The Making of a Painting

“First Prayer in Congress” 

This was a commissioned piece which was documented for the benefit of the client, who resided many thousands of miles away, and wished to follow the progress unfold.  This is an option which I offer in any major piece of work.
Background on the “First Prayer in Congress”
The original painting was done by T.H. Matteson  in 1848 depicting the historical event of Sept 7, 1774 at Carpenters Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Apparently the original painting was destroyed in a fire, with the only evidence of its existence being a black and white lithograph. There have since been several attempts to add color to this lithograph with varying degrees of success for a pleasing outcome.
My patron desired that a new painting be done in the full richness of colors and style, that T.H.Matteson would have used.  He supplied me with the best version of black and white lithograph he could acquire along with a few other resource materials that could be useful regarding the picture as well as the artists style. From there I researched the subject matter and artist until I was satisfied that I had a good knowledge of what I was about to undertake, and the style, and color palette the artist preferred to use. (This is generally consistent throughout an artists career). I also resourced other painted pictures of some of the more prominent people to get a good grasp of what they looked like.  The men in the painting are all known political figures of the time, such as George Washington, etc.

So here is the process I use…

 …The Making of a Painting…

THE DRAWING MAKES OR BREAKS A PICTURE
1) I always draw out my picture on paper first and work out all the details. This really is the most crucial part of the picture. If there is a flaw in this initial accuracy you will not end up with the professional picture you desire. This cannot be over emphasized.  THE DRAWING MAKES OR BREAKS A PICTURE! This IS the most important step in a realistic painting.
2) When I feel t it is perfectly accurate I will then transfer this to the canvas.  I use transfer paper for this job.  This is a lesson in patience and perseverance.  In this particular piece of work the transfer would take a good length of time because of the detail.   Once I’m securing the picture from any movement, the job must be completed without break.  If my picture were to slip for even the minutest fraction then I would have to start over.  It also helps to use a colored transfer pencil so you can keep track of which lines have already been covered.  Needless to say by the end of the session your hand and arms are pretty much done for the day!
Securing the lines
3) Once the transfer is complete the next step for me is to make sure I won’t lose the lines when I start painting. If for any reason I need to remove any paint I want my original drawing underneath.  So to secure the drawing I go over every line in an ochre or umber color using acrylic paint.  Using the permanence of acrylic here will make sure that I NEVER lose the lines even if I have to use turp to adjust some oils later. It also dries very quickly so you can continue with the picture.

Underpainting wash
4) The next step is to do the under painting . This is a “wash ”which will set a “tone” for the overall picture) and block in my chosen color palette. This is done with thinned down oil paints.

Adding deepest values

5) Next I start adding the deepest values. These would be the darkest aspects of the picture (including clothing, furnishings, etc.)

Progressing with Shadows
6) I can now start with the richer color palette I’ve chosen for the objects in the picture and start to define more form. As the color to this picture will be totally up to me as no one really knows what the true colors were in the original picture, I will be working out some of  the details of this as I go along, always keeping in mind other paintings done by the original artist.
Floor and shadows on the floor

7) I’ve now started to work on the floor and Shadows on the floor, working my way down to the bottom of the canvas.  More color is added to podium, fringe of curtains and more definition to stockings and shoes. Type within this text.

8) In this picture the wall got some attention, I’ve adjusted the color of the far table but most importantly is the painting of the faces.  This is very detailed and time consuming for me, and I will spend a lot of time with this area, getting it “just” the way I want  “them” to look!  There are 36 figures in the picture with 29 needing facial features!  I have also spent time here  defining Reverend Jacob Duche’s robe

9) I will keep working on faces, adjusting colors and adding highlights until I feel satisfied.The highlights to the curtains and tablecloth are now in which changes the overall look and the shadow of the inner wall has been added. Details to clothing has also been done.I worked on this picture for approximately two months and had many gruelling eight hour days. This is a long time to hold a small paint brush in your hand to do detailed work. But it’s this kind of detailed  work that I love. It defines who I am.

