Thursday, April 23, 2009

"her body is not so white as"

(8x5 Moleskine cahiers)
Cezanne, Bathers, 1874-5

I'm going to see Cezanne and Beyond in Philadelphia today, so for today's post I wanted to sketch a copy of one of Cezanne's paintings. I surprised myself with my choice.
Usually I gravitate toward the still lifes and the simple landscapes, house with a house, a tree, a road. And I love the watercolor and his pencil drawings. Other than the paintings of Mme. Cezanne, I don't look at the figures much.
This sketch is far from accurate colorwise (I started with pencil, then moved to color pencil, which I'm not much good with)--I haven't got any of the subtleties in there, but I think you can still see how appealing the color is!

What really amazed me as I drew this--and I never noticed before (this could be a onetime occurrence but that seems unlikely?) was that Cezanne used what one of my painting teachers calls, with a shake of her head, "tangents"--places where
points or edges of things meet (another "no-no").

Here, for example, where, the reclining figure on the bottom left's hair is also the edge of the ground where it meets the grass. (This is really much more visible in the original; my drawing doesn't follow the line exactly.)

Or here, where the dark-haired standing figure's arm abuts the shrub on the far bank.

When I was copying this painting, if I followed the lines freely, rather than drawing the object, it was like a contour drawing, with lines from one flowing easily into the next object.
I'll have to do more copies!

"Queen Anne's Lace"
William Carlos Williams

Her body is not so white as
anemone petals nor so smooth--nor
so remote a thing. It is a field
of the wild carrot taking
the field by force; the grass
does not raise above it.
Here is no question of whiteness,
white as it can be, with a purple mole
at the center of each flower.
Each flower is a hand's span
of her whiteness. Wherever
his hand has lain there is
a tiny purple blemish. Each part
is a blossom under his touch
to which the fibres of her being
stem one by one, each to its end,
until the whole field is a
white desire, empty, a single stem,
a cluster, flower by flower,
a pious wish to whiteness gone over--
or nothing.
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Teresa said...

Lovely painting and interesting comments. There ARE quite a few tangents in there... which I didn't notice until you pointed them out.

Laura Trevey said...

lovely... i wish i could paint figures... i've been thinking about taking a drawing class for that purpose!

Don said...

nicely done, both with the painting and the commentary. I felt like I was taking a good art class.

tangents... I do that too much in my classroom!!

Barbara M. said...

Hi Laura,

I love your drawings after Cezanne, and your analysis of his tangents.

The poem is lovely too. I could see the sea of Queen Ann's Lace in fields in Nova Scotia, where we'll go this summer, while reading it.

Your blog is a constant delight.

Take care,


Charlene Brown said...

It's as if he was in a large class, and wasn't able to position his easel to get the figures lined up properly.
You've done a lovely sketch of it, Laura

Sharon said...

Lucky you going to a Cezanne exhibit! Interesting post, too, about the painting breaking the "touching" rule. I was looking at a still life by Van Gogh yesterday and thinking his composition was off. I like how you always challenge yourself.

Karen Hanim said...

As I looked at your picture I was so struck by the fact that it looks like a Turkish Bath picture except that it is outside. I wonder if Cezanne was influenced by that? Do you know? Or were the paintings of that time commonly done like this?

Ruth said...

Gorgeous post. Gorgeous.


I feel satisfied.

And I love new discoveries, like a poem by WCW I didn't know. DS told me earlier in the week about a short story he wrote, which I didn't know about (that he even wrote fiction), titled "Use of Force." I found it online and loved it.

We have a meadow full of 'wild carrot.' Well, not bloomin' yet.


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