Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Copying the masters for inspiration

If asked which painter is my favourite, I would not know what to say. I think the two nearest my emotional centre are Paul Cézanne and Vasily Kandinsky, the one lyrical, the other dramatic! The painter who gives me the itchiest fingers (longing to get a brush between them) is Cézanne, though V. van Gogh has also tempted me many times, such as here:

Almond blossom - a tribute to Vincent van  Gogh
The v. Gogh painting is exactly the same size as the original (thank heaven for detailed art catalogues!) and the colours are stronger than often portrayed. I painted in acrylics and finished up with oils,so there is a slight feeling of bas relief.

As a joke I also painted a persiflage of one of v. Gogh's babies - all of which are really rather ugly as paintings. I hope they were prettier in real life. This little girl was named Marcelle and there are photos of her taken many years later. I added the sunflowers. They are not in any of the original baby portraits!

Cézanne did not paint many florals, and was definitely not as good at them as e.g. Renoir, but he was a whiz on fruits, veg and bottles. I can seen him quite plainly walking through the street market early in the day looking for the pieces of fruit he would later use as models. I don't know if he bought wine for the shape of the bottles. I expect he drank the contents of the chosen one the night before he wanted to paint it. He had a fondness for pottery with lids - the kind you put sweets and candy in - and he painted lots of pictures of all his props lined up on his wooden kitchen table with the wavy carved bits. Sometimes he put a cloth on the table, folded gracefully. I can't say who painted the skulls that appear in some works first (they appear in the paintings of many artists working about a century ago). Some complex paintings have patterned drapes. If you look at his paintings (on Wikigallery there are 739 on display, but I don't know if that's all of them - I shouldn't think so) you can see a consistency he maintained all his working life. He tried cubism etc, but always went back to his own style. He also painted on paper, and it is one of his watercolours that I have chosen to "repaint" in acrylics on canvas. It won't be an imitation, but I will be guided by his work. Here it is:

Cézanne's opaque watercolour. Original. About 48x63cm

This work is unusual for Cézanne, who nearly always left a lot of whte showing through on his paper works, which were usually drawn in pencil and then completed with colour. In the above work he has obliterated white almost entirely. His watercolours are mostly lightly coloured sketches such as this one:

I thought long and hard about which painting to take, and decided that in view of the first painting being so opaque, it would suit the natural attribute of acrylics well. I think that Cézanne would have loved acrylics! 

In preparation I have just sketched in charcoal on a gold ochre ground. I'm not sure if this will be the final painting because it's on a recycled canvas that has quite a few little lumps on it - residue from the previous painting, which, however, was never finished.
Quite a few of the Cézanne paintings on the wikigallery are unfinished. I think some watercolours were studies for later paintings (some never saw the light of day). 

my charcoal sketch for the painting  50x60cm
It was drawn free-hand. I don't use a ruler. Cézanne did sketch his ideas, but he usually drew with his paintbrush, creating light and shade as he went along.

I've painted a Cézanne lookalike before, but I can't find a decent photo of it. It's obviously not finished in this one.

Cézanne's onions

 I also found a Matisse look-alike:

still life with magnolia (my copy)

Matisse original

Since copying the masters is arguably the best way to learn how they work, I make no apologies for doing so. This is part of a Cassatt painting, but done in pastels on dark paper rather than oils.

I also painted the hands from the Sistine Chapel ceiling for my daughter. It took a long time, but was a fascinating task. This is a photo of the almost finished painting propped up on the piano because that was the best lighting I could manage. I painted 2 smaller sketches in acrylics before moving into oils for the final version, which is 180x65cm.

Finally a bit of Kandinsky, not finished. I painted it on paper and really should finish it, but never seem to have the time. It still needs a lot of work!

No comments:

Post a Comment