of day
{at the end of week 13}

Week 13: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

Week 13 - end of day
{copy of Vase of Flowers}


Yesterday was a fun day at the NGA, I missed being there last week however feel it was good to have some breathing room. Seeing the status of the entire painting is fun to observe, so much has changed in the last several weeks, yesterday was my thirteenth time working on this project.

Slowing down and being comfortable to work on only small portions of the composition each time I am in the gallery has been a big breakthrough for me. By being willing to slow down and only setting small goals for each day I have found that I am still moving along at a good pace.

week 13 - beginning of day
{beginning of day status}

For this week I chose to only focus on the red and white poppy and the central tulip. By limiting my goal for the day I was able to establish a plan of action and to work towards the portions that were important, re-wetting the paint surface in areas that required wet-in-wet work and leaving other areas dry where the desire to have a hard firm edge was prefered.

{end of day status}

By the end of the day I was pleased to realize that more than just the two flowers had been worked on and refined to a near finished level. I was also able to finish the pea pods and the greenery below the orange daisy, while beginning the first block in of the red flower directly below the tulip.

I have learned that the general massing in I did at the beginning of this project was helpful for getting the entire composition scaled to the size of the canvas, however now that I am working to a finer level it is important to then go back into the area and re-establish the massing and basic block in. I do this with a thinned "lean" paint and then let it dry over the week before returning to refine it further with a "fatter" layer of paint. By setting up the proportional block in with a thinned paint and then later going back over it with a fatter layer of paint I am using the "fat over lean" technique to hopefully control any chance of future cracking.

If you observe closely the area below the central tulip you will see the flat-ish block in of a snail and the red flower with its dark green leaves. These items were blocked in with a thinned layer making room for next week when I return to refine that portion of the painting and also refine the outer tulip with the yellow butterfly.

Thanks for stopping by and being part of this project, I appreciate it :)


Week 12: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem


This weeks update will be brief, I worked on the tulips predominantly and focused a bit on the orange daisy.

week 12
{mid-day status}

week 12
{end of day status}

As working on this daisy I realized I was working with too many oranges, reds, and yellows and the flower was beginning to flatten some, so in order to punch it up some and give it a greater sense of form I delicately laid in some cobalt turquoise at the front shadowed edge and immediately depth was re-established. So if ever you are encountering a similar situation think about adding an almost complementary color into the mix, painting wet into wet. A direct complementary color is directly across the color wheel where an almost complementary color is across the wheel and shifted either one direction or the other. The direct complementary color may gray down your first color too much where the almost complementary color seems to mix to create a beautiful and dynamic color.

Week 12
{orange daisy detail}

NGA Security Station
{NGA security station}

Just as a side note, the entire NGA building is beautiful. The finishes and details are exquisite, like the beautiful bronze register covers and the way the millwork and proportions of the architectural details seem integrated. It is such a gift to be able to spend my Mondays painting in such a beautiful space.
Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Week 11: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

week 11
{at the beginning of the day}


This morning I had to wait a bit until a NGA facilities employee brought my easel to begin painting. So I set up my carrying case that holds all my painting supplies to prop up my copy near the original. As you can see, my colors are a bit more intense than the original's and I account the darkened image of the original to age, as paintings age linseed oil will darken some, dirt accumulates on the surface, and sometimes the paint pigments are fugitive.

As I move forward I will probably add additional glazes to the painting to get the two to match a little more than they do now.

week 11
{this week's work area}

After completing the white poppy last week, this week felt rather anticlimatic, because what I worked on was not a big benchmark flower... what I worked on was the area between the white poppy and hydrangea, and beginning to define the boundary of the red and white poppy {that is what I think the flower is}. Next week will be more about developing the larger tulips and maybe getting into some of the finer points of the flowers.

week 11
{status at the end of the day}

Thanks for sharing in this process.

Week 10: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

Week 10
{at the end of the day}


On Monday I was back at the NGA working on the Vase of Flowers and I decided to start off where I had left off -- the white poppy at the top of the composition.

Week 10
{where I started}

Last week I had begun to work on this flower, and decided to dedicate the entire day {we copyists are allowed to paint from 10am to 4pm} to finishing this area. So I began by applying a light coat of linseed oil to the area, wiping off any extra, adding a new layer of the dark background that surrounds the flower so I can paint wet into wet the fluttering edges of the petals.

