Making a Copy at The Philadelphia Museum of Art part II

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Meeting the very popular Jason Little.

Meeting the very popular Jason Little.

The day came when we finally got to start our project and meet Jason Little in the flesh. He’s a quiet, very thoughtful, sweet and knowledgeable man who seemed to know almost everyone in the museum. Most of the people we met felt the need to either greet him warmly or just hug him. Jason said, “Museum staff and visitors love observing visiting artists painting in galleries.” So he encourages artists to come and paint in the museum.

Hal Shaniss' copy of Tintoretto by Jacopo di Giovanni Battista Robusti

Hal Shaniss’ copy of Tintoretto by Jacopo di Giovanni Battista Robusti

Jason met us at the front desk our first day,  took us to our respective galleries, and introduced us to the security guards in our specific areas.   He liked my choice of Emma Hart by George Romney.

selfie.  It's not finished, but a good start.

selfie. It’s not finished, but a good start.

I was worried I would be nervous painting in front of people, but this lasted only about 5 minutes and then I was fine and in the zone. Generally people are super nice and they love to see someone painting.  They ask lots of questions, the most common being, Why or how are you allowed to do this?  Many are artists who have given up painting or drawing years ago and now are sad about it. I try to share a little about my own struggle coming back to the canvas.  I encourage them to paint, and when they leave, they are clearly inspired to go home and paint again.

Hippolyte FLANDRIN (Lyon, 1809 - Rome, 1864)  This was the painting I wanted to copy at the Lourve.

Compliments of Musée du Louvre Hippolyte FLANDRIN (Lyon, 1809 – Rome, 1864)
This was the painting I wanted to copy at the Lourve.

Some artists when painting in front of other people try to get something down on the canvas right away that looks like whatever they are painting.  I’ve seen this with artists who come into workshops with good skills but are afraid of looking as if they can’t paint, so they stick with what they know instead of trying something new and out of their comfort zone. And no amount of coaxing on their teacher’s part is able to get them out of that zone. But although I felt this shame-like thinking initially in the museum, I was soon in my zone.  Once in my zone, I just don’t care about anything else but painting.  The good part about the zone is I lose my inhibitions and just cruise; the bad part is sometimes I stay too long to the point where I even neglect my body, like the need to hydrate, eat, or even to just sit down for a minute.

Martin Ferdinand Quadal Nude Life Class at the Vienna Art Academy in the St.-Anna-Gebäude 1787 © Paintings Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Martin Ferdinand Quadal
Nude Life Class at the Vienna Art Academy in the St.-Anna-Gebäude
1787
© Paintings Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

It’s something I really need to work on.  Not only physically do I need a break, but I need a break for my painting’s sake as well.  I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to bed late at night only to come back in the morning and look at my painting and think what on earth made me do that?  It’s because I lose perspective.  Take a break.  Every teacher I have ever had, has said this.  You get an entirely new set of eyes, if you don’t look at your painting for at least 10 minutes.  The longer you are away from your painting the better your objectiveness will be..

 

Shelli Alford is an artist and author, who enjoys learning from master oil painters from around the world and reviewing their classes, workshops and demonstrations.

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2 Comments

  1. glenda

    February 26, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Shelli, I think your comments about taking a break are sound advice for just about every art form – and even for life itself. I’ve been wrestling with writing my memoirs for a long while now, and I will take your lesson to heart.

    Luv
    gg

    • Shelli Alford

      March 8, 2015 at 12:16 am

      It’s true we have to bite off little chunks that are manageable. Thanks for the comment sweet Glenda. I can’t wait to read your memoirs!

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