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Class Demo: Sargent Copy

November 28, 2013

As part of my watercolor class at Syn Studio (which I am hoping offer again next January: five spaces left I believe: register here). I had the students doing a master copy, (or a work from a photo, their choice).

I found some time to do my own – a copy of a Sargent. I wasn’t attempting to get the drawing perfect, this was only about an hours work, demoing in class.  Mainly I wanted to see if I could reach the same values in three Tea, Milk, Honey passes.

Achieving sufficient contrast is an obsession with me. I love contrast. Comes from many years of drawing with pen and ink I suppose. I’m always feeling watercolor is at risk of looking pale.


Things I would do if I wanted to really get this right:

1: Work from a better reproduction. I just had a jpg to work from.

2: Cotton paper with more texture (Arches 300 probably). I was using Canson Montval machine made paper. Which is fairly slick, lacking texture.

3: Sables. I am always telling people Sable brushes are not absolutely necessary. Now, in trying do some of the dry brush that I’m seeing Sargent’s sketch, I’m really noticing synthetic fibers don’t do the job. They don’t splay out as naturally, and don’t hold a ragged shape when ‘stabbed’.

4: Deeper pigments. I think I’m seeing Indigo blue? something other than the Sap Green/Prussian/Burnt Sienna I used for my dark

5: Practice. Of course, goes without saying. My own brushwork is clumsy by compare. But if I might be so bold – I can tell if I invested effort in this, it would be possible someday. That’s good enough for me for now.

Here’s a larger shot:


9 Comments leave one →
  1. lefeust permalink
    November 30, 2013 9:27 AM

    Are we going to see any of the students’ work at the vernissage? :)

    • December 1, 2013 9:08 PM

      I hope so! They all know it’s coming :)

      • lefeust permalink
        December 2, 2013 9:21 PM

        yeah, tell me about it (lol) I’ve got my own synstudio homework to do this week :)

  2. Susan Grover permalink
    November 30, 2013 2:24 PM

    At least your pots are straight !!! Susan

  3. December 11, 2013 8:49 AM

    It is startling to hear you describe your brushwork as clumsy; I aspire to your level of brushwork because it is so elegant! You impart such energy and movement into your paintings with your marks; I swear sometimes your buildings seem to vibrate with life.

    In fact, besides your glorious palette, (which you were kind enough to tell me about ages ago; than you, it was very helpful!) it is your brushwork that tips me off that a painting or sketch is yours on the USK blogs.

    • December 11, 2013 10:30 AM

      Ah well, Canadian modesty? But really – Sargent has a lot of range to his brush – some strokes are soft, or even grainy – not all the same. I enjoy my own calligraphy a lot, but it’s all somewhat hard edged. A bit of all the same note. The great thing about art is it is always offering new things to learn! Always something to aspire too.

      • December 11, 2013 6:27 PM

        Isn’t that the truth!

        Also; I may pester you on the Montreal USK site soon. You’ve inspired us to create a Halifax group. Canada is far too under-represented! (More of that Canadian modesty perhaps :P)

        • December 11, 2013 6:50 PM

          Great! It’s awesome how sketching every week or month helps the work. Makes everything more fun. Let me know when you’re ready to put your blog up :)

          Sent from my iPhone

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