Sunday, January 21, 2007

My Singer Sargent Project - in the Piazza San Marco

7am, Sunday morning
8" x 10" coloured pencil on Somerset Black Velvet
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This drawing is one of the outputs from my John Singer Sargent Project. These are the JSS characteristics I was trying to develop in this work
  • a few values - I tried to work to just three. Did I succeed? I think so - what do you think?
  • a few slivers of light outlining form - very JSS - and I've got those in
  • largely monochomatic with a splash of colour. He doesn't work like this all the time but it's very characteristic of him - and very effective when he does it. I've got more colour in than him but rather restrained for me. Plus I've got the splash of red - he did like a bit of scarlet in his paintings!
  • large expanses of apparent 'nothingness' which he then develops in a very subtle way. That's the expanse of the Piazza San Marco
  • it's about Venice - very JSS - I'm probably at the top end of how much he'd include in a picture. He tends to go for fragments of architecture rather than 'views'.
The image is from a photograph I took on my first day in Venice in May 2005 - which happened to be a Sunday. I got up early, walked down to the Piazza San Marco and walked into the square just as the bells were striking 7am. It was empty and completely utterly unforgettable! The light was brilliant and the shadows and subtle colours were amazing. (And that was a tip specially for Ed who is visiting Venice later this year)!

Yesterday, Shirley (Papers and Threads) went to visit the Sargent's Venice exhibition in New York (which I referred to in the Sargent and venice thread below). This is what she e-mailed me.
(We) went to the Sargent exhibit yesterday - WOW!

The Adelson Galleries are in a beautiful brownstone on the block leading up to the main entrance to the Museum of Modern Art - lots of marble and sweeping staircases etc. So the setting was great.

I can't even describe the beauty of the Venice watercolors - the luminosity was incredible and his palette looked rather restricted - almost as if he used Payne's Grey for the blues, burnt sienna for the reds, and some brownish/gold yellow for the 3rd primary. I'd be curious to know whether there is any information about this in your readings.

They have 54 pieces out of the total of 150 that Sargent did on Venice. Most are watercolors, but there are a few sketches and charcoal type portraits mixed with the oils. We looked at approx. 20 watercolors before we reached the 1st oil and I was amused that my husband said, "I hated getting to that oil. It wasn't very good!" I think it just suffered by comparison.

It was a great exhibit!
I might just have to take a close look at flights to Venice for when the exhibition moves there! I'll be writing more about the book to accompany the exhibition in my next JSS project post.

I'm including full links below as I understand that the script problem is still with us. If you click on a link and get a message to say there is a script problem then click the STOP button and the link will appear. Otherwise copy the link below.

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  1. I think the expanse of the Piazza is a triumph, Katherine. The way you've captured the light! Just beautiful.

  2. Great work, Katherine. Very JSS, and quite successful in the narrow range of values, I think.
    I have some pictures of my dear old dad at St. Mark's Square back in that interesting year: 1945. Hey, maybe I should paint that! Thanks for the idea!
    I would like you to know about our local (excellent) artist named Stan Miller. Local is Spokane, Washington, USA. He works in Egg Tempura, and travels to Venice frequently. His work is very much like A. Wyeth, and you would be pleased to see his "take" on Venice.
    Oh yes, I was going to say how perilous I find big empty foreground spaces (to paint myself, that is). I shall have to see what JSS does with those, too. Your's is smashing.


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