Celebrate Sketching on National Notebook Day

Degas_side by side

A page from Rebecca Kingery’s notebook (left) next to Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas’s “Melancholy” (right)

It’s National Notebook Day! For some that means writing, for some that means drawing. In response to a former Phillips employee’s drawing that we shared last week, several of you sent in pages from your own sketchpads. Celebrate notebooks today and share more of your creations!

The Palm_side by side

Bud Wilkinson’s rendition of Pierre Bonnard’s “The Palm” at left; the painting in The Phillips Collection at right

Kelly_side by side

Installation view of Ellsworth Kelly’s “Untitled (EK 927)” at left; Rebecca Kingery’s sketch at right

Monet in the Morning

Monet_Val-Saint-Nicolas

Claude Monet, Val-Saint-Nicolas, near Dieppe (Morning), 1897. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1959

I’ve always been a day dreamer, often getting lost in my thoughts as I fail to finish my homework. In my mind appears landscape after landscape, ranging from my home country, France, to vistas from remote places around the globe. Although my window allows me to see outside, I long to see a different view than the office building across the street. For this reason, if I could choose one painting from the Phillips to hang in my bedroom, it would be Claude Monet’s Val-Saint-Nicolas, near Dieppe (Morning) (1897). The cliff side in this work can be seen as an allegory for my longing to travel: showing me the horizon of possible destinations from my bed or desk. On rainy or foggy days, its palette brightens my room; the soft yet bright colors of the painting reflect around my walls on sunny days. Val-Saint-Nicolas serves as a window to a parallel universe where I can let my mind wander as the cliff and rocks come to life, adorned with multicolored flowers. The gentle brushstrokes produce a soporiferous effect on me and sleep comes easily.

Of all the paintings in the Phillips, the only one I would want hanging in my bedroom is this one, which produces the utmost calm in me, soothes me, and allows me to be in connection with my senses.

Olivia Bensimon, Marketing & Communications Intern

Degas and Pastels: Part II

Read part one in my series on Degas and pastels.

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas Dancer Adjusting Her Shoe, 1885. Pastel on paper, 19 x 24 in. Collection of The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, Tennessee; Bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Hugo N. Dixon, 1975.6.

Degas’s use of fixative was the key to the appearance of his many-layered pastel works. Fixative makes it possible for pastel to adhere to paper without smearing or smudging and enables the artist to continue to work over pastel that has already been applied. Degas searched for a fixative that would not alter the matte, velvety quality of his pastels. Degas used a secret formula for fixative given to him by artist Luigi Chialiva that has not been duplicated today. By using fixative to prevent blending and smudging, Degas created a roughened surface to which each layer of pastel adhered easily. The fixative applied at different layers of the composition enabled Degas to create a work using multiple layers of pastel, which achieved an astonishing complexity of superimposed color. Continue reading “Degas and Pastels: Part II” »