“First Prayer In Congress” – The finished product
It was my pleasure to be asked to bring alive once more, in painting, this  historical event. The finished painting is in private collection in Texas. Beautiful prints were made and I’m fortunate to have one as a reminder of the work that I love to do and the satisfaction that it brings me.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is It+had+to+be+you.png
* Just thought I’d mention, my musical companion for the two months it took me to paint this picture was Rod Stewart’s “The Great American Song Book” ~

… I love everything about this town! …

… Torquay is situated in what is called the “English Riviera” and could easily be one of those destination points that you keep returning to!… This is also known as “Agatha Christie country” for those intrigued
by her many books on crime and by the subsequent TV shows that followed … My walk to town  took me past the Torquay harbour (bottom left) and sight of the quaint charm of this seaside town emerged (bottom right) …

…This is a “picture perfect” town, with it’s  marina (below left) … and  backdrop of gleaming  white buildings (below right) … such a relaxing joy to walk the marina and the surrounding area…

… Shadowing the marina (below left) is the lovely Torquay Pavilion with its Victorian architecture … this unique shopping Pavilion was once the hub of “social” venues for music and concerts, and some time ago, Dame Agatha Christie regularly attended concerts here (lower right) …

… The interior of the Pavilion is every bit as interesting inside as out… The upper floor eating area (below left) offers a great artistic “ambience”… I thoroughly enjoyed my tea and scone with strawberries & clotted cream  in this setting … all the while taking in the detailed  pillars, mouldings and stained and frosted glass windows (lower right) …

… Through the glass doors (lower left) was a roof top patio to take in the fresh sea air, if one desired … and more Victorian details are repeated on the lower floor retail space … a great setting for artisans to display their work (lower right)…It’s rather interesting to me that this was all once Agatha Christie’s “playground”…. hmmm … much food for thought!..(if you’re an Agatha Christie fan!)

… The view of the pavillion (below left) from Princess Park (named after Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter Princess Louise), with a closer look at some of the pavillion details (below right)…

… This ornate fountain in Princess Park (lower left) was an absolute delight for me, as it’s base featured some extremely ornate and guilded ‘classical dolphins (lower right) … I’ve always been attracted to these and have incorporated them into a wall mural I did in a private residence back in Canada … These gardens were also a setting for a scene in “Hercule Poirot” as well as being a feature of both the Agatha Christie Mile and the Agatha Christie Literary Trail.

… During my  Exploration of Torquay I couldn’t help but capture a couple of quaint churches (one finds many, many churches and cathedrals in England) … Below left is St. Luke’s perched on its small hillside and below right is St. John the Apostles, which can be seen from many vantage points in Torquay … exploring  old churches would be a major part and passion of my “England” experience….

… Everywhere you looked … there were great architectural buildings …. This clock tower (below left) stands in the town square, and (below right) once housed the Devon and Exeter Savings Bank but is now known as Banx Coffee Bar, just a delightful old building …

…A visit into the heart of town was in order to find a few “special” bits to take home.  It is here I found a most marvellous drawing set with graphites and charcoals in a lovely wooden case. One of my most prized “finds” and a pleasure to use in my work…

… And of course I had to visit Torre Abby which is Torquay’s oldest building, dating back to 1196… unfortunately it was under reconstruction and I could not get inside (below left and right)…

… (below left) A delightful night view of Torquay overlooking the seawall walk … lit up with thousands of coloured lights… and alas, lower right, I await the train for the next leg of my journey …

… Even the platform (below left) at the train station in Torquay exudes that old Victorian charm, with its painted wrought iron gussets, hanging plants, and well preserved buildings … Here I sit, below right, putting in time … wondering what palette waits to greet me around the next corner to bring inspiration to my artists eye …

… Hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings, and will join me in upcoming posts as I travelled through England …

This thatch-roofed village…

… is a must see … just 1/2 mile from Torquay, Cockington village is a prim and proper picturesque Old English village, just beckoning to be put on canvas …
The site was founded some 2500 years ago during the Iron Age. It later became a fishing-farming village … and is also mentioned in the Doomsday Book … going forward …  It has also been said that Dame Agatha Christie use to ride horses through the country lanes of Cockington Village … but enough history for now … a few pics to confirm it’s beckoning nature …

… The cottage (below left) is nestled into a bit of a hillside, and blends the presence of man into nature … all the cottages in Cockington have thatched roofs and many or perhaps most (below right) are now some sort business catering to the tourism industry …a sign of the times… perhaps a bit of a shame for this little village …

… But I guess without the tourism, it would not be preserved for all to visit and enjoy … the Rose Garden Tea and Gift Shoppe (below left) … and the interesting curved roof of this small dwelling (below right) make unique looking shoppes today … one has to wonder who might have lived in these structures in years gone by …?

… Again (below left), the sculptured thatch peak and white stucco reminded me of  Anne Hatheway’s cottage  and (below right), the rough timbered  styling of this peculiar cottage really can set the imagination wandering … I could just picture the activities of a Hobbit family … (this one really beckons my paint brush!)….

