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}


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


...................................................................... 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

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{progress at the end of the day}


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 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.

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{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...

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{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


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}