Cecilia Beaux — A Little Girl (1887)

October 25: MousterWork #43

My Changes:

I wanted to give this a little bit more of a modern feel, so I altered the background. But almost everything else is the same.

Things I thought/Questions I asked:

How did painters get kids to sit still long enough to get their picture painted? (Mine complain about even one camera shot!) But I’m glad artists found ways because paintings like this reveal so much about each person’s character. I love the depth of this young girl’s eyes. It took me a while to make them deep and soulful instead of dark and sinister. I later realized I needed to rotate the eyes; initially the inner points were pointing to the center. And although it’s almost Halloween, it wasn’t the effect I was going for! This girl also seems shy and reserved—which is probably one reason she was painted. I guess there aren’t many paintings of feisty children, are there?

I also love this dress so much—especially that bow!

What I noticed or learned from Beaux’s techniques:

In my research, Beaux hoped painting trends would return from impressionistic to a more realistic approach. This is clearly evident in her work, and since I tend to favor this technique as well I really enjoy her paintings. One way we differ, however, is that Beaux did a lot of portraits. But I enjoyed doing it and learned so much—like from the way she painted the eyes. There’s so much depth in them and they keep you looking and returning. I also feel Beaux helped me improve the way I paint skin tones in the way she hints at the small bits of red in her cheeks.

Mary Cassatt — Summertime (1894)

October 18: MousterWork #42

My Changes:

Added in ducklings, made both girls young, tinkered with the value structure, and gave more definition to the background.

Things I thought/Questions I asked:

This is a wonderful snapshot of a quiet moment that says so much. I can imagine being on this boat. I hear the water lap against the boat, an occasional duck quack, and perhaps some crickets in the distance. I see greens and blues and yellows and reds, and my reflection rippled in the lake. I feel the sun warming my face, a slight breeze, and the quiet joy of being with someone I love. This painting reminds me of a simpler time, which also makes me sad to think that my kids don’t have many opportunities to appreciate peaceful moments like these. At the same time, it’s comforting to note that people from all times enjoy watching ducks.

What I noticed or learned from Cassatt’s techniques:

It seems that a lot of women painters—like Cassatt—painted real-life moments, especially of mothers and children, which I love. Although I opted to tone my iteration down several notches, I appreciate Cassatt’s bold brush strokes. It looks easy to paint backgrounds with a few messy brushstrokes for the background trees and shrubbery, but I opted for more when my attempts to be that free didn’t fit with everything else. (I did try to keep it a little more painterly, however.)

Van Gogh — Cafe Terrace at Night (1888)

October 11: MousterWork #41

My Changes:

I included kids to the cast of characters and made peoples’s faces and actions more apparent. I also thought this could be a fun Halloween-ish opportunity, so I added in a few costumes and a touch more decor. Instead of oils, I used my usual digital brushes and drew in lines to give the illusion of impasto. And though I do appreciate Van Gogh’s application of black (see more below), I opted to use deep purples and blues instead.

Things I thought/Questions I asked:

I love this cafe! The atmosphere is so inviting. Who are these people, and why did they decide to come tonight? Do they eat here frequently? What are they ordering? Who lives in the houses above the cafe and along the street? Who’s in the carriage, and where are they going? Is everyone just enjoying the evening, or have they come on business? (If it’s business, I hope their dealings won’t alert a super-hero to action!)

Judging by the warm hats and scarves it looks like it might be cold—but not everyone is dressed so warmly. I can hear the horse’s feet clip-clopping, quiet conversations, and I think I can maybe hear a slight wind running through that pine tree. And maybe they’ve hired a band to play inside the cafe?

What I noticed or learned from Van Gogh’s techniques:

In my research, I learned that Van Gogh saw more color at night than during the day. (I really need to pay more attention!) This piece is proof of that. Van Gogh’s brave splotches of saturated colors are daring, and I’m impressed that he uses black. I once heard a prominent illustrator say black can kill a piece, but Van Gogh proves here that this isn’t always true. The fact that he allows small bits of color poke through the black are key to help it breathe and feel alive. I also think that both the highly saturated yellows, oranges, and reds and his application of black work because they balance each other beautifully. There’s also a nice rhythm of key colors repeating around the piece.

Edward Lamson Henry — Kept in (1888)

October 4: MousterWork #40

My Changes:

Stylized the girl and clarified the maps, trees, and people outside.

Things I thought/Questions I asked:

I’ve been waiting for a long time to do this piece because it transcends time perfectly. It’s easy to sympathize with this poor girl! She so obviously doesn’t want to be stuck in the classroom jail while the others get to leave. I love that Henry gives us so much information about her personality through the tears and holes in her clothing. I want to know more about who this girl is, who her friends are (it’s hard to imagine that it’s the girls out the window who feel a little prissy), and what exactly she did to be stuck inside with her slate and a book.

This classroom’s character really captures my attention as well with the worn floorboards and seats. I admire how Henry uses the darkness of the room to contrast perfectly with freedom outside. It’s not clear exactly where the teacher is, but she’s still there since her hat and jacket are still hanging and the chair hasn’t been fully pushed in.

What I noticed or learned from Henry’s techniques:

Henry’s value and storytelling are top-notch. He also strikes me as an early Norman Rockwell. In my research I learned that he preferred to paint real life scenarios, which is why I think this is so successful. I wish I could ask him what prompted this picture, and why he chose this classroom and girl. I also learned that he was impatient when artists didn’t take time to properly render objects or accurately depict them from the correct time period. This prompted me to make sure I used proper reference for the maps and hat (I couldn’t find a reproduction with enough clarity to use the original) rather than guess or use what we have today!

Missed my September MousterWorks? Find them here.

About Me

My name is Angela, and I love how Masterpieces make me think about people painted in time. Hopefully MousterWorks will get you thinking too!

All original images © Angela C. Hawkins

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