… the Weavers Cottage Tea Shoppe is set up in this 18th century cottage … it’s entrance pictured (below left) invites you into an outdoor courtyard for a bit of privacy … and next to it an entrance way to the ‘Drum Inn’ (below right) …

… The view across the back lawn of the Drum Inn (below left) … everything prim and proper and trimmed to perfection … up those stairs to the terrace where I enjoyed a lovely lunch, and customary Guiness … the unique little bar (below right) was reserved for special gatherings but it’s quaintness was inviting …

… As one stroll’s around the 460 acres of Cockington Country Park there is so much to explore … everything from the Manor House (below left & right) …

… to the cricket field and Cockington Court Cricket Pavillion (lower left) … to the Cockington Court Craft Centre (below right) …

… and once inside, can browse the rows of craft shops …

…  It was once an actual court built over the remains of a medieval court … and it was here that Agatha Christie would participate in amateur dramatics, but is now filled with various arts and crafts studios, as indicated on the sign (below left) … A wooden statue stands to the side, an artistic creation inviting the curious to the points beyond (below right) …

… It is through the Cockington Court Craft Center that one enters the gardens … During my visit to the flower gardens, the roses (below left a& right) were in full bloom and the colour whetted ones creative palate …

… with all this colour, peace and tranquillity (below left & right), I had to sit amongst it all for a bit and take in the garden … smell the fragrance  … a visual delight for one who has spent years painting roses … Each time I view this picture it takes me back to this wonderful tranquillity.

… Delightful blooms (below)… the rose to the right is perhaps one of my favourites, … this rose has found its way into a painting or two …

… Even the sundial (lower left) is created with artistic flair, and in keeping with the rose garden theme has a stylish realism to its weather worn brass origin … and lower right, another overview of the rose garden …

… And a quick mention of the organic garden (entrance way pictured lower left) and me checking out the composting area (lower right) … I’ve grown an organic garden throughout my life, so this was of personal interest to me … behind me are rows of an assortment of herbs, and plastic covered cloches can be seen in the background … all the bedding plants are also started in this area … it is interesting to note that organic gardening is very big in England, perhaps due in large to its biggest proponent, Prince Charles…?

… Further along the stroll through the park, one comes upon the ‘Church of Saint George & Saint Mary’ (below left) … this church (circa 1069)  is picturesque in it’s setting atop a knoll … and the interior! …

… the interior is breathtaking, as are many of Englands small village churches …. with wonderfully ornate pillars and arches, lovely gothic windows with stained glass uppers (below left) … and (below right) the ultra finely carved wood finish of the knave … quite a sight to behold …

…Below left, the stained glass window behind the alter … and below right, the balancing left wing of the church …

… At lower left, my walk about continued to the hillside of the church and an exterior view of the ornate windows … I was intrigued by the effects of the shadows and light cast by the trees in the mid afternoon sun …  and lower right, the aged appearance of the rock wall and ancient door, combined with the sunlight and foliage shadow gave this an almost pastel appearance …

… At the rear of the church, a small courtyard and stairs that beckon one to “come forth … ascend … a new adventure awaits you” … and at the top of the stairs one turns to their left (lower right) and a pathway flanked by wild flowers and green foliage invites you to follow … enjoy …

… I leave you with my memories of Cockington, and hope you will join me in an upcoming post on my time in Torquay …

… As I have stated before, this long and slender piece of graphite, sometimes wearing a wooden coat – sometimes in its naked form, and I … well …we have had a serious relationship going on for quite some time …

…There is no art instrument that can compare with this little workaholic! … It will transform the invisible “idea world” into visual reality … It works tirelessly with its companion the eraser to work … and rework details, until all is as my mind imagines it … It’s tireless work is also essential for the mastery which needs to be learned for drawing the human figure …

 

… The examples above and below illustrate the preliminary graphite detail and the eventual resulting painting …

… In my early years the drawing of the human figure and in particular “portraiture” would take up hours and hours of my time.  Getting the right proportions and shading would become an obsession.  Perfection is what was sought (a never ending quest!). From well known portraits of the “masters”, or people of fame that I “admired” , to “Vargas” nudes and the sculptures of Michelangelo … all were fair game for the study of this craft. The two illustrations directly below were done on manila paper …

Some of my first drawings were with an HB pencil (below) … I was around 10 years old when I drew these pictures of my favorite rock star… these would have been done on any paper – pilfered from a school classroom or my older sisters stash … Who knows???

