When I was a moody and overly-romantic teenager (as against being a moody and overly-romantic 33-year-old, clearly) I loved this picture:
It's called the Black Brook and was painted in 1908 by the American artist John Singer Sargent. It's in the Tate Collection, although I can't actually work out if it's on display (and if so, in which Gallery).
Anyway, as I say, I loved it. I loved the melancholy feeling, and the fluidity of the water, and the placid beauty of the model. I sort of hoped that when I grew up, I'd look like that, and probably that I'd float about in drifty clothes like that too.
Now I am grown up, I've realised the impracticality of wafty linen, and I've accepted that my face is my face, and very rarely looks placid. I'm not really so given to imagining myself sitting dreamily by a rushy brook these days either, but I still love this painting.
I think now, it's more about the water, and the way the light sparkles, and the cold and freshness that you can feel, even through the oil and canvas, so, in trying to recreate it, I started with this:
which I'm actually very pleased with, but it's not quite right. Singer Sargent put a girl in his (his niece, Rose Marie Ormond) for a reason. So I got myself a model. Disappointingly that didn't entirely make things easier. For a start Rose was probably a bit more helpful and accommodating, and she certainly wouldn't have refused to stop sucking her fingers.
Sadly too, the way the path runs along the river doesn't allow for the same composition, and I wasn't prepared to risk drowning (I know, shameful lack of commitment). I'm also not sure that the Tweed, one of Scotland's premier salmon fishing rivers, really qualifies as a brook, but I had to work with what I had, so here's my version:
The Black River (2010)
Linky below... go on, join in! Do this painting, do another one, do a different art form altogether (Tracey Emin's Bed anyone?)...
Oh, and I do know what I want to do next month (clue, it's a sculpture) but again, it's a bit model-dependent, so I don't want to push my luck by telling you want it is, come back at the beginning of October to see if I've succeeded.
And if none of this is making any sense, click here to see what on earth it is that I'm trying to achieve...
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