George Seurat — A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1883-6)

September 13: MousterWork #37

My Changes:

I substituted a lot of children for the adults, simplified a few background elements, amped up some colors, and made facial features more apparent. I also changed the storyline on a few people. And if some of these characters look familiar, that’s because you have seen them before!

Things I thought/Questions I asked:

This painting is the ultimate people-watching exploration. Each person and group has their own personality. Can you find the older couple, spot a musician (playing a hunting horn), and count how many people are on the water? Who else do you see? Which group would you join?

This MousterWork really challenged me, so I’m glad I had most of the week to work on it. The original is about 7’x10’, making reproductions difficult to capture all the detail. And when you add Seurat’s pointillism to the mix, it makes some of the details harder to see. Of course, this gave me a lot of room to interpret in my own way. It was also interesting to figure out my own kind of pointillism. I don’t think I would have had enough time to make all the small points of color like in the original. No wonder it took him two years to finish!

What I noticed or learned from Seurat’s techniques:

While mapping this MousterWork out, I admired how Seurat worked out his composition with precision. He used negative space thoughtfully, carefully choosing where to overlap to create depth. And of course his pointillism is so unique. My research shows that he used this technique with the purpose of helping the colors be especially vibrant. As I incorporated some of this into my rendition, I did notice that the rubbing colors really do create a vibrance that’s hard to replicate otherwise.

Seurat’s use of shapes is strong, as is his value structure. Although I opted to include more visible facial features in my interpretation, I recognize the value in leaving them vague so that the viewer has a chance to interpret each character’s experience in their own way. All told, my favorite aspects of this piece are all the surprises and storytelling.

Edward Turner — Idle Hours (1876)

September 6: MousterWork #36

My Changes:

I started out using most of the same colors from the original, but it just felt meh. So I played around with different colors and lightened the room as a whole. I also added a birthday cake. Whose birthday do you think it is?

Things I thought/Questions I asked:

Most families today have two or three children, so I love seeing all five here (though I made one of them perhaps a friend) and considering the things they are interested in. They look like they enjoy each other and that there’s a lot of laughter. I love that there’s a bit of clutter to help it feel lived in and to give us an idea about what they liked. Did they spend a lot of time in this room? Did they venture outside often? If they lived by the sea, I hope they did! Was their dad a sailor? Did they see him often, or was he away most of the time?

There are a few objects I’m not exactly sure about, like what is in the baskets on the floor? I think the left basket has shells (based on the nautical elements scattered throughout). And is the basket on the right a garden?

What I noticed or learned from Turner’s techniques:

I hadn’t seen this painting or heard of Edward Turner until researching potential MousterWorks. What drew me to it is its peek into what life was like for a family of lesser means—at least one not in nobility. Turner makes me want to know more about this family. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information about him or this painting. Although I ultimately decided to make it lighter, I do appreciate the mood he creates with the lighting.

Missed my August MousterWorks? Find them here.

About Me

My name is Angela, and I love how Masterpieces make me think about people painted in time. Hopefully MousterWorks will get you thinking too!

All original images © Angela C. Hawkins

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