… The two below, done on manilla paper, were handed in as “extra work” for my art classes in school (I had trouble doing the “boring” assignments, but handed in scores of extra work) … amazing that these four have managed to survive my many wanderings without being misplaced …

… The graphite pencil isn’t really a very fussy piece of equipment … it will work on all sorts of surfaces and although it may have to work harder on some … it still manages to get the job done, whatever its “masters” whim may be! …

… From the cheapest Manila paper, for rough sketches (as mentioned above), to acid free archival quality, cotton art paper (below left), and even quintessence, a high quality acid free satin finish printing stock, (below right) if you’re adventuresome … There are innumerable selections, qualities and surface textures to choose from and each will produce a different outcome …

… The two illustrations below are on regular surface, 80 lb., archival quality acid free drawing paper …

… And even though this is straying a bit … all of these graphite drawings become a study within themselves, and a wonderful resource of details that may lead to an oil rendition …

Graphite pencils can be used in different ways to achieve the effects you desire.


1) You can use different hardness or softness of the graphite pencil lead to capture the desired light and dark values you are intending to produce or
2) You can use what are called “stumps” and “tortillions” on the soft leads to blend the desired values…or
3) a combinations of the two (which is the method I use)


… If it’s an animal “portrait” I am doing, I mostly use the method 1), with a full range of pencils from softest to hardest … One must also take care and ensure that the graphite remains sharp enough to produce the fine details … The following four illustrations are examples of this detailing …

… There are endless possibilities when it comes to the graphite pencil and its talents – limited only by the depths of your imagination …


…During my stay in London, I camped out at a hotel near Kew, which is a district in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, in south west London … Even structures that were once functional
seemed to carry an artistic touch, such as the Standpipe Tower (below left) at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum …


Being based here during my London stay, I quite often wound down the day with a stroll on the Kew bridge over the River Thames (above right, looking towards down town London), into a part of Kew where nicely quaint and manicured dwellings would capture light and cast shadows that intrigued me, and ponds (below) where I could picture setting up an easel and painting at my leisure …


… Kew is best known in tourist circles for its world famous garden along with it’s glass ‘Palm House’. Apart from its appealing architectural format, the Palm House is made up of hand blown glass panes (below left) an artistry unto itself … And of course the picturesque Kew Palace, the smallest of the British Royal Palaces (below right) … perfectly ‘Palladial’ … serenity balanced, if you can imagine …


…Ah yes, but perhaps the “happy” reason for my walk is ‘The Crown and Rose Pub’ (below left). So handily near by for sustenance at the end of the day… just a quaint little setting with its ivy scampering up the side of the building and simple Tudor architecture (beckoning to be a backdrop in a future painting?)… a walk down the pub’s side alley (below right) and one enters a quiet space…  


…It’s quaintness and peaceful patio was a place to rest and revitalize before the next journey … such a private rear court yard (below left) to enjoy in good company… including the Guinness! (below right) …


…If the weather hadn’t been so lovely I would have situated myself inside the Rose and Crown. The quaint and cozy atmosphere and old country charm is so typical of the pubs I encountered in England. Not enough can be said about these “public” houses. They are in such stark contrast to what one would encounter back home. The details of  the pub will make great reference material for future painting projects!.


Although busy London streets are not my “cup of tea” to miss a visit to Harrods Department store would have been a sacrilege … Harrods is a visual spectacle unto itself with it’s stately dome (seen at a fair distance below left) and brims with self confidence with it’s self portrait etched in glass (below right) … This store occupies a 5-acre  site and has over one million square feet of retail space, with over 330 departments making it the biggest department store, not only in London, but in Europe!…


…Never have I been in a shopping place that has this much opulence … from the hand painted sculptured ceilings (below left) with their endless display of chandeliers, illuminating every inch of space for the ultimate shopping experience … to the numerous sculptures that are adorned throughout the five floor extravaganza, such as the marble sphinx (below right) … I found all of this to be a banquet for the artistic eye! 


…Every display is crafted with much care and artistic flare … so richly coloured and appealing to the eye … an artist’s eye anyway ..and opulent in its presentation (example below left) … At the time of my visit to Harrods, it was owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed who set up this memorial for his son Dodi and Princess Diana, (below right) …


… Having painted and done several graphite portraits of Princess Diana in response to this tragic event it was only fitting that I should take in this memorial

…Being an artist who is driven to explore a great variety of artistic endeavours, sculpture, did not pass me by … In my early teens I dabbled with the art of sculpting, by both chiseling blocks of plaster of Paris, and moulding chunks of clay … Both methods intrigued me, and still do, (though time does not permit me to work at everything I would like to). 

My subject matter of course, was always the human form, and I have the greatest appreciation and respect for this art form, whether it be Bernini, Michelangelo, or the figures modelled by the very talented Marie Tussaud. (Yet, another great “female” artist!)

Marie Tussaud first started displaying her works in Paris and after the revolution she travelled to London to exhibit her work.  Unable to return to France because of the Napoleonic Wars, she travelled throughout England and Ireland exhibiting her work, eventually opening her own museum in London and … well, the rest is history.

I’ve read of the trials and tribulations of this remarkable woman and her life has intrigued me, as well as the wonderful art form of wax modelling which became her legacy … so … a visit to Madame Tussaud’s “Wax Museum” was an absolute must while visiting London …

…There are so many great wax sculptures in this museum, including some horrific depictions in the Chamber of Horrors, but I will just share a few of my favourites with you … Obviously I could not pass up the chance for a snap with Princess Diana (below left), even though it saddened me just a little … And of course one of my personal favourites (below right) … shaken not stirred …


…And another favourite (below left) … I asked John Travolta to dance, but he was lost for words … and of course Fidel Castro, who was once described by Pierre Trudeau as one of the most charismatic individuals he’d ever met …


…And I just couldn’t pass up this well done likeness of the Rolling Stones Keith Richards in his role as Captain Teague, in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean … and I will end with another shot of  Princess Diana … note the queen mother in the back ground …


… There is still so much more I could share of these stops, but I hope you will be able to discover for yourselves … as for myself, I long to return to find new discoveries … I hope you’ll continue to join me, as I blog on with my visual quest of some of my favourite places in England…

You’ll never have too much!

Having good resource material is always the first step, for me, before I take the plunge into my next major project. I believe this is probably true for most artists that work in Realism.


I will peruse magazines of all descriptions, use the internet and or go to the local library to collect all I can on my subject matter.
For instance when I did this picture “portrait” of the Snowy Owl, I collected dozens of picture from different angles  to make sure that I thoroughly “knew” my subject matter.
The same can be said for the many “portraits” that I have done of hummingbirds.  It can’t be overemphasized how important it is to really “know” everything about the subject. Nothing dismays and annoys me more than when I see that someone has portrayed a male hummingbird with a female’s tail or vice versa!! For me “realistic” paintings are documented records, and it’s important to get the details “right”!
Another way that I collect resource material is documenting during travels. Taking a sketch book works well, if you’re out in nature and if you have the time to sit and sketch the details that you desire. This however, is not always possible, and many times not desirable, or extensively detailed enough for many projects. I must admit that for me it is not the ideal way to collect the pertinent and detailed information I need to complete my projects.   
When it comes to good material to work from, I find that a camera is really my best friend.   All you need is a half decent digital camera, and a few basic skills for using it. I always use high resolution so that if I choose to use the picture in the future, I can blow it up in size so the details are easily seen.
I have collected thousands of pictures in my travels that will give me enough resource material to probably last me to the end of my lifetime, and I am still constantly adding to my “stock”!

…”The King of all Art Instruments”…


Ahhh……the pencil……This is where everything starts for me.  It is the instrument that initiated my creative process and projects well over a half century ago…and is still my most prized “worker”.  It is this one lowly
simple piece of graphite that I could not live without!  It will start off every creative project as it transcribes my thoughts and imaginings into a visual reality.

From the lonely HB of my youth, which on its own could accomplish much, I now possess a full range from the hard “H”  to the softest 9 “B”s. These little work horses greatly enhance the creative experience.

Of course there are now even more choices then there were years ago.  Now this lowly little piece of graphite with a wooden coat has acquired a multitude of “relatives” that have shown up for the party, each with their own unique “personalities” and specialized functionality.

 Some are rather distant relatives that may “look” like their simpler HB relative, but are in fact a “distant relative” and are really only a “pencil” in name, as they hide within their centre a much more flamboyant and exotic nature.   It is my job to get to know these relatives intimately and coax them into a mutually beneficial partnership in which we can  both get credit for the work done.

So…now the new relatives to the lonely HB include:

  • H all the way up to 9H (hardest)
  • B all the way to 9 B (softest)
  • tinted graphite Pencils – to allow you to add a hint of color (water soluble)
  • Ink Pencils (water soluble)
  • Metallic Pencils (water soluble)
  • Pastel Pencils
  • Water color Pencils
  • Bendable Colored Pencils
  • Charcoal Pencils
  • Sepia Pencils
…. Well, I’ve probably missed some of the relatives … and they do keep multiplying … but … I’m bound to forget some that are not frequent visitors to my studio!…

… All the above have their unique functions and in the next blog we can explore this in more detail… 

Always follow your dream….

Most artists have drawn influence and inspiration for their art from someone whose work has captivated them.  I am certainly no exception to this phenomenon.

Hanging, front and centre, on my living room wall, for almost 40 years, is a reproduction that I painted of Elizabeth Vigée-LeBrun and her daughter.  It is a fairly famous picture, but it has more significance to me than that. This accomplished female portrait painter would be a great inspiration and influence to my re-acquaintance with oil painting.
 
I was given my first oil paints on my thirteenth birthday as a gift from my mother.  I had already been drawing portraits for a number of years and this just seemed like a natural progression into the arts.
 
The oil paints came from a shop run by a local artist that my mother knew, who was very accomplished at painting landscapes.  He offered to give me some free lessons.  There was a problem with this though, as his speciality was landscape and my interests were portraits.
 
Needless to say the landscape painting waned, my fascination with portraits took front and centre and I left the oil paints behind to take up charcoal and pastels.
 
I worked with charcoal and pastels exclusively for a number of years, doing (and selling) pictures of portraits and flowers, until I happened to make the acquaintance of another rather well known artist who liked my work but thought that oil paints were much easier to use than pastels, and convinced me that I should give it another “go”.
 
And so I gave it another go, but I felt that if I was going to use oils, then I would use them in the style of the old “masters”, with their deep rich palette of colors, and it would be people, not landscapes, that I would paint.  So I researched art books at the UBC library, and this is where I came across Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun, best known for the paintings she did for the Royal Family of France (In particular her portraits of Marie Antoinette). Her works and her accomplished portraiture were my biggest inspiration. This was my return to oil painting and I’ve never looked back!  
 
I think if there is a moral to this story it would be to – ALWAYS go where your heart takes you. If a certain kind of art captivates you then that’s what you should be doing and don’t get caught up in someone else’s vision of what you should be doing.
 
… And Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun will continue to hang on my wall as a reminder and inspiration to me, of a great and accomplished female portrait artist, who did what she loved to do, at a time when being an artist was a male dominated profession …
 
…more on Paris and Versailles in “My Travels” blog….   

A city meant for artists!… 

 
… Anyone who knows me knows I love Paris!  I can totally understand why it has always attracted artists. It is simply such a visual delight! … I love the “old” part of the city …it’s architecture, uniformity, romanticism … and yes … it’s galleries! 

…For me, the city is really just one big gallery!

       From the street layout ….
      …. To the National Opera House …

   …To the Place Vendome…
       …To the Ritz…



… And then there is the Louvre…


…The Louvre and its main entrance through the Glass Pyramid…
Aw yes…The Louvre!… This gallery has so much to see it will put you in overload! … The gallery of galleries …  This is really a must see for every serious artist.  I spent a full day in the gallery and was exhausted by the end of it.  I’m sure I could go through it all again and see things that I’d swear I hadn’t seen the first time. I would recommend that it be taken in over several days, if you can afford it! Pictures were not allowed throughout most of the gallery, but were, going through Napoleons Apartments, these are just a few, starting with the entrance to the Louvre…

…Carousel entrance to the Louvre…
… Chandeliers in the “conversation” room…

…conversation sofas…
… Mural on one of the apartment walls…

The one picture that I was “scoping out” in the Louvre was, of course, by Elizabeth Vigée-LeBrun.  The one that was my inspiration for re-acquaintance with oilpaints!  At last I could see it “up close and personal”!  And I wasn’t disappointed! I would later see more of her work in Versailles.
Most people when they think of the Louvre would probably think of the da Vinci’s that hang there like the Mona Lisa or Madonna on the Rocks….and while I have great respect for this artists work…these were not the ones that impressed me the most from a technical (artistic) point of view.

One of the paintings I remember the most and really stand in awe of is “The Coronation of Napoleon” by Jacques-Louis David.  The sheer size of the work (20 ft. 4 in. X 32 ft. 1 in.) and intricate details just captivated me. I could have stood there for hours admiring the artistry of this painting! 

I really came out of the Louvre “experience” having a whole new appreciation and respect for many artists either unknown to me or those that were not “high on my radar screen”.  And, in particular, was very impressed with many of the French paintings that hang in this “grand” Gallery.