It took three visits and a little extra time to figure out how to paint this breathtaking fountain.
Over a span of thirty years, I have visited Paris three times; each trip has included a visit to the magnificent Jardin du Luxembourg. In 2016 I specifically traveled to the 6th arrondissement to spend an afternoon studying and photographing the Medici Fountain within the Jardin. The secluded location is grandly tucked in amid shade trees. The haunting image of the monument and reflecting pool has always stuck with me and I wanted to paint something of the place and how I felt about it.
Needless to say, when I returned to my studio and edited my photographs, of which there were quite a few, I was disappointed to find that I hadn’t captured it. I had all kinds of views, I had people, ducks, changes in lighting—none of it spoke to me as a painting. It was just a collection of nice travel photographs, and I put them away.
I revisited the photographs a year later. I know that I saw lots of detail, a big vista with water reflections, a dark monument with carved surfaces and figurative sculptures, plus landscaping and ornate fencing. It was overwhelming to consider painting all of this. Even I have my limits.
It was the discovery of a leftover strip of Arches that clued me in to how to approach this painting. I had success in this form with another work, Presque Le Soir. A sliver of a vista began to emerge, one where I could contrast a sunlit foreground of detail against a mid section of monument surrounded by trees and greenery. I penciled in an accurate drawing on the paper and once again got intimidated by all the stuff and stowed the piece away.
Courage, boredom, itching to paint anything…I took the sheet of Arches out a week ago and realized that I should concentrate on capturing the light and some distinct shadows in the foreground. The monument formed a muted singular shape, the water reflections were simplified, and any details would be handled subtly. And that is how I focused on painting the Medici Fountain: grand in scale yet surprisingly nestled in shadows and shade. Just as I remembered it. Happy New Year.
Arches cold press, 300 lb, 6.5″ x 21.5″