Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Edouard Manet's Last Flower Paintings

Today in class we had a discussion about painting from life versus painting from photographs. I always encourage students to paint from life whenever possible. You are learning to see color and value. Photographs never have the subtlety and variety of color and value found in real life. I mentioned the last flower paintings of Edouard Manet as an example of small still lifes. They may be small, but the problem solving and creativity required are the same ... color, value, chroma, edges and composition. You will learn more from doing several small still lifes or plein air sketches from life than you will from doing a large, studio painting from a photo. Direct observation from life results in paintings that have veracity and sincerity. The more you paint from life, the more you will be able to overcome the shortcomings of photographs.

Without looking the details up, my recollection is that Manet did a dozen or so small still lifes of flowers that people brought him during his last illness. He painted them in bed.