drawing with friends

after Cezanne (2).jpg

I was at the National Gallery of Art yesterday drawing with friends.  I had planned in advance to draw from Cezanne’s Still life with Apples and Peaches because it relates well to my own still life paintings of the moment.  My drawing of one section of his still life is rendered approximately actual size. I have been doing more work on it at home too, using the image on NGA’s website and the zoom feature.

Our drawing group had a good turn out yesterday.  (And of course I consider Cezanne a friend too.)

Here’s Cezanne’s painting for comparison.  Even if you are far from the gallery, you can copy it too.

https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.45986.html

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hanging out with Paul Cezanne

after Cezanne 2

I went visiting yesterday to see my old friend Cezanne at the National Gallery of Art where an exhibit of his portraits is on display through July 1st.  I took my Caran d’Ache neopastels and made a couple drawings in front of portraits of his wife Hortense.

What an education!  How I could stand there all day and gaze at the delicate colors of his paintings.  Or, how I aspire to standing all day admiring his art.  Standing with the box of pastels tucked under my drawing tablet makes one a bit weary, but I must build up my stamina because the pictures are absolutely glorious.

Below is the wikipedia reproduction of one of the paintings I saw yesterday.

 

flower mode

vase of flowers

I began this painting in the late autumn and as I switch from landscape to flowers I’m pulling things out of the bin for one more bit of tweaking.  In many respects this painting is where I want it to be, but since flowers still hang suspended in the air, I suppose I should give it another level of completion.

But, you know, old Pa Cezanne did this sort of thing all the time and those of us who admire the old man have a tendency to follow his habits — perhaps even when we shouldn’t!

This acrylic painting measures 36 x 24 inches.

Cezanne’s influence

cezanne stage of rocks painting

Here’s the chaotic “Cezanne stage” of a little painting of a rocky hillside that I’m working on. It began with coincidence and impulse. I  had just finished cleaning a little frame, which I propped against a drawing, just getting the frame out of the way, when I noticed how nicely it cropped the drawing into a new composition.   “Why not?” I thought.

I needed a surface.  There was an old scrap of canvas, which I taped to a board using old tape (old everything).  First round of old tape — the red — didn’t work.  So I used silver duct tape over that (hence the intriguing little framed effect).

A random bit of happenstance inspired the composition.  So, it’s on the easel now.  And the picture is green while outside it’s cold. Between cycles of the furnace, it’s cold inside too!  And the weatherman says it’s going to be cold all week.  But in my mind, here’s where I am.  And here inside my mind … it’s balmy here.

bright colors

cezanne fruit copy

At the National Gallery yesterday I encountered my old friend Cezanne and his Still life with Apples and Peaches.  I made this rapid, unfinished drawing with water soluble crayons.  Cezanne’s painting is dark.  My version brightens it up a lot.  The crayons are very pure.  Cezanne’s painting has, no doubt, darkened with age.  But he also mixed the colors to deepen and dull them, giving them a feeling of gravitas.

I made my little drawing very quickly.  I choose to be impulsive nowadays.  Don’t question whether you have time to draw or raise other obstacles.  Just pull out the notebook and have at it.  With the drawing above, my daughter arrived soon after I started so the drawing didn’t go very far.  But I like it’s summary cheerfulness all the same.

A10368.jpg

many parts make one whole

100_9427 (2)

It’s like the joke about the Dalai Lama ordering a pizza: “Make me one with everything.”

The picture above is a detail of a detail.  I copied a portion of Paul Cezanne’s Chateau Noir at the National Gallery of Art.  (I posted that one recently.)  This picture is a detail of that drawing (which portrays a detail of Cezanne’s painting).

Already this post is turning into Russian nesting dolls.

Anyway.  I like looking at details of pictures (including — I don’t mind telling you — my own pictures).  And for those who want to do abstract painting, you could find motifs for the abstractions by enlarging a small bit of some representational image.

What I like about the parts, though, is the way they reiterate whatever good things are happening in the whole.  At least in a really well organized picture the parts will be doing on a smaller scale whatever the composition is doing on the large scale.  It seems to me that this is true in the works of all the great masters.

