Berlin Breakfast 7×10 Monotype with Colored Pencil
Available on Etsy.
On a gray day in Berlin in 1987, in an apartment in the city, I snapped a photo of my friends talking at the breakfast table, backlit by tall windows. I’ve loved the light, the composition and the subject of this photo for over twenty years, and I have always meant to paint the scene. I finally pulled the photo out last week to make this monotype, and now that I’ve played with it on plexiglass, I’m all a-flutter to make a linocut, and a graphite drawing, and a watercolor of the same scene. Was that part of my plan? Because I do have a plan for the work I want to do this Fall, right? [Just between us, it was *not* part of my plan for the next few weeks, but… I don’t even have an excuse.] Maybe I’m swelling with nostalgia; the memories of traveling with dear friends twenty four years ago, combined with the love for this particular composition, and the people in it, and the notion that I really, really want to get the image RIGHT. I see all my drafting hiccups in this monotype, and that translates to opportunities to re-work it, and do it over, and over, till I get closer to Truth. If I keep working on it – in graphite, and as a linocut and as a watercolor – I’m bound to get familiar enough with the nuance of the light, the backlit values and shapes in front of me. I’m old fashioned, and I believe it’s always good to nail the drawing – the bones of the painting – before you take it down a path where there is room for expression and free association. With so many visits to the photo as I work it into a linocut, or a drawing, or a watercolor – hopefully, within that well-worn, often visited room of familiarity, I can twirl around in creative license, and make it better.
After a trip through the press, against soaked and blotted Arches Cover paper, pulling the monotype.
A beveled piece of milky plexiglass, with a drawing done in Caran D’Ache Water Soluble Crayons, followed by layers of watercolor on top of the line work.
In 1926, a year after Sargent’s death, Adrian Stokes, who had accompanied the artist to the Alps, described what had inspired his late friend to paint particular watercolor:
Sargent’s watercolors… usually record, with the utmost directness, something that had excited his admiration, or appealed to his artistic intelligence. That may have been the clearly defined and exquisite edge of some rare object; of the way in which a dark thing, when opposed to vivid light, is invaded by it, and loses local color; or the change that seems to occur in the color of things along the edge where they meet. ~The Watercolors of John Singer Sargent, by Carl Little 1998