Monday, November 22, 2010

Emulating Paul Cézanne

20101102_2429 emulating cezanne

Before I emulated Irving Penn, I tried to emulate Paul Cézanne for a photo assignment in my beginning photography class. I used Apples and Oranges as inspiration...

Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906), Apples and Oranges

... but it was Still Life with Onions that inspired me to choose Cézanne.

Paul CÉZANNE, Still Life with Onions, 1896-1898

Paul Cézanne, Nature morte aux oignonsentre 1896 et 1898
huile sur toile, H. 66 cm; L.82 cm.

This generously-sized still life commanded my attention during a recent post-impressionist exhibit at the De Young Museum. I suddenly saw Paul Cézanne in a different light. This seemingly simple composition belies the complex use of geometry, colors, and negative space.  But it was much more than the mechanics of this painting that bowled me over. The painter himself expressed it best:
“For an impressionist to paint from nature is not to paint the subject, but to realize sensations”
-Paul Cézanne

Though I still have a lot to learn about lighting, I was reasonably happy with my first attempt. I used Still Life with Basket of Apples for my second try...

Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Basket of Apples
....but I thought is was considerably less successful.

IMG_7880 Emulating Cezanne

I used the wrong perspective, the lighting was all wrong, I didn't have the right sized basket for the apples which threw off the balance, (can you hear the violins?) .... I felt my still life was generally lifeless. Things improved a tad when I added more visual weight on the left side. The lighting was better, but I saw too late that the photo was not properly framed and cropping is strictly forbidden for this assignment.

IMG_7885 emulating cezanne

After a few more tries, I yielded to Master Cezanne's genius and switched to Irving Penn, which proved to be equally challenging. You can view my many attempts here

I appreciated this assignment; I learned a little, but was humbled plenty.


George said...

Very interesting post, Dutchbaby. I liked all three of your photos, but especially the first one. Quite sensational! I like all of this interesting work you are doing and look forward to following your journey.

CC said...

Your photos are still very interesting.
The best way to learn about "art" is to look at the masters. They are the best teachers.
The masters almost always learned this way as well.
My younger brother once helped stage a living tableau along a river in suburban Chicago of Seurat's Grande Jatte. Some where I have a photo. It was amazing. You would have loved it.

Happy Thanksgiving, DB! OOXX, CC

margie said...

this is wonderful and i expect a lot of effort went into the staging. perfect.

Ruth said...

I agree with George completely, that all three are wonderful, and the first is stunning. I've thought of doing this kind of thing too, with just a couple of attempts, and it is NOT easy. I think the lighting is the hardest part. You have some very lush props there, and they are a pleasure to look at.

As Rilke said about Cézanne and his apples: he just loved the apples, and that showed in his paintings. The first of your photos especially gives me that sense too.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

This is a fascinating exercise and a post that leaves me wanting to see more on this journey of yours. Trying to emulate great art and artists across two different but related art forms like painting and photography must be as tantalizingly difficult and vexing as it is inspiring. And these are still lives! Can you imagine doing this with Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights? ;)

Ginnie said...

That you are doing a class like this in the first place, DB, awes me. But to then see your results, I'm bowled over. You are much harder on yourself than the rest of us are. You're living it and breathing it every day while we have this one chance to---boom---see it. Congratulations. I'm very proud of you and realize by comparison that I know basically nothing!

California Girl said...

Love the first photo and thought it was an Irving Penn not that I would know his work other than fashion. So, I think the first phot with draped rich fabrics and the last photo with the maple leaves are very beautiful. Very compelling.

Thanks for the info on the geometric approach to his work. Didn't know it and haven't studied my art history in 30 years.

christina said...

Ohhh... my friend, this is a most wonderful post. And yes, you could have used my basket... any time. ; )

great work here.

Anonymous said...

I am enjoying your class through your eyes...and I am learning tons as well. I love your last composition....beautifully done!

Unknown said...

I think you did great! Pretty impressive that you would even try to emulate these pieces! I wanna see the onions. :0)

Unknown said...

That first photo is a show stopper! Those luxe fabrics are just gorgeous and perfectly highlight the colors of the apples. Perfect balance and lighting. Well done, DB! I think you must have passed your class with flying colors!

Relyn Lawson said...

I love this. I. LOVE. this!!!!!!! You are so awesome. I am so inspired by your passionate pursuit of personal growth. I love it!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear George,
I am humbled by your use of the word "sensational". You remind me to be kinder to myself and I thank you for this. My class is nearly over; I haven't decided if I will be able to find time to take another class next semester. I am grateful for your encouragement!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear CC,
Seurat's Grande Jatte must have been quite an undertaking. I would love to see that photo!

Thank you for your encouragement. As I was doing this assignment, I do remember muttering to myself that Van Gogh's early emulations of the Japanese wood block prints had some serious perspective issues. You are right, it was a very useful exercise and I learned quite a bit.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear margie,
You expect right! The entire dining room table was covered with all the props that didn't work.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ruth,
Thank you so much for your generous words. I would like to encourage you to try this exercise, not only because I think it is a worthy endeavor, but I would love to see what you come up with!

The props were fun to gather. I used multiple table cloths, runners and even a door mat :}

Yes, are right I love apples and so does the rest of the family. I had to buy double the number of apples because I knew they would get consumed quickly. I begged my poor family to eat the ugly ones first.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Lorenzo,
I laughed out loud at the preposterous notion of emulating Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights". Are you offering to be one of the models for it :-D

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ginnie,
You are so very kind to give me these words of encouragement. Your photos and compositions are amazing, how could you even say you know nothing?

Dutchbaby said...

Dear California Girl,
I'm afraid I didn't communicate clearly. I was emulating Paul Cézanne in the photos of this post, when it turned out to be too challenging, I shifted to Irving Penn.

Thank you for your nice comments.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Christina,
The temptation to Photoshop in your beautiful basket of apples is great. Thank you!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear tammymcchesney,
Thank you, I love your Macro Monday image of icicles this morning.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear lisaschaos,
Believe me, I would not have taken on this task were it not for my class. I am grateful for the lessons learned with this assignment.

I wanted to do the painting I remembered from the post-impressionist exhibit, but I wasn't able to come up with the image until after the assignment was done.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Susan,
Thanks for your encouragement. I still have two more weeks of classes. I know you would enjoy knowing that I used a doormat for one of the "fabrics". I thought it had just the right pattern on it.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Relyn,
You are so awesome to cheer me on like this! I can live on this kind of encouragement for a long long time. Thank you!

Garlic angel said...

Good blog thanks for sharing these wonderful paintings and your well done photographs. I have put a link to some paintings from an unknown artist, I would love to hear what you thinks of them...
Garlic Angel :-)

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Garlic angel,
Your sister's paintings are very well done. I think she has a great sense of composition and color. I can see why you are so proud of her.

Welcome to Dutchbaby!

lorilaire said...

J'adore Cézanne, je me suis rendue dernièrement à son dernier atelier d'Aix en Provence, où j'ai fait un post la dessus.

Dutchbaby said...

Cher lorilaire,
Je suis jaloux que vous avez visité l'atelier de Cézanne à Aix. J'espère visiter moi-même un jour. xox

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