REPLICATIING A SARGENT PAINTING
I have been doing a workshop with an internally known artist replicating the John Singer Sargent painting "CARNATION, LILY, LILY, ROSE". It is an absolutely beautiful and intricate scene of two young girls in the flower garden at dusk as they light paper lanterns. Painted in 1885-1886, it is actually one of his most famous paintings. I have chosen to replace Sargent's two girls with my two granddaughters. They are about the same age and it makes the painting much more personal for me. The painting will be the centerpiece for my new art studio (mentioned in an earlier blog) and I am very excited!
The original painting was 60 x 64 but we are doing a smaller version. I chose to do one that is 36 x 40 which is the same proportions as the original. We didn't have time to stretch a canvas (this is not a regulation size) so I purchased a 4 x 8 sheet of birch plywood (1/4" thickness) at the lumber store and had it cut to that size. I gessoed and sanded it three times, then added a final coat of GOLDEN N6 neutral gray acrylic paint as the base coat. Over this I drew a grid and then transferred my drawing to the surface.
The process began on the week of Jan 3rd and I finished it a few days ago. I used the "atelier" method of a monotone layer to establish the values then I began adding color a little at a time. Finally I went back and added the thicker brush strokes to give it life. I am proud to say that it finished up beautifully! This may seem like a long time, but it actually took Sargent 2 years to paint the original! Why? Because he was working in plein air, and wanted the exact lighting found at dusk, so he could only paint for a few minutes each day. Talk about patience! On a side note, he played tennis with friends watching the time and stopped to paint every evening at exactly the same time for the correct lighting conditions and it paid off! As I mentioned, this became one of his most famous paintings and one of the few paintings he ever did outdoors.
I took photos of the process and they are below for you to see. It still needs a frame but the oils must dry for awhile to be safety transported to the framing gallery to choose a custom frame to be made. We have to wait for it to dry before it can be varnished and only then will it be inserted into its frame. You can see now why acrylics have become so popular as they have a shorter drying and varnishing time frame to deal with!
At some point, I will enter it into a show at the local art association, but I must decide which one I want to enter. There are several shows that it could go into, but artwork can only be shown once at the association so I want to make the best choice for this piece.
This has been a very enlightening and rewarding experience even though it was a LOT of time and effort. I learned a lot and I'm very happy with the result. The class by the way was all done via ZOOM each class was 3 hours long and we met weekly. There were 15 people from the USA, Canada, and Europe in the group and we got to know one another pretty well. They included professional artists, illustrators, and a few good students of art who wanted to advance their skills. We had a great time and became friends and will probably meet again in another workshop. That'd be wonderful!
Well, I must close for now, but please enjoy the photos and I'll be sure to post a photo when it is framed and hanging in my new studio. See you again soon!
This is the actual Sargent painting that we replicated. Most copied it as closely as possible, but a few of us wanted our own children or friends in place of these two girls (Polly and Molly Barnard)
This is the monotone layer to establish the values. You can still see the grid through the thin paint. Basically this is a wash of very thin burnt umber paint.
Here I have begun to add color. I have my older granddaughter established while the lantern and part of the dress of my younger granddaughter are being added. The lanterns need to have a strong glow in order to get the true feel of this painting, so they still need work.
I have made great progress at this point. The lanterns have a nice glow and the flowers are coming into focus. However our teacher told me I have too much glow on my older granddaughter's face and the grass needs work. I also want to work on the dress to get the values correctly done. The center should be lighter.I haven't yet corrected the facial glow, but I have the grass done and refining the flowers, especially those lilies! Little by little as they say...
My daughter and I took the painting to the framing shop to choose a frame. I don't know if you are aware, but it takes at least two weeks for a frame to be built. The process is to choose what you want from the samples, the staff then measure your artwork, give you a copy of the order and then you wait for it to arrive in the shop. When the frame comes in, you return with your piece and they frame it while you wait, which only takes a few minutes. My frame should arrive soon and we are looking forward to putting it on display in my new art studio!
It is finally finished and now in the hands of the photographer for prints to be made for family. My photo is below, enjoy!
40 x 36 oil