Pulled From the Archives: In the Mood for… Vermeer – Girl with a Pearl Earring

 

There are many painters I admire, but only a few that speak right to my heart.

One of them is Johannes Vermeer(1632-1675).

A couple of his paintings can be seen in the Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery) in Berlin, and I can not count the times I stood in front of them, completely mesmerized.

In comparison to Rembrandt (1606-1669), who lived and worked around the same time, and whose works depict a wide range of style and subject matter – from portraits and self-portraits to landscapes, genre scenes, allegorical and historical scenes, biblical and mythological themes as well as animal studies – Vermeer specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life, which are also called genre paintings.

Vermeer frequently worked with very expensive pigments, like ultramarine, lead-tin yellow (which is also known as the “Yellow of the Old Masters”), madder lake (Alizarin) and vermilion, and there are also theories that he worked with technical aids like curved mirrors and the camera obscura, in order to explain his almost photorealistic attention to details.

But all these facts don’t really matter when you stand in front of one of his paintings.

In my mind what matters most is the essence and soul that he managed to entrap within them. You can not help feeling something when you look at them. And this can not be explained but only admired.

So when I set out to paint my version of his “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (1665), I didn´t aim for producing a perfect likeness of said painting – which I would not have achieved anyway – but rather for capturing a feeling.

I wanted to paint my interpretation of this girl.

So here it is, my “In the Mood for Vermeer… Girl with a Pearl Earring”.

 

 

vermeer-final-act-1

In the Mood for… Vermeer – Girl with a Pearl Earring (acrylic on canvas; 2015)

 

And for those of you who are interested in these kind of things, I include in this post the sequence of posts I published 2015 on my blog that also illustrate the process this painting of mine went through – you´ll be surprised to see what transformations can occur. 😉

This is what I posted on Aug 18, 2015:

In the Mood for… Vermeer – Girl with a Pearl Earring – Part I

 

I started a new painting last weekend and thought that it might be interesting for you to see the whole process bit by bit instead of just being presented with the result… 🙂

As you can see from the title – and probably already from the painting as well – it´s heavily influenced by one of my favourite paintings – “The Girl with a Pearl Earring” by the famous dutch artist Johannes Vermeer.

So, here it is: my first draft:

 

Vermeer 1

In the Mood for … Vermeer – Part I

 

This is what I posted on Aug 24, 2015:

 

In the Mood for… Vermeer: Girl with a Pearl Earring – Part II

 

I found some time over the last weekend to work further on my Vermeer-like painting!

I “closed” the area around the eyes a bit (now it doesn´t look like she´s wearing too much eye liner anymore:) ) and started giving the skin a little bit more texture. I´m still not happy with the nose and the lips of course, but they´ll have to wait until next time!

 

Vermeer 2

In the Mood for… Vermeer Part II

 

This is what I posted on Aug 31, 2015:

In the Mood for… Vermeer: Girl with a Pearl Earring – Part III

 

Another week has passed and I worked more on my latest painting. As you can see, I concentrated my focus mainly on the nose: now she actually has some nostrils, but all in all, the nose is still too long for my taste:( But I didn´t paint it over at once, ´cause I think it might be interesting for you to see, how it grows (the picture, not the nose – although the latter definitely did that, too!). So, I stand by my “mistakes”, of which I can only learn and hope to get it right next time:)

I also worked a bit on my girl´s mouth: I added some teeth and started with putting some reflections on the lips.

 

Vermeer 3

In the Mood for … Vermeer Part III

 

This is what I posted on Sept 8, 2015:

In the Mood for … Vermeer – Girl with a Pearl Earring – Part IV

 

I did it! Finally I´ve managed to shorten the nose from “my” girl 🙂

Better now, don´t you think?

 

Vermeer 4

In the Mood for … Vermeer Part IV

 

And this is what I posted on Sept 16, 2015:

In the Mood for … Vermeer – Girl with a Pearl Earring – Final Act!

 

And here it is – the final act of my latest painting! As you can see, I added some final brushstrokes for the lips, the ear and the headscarf, and also added the earring at last!

 

vermeer-final-act-1

In the Mood for.. Vermeer – Girl with a Pearl Earring (acrylic on canvas; 2015)

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62 thoughts on “Pulled From the Archives: In the Mood for… Vermeer – Girl with a Pearl Earring

  1. Thank you for letting us into your inner world of art creation, Sarah! I’ve always been fascinated by how painters see the world and translate it into what we can see.

    I love Vermeer and the Dutch masters. There is just something very haunting about the light they capture. I’ve always loved the colours in Girl with a Pearl Earring – the luminosity of the pearl, the colours of her headscarf, those are what I am drawn by. In your rendition, the first thing I notice are her eyes: the depth of the grey, now reflected in the earrings. It really is like looking into her soul!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww – thank you so much for your wonderful words, Ju-Lyn!
      Like you I was always drawn to Vermeer´s paintings because of his colors – the yellows and blues are without comparison! When I think of Rembrandt, I think more or of warm, earthy colors, of light and shadow, a beautiful red here and there. But with Vermeer it is the Blue and Yellow that always draws my eyes in.
      And thank you so much for noticing the depth of the eyes of my Girl – like with real people, they seem to be the most important part of any painting containing humans or animals, and I always try to make the look as real as possible.
      Wish you a beautiful and creative weekend, dear friend! ❤

      Like

  2. Wonderful post, Sarah, and I love seeing your progress in the painting. The eyes and the face in its entirety look so authentic, and even though I’m not a painter, I know how difficult faces are to draw or paint. You are so talented! ❤🌻🎨

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Although I am a complete amateur when it comes to art, I love this post (both your writing and your painting). You have the rare ability to make a subject interesting to those like me who know little about it except that I know what I like! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful painting and what fun to recreate it. I loved watching your steps and seeing it emerge. My grandmother was a painter (and Dutch). Her basement was full of works in progress and this post brought me right back there. A fun post, Sarah. Thanks for resharing it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks very much, Jacqui! Sometimes it’s hard to decide to go on with a painting when you like the first draft as I did with this one, too. Which is why I take these photos to at least keep something from the beginning and remind myself of the process.

