REFLECTIONS ON PAINTING

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I traveled to England as an art student with the intention of learning how the great masters painted. When I stood before portraits by Rembrandt and Van Dyck, however, I was struck not by their technique but by the humanity of their sitters. My instructor commented that Rembrandt’s painting of an old woman seemed to capture her entire life, not just a moment in time as a photograph or selfie would. Van Dyck’s portrait of Cornelis Van Der Geest was similar in its stunning, lifelike quality. Here was a real man from the past, staring out at us from the canvas.

So skillful were each of these artists that they were able to step aside and let the viewer meet the subjects of their portraits. Their brush strokes, which deftly described the sitters’ faces and figures, somehow captured their stories as well. The beautiful layers of paint seemed to melt away revealing people who, although dressed in uncomfortable collars and lots of black, were not so different from us.

MASTER STUDIES OF VAN DYCK, REMBRANDT, LAWRENCE
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