Sunday, December 31, 2006

The John Singer Sargent Project

Well, I’m beginning 2007 with an invitation to all my fellow artists out there to join me in an artistic challenge. Being a self-taught artist, I’ve recently begun exploring the many ways that formal art education pushes students to develop. One of them is the imitation of Old Masters, or in other words, copying people who are too dead to have copyright. Well, more importantly, copying good artists who are dead. No point imitating those strange purple cat paintings my great grandmother did on the sides of barns . . . just kidding.

Anyway, in collaboration with several of my friends from Fine Line Artists, we decided to devote the month of January to John Singer Sargent. He was an extremely talented portrait and landscape painter with enough versatility to satisfy both those who appreciate Monet’s cheerier pieces and Whistler’s gloomier ones (both artists influenced him).

So the challenge is this. During the month of January, I will be gathering up as much information as I can on Sargent, his working methods, and what makes a Sargent a Sargent. And then I will be working with his methods and color palette in a series of preliminary sketches before finishing with a work done as much in his style as I can manage. Oh, and I should mention that fellow blogger and Fine Line Artist Katherine Tyrrell will also be sketching her way through this on her blog Making a Mark, as well as providing more information and background on him.

Let me emphasize that this is a bit of a twist on the traditional exercise because I am not directly copying any of his works. Rather I’m trying to take away from his body of work a feeling of how Sargent thought, and then painting a subject of my choosing as if I were him.

And I’d love for all of my artist readers out there to join me and send me either links to their blogs where their work is posted, or email their works to me at portraitswithcharacter @ (notice that I only want pictures of your Sargent works. Not pics of nekkie girl on girl action, advertisements for cheap medications, or stock deals. For heaven’s sake don’t spam me) so I can post them here. It would be great to really support each other throughout this project and cheer each other on!

Tomorrow I’m going to post some examples of his works, a long and possibly tedious description of what I’ve found out about Sargent so far, and also a few preliminary sketches that I’ve been working on. Until then, I invite you to check out his works at:

And don’t quit looking until you’ve taken a look at a bunch of them; you really have to see a few before you really appreciate the subtlety. And no, “subtlety” does not mean “boring,” you smart alecs back there.


Jo Castillo said...

Oh no! More homework. First Katherine and now you. I'm going to have to do research and all. Whew. Thanks for the push.

Shant said...

Great Idea! I belong to a group of artists called "serious watercolor" and they did something similar a while back.

I'll check back with you to see how its going....

Katherine said...

I've got two big blog posts today, re 2006 achievements and 2007 plans - in which Mr Sargent gets a mention - but my proper blog post on this probably won't be until tomorrow now. Lots of info though! ;)

Linda said...

"subtle" -- that would be Lady with a Parasol -- one of the most diving paintings ever painted, I think -- and look at how simply it is done! Starting 2007 off with a study of Sargent is a marvelous idea! We're going to have to keep a close eye on you guys, as it is sure to get interesting!

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Yes, Jo, more homework! Shant, feel free to jump in if you like.

Katherine, I'll be sure to link to your post tomorrow -- kick me to remind me if I don't!

And Linda, I agree! Less is more . . .

Stephanie B. said...

I have an art website I'd like to share with you. I know it's too late for me to turn in some of my artwork inspired by John Singer Sargent. Anyway, here's my website at:

Please take a look at it, then tell me what you think of my website.


Stephanie B.