About ten days ago, I sent the following image to a student who is negotiating the delicate transfer from pastels to oil. The artist is Leon Lhermitte (French, 1844-1925). He was equally adept, and equally comfortable, in pastel, in charcoal, and in oil. As I wrote to the student, Lhermitte's oils often share a flickering light with his pastels, and his pastels benefit from some of the solidity and gravitas of his oils.
(This was snapped with my phone, from a catalogue, so bear with it. It is pastel, about 15" x 21", 38x53 cm).
Today, an artist friend and I were discussing the tendency, shared by almost everyone, of almost always establishing the horizon, or at least the main motif, at the same distance into the painting. The pastel shows a way of dealing with a high horizon.
I proposed that we make a painting, stealing from Lhermitte's composition. I wouldn't paint his painting, but the same basic relationships might well yield something interesting.
My canvas is a bit more horizontal than Lhermitte's, 12" x 18".
I placed these marks in about the same places as his masses.
Among other issues, I got the horizon closer to the top than I wanted. But it gave me the general idea. I started by laying in a grisaille which was very much a loose copy of his painting. But I didn't do it very well and, after all, I could make my own subject. So I wiped most of the additions off, getting back to the basic scheme.
I substituted a house for his trees, and then just went on from there. This grisaille has become my made-up place, but there's probably more I'll do to it. The culvert was a late addition----don't know if it will stay.
Those who've been in the workshops know that I'll be able to proceed with color tomorrow, without disturbing the grisaille.
My students know that I might very well wind up painting the 59th Street bridge instead.
Nothing is ever for keeps until it goes off to market.
|DJ, 59th Street Bridge, ca. 1980|