Have you ever seen a Picasso in person? WOW! I saw one recently and was absolutely mesmerized. There is so much about it that you just do not see from books or online representations. For one thing there was SO MUCH texture! Some areas were almost smooth and others had a LOT of impasto. It gave a whole new aspect of depth to the painting. Another thing I noticed was that there were areas of canvas that had NO paint. Now I don’t know about you, but I just do not have anywhere near that much confidence. If I have a piece of bare canvas showing through I figure I just have not done it right and I dive right back in there with my brush and muck around and, first thing I know, I have muddy edges. Not Picasso, he just left that little blank spot and didn’t mess with it.
Then there was The Goldsmith by Rembrandt that I saw in Chicago. I had seen this work in a book or online or something so I recognized it but it absolutely stunned me. This thing is only a couple of inches tall! And it is absolutely exquisite – the detail, the expression, the pose Ã¢â‚¬â€œ intimate and loving and a total story. I have done some miniatures, but I will NEVER achieve such perfection. It was humbling.
I sat in front of a Monet for who knows how long trying to absorb those colors and the shading. It is just totally impossible for any reproduction to accurately reproduce the richness of the original.
O’Keefe is amazing. Did you know that she did not mix her colors on the canvas? She planned it all out ahead of time, what colors and where and then she pre-mixed every shade before she started painting! The Georgia O’Keefe museum in Santa Fe has some of her preliminary drawings and I realized how much planning and care she put into her work before she ever got near the canvas. Such discipline!
If you are like me you do not have large, unoccupied chunks of time to visit the museums. A lot of my studying the old masters is done on-line in the middle of sleepless nights. But every time I go to a museum I learn so much about art, so much that I do not think could be learned in any other way.
p.s. – My museum kit now includes: a folding stool that is easy for me to carry (there is not always a seat in front of the painting that I want to spend time absorbing), my camera (with a no-flash option) and a tripod (without a flash there is no way I can hold it steady enough to get the shot), and a sketch pad and pencil for notes and quick sketches – or take-my-time sketches.