Drawing upside-down; making quick line drawings from Renoir's The Umbrellas (1884), Young Woman Reading (1875) and Dance at Bougival (1883).
The originals are so beautiful; the more time I spent looking at the them the more I appreciated how remarkably he captured a moment in what must have taken months to paint. His paintings are soft and lively, intimate. He was an 'irregularist' and frequently changed his style so that he could continue to imbue his work with the same exuberance he felt for life. Usually he's known for capturing spontaneity in his compositions, where the design makes itself, but in the umbrellas and even in the dancers there is a more formal composition. In the umbrellas you can see a pattern imposed on the crowd to bring the image a sense of unity, creating a more classical design of considerable decorative beauty. Interestingly, from a comic artist's point of view, Renoir was unusual for the impressionist era because he used black in his paintings also because he emphasised the figure in his work, both things the others had eschewed. He was following the tradition of earlier painters. Impressionists like Monet had a new colour theory but Renoir recognised that the juxtaposition of black brings out the colour scheme with more brilliance. In some of his work he also used outlines, but in subtle indistinguishable colours, presumably to keep that softness of form that is so characteristic of his images; he was essentially presenting the human form as a living organism, as part of not separated from its setting. It is an interesting experiment then to put some simple black lines round his soft living forms, though in truth I was doing it as a brief exercise in drawing, I have come away learning a lot more than I expected. But that is why if you are going to study someone it might as well be one of the best. You can't help but get drawn in.
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