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WIP - Struggling

I am attempting to create a portrait and trying to capture the brushwork and style of Sargent. And failing miserably. I have read everything I can find about his technique, but its not enough. Everything is so vague its virtually useless. "Use economy of means. Load your brush fully. etc." Does anyone have any insight, or tried to do similar paintings, with some modicum of success? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.


jeffEliza

Comments

  • Hi, @tgarney.  I don't think you are "failing miserably". You're working from a B&W reference and have managed to translate it into colour which is no mean feat.

     At the moment @Rich_A is doing a Sargent copy that may be helpful to you. His Oyster Gathers is not a portrait but I think it shows Sargent's technique.so it might be worth checking out. :)
    Eliza
  • Thanks Tassieguy. I will give it a look.
  • Very good likeness. Great job from a tough reference, as Rob said.
  • Until you see a Sargent's portrait in person I don't think you will find what you are looking for. Your portrait seems too well blended for a Sargent but as a portrait of your own work it is very well done. I think her eyes are more deeply set than your portrait shows and the eyes too round compared to the photo. The face in general seems a little out of proportion with the forehead too narrow and the lower half too broad. You are on the right track don't get frustrated about the style. 
  • dencaldencal -
    edited March 16
    tgarney

    Here are the most detailed and coherent notes I have found on Sargent’s portrait technique.

    https://keenewilson.com/page/2947/john-singer-sargents-painting-techniques

    Compare the distance between pupil centres. 

    Denis


    Ephram
  • Thanks everyone. I will soldier on! ) 
  • In case you haven't already watched it.....
    Eliza
  • Sanden does a pretty good job in his copy but I doubt it's the approach Sargent used. The old method of painting portraits usually looks like this when the portrait is in the first stages: 
  • Other examples that give a good idea on how one should commence a portrait in the classical manner. These are by Sargent: 
  • Begin with a precise drawing on a toned canvas. Then proceed by massing in each plane with the correct color and value without too much blending. Later you can refine the planes by softening the edges a little and working into the wet paint adding more details. Sargent was not a photo realist painter which means he will ignore small details and concentrate on the big form shapes much like a sculptor would do. Most of his portraits are not painted "alla prima" but were done in layers, that is, he painted over a dry underpainting which gives the paint a much more solid and realistic appearance. 
  • It's beautiful.  Just remember what Mark Carder emphasizes. It all about values, values, values. 
    Julianna
  • @Leo2015 so do you think that Sargent started with a precise drawing and stuck to that restriction?  From my studies, he would often have general marks for placements and size and mass but would not be restricted to drawing - he would "draw" with his paint brush and paint colors.  That would be interesting if he painted in oils from precise sketches initially so I'd like to be enlightened - that is fascinating to me.  
  • @Eliza ; gosh, thank you for posting that - one of my favorite DMP videos - I needed to see it again.  wow
  • Julianna said:
    @Leo2015 so do you think that Sargent started with a precise drawing and stuck to that restriction?  From my studies, he would often have general marks for placements and size and mass but would not be restricted to drawing - he would "draw" with his paint brush and paint colors.  That would be interesting if he painted in oils from precise sketches initially so I'd like to be enlightened - that is fascinating to me.  
    No, I don't think Sargent made detailed drawings on his canvas, as he was confident enough with his amazing drawing skills to attack the canvas with a loaded brush without one. He worked in what they call the "sight sized" method meaning he would have his canvas placed alongside the model and would step back to take measurements from a distance then walk right up to the canvas to apply the paint. I only recommend making a precise drawing if you don't have a lot of experience drawing directly with the brush. 
  • Leo2015 said:
    Julianna said:
    @Leo2015 so do you think that Sargent started with a precise drawing and stuck to that restriction?  From my studies, he would often have general marks for placements and size and mass but would not be restricted to drawing - he would "draw" with his paint brush and paint colors.  That would be interesting if he painted in oils from precise sketches initially so I'd like to be enlightened - that is fascinating to me.  
    No, I don't think Sargent made detailed drawings on his canvas, as he was confident enough with his amazing drawing skills to attack the canvas with a loaded brush without one. He worked in what they call the "sight sized" method meaning he would have his canvas placed alongside the model and would step back to take measurements from a distance then walk right up to the canvas to apply the paint. I only recommend making a precise drawing if you don't have a lot of experience drawing directly with the brush. 
    I was confused because you said "Begin with a precise drawing on a toned canvas" to paint like Sargent. Thank you for clarifying.  
  • Rich_ARich_A -
    edited March 22
    I like what you have done so far. It seems like you are painting this from different reference materials? I think one of your biggest challenges is painting color from a black and white photo. I think you were really successful in the face area. I know this is a work in progress and I really like what have accomplished so far. Seeing what you have I would focus on the hands and folds of the dress. I would also add so more to the top of the hat. Are you using reference for these areas? Leo2015 has posted some really nice portraits. From my experience, if you want to paint similar to Sargent, I would set aside some time to copy some of his work. Find some simple portraits and paint 6-10 of them. I've painted 6 so far and what I got out of them is I will never paint exactly like Sargent but I can pull pull what I've learned and establish my own style. But I have to say I really like what you have here so far. Keep it up.
  • Thanks Rich, great encouragement. I decided to remove the hat and have her holding an open umbrella behind her head. The hat messes with the facial portraiture and I just created that from my head. (no reference for its shape)  I have come to the realization that even though Sargent's paintings look like realism, he is actually painting in impressionism. So I am going to switch styles and do the dress and background in impressionism. I painted Lady Agnew a while back and it is amazing what you learn about someones painting approach by doing that. Would you be willing to post your best Sargent copy here?


  • Well I am still struggling along, But I think I just about have the sky done. I have discarded the open umbrella composition and think I may go back to the sun hat design, or just leave all that off entirely.  I am going to change the way the beach slants across the scene. I would really like to hear your composition advice.


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