The Bonnard’s spent much of their time on the Mediterranean coast, in their villa in Le Cannet. But Pierre found himself isolated, and snuck off for 6 months in Carcachon.
Portrait of Princess Belozersky, Élisabeth Vigée-LeBrun In the collection of The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; full image here. There is also a zoomable version on the Google Art Project that goes a bit more high resolution. Another beautiful portrait by the brilliant 18th century French painter Élisabeth Louise Vigée-Le Brun.…
In other news, my daughter and I took a trip into town for coffee and contemplation on a beautifully mild and cloudy last day of July. Driving back across the Sousa Bridge on our return, I was noticing the tree line and the big grey clouds and wondering how much of the aspect I could retain in memory.
It turns out that the answer to my mental question is “not very much”! I would love to draw the view from life (which I’ve seen more times than I can number), but I’m always in my car. This is the first time I’ve ever even tried to draw it.
Call this the dream version. But it’s a fun drawing to make. I should draw from memory more often.
Not really this blue, but I cannot ever get the color correct. Mentally average all the various photos in your mind and maybe that will be somewhat like the actual canvas …
Anyway, I am taking pictures of the painting at various junctures just to remind myself how it has proceeded. I am SO GLAD that I have been keeping a chronicle of this painting (bloggers, cherish your blogs) because it helps me put many things into perspective: so for instance, it’s nice knowing that I began work sometime in May. This being the last day of July — and of course I took a break from the canvas while sorting out various ideas through drawings — I’d say that’s not bad for time management. I give myself a “gold star”!
Bonnard’s painting has a lattice design along the two far edges and I have indicated something like that on this canvas. I’m not really sure how this will go because his painting includes various things omitted from mine — most notably a spectral Marthe. Thus if I have a lattice pattern, it will be even less clear what it references than in Bonnard’s original. Perhaps it’s a design in wall paper? Anyway, I LOVE lattice patterns and have used them often in my art. I probably get the enthusiasm for lattices from Bonnard’s art (where they are everywhere — even in the foliage). So, I’m all for including it, but I have to figure out the how and why of it a bit more.
He also has patterns in the very topmost part of those edge sections, and I haven’t quite figured out what I’ll do yet. Even something like the stripes in the cloth is not straight forward. Oh, how I wish I could see his actual painting again! (It’s been 20 years.) Color changes all along the path of each stripe are possible things to fiddle around with so revisiting even just that one feature will be exciting. And changes to one element affect the everything else.
Frog teapot and the blue jay figurine need to be made really present. Ditto for the other objects. Lots of painting ahead. The whole scene visible through the window is as yet undetermined. But oh how I enjoy this….
Junior studio assistant gives me a meaningful look while senior studio assistant (mostly unseen) smacks junior assistant with her tail. (This happens a lot.)
The blue compotier is starting to go in.
The flowers also are starting to go in. I use music stands to hold my studies. It’s very convenient — and musical! — I feel like I’m playing the score while I paint.
All these study drawings and paintings are very useful. I’ll be making more of them as the painting goes forward. As more of the picture gets painted I’ll know what further information I need from the objects.
Any excuse to draw the frog teapot will do ….
The bars framing the flowers on either side are products of Pierre Bonnard’s painting that I’m emulating. They have no other referent. They’re part of the structure of the window in the Villa Castellamare so I either make stuff up (which may happen) or I follow Bonnard’s lead. In his painting the two beams are different colors due to alterations in light. For the present I’m doing what he did so that the left beam is ochre colored and the right is bluish. (It’s been a long time since I saw the actual painting so I have no idea what the real colors are and book illustrations always exaggerate.)
Anyway it makes me wonder what Bonnard was thinking. Because the foreground things in my painting are all different from his — especially the flowers — I’ll have to adapt all the Bonnard elements to go with my changes. All that happens later.
For now I had to decide whether the ochre creeps up and the blue creeps down — and I decided that they do.
Here’s Bonnard’s –
Well, the big painting is back. If you recall how it looked when I left it and compared that stage to how it looks above, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. However, the renewed work is a big deal in terms of painting problems and their solutions. I stopped work because I didn’t know where to put the foreground items, namely the famous froggie teapot, the blue jay figurine, the seashell and the black teapot (temporarily ochre colored in the version above). I drew them over and over, recall, and posted the drawings here. And you weren’t the least bit bored to see froggie teapot and the blue jay drawn again and again and again and again and again, were you?!
It does pay off though. Let me tell you, putting that seashell in that spot, for instance, was an order of magnitude easier for having drawn the object so many times. So, now that the painting’s things have places, I feel that the rest of the painting can proceed. The great irony is that I have no idea what exactly the painting is going to look like. I just know now that these particular objects are going to sit in those locations. That difference, however, is enough that I can continue.
And whenever I get stuck on matters of detail, can you guess what I’ll do? More studies! (Secretly, of course, I love drawing the studies — don’t tell anyone.)
I have 2880 square inches to fill with colors, doesn’t that sound wonderful ….
From my blog, I see that I began this project around the end of May. July is ending. That’s not a bad time scale for a large picture. See, there’s another virtue in blogging, it helps you keep track of the days and puts things into better perspective.
Anyway, the real painting begins. Wish me luck!
Here’s another link to an early stage of the picture:
Whew! I finally got the gumption — or the whatever it is — to make up my mind and decide where those foreground objects were going. I have begun putting them into the picture which means that work can recommence.
Sometimes you just have to DECIDE! (And I did.)
And for other advice, don’t let your big project get quite this big! It was looming! And that’s a little too big — for comfort — inside the brain ….
Art for me is juggling. I am focused. I have a project and I work on it steadily. It’s a big project so it requires my steady attention. And yet other things pop up too. I go drawing some days on Capitol Hill taking my pastel easel to search for flowers. I use oil pastels in the sun and they become the best medium ever for that sort of moment.
I have to draw en plein air sometimes now because it’s summer and people have planted amazing flowers in their small city yards that come right up to the sidewalk. There’s so many flowers. They won’t be there long. The growing season passes so quickly. So I go out sometimes and interrupt my project to do drawings like this one.
I am out in the sun myself like a cicada.