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Regrets, I've Had a Few - Perspectives No. 318

Regrets, I've Had a Few

Perspectives No. 318

   Have you ever started in on a painting, perhaps gotten partway done or completely finished, and then changed your mind about part of the work you had done? The fix to the problem is either to start completely over or to paint over the previous work. This repainting process is, undoubtedly, a fairly common situation among artists and if we are careful about the alterations, does no harm to the final picture. The Italian word for it, pentimento (meaning repentance), refers to an alteration to a painting resulting in a re-covering of a portion or all of a work.

   However, there is a risk to painting over previous work. The underlying imagery may reappear over time due to aging or wear-and-tear, revealing the artist's original work. Thin layers of paint can become more transparent as they age, revealing the ghost-like images of a previous painting. Art restorers and historians sometimes use x-rays and infrared scans to uncover the pentimento in a painting which can help in the authentication processes.

   In most cases, we assume that the artist probably never intended for the underlying imagery to be revealed. The artist may have chosen to remove an element to strengthen composition, or reposition a figure, for example. In others, the paintings may have been altered later to suit the audience or a change in decor. Here are two famous examples:

The Original Oil Painting of Madame X by John Singer Sargent   Oil Painting of Madame X by John Singer Sargent 

   The very well-known John Singer Sargent painting, Madame X, was exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1884 in a different form than the one that we are used to seeing today. The original painting featured Madame Pierre Gautreau (Madame X) with one strap of her elegant black gown off her shoulder. The stunning portrait was highly controversial and damaged the reputation of the Madame and of Sargent as well. Sargent later "repented" by repainting the strap to rest in place on Madame Gautreau's shoulder. When donating the painting to the Metropolitan Museum in 1916, Sargent stipulated that the model's name be disguised, to reduce the scandal the painting had created.

Painting of a Beach Scene called View of Scheveningen Sands by Hendrick van Anthonissen, 1641


Painting of a Beach Scene called View of Scheveningen Sands by Hendrick van Anthonissen, 1641


   A very blatant over-painting is seen in the 1641 landscape, View of Scheveningen Sands by Hendrick van Anthonissen. Conservators at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, where the painting has resided for over 140 years, noticed that the varnish on its surface had yellowed considerably. Upon careful restoration, the painting revealed an additional figure standing next to a beached whale. The paint layer covering the figure and whale was applied more crudely than the original paint work. This suggests that it may have been added much later, by a different artist, to suit changing tastes. Perhaps a dying whale was not the mood for a living room in the 18th century?

   Sargent consciously made the changes to his painting. Van Anthonissen most likely did not. We personally, as artists, would rather not have the former versions of our paintings revealed. But the stories these paintings tell are fascinating glimpses of past life styles.

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Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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A Primer on Night Painting - Nocturnes

Nocturnes - A Primer on Night Painting

Filled with inspirational examples by the masters of nightime painting, this little book is sure to fire up your creative energies. Never tried painting at night? We show you how it's done with a step-by-step-oil demo and a tale of night painting in the wilds of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Primer on Night Painting - Nocturnes is a 7 x 7" PDF download with 40 pages of text and images. It includes a gallery of paintings by masters of the nocturne, information to inspire and encourage you in your plein air nocturne painting, an illustrated step-by-step demo and tips for working in pastel and oil. Also available in a softcover edition. Check out the tools and other products that we use in our own art and travels in The Artist's Road Store. We only offer things for sale that we enthusiastically believe in.

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New Member Content

Morning on the Pond I, 36 x 36", Oil, © John HulseyMorning on the Pond I
A Painting Knife Oil Demonstration

Nocturne - LaRoque Gageac © John HulseyNocturne:LaRoque Gageac
A Watercolor Demonstration

Mustang Sally's, 16 x 20", oil on panel © Patrick SaundersVoices of Experience:Patrick Saunders


California Gold, 1924, William WendtCalifornia Impressionism


Oil Painting of the Beach - Scarborough © Malcolm LudvigsenVoices of
Experience:Malcolm
Ludvigsen


How E
John Singer Sargent, A Dinner Table at Night, 1884dges Make a Painting Sing


Eph
Troubadours, 30 x 40", oil, © Ann Trustyemeral Beauty:Painting the Floral Still Life

 
The Adirondack Guide, Winslow Homer, Watercolor, 1894
Watercolor Brushes - The Real 411

 

Fishermen Hauling the Net on Skagen's North Beach, 1883, Peder Severin KroyerThe Nordic Painters of Skagen

 

Young Woman at the Piano, 1876, Pierre Auguste RenoirBlack:The Queen of All Colors

 


Wat
Detail of Afternoon Glow watercolor by John Hulseyercolor Mixing Secrets


Landscape with Sunrise by Claude MonetThe Perspectives Archive

and MUCH MORE!

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About Us

Photograph of John Hulsey and Ann Trusty in Glacier National Park
We are artists, authors and teachers with over 40 years of experience in painting the world's beautiful places. We created The Artist's Road in order to share our knowledge and experiences with you, and create a community of like-minded individuals.  You can learn more about us and see our original paintings by clicking on the links below.
About Ann
     About John
 Hulsey Trusty Studios

We are also regular contributors to the Plein Air blog at Artist Daily.

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