Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Flowers, Peaches, and Wine

A pastel still life painting.

Flowers, Peaches, and Wine - 11 x 14 Pastel on Board

I did this on Ampersand Pastelbord with Rembrandt Pastels. It was a different experience. The board has some tooth but the pastel builds up pretty quickly and then it is necessary to make it all smooth. I do like working this way. Very different from pastel paper or Wallis sanded paper. I've tried working on Wallis paper but don't have the knack. I'm doing a still life today on Wallis paper. Hope it works.

Picture from

Monday, May 5, 2014

John Singer Sargent

One of my very favorite artists is John Singer Sargent. In January Leila, Bridget, and I (Like Mother Like Daughter) went to the Boston's Museum of Fine Arts to see the exhibit of Sargent's watercolors. (The visit and awesome lunch was a birthday present from Leila.)

It was wonderful. Sargent's watercolors are so spontaneous. 

Sargent Watercolors at Brooklyn Museum
I certainly learned a lot from seeing his work up close. I have a couple of books of Sargent's work, including some of his watercolors, but it is a different experience to see the pieces in all their glory. For one thing, the colors can never be reproduced truly in a book. There were a lot of paintings in this exhibit. Almost too much if you are studying every painting very carefully.

Seeing great art up close is important. One can examine a piece closely, see how the artist worked; the nuances of color and brush strokes, and the surprises. And then, you can step back and see the whole. See how it all comes together. As an artist I like to contemplate a work and imagine the steps taken to complete it. Makes you realize how important it is to step back from your own work. Paintings are meant to be viewed at a distance.

I've read (Notes on Sargent) that he would tell his students to "Stand back -- get well away -- and you will realize the great danger there is over overstating a tone. Keep the thing as a whole in your mind. Tones so subtle as not to be detected on close acquaintance can only be adjusted by this means."

After seeing the Sargent exhibit I was very inspired to start using watercolors again. I had given it up a few years ago because nothing ever turned out the way I wanted.

Also, I need to remember to make more trips to museums. Boston isn't far and Worcester is very close with their fine arts museum: Worcester Art Museum. The WAM does have excellent collections.