Monday, August 24, 2015

Under the Influence: John Singer Sargent

learn about the portraits of John Singer Sargent @metmuseum #metsargent @schulmanaArt
The two artists that have had the greatest influence over my portraits are John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt. Today, I am going to turn the spot light on Sargent as I have just revisited some of these influential portraits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can see them as well until October 8, 2015. 

In this portrait above, Portrait of a Boy, Sargent paints the child of one of his friends. You can learn a little bit more about that portrait in Hands: The Second Portrait.

Here, Sargent does nothing to disguise the boy's bored expression. He gets right to the heart and soul of the boy's personality. This is the effect I am going for as well when I paint children.

For example, in this portrait do you see the same dreamy bored expression on the boy to the far left? It was really hard to keep this easily distracted child from giggling and laughing; however, I managed to capture him at a more introspective moment. This was not easy and I actually had to combine two photographs to get all three kids at the moment that best expressed each.

I was lucky to have a warm sunny day to photograph the kids in sunlight and then capture that in watercolor. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to paint this commission.

portrait paintings of John Singer Sargent and @schulmanart #MetSargent @metmusuem
In these two paintings, you can see a more direct correlation between Sargent's influence and my painting. After viewing "The Birthday Party" at a 2004 Brooklyn Museum exhibition, "Great Expectations", I went home and immediately began working on this painting of my daughter lit by the similar candlelight. The two toddlers (mine and Sargent's subject) are apparently overwhelmed by the adult prepared parties. You can see "The Birthday Party" at the Met's 2015 Sargent exhibition as well.

portrait paintings of John Singer Sargent and @schulmanart #MetSargent @metmusuem
Another painting that appears in both exhibitions and exerted a strong influence on my art is "Carnation Lily Lily Rose" (above bottom left) as well another painting, Garden Study of the Vickers Children.

In these paintings by Sargent, I admired the placing of children in a garden. Although they are surrounded by flowers, they out shine the flowers around them. I like to link the idea of children to flowers as I believe children are like flowers in the garden with each blooming on their own schedule. My paintings are the three watercolors on top, top right and bottom right. Sargent's painting is at the bottom left.

You can view my commissioned portraits on my website. If you are in the New York metropolitan area, I do portraits on commission. If you are an aspiring artist you may be interested in my online class on portrait painting in watercolor. 

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Hey, I'm Miriam Schulman and I create mixed media art to tell stories. I also teach other people how to craft their stories with art. I give them the techniques they need to get the results they desire which brings more joy to their lives. 

My art has been published by Somerset StudioArt of Man and the New York Times among others and collected by an international audience. When I'm not working on art in my studio, you'll find me in a museum spending time with friends or family. Explore my art at or join the fun at I will be offering a mixed media class in the fall of 2015. join the wait list