Tuesday, July 30, 2019

John Singer Sargent - Alpine Pool Painting

The trick to painting water? There isn’t one.

John Singer Sargent's "Alpine Pool," which we recently viewed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a perfect example of why we should always remember that there are no “tricks" for good painting.

When viewing the painting holistically, the water in the foreground appears to be clean and transparent, revealing the rocks at the bottom of the pool, while the water in the center of the painting appears to be reflective, giving us a glimpse of the sky and the trees beyond the boundaries of the painting.

John Singer Sargent "Alpine Pool " • 1907 • Oil on Canvas  • 27 1/2" x 38"

 On closer inspection, it’s clear that Sargent simply painted the colors, shapes and values as he saw them. There was not step by step layering or glazing. It appears that some of the dark shadows were even added last. He obviously never thought to paint water with a different approach than anything else.

John Singer Sargent "Alpine Pool" Detail • 1907  • Oil on Canvas  • 27 1/2" x 38"

Notice that the reflective portion of the water, the exposed rocks and even the grasses all share the same approach. Paint what you see, and it will always work. Whenever anyone tells you they know the "secret" to painting water, or anything else, run screaming.
John Singer Sargent "Alpine Pool" Detail • 1907  • Oil on Canvas  • 27 1/2" x 38"

Painting photos by Saunders Fine Arts.
© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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