Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Women with a Parasol by Claude Monet - Copying at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC

This is where I am on my "Woman with a Parasol" by Claude Monet copy.  I worked on the grass quite a bit today and the sky...clouds specifically.  I am pleased with my progress and feel like I have learned so very much.  Monet's palette is becoming more comfortable and mixing the colors I need coming more easily.  The loose, seemingly random, brush strokes are still a challenge, but I am able to capture the feel of the piece if not match stroke for stroke.  All in all it is a wonderful experience. 

While painting I looked over and noticed this little "copyist".  What a doll.  I quickly pulled out my cell phone and asked the lady next to me...."may I take a picture of your daughter"? She was very happy and said I could!  After I snapped the shot she said "But that is not my daughter"...REALLY!!! So I asked the crowd who she belonged to and got permission to keep the photo.  Not to be outdone the first mom said..."here is my daughter and she is drawing too"...I gladly obliged by snapping some more photos.  

As I was painting, of course I get a lot of comments and thank heaven most of them are very complimentary.  One man looked at the original Monet and said "You missed a spot"...I am happy that I was quick enough to say "actually HE did...mine is correct"...hahaha.

The top comment of the day came when a young, around 12 year old,  girl told me she thought my version of the painting was better than the original.  I told her that was my favorite comment of the day.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Painting demonstration with Teresa Oxaca at Principle Gallery

I had the distinct pleasure of attending a painting demonstration by Teresa Oaxaca at the Principle Gallery in Old Town Alexandria,Virginia.  

The demo was to start at 5 pm and it began right on time.  Teresa first set up her model and canvas.  She was doing a sight-sized portrait so she set up her canvas directly across from her model.  Michael Mattice, a local musician, was the model...his music was featured as Teresa painted.  

While Teresa held her palette to paint her paint tubes and palette knives and supplies were stationed approximately 6 feet back from the canvas.  A spot marked by blue tape.  After almost each stroke she stepped back from the canvas to view her work from the taped mark.  It was magical to watch her glide back and forth touching the canvas and then evaluating her work.  

Watching demonstrations is always interesting.  Teresa explained that she chose the sight-sized format because she thought it would be better for the people watching.  She walked back and forth giving everyone plenty of time to witness the work as it evolved.  

Teresa painted in 30 minute increments with 5 minute breaks.  The model, Michael Mattice, never left his chair...his rest was just to close his eyes.  During Teresa's breaks, which were barely 5 minutes long, she answered questions and met and talked to her audience.  

Teresa was kind enough to explain her palette and procedure as she painted.   The whole demonstration was videotaped and will be offered on the Principle Gallery's website as well as Teresa's.  Occasionally Teresa would take a small mirror and place it just under her eye, perpendicular to her face, to see the painting upside check for any changes she might want to make.  

Here is the finished piece.  It was a fabulous event.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Woman with a Parasol - Claude Monet - National Gallery of Art

Woman with a Parasol by Claude Monet
Copied at the National Gallery of Art by Maria Bennett Hock
Work in Progress

I continue to paint and learn and learn and paint.  As I arrived at the National Gallery of Art on Wednesday I noticed the crowds seemed to be quite thin...I anticipated fewer interruptions and more work done!  

Today's work entailed tackling the grassy hillside...again.  It has been a challenge.  Monet's palette is getting to be more familiar...I am getting comfortable mixing the colors and adapting to his style a bit.  After working most of the morning on the greens I decided to work on the clouds a bit.  I first had to darken the lady's dress and brighten the sky around it...get the values correct before I could tackle to brightness of the clouds.  

If I were to choose the most difficult part of painting this piece it would be to try to match the spontaneity of the brush strokes.  It is said that Monet completed this piece in one setting so I imagine him moving furiously through the piece placing brushstrokes carefully but quickly.  To reproduce that same spontaneous feel is a challenge.  

When I want to get an idea of how I am doing I pull out my cell phone and look at my copy next to the real thing through my viewfinder.  It shows me values and shapes. I have to step back to see everything...and that is when the tourists get me!!!  I can stay pretty focused at my easel but when I step back I get asked questions, get comments etc  BUT ...the topper was today.  A young man asked me how to oil paint. I told him to get some paints and just start...take lessons...just dive in.  He kept pressing me for what colors to purchase (the three primary colors, white and black to start), what to paint on, (boards, canvas paper, whatever you can get to start) and how I learned (practice, practice, practice).  It look me a while to skirt around him and get back to my easel!  Ah the hazards of the amazing experience of painting at the National Gallery of Art!   I need to pinch myself to make sure this is not a dream!   

Monday, April 7, 2014

Eris - Goddess of Mayhem

Eris - Goddess of Mayhem
16 x 20
Oil on Raymar panel


Eris Goddess of Mayhem will not be reigning over the Mayhem show at the underground gallery in Crystal City April 28 - May 31, with the Opening Reception on Friday, May 2, 5-8PM.  I am sure it will be a fabulous show!  

When the show was first announced I struggled with how I would interpret the theme.  I was sure there would be a lot of chaotic, frenzied artwork and I knew painting a portrait, albeit an imaginary one, would be a risk and possibly not fit into the look of the show.  I am still glad I painted her...and I do love the painting.  It has a super hero/villainess  sort of look to it.

As I struggled with the theme, my son, Michael visited and helped me decide what to paint.  He found can read more about her HERE.  Once I settled on the concept...Eris holds a golden apple...I needed a model.  An emergency call to my daughter in law, Marissa, and a request for her to put on her red dress and hold an apple resulted in a quick iPhone picture that was the inspiration for my painting.  

It was fun, it stretched my imagination and fits into my series of strong, confident women.  

Now on to the next challenge!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lady with a Parasol - Monet today

I am copying  "Woman with a Parasol" by Claude Monet at the National Gallery of Art.  Monet painted his wife and son on a family outing.  It is thought that he completed the painting in one sitting and the portrayal was meant to be a casual setting rather than a formal portrait.  

I, on the other hand, have been working on copying this piece for a month now and this is how far I have gotten.  I worked on the sky quite a bit today and while painting "quell horror" I noticed the bottom of the dress was not close enough to the boy!  So I worked on that too...reworking the skirt folds and swirls.  

The things I am really working on with this piece are the palette and brushstrokes.  Monet's palette is quite different for me.  I long for yellow ochre...but I am getting used to his colors and getting better at mixing to get what I need. Such a good exercise for me.  The other big challenge is trying to capture the spontaneity of his strokes.  They seem to be haphazardly splashed on the canvas though I am sure more thought was given to their placement.  

I must say the National Gallery was crowded in spite of our frigid spring weather.  I had MANY more people ask me questions than ever before.  Asking if they could take pictures and about the copyist program.  I really had to concentrate to get anything done.  One little girl asked me how many of the paintings on the wall I had done.  I had to confess that I did none of the ones currently hanging at the gallery.  >sigh<  There were many people walking by quietly whispering "good job" which is nice.  Once lady told me "at least you got the umbrella right"...not sure how to take that.  All in all it was a great day and I am pleased with my progress.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Resting - a ballerina's respite

16 x 20
Oil on Raymar Panel


I was fortunate to have a lovely ballerina pose for me a while back.  Alice is gorgeous and showed up with pointe shoes, tutus and a leotard.  It was such fun to see her in action...such a graceful young dancer.  Capturing that grace is the hard part!  Alice was gracious to continue to pose and then sat on the floor to rest...I loved this shot.  I always like paintings that tell a story...even a story of an exhausted ballerina. Of course, Alice wasn't really is just a good story.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Adventures of copying Lady with a Parasol by Claude Monet - National Gallery of Art

When I select a painting to copy at the National Gallery of Art I always try to stretch myself.  I began this piece by Monet because I love it AND because the palette is so far out of my comfort zone.  Monet is said to have disliked browns!!!  I LOVE browns, ochres, umbers and all earth tones.  As I did my research about this piece I shuddered when I laid out this palette of colors.  They are:  Lead White, Cadmium yellow light, Cadmium Yellow, Viridian Green, Emerald Green, French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Vermillion and Ivory Black.  I decided to only use those colors for this piece.  So, along with the challenge of copying this piece I am also mixing colors I am not too familiar with using colors I am not used to using.  It has given me the impetus to revisit making my own color charts as Richard Schmid suggests in his book "Alla Prima II"  Making color charts has been on my "to do" list for some time and this exercise has opened my eyes to the value of that task.  


Here is a picture of my painting and the original in the background.  As usual there was quite a bit of traffic through the gallery.  Many, many kind comments and well wishes from many, many different countries in many, many different languages.  One of the things I like best about living in the area is the diversity.