Friday, June 25, 2010

How I See Lady Agnew

How I See Lady Agnew, 16x12, Oil on Birch Panel, 2010

Like many artists, I am often asked to donate paintings for various fundraisers. I don't mind doing this, although after the first auction I was in had no minimum bids set and my painting went to someone for ten bucks, I quickly became much more discerning about the events that I participated in. I have also narrowed it down to no more than 4 donations per year and those are mainly for local events at an arts organization and our school's annual fundraiser.

I also usually donate a painting to the annual auction and gala sponsored by NYSHA from which the proceeds benefit educational programs at The Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmer's Museum here in Cooperstown, two organizations that mean a lot to me. This year's big exhibition at the Fenimore is John Singer Sargent; Portraits in Praise of Women and I have always LOVED John Singer Sargent's work. So when I was asked to participate in the auction it occurred to me that maybe I should donate a portrait rather than the usual landscape.

Kinda risky decision though, because, well I want the piece to be sold (hopefully for more than ten bucks!) and I am mostly known for landscapes around here. But the portrait thing just kept nagging at me and finally I decided to do what I really wanted to do; paint my version of one of John Singer Sargent's paintings.

In college I had several assignments that included copying (mostly) old master's paintings, I did a Rembrandt (here is my copy of Rembrandt), a van Gogh, and several illustrators which I can't recall anymore. The goal then was to COPY the paintings, the composition, the brushstrokes, color, everything.

This time I wanted to reference the image but paint it in my style. I settled on Lady Agnew, mostly because I felt it had similarities to some of the portraits I have been doing lately; a seated woman, very straightforward pose, the colors and patterns. However, after I finished the underpainting I noticed that the body structure in mine was more compressed than in the original, which I have decided to attribute to using a different scaled panel (vertical instead of squarish) rather than my iffy observation and drawing skills. heh. And as I got into the painting of the details, I SO wanted to copy everything about the painting and I had to wipe out more than a few areas because they were looking more like a bad version of Sargent than the good version of me.

Anyway, overall I am very pleased with this painting and it was a fun and yet rather challenging diversion. I am also crossing my fingers that someone at the auction will bid on it.........

PS. I would like to add that really, there is no comparison between Sargent's painting and mine. His Lady Agnew totally rules in every single way possible!

10 comments:

andrea said...

Ten bucks!? That actually made me laugh because I so would've made the same mistake. Sargent is the master of the portrait but I love yours, especially your use of colour. BTW the direct link wouldn't actually load a picture so I had to do a little googling to find the Sargent original.

collage whirl said...

I'm not familiar with the original, but this is looking very modern to me, in spite of her period dress. I like it!

Casey Klahn said...

Your Lady Agnew works very well for me. I particularly love the lighting of the scene and your modern twist.

Ghislaine BRUNO said...

I've always wanted to copy this portrait. But what you did, your own version of it is even more challenging. And you succeeded.

Dale Sherman Blodget said...

Well, your take on Sargent's portrait is really impressive. And a good point made about donating, especially in the current climate.

Kim Hambric said...

I have never been interested in portraits in the past. I've always thought of them as dark and sour.

Since seeing your recent paintings, especially this one, I have come around to portraits (especially if they are yours).

This lady is bound to pull in far more than $10.00. This is truly a wonderful painting.

Janelle Goodwin said...

Your Lady Agnew looks fresh and original. I love how you used Sargent's portrait as inspiration and came up with your own answer. She would keep the viewer in kind company in any room.

Lori Bonanni said...

Hi Tracy, You are so talented! I love the bug series. Can't wait to see how that large painting you posted on facebook turns out!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Probably one of my favorite Sargent paintings ever. The sitter died young too so it makes it even more poignant. I went to a museum in Edinburgh late in the afternoon, with only half an hour to view everything, not realizing Agnew was 'housed' there. DRATS. Good job on your copy. Not an easy one to copy either. I have done head and shoulders of it.

cmneal said...

Like everyone else said I love your take on this portrait. Nice work Tracy.