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March 4, 2015

Studying Under the Masters - Max Beckmann

Max Beckmann was the 3rd Artist in this series, and his apprentice was a UK painter named Gillian Lee Smith.  I knew very little about Beckmann, a German Expressionist Painter, but quickly learned that he was second only to Rembrandt in the number of self-portraits he painted.  He was born in Leipzig Germany in 1884, and decided very early that he wanted to be an artist.  He served in WWI as a medic but had an emotional breakdown and was medically discharged.  By 1930 he was a very successful German artist, but he was featured in the Degenerate Art exhibit in 1937 and his career destroyed.  He and his wife fled to Amsterdam for 10 years and then to the United States after WWII.  He had an art school teaching position in St. Louis and then New York, and died in Central Park in 1950 on a walk between his apartment and the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see one of his paintings.  I chose Self-Portrait in Olive and Brown to copy.

My copy is on the left, the original on the right.  I used watercolor, white, and black gouache, for my painting on 9X12 Arches 140 lb cold press paper.  It doesn't have the same range of values as Beckmann's and  I don't feel as if I captured his stern, almost angry, expression, 

   

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After doing a copy, each apprentice reflects on what they learned by copying the Master and then paints an original using some of those techniques.  I selected a New Year's Eve photo I took this year to paint.  Like Beckmann, it captures an individual and a face at one moment in time.  And I hope that it conveys the emotion of a young girl, celebrating the New Year, but in her own world.  I tried to use black to define the face and clothing like Beckmann did, but my lines, using a rigger brush are definitely not as bold. 

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February 3, 2015

Studying Under the Masters - Pablo Picasso

It is Week 2 for me in the online course Studying Under the Masters.  The Master for this week is Pablo Picasso, and over the years I have copied many of his drawings, because I love the images he can capture drawing only a few lines or one continuous line.  So it was time to copy a painting!  The painting "Reading at a Table" is at the Met, and as soon as I saw it in the new Reinventing Modernism Galleries, I knew that I wanted to try to paint her!  As before, the Master is on the left, and my painting is on the right.  I used watercolor and black and white gouache instead of oil, and loved trying to achieve some of the spirit of Picasso. 

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I debated a variety of portraits for my "painting inspired by Picasso" and finally realized that I could use one of my figure drawings from MoMA for the subject.  I made this sketch of the actress model in the Toulouse-Lautrec Drawing Session in 3 minutes, using only straight lines to draw her image.  I took a scan of that drawing as the basis for my painting and then experimented with backgrounds.  I loved the candle in Picasso's painting, so I added it to mine, and then needed to work out the rest of the setting and color palette. 

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And here is my finished painting.  I usually draw and paint in watercolor sketchbooks and for this series of paintings I'm using Arches 140 lb cold press watercolor paper in a 9 X 12 block.

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Next Week:  Max Beckmann, the German Expressionist Painting. 

January 27, 2015

Studying Under the Masters 2: Van Gogh

I registered again for Jeanne Oliver's class Studying Under the Masters, and this year the focus is on faces/portraits.  I draw from the Masters in museum and gallery exhibits whenever I visit, but I rarely can paint from their works.  So this class gives me an opportunity to study an artist a little more in depth, copy a painting, and then paint one of my own using some of the techniques learned.  Here are my blog posts from last year's class, 8 artists in just over 8 cold, winter weeks.  In most instances I copied oil paintings in watercolor and gouache to expand my knowledge of those mediums.  <http://www.paperandthreads.com/2014/01/studying_under_the_masters_mat.php>

This year Jeanne selected Vincent Van Gogh as her Master Artist and began by copying one of his watercolors.  I LOVE his drawings and watercolors and have copied several of them before.  But this was a new opportunity, so I painted Vielle Paysanne.   

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Van Gogh did two paintings of Dr. Gachet, his doctor during the last months of his life.  I chose one of them to copy, and here is a copy of the original oil painting (left) and my painting in watercolor (right).  He looks somber in the original, but less so in my copy - not my intention.  

