Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pleasing the client vs. artistic creativity

Last week I posted a link to a pdf-file, containing some painting advice from John Singer Sargent. LINK
One of the many interesting things I read was this:

"Sargent was well aware of the pitfalls that await the painter of the fash-
ionable world, and as sitter after sitter took his place on the dais in his
Tite Street studio he seemed to become more sensible of them. He tried 
again and again to escape, and he often, in his letters, expressed his fatigue.
He wearied of the limitations imposed by his commissioned art. Painting 
those who want to be painted, instead of those whom the artist wants to 
paint, leads inevitably to a bargain, to a compromise between the artist’s 
individuality and the claims of the model. Mannerism becomes a way out; 
that which pleases becomes an aim. Artistic problems give way before per-
sonal considerations."

Apparently every artist  (and illustrators) who works for hire have to find the balance between their own artistic freedom and the clients desires. Still, somehow it is comforting to know that even Sargent struggled with this issue.

It made me think of Edouard Manet. Although he was a painter himself, he didn't like the way Edgar Degas had painted the face of his wife, and decided to cut off a huge part of the painting so the face could no longer be seen.

Later, when Manet had passed, his wife did not comply to his last wish, which was to destroy all of his unfinished paintings and drawings.
Instead, she decided to sign them, she cut up group portraits, so she could sell them as separate portraits, and she even finished some of the unfinished works, so she could sell them at a higher price. How about pleasing the client?

I have not been able to find examples of the paintings altered by Mme. Manet. I suspect this painting to be one of them. The hat seems to be painted more crude than the rest of the painting.

Before Mme Manet had her way, all of Manet's paintings were photographed by Fernand Lochard. LINK

If anybody can find before/after images of Manet paintings altered by his wife, please send them, so I can add them to this post.

Reference for this story is this documentary by Matthijs Deen (dutch only): LINK 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Plein air Rotterdam

Sundown in Rotterdam. The sun allowed me 30 minutes only to do a quick sketch of her. The changing scenery demands quick and clear choices, which is nice. 
I used white, yellow ochre, cad red and indigo for this sketch