After reading about the efforts that Van Gogh put into becoming an artist, I thought I must also try and emulate the painters whose work I love by trying to replicate their work, but without the step-by-step instruction manual this time around. In a bid to follow the great masters of art, I had downloaded quite a few paintings that I loved and thought I could have a decent shot at working from.
The first work I picked was Vermeer’s Girl with the pearl earring. The girl with the pearl earring has always been a favourite – maybe because of the beautiful blue of her scarf, or because I also saw the movie and decided to believe the story behind the girl.
My girl with the pearl earring has unfortunately changed into “the Himachali girl with the pearl earring, a swollen cheek and sallow complexion”. I worked on the painting as much as I could between feedings and disturbed nights. I worked on the face with black and burnt sienna until the canvas started weighing at least a few pounds heavier with all acrylic I have slapped on it again and again.
Finally, I gave up. This was as far as I could go on my own.
And then I showed the painting to my artist friend who kindly asked me why I had painted her cheek black. On being told that it was a shadow, she just looked at me with sad eyes and told me ( as she has done umpteen times before) that shadows are never black. Well, its definitely not purple, I chimed up in defence referring to my experience of watercolor. They are crimson and viridian green here, she says. At least 20 very light washes of it.
Well. At least I know now.
She also pointed out that I did not have to paint the poor girl’s skin the deathly white I had picked on after working with lemon yellow and portrait pink because it was actually shades of gamboge hue with tints of pink. At least I had one shade correct.
And the background isn’t black either. Plus she has a tassel on her cloak which was not visible in the image that I had downloaded.
Better luck next time MJ.