Tag Archives: John Singer Sargent

Sargent Studies – A Daily Sketch

Gouache Sketch

Gouache Sketch of “Old Man with a Dark Mantle”

For the last few weeks I have been continuing with my daily discipline of a sketch a day. I try to do this for 20 minutes to an hour, 5 or 6 days a week, usually in my Moleskine Sketchbook. 

Most of my studies have been made with a charcoal pencil, however today I decided to do a gouache rendition of John Singer Sargent’s oil sketch of “Old Man with a Dark Mantle”. Although I would prefer to paint this in oils, the advantage of using gouache paint is that it’s quick drying.

I’ve photographed the palate, brushes and Winsor and Newton paints, together with the reference book I’ve used, John Singer Sargent Figures and Landscapes, 1883-1899 by Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray.

Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray have written some brilliant books on Sargent’s paintings which give a fascinating insight into his work.

To follow my daily sketches on twitter, go to @adailysketch

The links on this post are affiliate links to products which I personally use. If you click on the links and buy any of these products then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

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Sargent – A Daily sketch

Charcoal Sketches

Studies of John Singer Sargent Drawings

Every so often I like to set some kind of painting/drawing discipline to keep on top of my game. Good habits are hard to form and easy to break and sadly the converse of that statement is also true!

I tend to find that my regular sketching habit falls by the wayside, particularly if I’m busy with commissions or working towards an exhibition. However, despite being very busy at the moment working on a series of portraits in oils of City Church, Newcastle members, I’ve decide to set myself the goal of doing some kind of sketchbook study every day for about 10-30 minutes.

The two charcoal sketches above were drawn in my Moleskine Sketchbook and are studies of John Singer Sargent’s Portrait drawings. Making studies of this kind is a great way to develop your own drawing technique, particularly if you are unable to find a willing model to sit for you.

To see my daily (hopefully) sketches, you can follow my twitter accounts @artistalanreed and @adailysketch

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The Kiss

The Kiss by Rodin

Charcoal Sketch of Rodin’s The Kiss

 

I’d heard the Rodin’s famous sculpture, The Kiss is currently on display in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities. I’ve been painting its stunning architecture and famous streets for over 20 years, producing over a dozen limited edition prints of Auld Reekie. Last week I was dropping off some paintings at a gallery nearby so I couldn’t resist popping in to the National Gallery to see some truly engaging art. There’s too much to see in less than two hours so I restricted myself to making three charcoal sketches in my moleskine sketchbook.

After a brief date with the lovely Lady Agnew by John Singer Sargent and a quick hello to one of Rembrant’s later self portraits (both recorded in my sketchbook) I decided to make another charcoal drawing of Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Kiss”. I had already made several studies earlier on this year which I used to produce a larger watercolour available as a limited edition print.

If you haven’t been to the National Gallery recently then it’s well worth a visit and if your’e an artist, make sure you take your sketchbook!

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John Singer Sargent – Brooklyn Museum

Painting at the Brooklyn Museum

Corfu: Lights and Shadows by John Singer Sargent

I’ve been reading with considerable interest the various reviews of the major exhibition of John Singer Sargent watercolours (and a few oils too) at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. To give you a flavour of the exhibition you can read an excellent review by Maika Pollack in the GalleristNY.

Since I first started using watercolours at the age of 15 I’ve been studying the techniques of the great watercolorists and I have to say, America has produced two of the finest exponents of arguably the most difficult of mediums to master, Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent.

Sargent’s technique was quite different from Homer’s who’s washes were generally more simplistic, quite possibly the result of Sargent painting his watercolours almost exclusively from life on location. Some of Homer’s watercolours must have been studio works due to the more carefully thought out compositions, use of colour and dramatic story telling.

The simple, yet wonderfully executed “Corfu: Lights and Shadows” above shows Sargent’s virtuosity in handling a brush with his deft flicks to indicate leaves and shadows. His bright palate captures perfectly the Mediterranean sunlight, the result and reward of constantly sketching. He once said “You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh”.

He believed, along with his tutor Carolus Duran, that painting was a science which it was necessary to acquire in order to make of it an art. I hope that I’m able to see this exhibition which runs until 28th July before continuing on in Boston.

You can see some of my paintings inspired by John Singer Sargent on my website www.alanreed.com

 

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Rodin’s The Kiss

Charcoal Studies of Rodin's "The Kiss"

Rodin’s The Kiss

Rodin’s stunning marble sculpture The Kiss is currently on view at the National Gallery, Edinburgh on a year long loan from Tate Britain. Last week I decided to pay homage to one of Rodin’s most famous works.

I find that one of the best ways to really appreciate art is to draw it so I embarked on a couple of charcoal studies in my moleskine sketchbook. I then did a small A6 watercolour study which I have since used in conjunction with the charcoal works to produce a larger studio painting in watercolour. This will be one of the paintings on view at my Spring Exhibition starting 13th April.

Almost two hours passed whilst I worked away in the gallery so I barely had time to have a quick glance at John Singer Sargent’s Lady Agnew before it was time to leave.

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John Singer Sargent

Charcoal Studies After John Singer Sargent

Charcoal Drawings After John Singer Sargent

The American artist John Singer Sargent was born this day 12th January 1856. The word “awesome” is used rather flippantly these days to describe things and events that are everyday and somewhat ordinary. John Singer Sargent was truly an awesome painter, an absolute genius when it came to applying paint in what appeared to be an effortless manner. My appreciation of his skills only grows as I regularly make my own studies of his work in my moleskine sketchbook seen above and also oil paintings.

