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June 26, 2012

Doodles and More

Last week we had a special day with our 5 year old grandson Callum.  We rarely get him alone, without his big brother and sister, or slightly older cousin.  But we missed the last Grandparents Day at his preschool because of our trip to Venice, so we took him to the American Museum of Natural History.  He wanted to go to see Creatures of Light (bioluminescense exhibit) and I wanted to see the Imax film "Born to Be Wild."  While walking between the two, I stopped for an incredibly fast sketch of a mountain sheep.  I left it in graphite as a reminder of how quickly this was sketched (i.e <5minutes).

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Last evening I didn't feel like sketching, but wanted to push myself.  I opened my Reference Photo folder on the computer and selected this photo (taken on a street in Chelsea New York in April).  I rarely paint with watercolor, without drawing in ink, so this became a practice sketchbook page.  I have no idea what they were looking at and photographing.  I was concentrating just on the man and his dog long enough to get this photo. 

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I spent today with my Mother in her retirement complex in New Jersey.  We take long walks and usually stop for coffee.  While sitting and talking, I doodle, drawing with ink and painting with watercolor pencils.  Today she thought that the lady looked a little like her.  Usually she tells me why my sketches are NOT her.

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June 19, 2012

More Museum Exhibits

After a month of traveling, it was wonderful to see my art friends Pat, Teri, and Benedicte.  Pat and Benedicte planned the day and Teri and I joined in at the last minute.  Although I previously saw the Edouard Vuillard exhibit at the Jewish Museum, I loved going again so I could sketch another one of his paintings.  There was a group touring the exhibit, so I was also able to listen to the commentary by the guide and learn more about the life of Vuillard.   

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After a leisurely lunch between the two museums, we went to the new exhibit at the Guggenheim:  Art of Another Kind - International Abstraction and the Guggenheim 1949-1960.  The Frank Lloyd Wright Building opened in Oct 1959, so these paintings (and a few sculptures) were very early acquisitions for the museum.  Many artists that were represented are well known, i.e. Pollock, DeKooning, Rauschenberg.  But many of the artists were completely unknown to me, i.e. Conrad Marca-Relli, who did wonderful canvas on canvas collages, and Simon Hantai, who may have had the only representational painting in the exhibit, even though it is an imaginary creature. 

Here is my version of the Simon Hantai painting, entitled Cut Green Emerald:

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My challenge copying this painting was using watercolor and pen to create something that was painted in oil.  It was fun to be back in NYC with friends who also enjoy museum-hopping.  Tomorrow will be the American Museum of Natural History with my 5 year old grandson Callum.  I'll have to take a few minutes to draw some animals!

May 30, 2012

Two Museum Visits

I'm taking a rest from my Venice Sketchbook - and posting two paintings done at recent museum visits.

The Jewish Museum in New York has a lovely exhibit of Edouard Vuillard and His Muses (1890-1940).  I knew very little about Vuillard's life, and really enjoyed seeing his paintings put in context.  The museum website has a brief summary of the stages of his career and a wonderful collection of paintings of people in beautiful interiors.

I painted a detail from one of the interiors that I really liked  - in part because of the composition/placement of the two figures.

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Last week we visited the new Barnes Mseum in Philadelphia.  Dr. Albert C. Barnes, physician and chemist, began collecting impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern art in 1902.  The collection was housed in a suburb of Philadelphia, with limited hours, and poor lighting.  Barnes' main goal was to use his collection for education and he developed a school on the premises. 

Barnes arranged the art himself - very symmetrically - on the wall, and without regard for the artists or the chronology.  When he died, his will stipulated that the collection could never be moved, and that all of the art must remain in exactly the same position as the day he died.  There were 24 galleries and the 181 Renoir paintings were placed throughout most of the galleries.  There are also 69 Cezannes, 59 Matisse, and 46 early Picasso paintings - these are the big 4 artists.  But there are many other artists, and even El Greco and Goya!.

The will was challenged, and primarily to save the collection by increasing visibility and revenue, a new Museum on Ben Franklin Parkway, just opened.  It has 24 identically-sized galleries and every piece of art except one is in exactly the same place on each wall. 

Reservations must be made to see the beautiful modern museum and the collection - and it is really worth it.  Those who visited the original location said that the lighting is so superb now that every painting looks like it was cleaned!

If you want to see the holdings for a specific artist, use this link.

Since we were there during opening week, small groups of visitors were taken on tours of the collection - no dawdling allowed!  As in the original location, no sketching and no photos were permitted.  But I was able to buy this postcard to record our visit in my sketchbook that evening.

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May 5, 2012

Drawings From Christie's Impressionist/Modern Auction

I found several drawings that I loved at the Christie's Auction Preview last week and was also able to photograph them.  It is almost my favorite part of the previews - the room full of works on paper which are 90% drawings.

I loved this Van Gogh charcoal drawing and and just knew that I wanted to draw it.

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But I have NEVER used charcoal!  I hate the feeling of my charcoal pencils on paper and never even tried the sticks/vines.  This posed a dilemma - but I discovered that a 6B charcoal pencil was soft enough not to make my teeth vibrate.  So I took a very small piece of my watercolor paper (4" x 7", 140 lb soft press) and did a quick sketch just to see if I could quickly capture the image. I used a large graphite blending tool - probably incorrectly - for shading! 

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THIS DRAWING SOLD AT AUCTION ON MAY 2ND FOR $722, 500 - DOUBLE THE AUCTION ESTIMATE THAT WAS PRINTED ON THE CARD!

 This is a Matisse that I'm saving for a rainy day drawing:

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THIS DRAWING SOLD AT AUCTION ON MAY 2ND FOR $122,500.

May 2, 2012

My Love Affair With Cezanne's Cardplayers

There are many, many museums in the city and I love to visit the art museums to see the exhibits and sketch from the Masters.  We saw a Leon Kossoff drawing exhibit at the National Gallery in London (2007) and I was impressed with his return visits to sketch the same few works by Masters many times during his career.  

I thought it might be fun to try this, in part to see how my art skills evolve and how my familiarity with the painting may change my drawing over time.  On my first visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008, I sat in front of Cezanne's Card Players and sketched it.

I sketched it annually and then sketched many of the preparatory paintings in a big 2011 Cardplayer exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.   

 Cezanne did 5 oil paintings of the Cardplayers - one with 5 figures, one with 4 (owned by the Met), and 3 with two figures.  The 2011 exhibit at the Met was unable to reunite all 5, but there were many preparatory drawings and paintings of individual figures.  I sketched some of them on 3 occasions.

I was thrilled to learn that a previously unseen preparatory watercolor of Paulin Paulet, a gardener from Cezanne's family estate, was being auctioned at Christie's NY by a private collector.  He is the only figure that appears in all 5 paintings.  There was a full page picture of the painting in the NY Times on Friday and I painted it in my sketchbook.

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On Saturday, at the auction preview, while many people were viewing the painting, I sketched the head again with a watercolor pencil.  I may never get the head tilted like Cezanne!

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And then waited until I could get an angle for a photo without reflections of the spotlights.

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Last night this watercolor sold for $19.1 million dollars!!