So the lesson is — actually I’m not sure what the lesson is.  Just be a great artist.  There you go.  Easy peasy.

 

Drawing at the National Gallery

cezanne copy

Visiting the National Gallery, I made this drawing in oil pastel of a portion of Cezanne’s Chateau Noir.  The colors in Cezanne’s picture are so dark and subtle that mine looks very brilliant in comparison.  I was mixing together colors to get closer to what I think might have been some of Cezanne’s choices.  But his picture is dark in ways that might be effects of age as well.

Certainly he was wont to mix together lots of pigments to achieve his effects, and the long term consequence of so many pigments being mixed together may be both a darkening and dulling of the colors.  Whatever the case, his picture is magnificent in its somber darkness.  Those qualities would be difficult to capture in the medium I was using though — especially with the particular palette I had available — not impossible, but very time consuming and difficult. So I contented myself with brighter effects. Plus I enjoy making a version of the painting, an interpretation.  My choices are informed in part by what I know of Cezanne’s use of watercolor during this same period.

Here’s his painting and a view of the left hand section featured in my little drawing, which is 9 x 12 inches.  Cezanne’s painting measures 29 x 38 inches.

Cezanne Shapes

I got to see an old friend

after-cezanne

after many long years separation.  Cezanne’s Vase of Flowers is back on view at the National Gallery of Art.  For years and years it had its own special place and I visited it, studied it, drew it, copied it — and then it was gone.  But it’s back, and recently I made this quick and rough drawing in front of the painting, drawing a portion of its features approximately life size.

It’s not the sort of drawing for getting a likeness.  I was instead keen merely to make the gestures that I see in one small part of the painting. And I want to do many more such drawings in the future — private drawings that I make for my own use even if I do also afterwards make some of them occasionally public by posting them here.

The painting, for those not familiar with it, is reproduced below.

cezanne-flowers

You can learn more about the painting and can use the zoom feature to see it more closely here: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.45867.html

I’ve drawn it many times before, as for instance here: https://alethakuschan.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/my-cezanne/

The portion of the painting I was drawing above can deciphered by comparing the same area from one drawing I made in the past.

 

climbing the mountain

cloth study

Not only the directions of the folds, but the textures of the pencil become the subject of the picture.  I made tones with hatch marks and their directions create a kind of movement inside the details, in the lumps and folds like lichen growing between rocky ledges.  Through the different tones, a spectator can savor distinctions between one shadow layer of darkness and another.

You can enter into the music of the image.  What bass or treble are to music, light and dark are to drawing.  A drawing like this one is not made in a rush, and an observer ought not to rush either.  Linger here a while. It was a spectacle seen that captured my spirit. At the edge of the mind’s scenic overlook, standing over the chasm, feeling the breeze at the altitude, I paused.  I caught this view. I found this mountain of cloth. Lewis and Clark never surveyed it.

If the cloth was metaphorically a mountain, then in drawing it was I climbing?  And each small pencil stroke is a foot hold.  And the whole is a meditation. What Mont Ste Victoire was for Cezanne, this can be a Rockies that tumbled out of the laundry basket.

I am so far away from real mountains that I am reduced to creating my own from the materials lying about the house. And yet art can be real and imaginary in more ways than we suppose.  After all, I drew this mountain from life.

Studying Cezanne on “random day”

This morning with coffee making random drawings, I was opening books, drawing whatever caught my eye.  The drawing above is  after Cezanne’s Blue Vase (Musee d’Orsay).  Never noticed the distortion in the vase in quite the same way before making this drawing.  The vase has a scalloped rim, but only on one side.  The shape is distorted too — everything is distorted.  And yet I seemed to see the why of the distortion more clearly today.

I was supposed to be studying landscape.  Indeed I picked up the Cezanne book to look at landscapes when I was derailed by this still life.  The vase and huge bough of flowers is tree-like and so it satisfies some of what I sought.

But today was also random day.  See things and make pictures.  Grab tools and think with them.  Crayons, blue ball point pen, paint, whatever.