“Still Life with Cezanne” 16″x 20″ oil on canvas
One of the things I like about painting is studying the masters that came before. Although I was a student of painting many years ago I’ve never stopped desiring to learn or be a student. Art history is an area that I like to revisit because much of what I learned in college I forgot or just lost touch with. In recent weeks I’ve gone back to a book I have on Cezanne; it’s been great to read about his life and work as a painter.
Historically, one of the ways masters would study is by copying the work of other masters. This piece was inspired in part by that method of learning. I’m not one to make a practice of copying work, in fact it’s not something I really like doing however this felt like it might be a fun learning experience. I do recall a painting class in college where we did copy a master work, painting it upside down so as to focus on the shapes and values vs. the subject matter.
What motivated me here was the idea of borrowing Cezanne’s arrangement. I had no intention of making an exact copy but rather wanted to paint in my own way as if we were sharing the arrangement in a studio. This painting is more abstract than the original and uses intensified color arrangements which are more characteristic to the way I paint. I do like Cezanne’s use of pattern and his orchestration of the 2D space. In my previous post I spoke about his use of draped fabric and that is another compelling aspect of this paintings composition. The title of the original painting by Cezanne is “Compotier Pitcher and Fruit” 1892 -1894 and the canvas is roughly 28″x 36″ quite a bit larger than mine. This painting can be seen at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia if you are ever in the area!
In closing, the process of creating a painting in this way has raised a number of questions for me to ponder. Most pronounced is the question of what is an “original” work. There’s part of me that feels all work/paintings on some level could be categorized as derivative works. Inspiration always come on the heels of something else. Perhaps everything is a copy of some form and then again maybe it comes down to the inner motivation for the creation.