12.75" x 9.95", pastels on Rembrandt pastel boardHave you ever tried to produce another version of a piece you've already sold? The pastel work above - of the trees in the field next to the lily pond part of the garden at Giverny - was sold about 10 years ago. I've always really liked the image and the combination of a very natural subject and a somewhat abstract banding which works both vertically and horizontally. It's also curious because the dominant blue shades are in the foreground (shot against the light) rather than the background which is dominated by the bleached summer grass and the bright light yellow leaves of the trees.
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I've written before about working in series and the nature of serial process before (think Monet and his haystacks - or Maggie and Moose!) and if you're interested in the latter you might want to take a look at Robert Genn's clickback responses to his article on this topic.
However, the topic today is slightly different. It's about exploring the same view - working from a photograph - and trying to duplicate but make it different and keep it fresh!
Interestingly Robert Genn, in his comments in the above clickback, recommends imagining you're actually outside and can feel the air and the breeze really helps if you're working in the studio from reference material. For me, the particular reference shot for this view always transports me back to the day it was taken. If you look at this map of Monet's garden at Giverny, I was standing in the water garden - on the bottom edge of the lily pond in the middle - inbetween the seat where Monet used to sit and the boundary fence. These are the trees in the field which adjoins the property (situated off the bottom of the map). It was late afternoon on a sunny Saturday in September and the crowds in the water garden were beginning to thin out. I was on my way back to the coast and the ferry having just travelled up to Paris overnight from Provence on the motorail. I'd spent the morning at the Musee de L'Orangerie in Paris - seeing Les Nympheas. As you can imagine the whole of that day is burned into my brain and I have very vivid memories of it!
Back to the artwork! A while ago, I reproduced Giverny Trees in coloured pencil for myself.
It certainly looks different but I don't like it quite as much as the original version in pastel. I decided to have another go - partly for the exhibition I've got coming up (and this decision in part accounts for the lack of work you've seen from me recently).
In my efforts to make the work different I have been trying different sorts of supports.
So far I've got three new versions produced - on three different supports - and I'm not happy with a single one of them. They all look different but none of them look good! So what's going wrong? Possible reasons:
- first version. I couldn't find my original reference photo and started work on a different type of surface using Giverny #2 in coloured pencil as the reference. Giverny #2 is on blue Canson paper. This version is on aubergine colourfix and totally lacks subtlety. I've flattened it.
- second version. I changed to a pale blue colourfix and tried again. Same sort of problem - but this time lacks the range of values too. I attacked it with solvent and went for a more abstract look - but it still looks like rubbish to me
- third version. Searched and found the original reference photo and the photo of the Giverny #1 and switched back to paper - a yellowy cream Lana Tints pastel paper. Progress to date suggests it's exceptionally boring and the colours simply aren't working on the paper.
If you've got any tips for what you do when trying to reproduce a piece do please leave them as a comment - you never know, one may strike a chord with me or others!
Some more notes:
- The house and gardens at Giverny are open daily (except Mondays) between 1st April and 31st October, from 9.30am until 6.00pm.
- Thanks to Louise for suggesting the subject of this blog post after listening to much whinging from me.
- Apologies for the quality of the image at the top. It's from a photo taken after it had been framed. Spot the pre-website habit!
- Map of Monet's gardens at Giverny
- Giverny - details of opening hours
- Transport: How to get to Giverny
- Robert Genn - serial process plus clickback responses