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!