Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Copying Sargent

Sargent is one of my favorite painters. I love how he does most everything he did, including bold, luscious lights. I feel that he was able to model form perfectly with a minimum of fuss. I don't know how much of what he did was alla prima, but it FEELS alla prima, juicy, bravura. There seem to be a lot of books about his life and whatnot, but not about his technique. Anyone know of a resource out there, or know more about his technique(s)?

I should definitely have been doing some of this all along in my painting-learning journey; I really enjoyed it and feel I learned some things too--for example, fascinatingly for me, I noticed similarities to one of my favorite contemporary artists, Richard Schmid. I will do more of these quick studies, including in color (which will, of course, be much harder!).

I currently have a Sargent book out from the library and these were two of the paintings that in the book were reproduced in black and white, so I decided that since I'm going back to basics anyway, I'd copy them in black and white too. My copies are about 8" x 5" each, each done in one hour on canvas pad. I liked the results so much I now wish I'd used something nicer to paint them on! But that's part of it, I want to see them as just a learning tool, not a finished artwork. (Though I really do love how they turned out! That's what you get when you copy a master...)

These are copies after Sargent's Head of Aesop (which is his copy of Velazquez, and I like Sargent's version better), and Head of a Female Model.  My copies are smaller than his paintings.

If interested in purchasing these ($115 each), please let me know.

More art on my website: jalapfaff.com


Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

Yes, I love Sargent's 'lush lights', too. I can honestly say that his work made me hungry to BE a painter, when I was young. Also check out the work of Sorolla, you'll like that,too.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

wow, these are right on. Kelley and I were just this morning speaking about the benefits of copying the masters.
Also, I've used the Fredrix (the only one I like) Canvas pads and like them very much. If I get a good one, I can mount it on board.

brian eppley said...

2 hours well spent Jala. These are great and work really well as "studies". Personally I prefer these to "finished" pieces more often than not.

By the way, I received your beautiful grapefruit painting 2 days ago in case my email didn't go through. What a gem that painting is! Computers can't do this work justice.

Loriann Signori said...

Your copy of Sargent's painting is beautiful. There is so much to be learned from copying the masters.

r garriott said...

A worthy endeavor and you did an admirable job. I used to (try) and copy Sargents paintings and found them extremely challenging! I did (somewhat) better with Greene and Silverman. You're inspiring... I may have to try this again... I remember even in failing, learning so much.

Mary Anne Cary said...

That is the way it works for me, and probably the reason it works. When not using the best materials, or working in sketch mode with no real focus in mind is when something comes out great. I think it must be psychologically we take all the pressure off, and our minds are freer.
These are inspiring studies, makes me want to do some!

L.Holm said...

Hi, Jala - Just found your blog from r.garriott's link. Your work is beautiful, and so inspirationa. You've certainly mastered the juicy brushwork of Sargent! I'm a new fan. Liz

Jala Pfaff said...

Hi Kelley - I discovered Sargent relatively late in my looking at famous artists and beginning to admire them. I have to say, he's in my top 3 for realism. Like Sorolla too, but Sargent even more. When I first saw (unfortunately, only in a book!) his flamenco and gypsy dancer paintings, my heart stopped briefly, and still does, in fact.

Hi Mary - Funny coincidence. And I should've been doing this all along...

Brian E - So glad the painting made it OK, don't know what's up w/my email that I never got yours. Oh well. Interesting, because I thought I was the only one who usually prefers "studies" to finished/polished pieces. I caused a shock wave in art class one day when we were all browsing through this one artist's book and each painting showed about 5 stages, from block-in to finish, and every painting I liked best at stage 3.

Loriann, thank you.

R - Hm, Greene and Silverman will also be awesome to copy, I bet.

Mary Anne - I think that's absolutely right.

Liz, thank you.