#50 Benchmark!!

I woke up this morning ready to paint and thinking a lot about Mary Cassatt.  I don't know if it's because I've recently realized we live 20 minutes from her childhood home in West Chester, or if it's because I got this huge book from the library called Impressionist Still Life by Eliza E. Rathbone and George M. Shackelford, and stayed up way too late reading it and staring at the paintings.  Either way, all those loose brush strokes and high key paintings were in my mind as I set this one up and seemed to remain with me for the duration of painting.

I wanted this benchmark to stand out, so I ended up using a 12x16 canvas instead of the 8x10 pieces of canvas paper that I've been practicing on.  It just seemed more real, to test my knowledge on a canvas.   I worked an hour and a half more than I was used to (for an 8x10 it's usually 2-2 1/2 hours of painting).  I ran out of tea in the teapot and I got too compulsive to make more.  The length of time was a stretch but I kept repeating the process to myself - sketch it lightly, block it in, and stay loose to pull it into focus. And it worked!

If I want to see how far I've come, I started with this:

Then moved to this:

And now I'm here:

I feel like I'm starting to really get what I'm doing.  I'm starting to be aware of all the parts involved in building a painting from composition to completion.  I know there is a LOT more that I need to learn, but I'm starting to feel as though I can stand on my own, even if I can't take off running yet.  As I begin the next half of the year, and complete my next 50 practice paintings, I hope to pull all the skills I'm learning into a consistent look and style that will serve as my jumping off point for even more learning and fun.