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Great Minds Think Alike (and like the same art) 😉

[BLOG POST 5/5/24] While Rob and I were in Washington DC last month we squeezed in a quick visit to the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. Rob got there first and by the time I finished my meetings he had already wandered through the most of museum and picked out his favorite portrait.

He described it as, "A young woman whose face and hands are in detail but the rest of the painting isn't."

That surprised me because he usually prefers photographs or photo-realism paintings where everything is in focus and looks "just right".

Because the museum is fairly large (three floors) he couldn't remember where he had seen it so we wandered together looking for it and enjoying the other portraits along the way. We were almost out of time and starting to look for the exit when he found it (below).

Photo of a portrait oil painting by John Singer Sargent
Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler (Mrs. John Jay Chapman) 1893, Oil on canvas

Imagine my delight when I realized he had selected a portrait by one of my favorite artists of all time, John Singer Sargent!

This portrait is titled "Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler (Mrs. John Jay Chapman)" and Rob was right, when you look closely her face and hands are in perfect detail. Meanwhile the dress, cushions, couch, and background are loosely painted however from a distance they also look detailed. John Singer Sargent was a master at those painterly strokes that appear to be more detailed than they are. Seeing his work up close and in person was inspiring.

Maybe one day I'll figure out how to incorporated something similar in my paintings. Although he was working in oil paints and I'm using soft pastel so it would never be exactly the same.

When I'm painting, I am driven to refine, refine, and refine every inch of the surface until it's as smooth and finished looking as I can make it. I will say though that when you look closely at my paintings you can see my strokes and see how the pastel was applied so that is sort-of similar to John Signer Sargent's loose yet refined brush strokes.

Sort of.

Anyway, just like Rob, this was also my favorite portrait painting in the museum.

Now dear reader I wonder if my artistic tastes are rubbing off on him or if his are rubbing off on me. 😉

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