 

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I was inspired by the story of Johanna Van Gogh and used her photos as a model for my "original" inspired by Van Gogh painting.  She was the wife of Vincent's younger brother Theo.  When Theo died, six months after Vincent, Johanna was left all of Vincent's art.  At that time his work was not appreciated, and she spent years arranging exhibits and sales in order to bring his work to the attention of the European public.  When reading her story, I was impressed by the tremendous efforts she made to preserve his legacy - a widow of just 28 with a new baby.  

I chose bright colors, split complementaries, like Van Gogh might have used, and short brushstrokes with watercolor paints.

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What I learned about Van Gogh:

His entire art career spanned only 10 years.

During that time he created 864 paintings, 1030 drawings, 147 watercolors, plus a few works in other mediums.

There is now controversy about his cause of death, with some believing that he was accidentally shot in the stomach by someone while walking in the fields because suicides are rarely caused by gun shot wounds to the stomach. 

Next Week:  Pablo Picasso 

March 14, 2014

Studying Under the Masters - Hopper 1

I am a self-taught watercolor artist  I tried some watercolor painting in 2003-2005 with student grade pan watercolors.  In 2005, I bought Winsor Newton artist grade watercolors in primary colors (warm and cool), and changed my very occasional painting habit into a quick daily sketch/painting in a 6 X 8" watercolor journal - at the same time that I partially retired. 

I follow some wonderful watercolor artists on their blogs, and try to learn from copying Masters.  By transforming oil paintings into watercolor paintings for each of the 8 Masters in this Studying Under the Masters Course, I have learned so much that I realize that my learning style is definitely one of working things out on my own. 

For years I needed to increase the value range in my paintings and I knew it.  And I desperately  needed to learn how to paint deep shadows and bright sunlight.  This week I specifically chose this Edward Hopper painting (Rooms By the Sea)   to copy because it forced me to work out how to achieve that.  Last night I asked Stephanie Lee - our apprentice for Hopper - whether she thought I should use the white paper, or white gouache for the bright light.  She recommended that I start by leaving the paper white, and then adding gouache if needed.

This is the painting with the pure white paper showing the areas of sunlight and I'm pleased.  Hopper's shadows looked like they were even one shade darker than mine when the watercolor dried,   I painted over one of my unerased grid marks on the floor - and it will be there forever - YIKES!

 

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Photos Taken During Painting: 

I remembered to take some photos of "work in progress" and here are a few of them.  They are taken with my cell phone camera - and the final painting, shown above was scanned.

 

I did an under painting for the areas that would have deep shadows.  Here you can see the detailed drawing and the first under painting with Yellow Ochre and French Ultramarine Blue...

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 Then I built up layers of color using the same paint mixtures.

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I tested the light and shadow in the far room, leaving the paper white, and making the shadow with Payne's Gray. 

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The big shadows on the wall and floor in the Final Painting were painted with Payne's Gray (Wall) and Yellow Ochre + Payne's Gray (floor). 

 

Thanks Stephanie for choosing Edward Hopper as your Master.  now I need to look at Reference Photos I've taken to work on a painting inspired by Hopper before Monday. 

 

 

 

 

March 10, 2014

Studying Under the Masters - De Felice 2

I just painted my "inspired by Francoise De Felice" painting.  For my composition I chose two of my figure drawings and transferred them to the Arches 10 X 14" 140 lb watercolor paper.

The first drawing was from a 20 minute pose of a pregnant model from 2010 at Figure Drawing at the Society of Illustrators in New York City.  I love this series of drawings and have even transferred some of them to Fabric. 

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The second figure was from a 10 minute pose done in 2013 at the Battery Park Conservancy outdoor figure drawing session (the middle drawing).

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 I transferred only the upper bodies of each figure.

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Then I added a watercolor underpainting for much of the surface using Winsor-Newton watercolors. 

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After the first layer dried, I painted very loosely mixing  alizarin crimson, French ultramarine blue, Winsor blue, Payne's gray, Van Dyke Brown, Yellow Ochre Pale, Quinacridone Gold, and Titanium White Gouache.

Here is my finished painting - which I probably will still work on a little because I am still not happy with the skin tones.   But it is time to move on to our week with apprentice Stephanie Lee and Master Artist Edward Hopper.

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