January 28, 2014

A new copy begun! "The Lackawanna Valley" by George Inness

After my last copy, I was feeling like I might not go back for quite awhile. But I changed my mind, and changed my day. Instead of going on Mondays, I now go on Tuesdays. I was hoping it wouldn't be as crowded, but even if it is, I won't be as tired after working all weekend at the library.

This is the painting I am copying: "The Lackawanna Valley" by George Inness. He was an American landscape painter in the 1800s, greatly influenced by the Hudson River School and the Barbizon School. His stated aim was to combine the two styles. This painting is a view of the town of Scranton, PA, in 1855. It was commissioned by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, and there is a steam locomotive prominently featured in the center of the painting. But the painting's foreground is full of tree stumps - perhaps Inness' commentary on the loss of the beautiful American wilderness to the very industry that this painting was commissioned to celebrate.

My first task was to draw - to get all the features of the painting in the right places. I spent the first couple of hours carefully measuring, sketching, wiping out, and redrawing with thin paint. (As always, click on the images for a larger view.)

I stretched my canvas as close to the proportions of the original as possible, but I'm sure it's a little off. This is a problem with my method of measuring - I measure how far a feature is from the edges of the painting. As a result, my drawing is always a little bit wrong. I have to try not to let it bother me too much. I broke for lunch at this point.

After lunch, I dove in with color. I painted the sky, the mountains, and laid in some greens and darks. I am underpainting the central area with a warm reddish color, because I think I see that under Inness' green.

Next week I will repaint everything I made a first pass on, and continue covering the whole canvas. My copy measures 25"x37", and it was just a little too large for me to get paint everywhere today.

The main reason I chose this painting to copy is to study all the greens - I paint landscapes outdoors myself, and green is always a major issue. There's just so much of it! But when you look closer, you find lots of variation. Inness used a yellow green in the foreground, and it gets bluer as you go back. The other reason I chose this painting is that it reminds me of our own landscape west of Washington, DC - the area I go out and paint in. I'm hoping that copying this great painting will help me in my future attempts out there.