The Velazquez Project
13, July 2009 § Leave a comment
by Jane Morris Pack
Six students who returned to the Aegean Center for a second semester worked together on a project for the advanced painting class. The aim was to delve deeply into the great work, “Las Meninas” by Velazquez. This task afforded us the opportunity to understand his palette, his brushwork and his compositional methods: to see essentially what makes him an important artist.
We first constructed a full size drawing of the piece, which gave us a plan of the actual size to work from. The main figures were then divided among the group, and the students set to work drafting them in scale for the oil paintings. We talked about Velazquez’s paint handling and looked at Las Meninas in detail on Google Earth, which shows every brushstroke at close range. We discussed his use of space and his playful handling of the reflection of the King and Queen. Just one revelation the students experienced upon close inspection is that Velazquez’s brushwork and use of paint is thrilling and decidedly modern.
Copying the work of master painters used to be the norm in art schools. It has been out of fashion, generally regarded as a inhibition to creativity, but there is a great deal to be learned in apprenticing ourselves to past masters. Not only is there a new awareness of history but also an illumination into the mystery of what makes a great work of art.
The painters were: