Writers get "writer's block" and I guess that a few weeks ago I got "painter's block". I couldn't decide what to paint. Then I remembered the advice that I've heard from more than one artist: Copy a painting that you really admire. I copied John Singer Sargent's "Fishing for Oysters at Cancale".
In 1877, when he was only 21 years-old. the American born artist John Singer Sargent spent some time on the coast of France. One result of that visit was his painting "Fishing for Oysters at Cancale". It's not a large painting - it's about 16 inches by 24 inches (41x61cm) but it's full of detail. According to the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, where the painting has been since 1935, it was immediately well received by critics and other artists. Sargent's ability to create the illusion of reflections in shallow pools of water and his sparing but dramatic use of highlights make the scene depicted come alive. Sargent quickly sold the painting, for the equivalent of abot $4500 in today's dollars, and of course he went on to fame and fortune, painting portraits for the most well-to-do people of his time.
My re-creation of Sargent's work isn't meant to be an exact copy, but I did try to be faithful to the original. The biggest difference between the two is the result of my use of a 14x18" (36x46ccm) canvas; it's too tall for how wide it is. To compensate, I centered a properly sized drawing, leaving an extra one inch on the top and bottom of the canvas. I filled those two spaces with more sand and more sky.
In addition to the reflections and highlights already mentioned the thing that struck me most about Sargent's painting is the repetition of angles & triangular forms. You'll notice that the bent arms of most of the figures trace the same angles; the bent legs do as well. The little boy on the right side of the painting forms a triangle with the woman beside him, as does the little girl with the woman on the opposite side. The patterns in the clouds from triangles that direct the viewer to the people in the painting. It's masterfully done and I learned a lot by studying it.
Here's the original: