I’ve been reading with considerable interest the various reviews of the major exhibition of John Singer Sargent watercolours (and a few oils too) at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. To give you a flavour of the exhibition you can read an excellent review by Maika Pollack in the GalleristNY.
Since I first started using watercolours at the age of 15 I’ve been studying the techniques of the great watercolorists and I have to say, America has produced two of the finest exponents of arguably the most difficult of mediums to master, Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent.
Sargent’s technique was quite different from Homer’s who’s washes were generally more simplistic, quite possibly the result of Sargent painting his watercolours almost exclusively from life on location. Some of Homer’s watercolours must have been studio works due to the more carefully thought out compositions, use of colour and dramatic story telling.
The simple, yet wonderfully executed “Corfu: Lights and Shadows” above shows Sargent’s virtuosity in handling a brush with his deft flicks to indicate leaves and shadows. His bright palate captures perfectly the Mediterranean sunlight, the result and reward of constantly sketching. He once said “You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh”.
He believed, along with his tutor Carolus Duran, that painting was a science which it was necessary to acquire in order to make of it an art. I hope that I’m able to see this exhibition which runs until 28th July before continuing on in Boston.
You can see some of my paintings inspired by John Singer Sargent on my website www.alanreed.com