Working my way around the flower making sure the scale was correct, once things seemed set I added the wheat husk because the right side edges needed to be well integrated. After completing the internal form of the poppy, I then added the butterfly and caterpillar. Next week or later I will need to return to the flower to add a few ants and add additional detail to the caterpillar.

Week 10
{where I ended}

Monday was a busy day and it feels very good to be finished with this landmark flower of the composition.

Thanks for reading and see you next week with more progress,


PS. Autumn is really showing her colors here in DC, this is just outside of the NGA on Constitution Ave. I love it when the leaves are turning but the grass is still vibrantly green!

From Constitution Ave

Week 9: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem


Today I decided to begin work on the white poppy at the top of the bouquet. It was the next step because I needed to have the poppy and the queen anne's lace established to set the scale for the other flowers below them and above the hydrangea.

The copy is 24" x 18" (61 x 45.7 cm) a little smaller than the original, so I cannot just copy the size of the flowers but need to scale them down and make sure they fit within my work. I would love to say that I am dead on with regards to scale and placement, however I am not and some adjustments must be made occasionally...


{block-in of the poppy right before breaking for lunch}

In order to get the scale of the poppy correct, I worked on the edges of the flower first, copying each fluttering petal and using specific markers to keep on track. The edge between the background and the poppy was painted wet into wet, by doing this I have more control over the edge quality, keeping some places hard and others soft.

{status at the end of the day}

As the day progressed I realized that there was not enough time to get around the whole flower, so I began to focus on the internal value changes and shapes of the inner petals in the lower left hand quarter. I also placed the stem and began to develop it.
The value shifts in the poppy are what give it the sense of dimension, so a lot of time was spent working on its subtle shifts. In a few spots there were also color temperature shifts where the value was the same but one area was warmer right next to a cooler area. This change in color temperature lends greater depth to an object because the eye perceives warm colors as being closer than cool colors of the same value.
{detail of the original painting}
While working this afternoon a nice visitor offered to take a photo of me while painting. That spectacular maul stick is a re-purposed extending curtain rod, which works great because it shortens to fit in my locker at the NGA and extends to 4 feet. I use the wood block on the top to remove the cast shadow from the easel and on the bottom to get above the lower lip on the easel.
{working on the painting}
Overall it was a nice day in gallery 50.
Thanks for reading,

Week 8: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

week 8
{at the end of the day}


Here is this week's progress on the Vase of Flowers. It was really a good day, I arrived to the National Art Gallery (NGA) right around 10:30am {10am is always my goal} even with the lingering affects of a bad cold slowing my morning down some.

I arrived to my gallery only to find that the easel was not set up, so while waiting for the easel to be delivered I had an opportunity to get to know the security guard in charge of the gallery. Once the easel did arrive I decided to tackle the queen anne's lace flower in the upper left corner of the composition.

week 8
{status at the beginning of the day}

The head cold I was recuperating from slowed my senses down some and in the long run it was helpful because I needed a slower more methodical approach to painting the queen anne's lace. I spent all of the morning working on it, scraping it down a few times when I would stray in value or scale some.

week 8
{queen anne's lace right before lunch}

After lunch I did some touch ups to the flowers and began to block in the stem some before setting about to complete the first pass over of the red sweet pea flowers {I think that is what they are} the blue hyacinth, and the faded pinkish/blueish berries above the tulip. The sweet peas will require some glazing to get the high saturated pinks while the others will need glazing to mute the colors.

The exercise ofcopying this painting has really improved my understanding of how versatile glazing can be. In some situations adding a glaze will heighten the chromatic saturation of a color while at other times you can use a glaze to obscure and mute the saturation of a particular object or an entire area.

week 8
{status at the end of the day}

Week 6 & 7: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

{today's painting setup}
Today I was at the NGA to work on my copy of Jan Davidsz de Heem's Vase of Flowers. I will start by sharing last week's progress and then continue with today's.