Sargent made his fame on both sides of the Atlantic in the late nineteenth century, mainly through his outstanding portrait paintings of the rich and famous of his day. It’s appropriate to give him a mention today, not only in remembrance of his birthday but also because of the unveiling of the first official portrait of Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge. The oil painting was by Paul Emsley who won first prize in the BP Portrait Award in 2007 and although the Duchess gave Paul two sittings, it was painted predominantly from photographs.

Sargent rarely worked from photographs but relied on sketches and formal sittings with his subjects. The result was, he produced paintings that were expressive, fluid, full of light, life, character and, most importantly, captured the likeness and perhaps something of the personality of the sitter.

Paul Emsley’s portrait of the Duchess has received a mixed reaction from the critics. I can admire the undoubted skill Paul has in painting a very lifelike portrait of the Duchess but it is a little too photographic for my tastes. I cannot help wondering what John Singer Sargent’s rendition would have been like had he been alive today.

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Drawing Camels

Drawing from Observation

Drawing of Camels

I thought I’d begin my first blog post of 2013 featuring Drawing Camels by wishing you all God’s blessings for 2013 and by sharing one of my favourite quotes from the American artist John Singer Sargent:

“You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh”.

It’s a statement which every artist will benefit from if applied on a regular basis. Varying the subject matter (sketch everything) gives you a deeper appreciation of shape, form, line composition and tone. Drawing from observation not only helps one’s hand to eye co-ordination, but also helps to increase one’s visual awareness in a way which taking photographs or simply “just looking” does not.

Last year some friends gave a present of two rather unusual sculptured camels, made from what seems to be leather. Over the last few evenings I’ve taken to Drawing Camels in my moleskine sketchbook. These amazing creatures have been beautifully crafted in leather. I’ve used a fibre tip italic pen to draw with which has enabled me to vary the thickness of the line.

You can see that I’ve started off with a very light, delicate thin line to get the basic outline and then intensified it when I’ve been happy with the overall shape and shadow areas. I’ve painted  a more finished watercolour of camels which has also been published as a limited edition print.

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Family Fun at the Laing Art Gallery

The Misses Vickers

The Misses Vickers after John Singer Sargent

I found myself with an hour or so to spend in Newcastle earlier today so I decided to pay a third visit to the Family Matters Exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery. As part of the exhibition which runs until 2nd September, they have a stunning oil painting by one of my heroes John Singer Sargent. I’ve already made some studies in my Moleskine Sketchbook of this painting and a small 8″ x 6″ watercolour (see above) but I couldn’t resist a couple more drawings in charcoal pencil.

Throughout the summer months the Laing Art Gallery are putting on a number of events for children which look like excellent fun for any rainy days that may crop up. There is a terrific exhibition of original pen, ink and wash drawings by Quentin Blake and an opportunity for children to do their own studies in the style of the popular children’s book illustrator.

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Moleskine Sketchbooks & Journals

John Singer Sargent Studies

John Singer Sargent Studies in Charcoal

Yesterday I finished yet another Moleskine sketchbook by making some further studies of the portrait work by John Singer Sargent. I’m a great fan of the Moleskine brand and have a growing collection of notebooks, sketchbooks and journals filled with important notes, studies, ideas and thoughts that are documenting my humble career.

The drawing on the left page of the Moleskine sketchbook of the male model was made using a Royal Charcoal Stick whilst the study of Vernon Lee, a close family friend of Mr Sargent, was drawn with a Royal Charcoal pencil, part of a drawing set from Ryman Stationery.

You may notice a very small watercolour of three attractive young ladies above the tin of charcoal pencils. This is a my study of a stunning oil painting by John Singer Sargent painted in 1884 titled The Misses Vickers which is currently on view at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The painting forms part of the Family Matters Exhibition which runs until 2nd September and was commissioned by their father Colonel Tom Vickers as a 21st birthday present for the middle daughter Mabel Francis. Her two sisters Florence and Clara sit to her left and right respectively. The exhibition is well worth seeing not only for the John Singer Sargent as there are lots of other great paintings to see.

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BP Portrait Awards 2012

Moleskine Sketchbook - Charcoal Studies

Sketchbook Charcoal Studies on Tube

The BP Portrait Awards 2012 Exhibition is currently on at the National Portrait Gallery.

Over the years I’ve received many a commission to do a painting of a client’s home. Sometimes this has been overseas in countries like Italy. I always enjoy travelling to see the property which is usually impressive and to do some sketchbook studies on location.

On Friday I travelled to London to get some suitable reference for a commission of a lovely house for a client. I was fortunate with the weather and managed to capture the sun catching the front of the building. I had a few hours to kill before my flight home to Heathrow so I went to the National Portrait Gallery to see the BP Portrait Award 2012 Exhibition.

My favourite was by a young lady called Isabella Watling who received a fitting compliment in the Independent’s review of the exhibition, so she received my public vote.

“BP regulars like the annual game: choose your own winner. Here’s mine: for being not too proud, at only 21, to apprentice herself to Velazquez, Boldoni and Singer Sargent, for her romantic, and, yes, painterly The Importance of Being Glenn, for daring to enjoy the dashing and romantic, my vote goes to Isabella Watling. If she can do this now, what a lot could follow”.

There were some excellent paintings on view and it inspired me to continue my work for the day in my Moleskine sketchbook. Remembering a quote from John Singer Sargent “You can’t do sketches enough, sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh”, I did a couple of charcoal pencil studies of some of John Singer Sargent’s oil paintings on display in the National Portrait Gallery, then on the tube back to Heathrow I did the 4 drawings of various folk seated nearby which you can see above.

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