Rod, my painting teacher, suggested I try a copy of a Cezanne painting to get the feel of placing paint onto the paper and making colour and effect from the profusion of marks rather than trying to exactly reproduce an image. We looked through a book of his and chose this one, Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1885-7.
This is similar to the image Rod had in his book, but looks completely different to the copy on wikimedia:
Maybe the image above had been cleaned while I was working with one tinged with old varnish. Anyway, that was the one I had when I started, and it wasn’t as though I was going to exactly reproduce it 🙂
I started it halfway through 15th June class (after finishing the Hopper copy), laying down a base ochre-ish colour. I then started painting in the tree and branches, which Rod corrected me on (he’d gone out to get our tea/coffee): I ought to have started with the sky. So I painted over the branches, leaving just the trunk and put down the sky, or my impression of Cezanne’s sky.
I wasn’t trying to reproduce his painting mark for mark, just to get the feel of how he painted it. Rod helped again when he showed me how to have two brushes on the go at the same time, mixing the marks of the sky. It felt great. By the end of the lesson, I’d done what I wanted to the sky:
I was quite pleased with it, lots of movement. But the test would come with the fore & middle ground.
I worked on that for most of the next lesson (22nd June), trying to put in place the basic shapes that Cezanne used while getting my own balance. It half worked. I got the general colour balance the way I wanted but not the shaping. The middle ground needed a lot more formal shaping to it to balance the unshaped sky and I couldn’t achieve that. I seem unable to paint a small straight line. I’m sure it is partly me but brushes don’t help. Just thought: maybe what I need to do is lay down the colour of the shape and then get the lines smooth by painting the colours next to it. Don’t know. But the fore & middle grounds do not really work, need more precision.
Btw, I captured this image using the scanner and stitching together the three scanned images: seems to have worked ok, better than using the camera which barrels the lines.
Also just noticed, the shapes in the fields are too large. To show the distance of the middle ground, they need to be smaller. Also the moss on the tree needs to be blended more into the bark, less distinct, while the middle ground shapes need to be more distinct. No, not happy with that. Still, lots of lessons learned.
Strangely, it looks more like the second reproduction of Cezanne’s than the one I was trying to copy. 🙂