Last week I decided to focus on the center of the painting and to begin setting up the shot for future sessions. Below you can see the various flowers and how some of them obscure items that fall behind them.
{closeup of the central area on the original painting}

Placement of the flowers is important, especially so because of edge control, so I began by painting the parts most in the background, with the goal to then paint the next flower that is directly in front of what was last painted, leaving the orange flower {it think it is a tulip, that has deteriorated with age} for the last. This enabled me to soften edges as required and overall enabled a more integrated effect.
{closeup of the central area in my painting, end of week 6}

During week 6 before lunch I worked on the curling leaf, the top of the bottle, and some of the flowers to the left of the orange flower. After lunch I decided to tackle the hydrangea flower that is the strong light valued flower in the middle. In a way this flower is the transition piece that unifies the diverse flowers in the composition. It took awhile to figure out a plan on how to work with the layers of petals and value changes. Ulitimately I decided to work in phases, by breaking down the flower into several parts and only focusing on how each area would work within its own scaled region. Once getting an area finished, I would move onto the neighboring area.

I did not finish the hydrangea in one go, however I now had a method to work with and would be better prepared for the following week.
{End of the day, week 7}

When I arrived this morning instead of focusing on the hydrangea I began to access areas on the left of the canvas that needed to be further refined and developed. The rose to the far left had been roughly blocked in a few weeks earlier and needed to be brought up to the same level of finish as its neighboring items. So today was about working on the second or third pass on some objects while also finishing the hydrangea. {I am still holding off painting the orange flower for now}
Some of the things I did was to lay an indian yellow glaze over the glass vase to warm up the cool hightlights inside the bottle. I also laid a muted green glaze over other areas of the glass vase to set up for a future large highlight. It is important to get all the foundational effects in place before going in and working on the final highlight details.
The hydrangea will be further developed next week as well, to warm up the shadows and help key it to its surrounding flowers. You may notice that my colors are of a higher key than the original painting and that is on purpose for the first few phases. I start with brighter colors initially with the plan to go back over them with finer detail and to lay down various glazes over them in later stages.

I felt good about the progress at the end of the day, feeling the pieces are coming together.
Have a wonderful evening, Liz

Week 5: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

Jan Davidsz de Heem Vase of Flowers.jpg


I just completed week five this Tuesday and feel the progress is just humming along. This week when I arrived to the gallery the easel was missing so I had to call and request it to be delivered. While waiting I worked out a game plan for the day.

The cabbage leaf above the carnation and pea pods was the next big thing to tackle because it is so large and determines the location for its neighboring flowers.

beginning of week 5

{status at the beginning of the day}

end of week 5 detail

{detail of what was completed by the end of the day}

I mainly focused on the details of the leaf, only basically blocking in the value shapes of the roses. Next week I will start to refine them some and begin to block in other flowers, like the morning glory that I covered up as the day went by.

end of week 5

{status of the entire painting}

A few weeks ago when I decided to break up the painting into bite sized chunks I began centrally with the glass vase and later moved down to the table and to the left. So far I like this direction and plan on working through the painting in a somewhat clockwise manner. This will leave the red tulip on lower the right {which is now a red mass} to the end. I think the red tulip may be the most difficult flower on this painting, second to the white fluffy tulip on the top and having a lot of practice time learning to work out the minute details of this painting will be in my favor.
Below is the original painting to see how much more ther is to go... While at the museum a docent came up and asked me how long it will take me till I am finished with the copy, I replied somewhere between 30-36 weeks. I hope that is all as I would like to start another painting before my year anniversary of being a copyist :)

{The original painting}

Jan Davidsz de Heem

Dutch, 1606 - 1683/1684

Vase of Flowers, c. 1660

Week 4: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem



I was at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) again today and with each time I learn new things. Today more time was spent chatting and answering questions for curious observers that were visiting the gallery because I forgot my ipod. It was nice interacting more with the museum visitors and the security guards. Two visitors were particularly interested in why I was painting this piece, and what type of paint was on my palette, and why I was using a maul stick.

For the first question, I answered because I want to learn how to paint like this, to gain the patience it takes to complete such a complex composition and become more comfortable with handling paint in this manner {that is thin oil paint with lots of medium and a smooth canvas}. For the other two questions, I answered that I use simple oil paint supplies and the maul stick helps steady my hand.

