John Singer Sargent at the MFA

Anyone who knows my work knows that I am deeply influenced by the techniques, subject matter and compositional structure of Sargent's watercolor paintings. Painted exclusively plein air, his fast brushwork and mastery of value for use in implied detail is unmatched anywhere. I have studied his series from Venice, Florence, Africa, and others in books but prior to this show opening in Brooklyn this summer had not seen them in person. It was a magical moment, like seeing a favorite singer perform, or meeting a great actor in person. His energy is alive in these travel paintings and his quick brushwork feels animated. Described by biographers as "sunlight captured and held" these paintings are a must see especially for anyone who has a passion for this medium. I was surprised to see how often Sargent uses "Opaque Watercolor" as it is called in the exhibit. I refer to this in my paintings as gouache and had until seeing this, considered it a bit of a cheating method to bring back white where I needed it. Sargent was unabashed about the use of gouache which made me feel confident about using it. I was also moved by the wax resist methods. I was so moved by the Brooklyn exhibit that I returned to see this again when it arrived in Boston. Check it out before it is gone. I am not sure when another chance will come to see all of these paintings together at one time.

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