Dr. Elizabeth Matthews on Venice Paintings, Cindy Sherman, and Plein Air

DR ELIZABETH R MATTHEWS on Venice Paintings, Cindy Sherman, and Plein Air

This week I am too exhausted for words. I spent the better part of the past five days doing taxes. But, I want to keep to my goal of a weekly blog post, and I am super excited about what I had planned to post about, so I will do it!

In this post I talk more about my Venice Painting, tell about a project I did influenced by Cindy Sherman, and introduce her as the next GREAT woman artist on my list. Finally, I explain my upcoming plien air artist project and share some tips.


This week, I did some research to find out, who has painted Venice the most? Answer: Canaletto (1696 – 1768). Enjoyable paintings and an occasion to learn about the history of view painting in Venice.  I love his clear crisp color and architectural detail, his paintings are timeless.

Here is a great youtube link to an informative talk by curator Francesca Whitlum-Cooper, Canaletto: View Paintings of Venice, National Gallery of London (screen shot of Whitlum-Cooper standing in front of painting from youtube video linked here) on his paintings. Full of tidbits such as the fact that Canaletto really was his name, even before he became the preeminent painter of canals in Venice. My painting of Venice (top left) has now been properly informed by Canaletto!

Pictured above way up top is also a project I did called “what a mother must be” (top right) where I altered my own appearance with digital tools to make myself look like 8 completely different people. I wanted to express the impossible situation placed on mothers today, who have to do more than one person can possibly do. I referenced Cindy Sherman in the project, although her portraits featuring herself as other characters, have a completely different intention, technique, source and effect. Nonetheless, I love her work, and she is an influence on this particular work of mine. She is also the next artist on my list of GREAT women artists.

GREAT Woman Artist Cindy Sherman

Third on my list, no. 30 on the art price 2017 list, Cindy Sherman (b. 1954) is a GREAT woman artist who makes conceptual photographic “self” portraits. In 2017 She had one piece sell for $1,032,500; altogether auction sales total $7,046,636. Disturbing, provocative, poignant, hilarious (photos above screen shots from interviews linked below) you really have to look at one of her works to get what she is doing.  I found two YouTube videos, dated 1994 and 2009, both interviews at different stages of her life and career. Her work is harder for me to understand than is the work of Cecily Brown or Njideka Akunill Crosby, thus her articulation of her practice is all the more fascinating. Yes, there ARE great women artists, some who are powerful enough to have gained prominence and recognition in the art world. Cindy Sherman is one of them. These video clips of her talking tell it very well in Cindy Sherman – Nobody is Here But Me and Cindy Sherman in “Transformation” Art in the 21st Century 

Plein Air Painting Tips 

How can I give Plein Air Painting tips when I have never really done Plein Air painting? Only by sharing my research as I do it. I am planning to do an enormous amount of Plein Air Painting, something I have always wanted to do, but somehow never had the opportuinty or wherewithall. Now I am living in Paris, and the time is right. I am reasearching madly in preparation. As a result I have made a list of supplies to assemble and have at the ready, and I have perused a few you tube video demonstrations to find some role-models for myself. Here is the list, and the links to some resources. If you are interested in Plein Air painting and would like to join me in the flesh, or virtually, send me a message or check back next week for more details.

artists palette

Supply List:

  1. 3-4 brushes
  2. easel paint box
  3. backpack or cart
  4. loose canvas, paper to tape on board canvas boards, thin light panel
  5. tape, binder clip
  6. carrier for done panel
  7. hat
  8. layers
  9. sunscreen
  10. pad to stand on
  11. smock
  12. bug spray
  13. water bottles
  14. trash bag
  15. umbrella
  16. location quiet with great composition
  17. limited palette
  18. view finder
  19. gray scale
  20. sketchbook and pencil
  21. means to take photo of subject for finishing it in studio later

Artists Helping Artists podcast on Plien Air Painting

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 7.05.14 PM

Plein Air Painting Demonstration-Gregg Russell

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