Friday, 23 May 2014
"You won't believe HER eyes" and Block S
Here is the Block S, another of the larger blocks. I have seen this stitched with green apples instead of red and it looked quite nice. There are a lot of leaves in this project, so hence a lot of green and I would not have thought of adding more green, but it worked out well. It is always interesting to see how pieces can look good when finished though there might be doubts here and there along the way.
A few years ago the traveling exhibition of certain works of the artist, Renoir, made it to Ottawa. The National Art Gallery put on the display and it was definitely one of the more popular events they've hosted. I remember the advertising included bus sized posters all over town featuring one of Renoir's female subjects along with the slogan, "You won't believe her eyes."
I spent a happy afternoon strolling the exhibit and the advertising lived up to its slogan. I'm not sure what kind of skill is needed to paint human eyes, they are so complex. I imagine it requires the greatest of skill to make them come alive on canvas, but that is what Renoir achieved. Over and over in portrait after portrait, the eyes were amazingly alive and vibrant, even after all these years. It was often the first thing you noticed and all around me people were murmuring the same thing, look at those eyes. I can only imagine the practice, the patience, the talent required to achieve such mastery, but then he was Renoir. I chatted with one of the guards who told me he found the eyes so real, he could feel them watching him and one of the other guards had told him he thought they followed him as he moved around.
However, one of the more interesting things I learned from joining a tour was that even Renoir made mistakes and had to change his mind in the middle of a piece to make something work for him. By x-raying his canvases, experts can see where he ran into problems trying to make an arm or shoulder or a foot look natural. He often had to paint out aspects of bodies, change the stance or limbs and in one case he had to paint over an entire dog to make the scene work the way he wanted it to. These underpaintings prove that even Renoir had to 'unpaint'.
I guess we can take a small comfort from learning that all artists struggle during the creative process, even the great ones. Whatever doubts you have along the way, the finished product won't betray them.