Mar 29, 2012

Project "Master Artist" - Nicolas Poussin

I've been taking painting class with a wonderful artist and great art teacher (actually a professor) Steve DiGiovanni who he has been quite inspiring personality to me in the past two months. His ways of teaching and his insight at many different artists, their work and their techniques opened horizons not only for me, but for many students in my class as well. Now that I am finished with the introduction, I would like to share one project that we were recently working on for couple of weeks.

FirstSteve gave us several names of old masters. We had to chose our favorite painting of one master. After I saw many paintings on line, I settled on a detail from "Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite" by Nicolas Poussin. I found out that the painting was commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu (which I found interesting) and which is in possession of Philadelphia Art Museum.

The next step was to paint an 8in x10in painting of the chosen master. This study was supposed to help us to understand the light and shadow, the color, while at the same time to teach us a bit about figure painting as the old masters did it. We didn't have to be accurate in making and exact copy.

My study of Poussin's "Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite"

Couple weeks later we brought our small "master paintings" to school and had a class discussion about what we learned from this practical study (above).

Then, Steve showed us several famous artists' interpretations of other famous artists. For example, Pablo Picasso's "Las Meninas. After Velazquez", which was take on DiegoVelazquez's "Las Meninas" (The Maids of Honor) painting. See below.

Pablo Picasso's "Las Meninas. After Velazquez"

Diego Velazquez. Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor), 1656

And as you probably guessed it, we had to interpret our chosen painting in our way on a 30in x 40in canvas.

In my early twenties I was in "love" with pointillism. I had attempted this technique once, but nothing ever came out of it. So, this time I got a chance to use this method again and to depict the old master's classical painting with a different approach.
Last summer I saw Seurat's paintings in MoMA, so I was somewhat familiar with his work. I went to our library to borrow art books about Seurat to remind me of his style some more. And I "googled" images of his paintings. Then I set to work on my project.

First I prepped my canvas and then outlined figures. Then I mixed my colors and started making dot after dot after dot after dot...... For many hours each day.

One week later I could see some development. Some of the background was done, as well as some of the women and sea creatures they were riding (the image below).

About three weeks later, after spending on it approximately 40+ hours per week, I took my nearly finished painting to school for a discussion. It still needs some fine tuning, such as leashes for the sea creatures, which are missing. However, Steve accepted the work as is. And did you know that Seurat would paint each of his paintings for about a year. When I was working on mine, I realized, that you really have to spend quite a bit of time on this particular technique - you need to let the paint dry in between. Otherwise it just doesn't look (or come out) right (or as nice as Seurat's).

And this is my almost finished product