It was interesting how a little thing like not having headphones on will totally change the experience. I may not wear headphones on a more regular basis...
Here are some progress shots:

End of Week 3
{Where I started this week}

End of Week 4: before lunch
{right before lunch}

It took me awhile to get into the grove. I ended up wiping down the carnation flower once because I got confused with the variety of petal shapes and thus the scale started to grow.
Tonight as I write this, I am realizing that the intricate detailing of this flower may be beyond my current skill level, I am hopeful that as time goes on I will figure out the handling of such subtle shading, then I will return to the flower to get it closer to what is in the original painting.

End of Week 4:
{status at end of the day}

By the end of the day I began to further refine the lower pea pods and finalize the details in the leaves. Though it is the snail that feels right, I got it pretty fast, learning to use a dry sable brush to soften the edges of the shell to give the sense of it turning into space. De Heem must have used brushes with only a few hairs each because the detail in the snail's skin has tiny, tiny little dots that give the impression of the wet bumpy skin. I used a #2 round sable brush and felt it was too big for some areas!

End of Week 4: Snail
{detail of the snail}

Now I need to think about where to focus on next week. Little by little, this painting will come together.
Thanks for visiting and being a part of this journey, Liz

Week 3: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

Hello Friends,

This Tuesday was my day at the National Gallery of Art this week. At the end of last week I sorted out a game plan of how to tackle this painting. Which is by setting a goal of working on a small portion of it each week, say a 5x5 inch or so square area of the painting and bringing in up to a certain level, knowing full well that I will need to come back at another time to lay another layer of detail or glaze on top of what I have already completed. By breaking each area down into smaller chunks, the complexity of the painting becomes manageable, and at the end of the day I feel like I have accomplished something. I think it would be very easy to become discouraged working on this painting...

Working with oil paint thinned with a linseed oil and damar varnish medium, I set to work and by the end of the day was pleased with where I left off.

End of Week 2
{status at the end of week 2}
End of Week 3
{Status at the end of week 3}
For this week's painting session I only used a sable brushes, a #6 kolinsky cat's tongue filbert and a #2 kolinsky cat's tongue filbert by Escoda. Each time I am surprised by how much can be accomplished with such tiny brushes and how in the future even more delicate brushes will be required...
{The Goal}
Have a wonderful evening,
thanks for reading and sharing this experience with me :)

Week 2: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

For the past week I have been busy preparing for the upcoming Suffolk show {more to come after I deliver the paintings to the gallery} and then before I realized it Monday was upon me and it was time to return to the National Gallery of Art (NGA).

Week 2: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem
{at the end of the day}
Between last week and this week I thought about what method would be best to use when copying the painting, finally I realized that using a medium to thin the paint and to apply layer upon layer of paint to resemble what de Heem created in the original painting. For this week I really focused on the lower portion of the painting, trying to capture the affect of the marble table, and refining some proportions of the glass vase. I made the decision to paint the entire table surface and then to later paint on top of this with the details of the pea pods and such. I used a medium of linseed oil with a few drops of damar varnish and a #2 filbert bristle brush and sometimes a #2 sable filbert brush. During the day it became clear that next week I will need to bring a maul stick to stabilize my hand.
This painting is full of detail -- insects, thorns, and subtle highlights -- it will be a pleasure seeing how this experience unfolds...
{detail of the de Heem painting}

Thanks for stopping by and reading,


Copyist at the National Gallery of Art

Jan Davidsz de Heem Vase of Flowers2.jpg
Dutch, 1606 - 1683/1684
Vase of Flowers, c. 1660

At the beginning of the summer with the help of a good friend, a former professor, a former boss, and a few current art instructors, Danni Dawson, Kurt Schwarz, and Robert Liberace, I began the application process to be a copyist at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) here in DC. They all kindly provided letters of reference for me, and I am eternally thankful for their effort, as I know this is going to be a great learning experience.

Monday was my first day at it, and I chose the de Heem painting above as my first painting to copy. Here is a photo of where I was at the end of the day. By 4pm I was dog tired and admitting to myself that I had bitten off more than I can chew, especially as I cannot see all the detail of the painting because we are required to stand 4 feet away from the painting… This is by far the most complicated painting I have ever attempted! Danni is always encouraging me to slow down and really observe what I see, so hopefully this painting will teach me to have the patience required to complete a painting with this much detail.

Week 1: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

{my setup in Gallery 50}

So for the next several weeks, I will be going to the NGA to paint and I will share my progress with you, or lack of it…

Have a wonderful evening, Liz