The main reason for painting from master works is to learn, and (if it's not a commission), there's a point at which I've learned what this artist had to teach me, so it's okay to move on. I work quickly, a result of my plein air landscape work. More can be done in the studio later...but usually there's not much left to do.
Here are some works from last fall, before the layoff. First up, Chardin's Still Life with White Mug:
16" x 20" and done in one four-hour sitting. The original looked very much like it had been done that way, premier coup or alla prima, so that was my plan as well. Chardin painted this late in his career, and it's filled with confidence and bravado. He painted the one right below (Fruit, Jug, and a Glass) 50 years earlier and it has the more tentative and labored feel of a young painter with something to prove.
This Van der Neer Moonlit Landscape was an exercise in establishing nocturnal values. I wasn't concerned about the extremely fine details which are strewn throughout this painting like Easter eggs. Aert Van der Neer was known for his nocturnal landscapes during his lifetime.
Finally, this still life by Willem Kalf was technically fascinating. This painting, like so many others, has had an interesting and uneasy life. They are like humans in that way: they survive some rough or unfortunate treatment and bear the scars of that, but their beauty shines through. This painting had a huge tear in it at one point, had been overcleaned and inpainted to a shocking degree, but was restored to its original, sublime beauty by the best conservators in the world: those at the NGA. I didn't quite finish this on site before my sabbatical, but it won't take much to get it there. It's a classical 17th century Dutch still life, peaceful and lovely, belying its turbulent past.