Archive for July, 2011

A Painter Learns from Cezanne

July 29, 2011

The fortunate people of Memphis are enjoying an exhibit of Paul Cezanne’s work at their Brooks Museum this summer. I once saw an original Cezanne painting in NYC. I appreciated the reason we need to see the real thing. The colors were breathtaking, much fresher than we can see in a book or online.

Cezanne is one of my favorite painters, certainly for his brushwork. I painted this oil study from painting Cezanne made of his home, Jas de Bouffan in Aix-en-Provence. Although I took many liberties with the shapes, (heart motif showing up here and there) I purposely tried to adhere to his color sense.

This detail illustrates the use of flat color strokes lending a much more textural effect than seen in earlier 19th century painting styles which blended color in continuous tone (similar to photography.) In Cezanne’s brushwork, the eye still sees the more patchy color gradations and blends them, especially when a person sees the overall picture from farther away. His use of color “patches” was ground breaking in his day.

Seems crazy but I’m almost jumping out of my skin at seeing the color palette here, limited as it is to only 16 hues chosen to simplify. Cezanne used the full dark/light value scale here, making for a dynamic painting.

By the way, you can see Cezanne’s home now in many YouTube videos, which is kind of fun. Gotta get back to France some day soon. And bring paints. Anybody do a painting trip there recently?

Here’s a really wonderful book cover design. Guess I have to buy the book just for the great cover! Makes a point for Cezanne, don’t you think?

Here’s my take-away. All you painters and quilters out there, learn about color from the artists who worked from nature. That’s the best teacher and that is what I’m going to be writing about in the future. Can’t wait!

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