April 28, 2008

Pierre Auguste Renoir - an Old Masters study

Studying Old Masters and their ways of working are generally of immense help to artists. Though I haven’t done a streamlined study of even one master, I can see why it is sure to help artists. It helps us learn by seeing how various compositions work, how some of them work even though they don’t conform to the “rules”, how various masters painted Light, etc. While such a study is going to benefit anyone, I am sure it will be all the more interesting if a group of us do this, and that’s what I have started doing now.

In the Acrylics forum of WetCanvas, a new Old Masters Study project has been initiated, where we would study the works of an old master for a month or two, and then produce our piece of art based on that. It could be a replica of one of his works, or a new painting based on his techniques. The technique and style is more important than the actual content. And the first old master that we have taken up is Pierre Auguste Renoir, one of the famous impressionist painters. I am very happy to take this up because I am a big fan of Impressionism as a movement. I love the distinct brush strokes that characterize impressionist paintings.

Auguste Renoir painted a lot of figures, mostly women. He had women is picturesque surroundings, even his nudes were mostly in idyllic settings. They had very interesting light colored flesh tones that made them very charming. My observation is he did not use too much of darks to bring contrast into his works. They did not have the striking light and dark contrasts as say the Dutch painters’ works have. There is a dominance of cool shades; even the backdrops of his figure paintings feature ochre, greens and blues a lot. The shadows have a lot of violet and blues in them.

When choosing a painting of Renoir to replicate, there were too many good ones to choose from. I went through the entire gallery of paintings and finally zeroed in on 'Woman in a rocking chair'.
Why this interested me is because there is no colored version available. All that is there is only a sketch, and I loved the idea of adding color, and more importantly light to it. It is an outline by Renoir but it will essentially be my original painting. I did not want to be influenced by the existing colors and stick to them, so safely chose a b/w image.

A quick value sketch of Lady on a Rocking Chair

I have just done a rough sketch of the painting, somewhat decided on the background. The painting will be 16 * 24, acrylics on canvas.

Some interesting links that I have come across:
  • A website dedicated to Renoir, full of interesting info and pictures.
  • Pierre Auguste Renoir - A biography
  • A virtual museum of Renoir - link from WetCanvas
  • One of his famous paintings - Umbrellas - the Umbrellas is not entirely an Impressionist work. It is said to span over different styles - part of the painting is impressionistic, and the other half is more realistic. The link provides some really interesting information, have a look. I love how he has used blues so extensively in the painting.
  • My favorite painting of Renoir - The Swing - See the beautiful depiction of light with some dapples of color here and there, in the ground, in her gown etc. I love this painting and hope to do a similar depiction of light in my painting.
  • Woman on a rocking chair -sketch that will be a reference for my painting.
  • Renoir gallery - A lot of paintings listed in alphabetical order.


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