July Challenge.

Not all of our challenges involve physically painting. One thing that has been instrumental in our growth has been really looking at great art and figuring out why it is so good. We would like you to do some art history research this month and find three dead artists that work you are head over heels for. Out of those three artists, pick your very favorite painting masterpiece from their body of work and analyze why you love it, what makes it really great and how can you apply that to your own work. It can be similar to your own style or completely different – we just want you to really look at great art and to learn from it, break it down to composition, color palette, mood, rhythm, etc. We will do the same right along with you!

Let’s see what you can do!  Post your Master Inspiration on our Facebook Inspired to Paint Students page so we can all be inspired!  We are so excited to see what you are doing!

Elizabeth’s Master Inspiration

“Roses” by Abbott Handerson Thayer

This is probably one of my all time favorite paintings.  I’ve never seen it in person and it’s certainly on my bucket list but as I study this painting I’m so intrigued by the tone of the canvas coming through around the highlight,  I’m also just in love with the grays in the roses and how simply they are painted.  For one that loves color, I just melt at the tone of those roses.

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“Salome” by Henri Regnault

I saw this painting at the Met many years ago.   I just about fell to my knees when i saw it.  I stood there for I don’t know how long just staring at how he handled that shiny material.  I loved the yellow background against her dark hair.  Looking at the value patterns I realized how incredible it is.  To be able to paint this at the age of only 27!

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“Irises” by Vincent Van Gogh

I really wasn’t a Van Gogh fan during my younger days.  I thought his perspective was way off. He couldn’t get his symmetry right and the brushwork seemed “splashy”.  Then I  saw one in person.  The energy emanating from the painting brought me to my knees.  You could feel his desperation, his love for painting, and his torment all at the same time.  It was right then that I fell in love with Van Gogh.

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My Master Inspiration

My interpretation of Thayer’s “Roses”

I painted this about 15 years ago after being so inspired by Thayer’s painting.  I would really love to redo it because I think I could do a much better job today

My interpretation of Van Gogh’s Irises

After seeing Van Gogh’s Irises in person, I came home and set up something similar.  I still haven’t painted this because I’m intimidated by it.  One day I will.

Shanna’s Master Inspiration

Dwight Tryon Dawn Early Spring

This painting and the work of Dwight Tryon in general  was very influential in my landscape painting studies.  In this painting, The back row of trees with the sky peeking through them fascinated me, how he kept such gorgeous atmosphere in and out of trees using soft edges and how he used a thin very subdued blue along the ridge with a bit of pale evening yellow light next to that blue.  In fact, if you really zoom in on the entire painting, he has used warm and cool blues and greens in the ground that so gently play off of each other.  I also love that little sliver of water that brings the sky value and colors down into the ground.  The entire painting is about “less is more” in color, shapes, details and contrast.  The composition is simple, the color theme is minimal and it all comes together like a quiet poem.

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Claude Monet, Ice Floes

Ice Floes, Claude Monet – Metropolitan Museum Of Art, NYC

This is one of those paintings that made me weak in the knees and I was totally surprised at my reaction.  At first glance, you realize that the values are so compressed and high key that you are forced to look closer.  Only when you get up close do you see SO many colors and color temperature shifts within those very few value changes.  The depth and spatial relationships that he is able to get in so few values is absolutely mind-blowing!  I have tried to replicate these values and colors in my own work many, many times and it might take me until my very last painting to even come close to this level of success and complexity.  It is truly one you have to see in true life to understand and “feel” this one.  The experience is worth the entire trip to the Met!

George Inness, New Jersey Landscape

George Inness, New Jersey Landscape

Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA

I saw this piece at a George Inness retrospective at the NYC Academy of Design years back.  George Inness was the very first landscape painter that I fell in love with.  I loved the tonalism, the subtleties and the poetic nature of his later work.  This piece is my very favorite of his because of the strong yet delicate palette.  I had expected it to be very textural, lots of paint, and painted in dozens of layers.  It was none of these – it was thin, transparent, almost like it was floating on the surface.  He was very intentional about the few places he made more textural but they were more like wisps of paint, stumbled across adjoining shapes, warms on cools or cools on warms and the back layer was so incredibly soft you could not see an edge at all.  The two very skinny  tall trees going left in the painting become the stars of the show, with the foliage being so ambiguous riding high on the much darker and much stronger tree trunks.  The larger masses to the right seem to ground the two trees in my opinion and keep your eye going back to the two with a hint of their reflection in the light mass of water.  Last but not least, the hint of the distant sun close to the horizon line gives one more very subdued place for the eye to delight in making this a simple but powerful composition!

My Master Inspiration