I've spent a couple of really lovely cloudy afternoons in the Musee d'Orsay lately. I absolutely love doing small sketchbook studies from paintings that move me. I use my tiny mint tin watercolor kit and a water brush to keep from having an open cup of water in a musuem. It's let me really paint from the art, and I'm so grateful.
Above is Whistler's portrait of his mother. I'd seen reproductions and spoofs of this piece for years without really paying attention to it. Then I came around the corner, and it absolutely gobsmacked me. So powerful in person.
Below is a quite large Maurice Denis. I love the composition and how the ground spreads out toward the viewer, giving you a birds eye view and inviting you in.
This is one in the surrealist section, where I spent most of my time the other day. I had to go back and paint it today. It's by Alexander Harrison, born in Philadelphia and died in Paris. This one really struck me for its quietude.
Here are a couple of others I did earlier that didn't fit with my cloud or nocturn posts that I put a couple of studies in. The first is the third Odilon Redon study I did. I love his ethereal, otherworldly pieces. Similar to Chagall, but much more lovely to my eye. This one of Caliban seemed whimsical and appealed to my Shakespearean upbringing.
Finally here is a Vuillard. I've really fallen in love with him during my time at the Orsay. This is a quite large tempera painting that was done as a decorative panel for a tea room. I love the sketchy indistinctness of it, as well as the glowing sense of light in the original that I didn't manage to capture here.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
Get studio email updates from Gideon and me.
To subscribe to this blog, by email: