Friday, January 15, 2016

"Mother Figure"

8 x 6"
oil on panel

Naturally I began obsessing about James Abbott McNeill Whistler after finishing my recent painting - an artist best known for his large, iconic oil painting 'Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1', widely known and referred to as 'Whistler's Mother'.  It's permanent home is in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

In America's museums, you can see stunning portraits by Whistler - like 'The White Girl' in DC's National Gallery of Art among others.  I love his moody, low-tone color, landscapes.

There's several stories about the portrait of Anna McNeill Whistler.  One is Anna stood in for a scheduled model who was a no-show.  It's been told that Whistler originally envisioned the pose standing up, but his mother preferred to sit if it were to be a lengthy pose.

What may surprise many is the painting is huge - about 64" x 57" without the wide, original frame that Whistler designed himself.  And the pure, beautiful details really are stunning, especially the delicate headdress and her hands and hankerchief.  

I loved studying it more and painting it - I broke out every tube of Torrit Grey I had and really noticed the subtle differences in Whistler's painting - the cold vs. warm greys throughout are a great lesson in mixing paints.  My next larger piece will be of this scene and his painting,  I'm very excited.

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