      Like

  5. You did a great job with this painting! The original is very arresting, and I can see why you are so interested in it. I read the book and loved it as well…such a good description of the time and of the artistic process, especially for those of us who can’t paint. I am always fascinated by creativity in all of its forms. And I agree with the comment above: you are a very talented artist!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Ann! I remember how fascinated I was reading that book – the author invoked the time perfectly! Having studied art history back then and specialized a bit in Dutch paintings of the Golden Age, it was wonderful to read something more personal than just scientif reviews. 😉
      And here’s to creativity in all its wonderful forms! 😄
      Have a beautiful weekend my friend!

      Like

  6. Great artwork, Sarah. Such a fine potrait and in the footsteps of Vermeer… you have an amazing talent! Thanks for sharing this post as I find it very interesting and appreciate it. ⚘ ❤ Have a lovely week. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sarah, Wow!! I love your painting and am instantly drawn to it. You have achieved such a haunting look in her eyes my heart feels as if it stops! The bright vibrant colour of her lips contrasts to her pale skin and sense of her diminished self. It is so interesting to see you through the process of the painting…thank you for taking us on your journey. I know nothing of how artists work so this has been fascinating to learn. I love the addition of the earring at the end, almost translucent and seeming to find the blue from other colours around her. Well done! BTW, like Barbara, I first thought of the book I read by the same name by Tracy Chevalier – another one of my favourite writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you sooo much for your wonderful comment, Annika! 😄 I remember working on this painting as if it were yesterday – I kept being surprised what colours I had to mix in order to create the skin tone – let’s just say it wasn’t merely toning down red with a bit of white but it involved so many others as well, like blue, green and yellow!
      It’s so lovely to know that you feel drawn to my painting – there’s no better compliment for an artist! 😊
      And somehow I knew you loved the book as well. 😄 Hugs! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you Sarah for this interesting and sensitive post.
    All facts you give are fascinating and it is great to remind myself of the other artists at the time.
    The important think here is how you describe viewing this painting by feeling it. I do this all the time. The facts, their life history are of great interest but just then, you and the painting. What does it say? What does it make you feel.

    That is how all art should be experienced. You remind us and show also your emotions in your lovely painting.
    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

    • You´re very welcome, Miriam! And thank you so much for your wonderful comment!
      I totally agree – art is all about feelings and emotions. It´s a shame really, that so many view it only from its pecuniary point, as objects to collect. The worst collectors are those who don´t share their possessions with the world to see but hold tight to it and hide it somewhere only they can see it.
      Wish you a wonderful and creative week! hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I share your feelings about Vermeer, one of my favorite artists also. The intimacy of his art makes you feel as if you’re in the room with him. You’re so lucky to be able to see a few of his paintings in person.

    Decades ago I took a course on painting in the style of Vermeer. I copied several paintings and also reinterpreted several in his style. It was a fascinating immersion into a completely different way of seeing and delineating shape and color and especially light.

    Your painting of Girl with a Pearl Earring is lovely. Was much fun to watch the way you approached the challenges of painting it.

    Did you know that Tracy Chevalier, who writes novels about great artists, wrote a book called The Girl with the Pearl Earring? It’s fiction of course, told from the point of view of the girl herself. It’s an improbable tale but an interesting read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, Sharon! Yes, we´re really luck here in Berlin to have some of his paintings – and even more lucky when it comes to Rembrandt! We´ve got the second or third largest collections of his work here, I forgot which one, but it´s amazing anyway. 🙂
      How wonderful that you look courses on painting in Vermeer´s style! I can well imagine it helping you to achieve a more pronounced feeling for his work.
      I know the book by Tracey Chevalier – and also the film based on it – and loved them both! Should have mentioned it on my post, really. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You’re so talented, the painting is beyond wonderful! I also appreciate how you aimed to capture the feeling Sarah, it’s admirable because the essence is everything! And enjoyed the write up about the artist as well. Please do keep sharing articles like these. I’m so grateful because thanks to you, I’ve learnt a little more today:)
    Love and hugs😘

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Divya!
      You know, when I look at my painting, I see all the mistakes I´ve done at the time, and which I could probably now erase, but I also see the feeling I wanted to evoke, and for that I know, I have to let it be as it is, because in a way, that´s the only thing that matters.
      And I´m so glad you´ve also enjoyed my little write up about Vermeer – there´s so much else I could tell about him, but I knew I had to keep it short. 😉
      Sending you love and hugs too! xoxo ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What an interesting process! My wife and I viewed Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring when it was touring in San Francisco a few years ago. Seeing the actual painting was one of those moments I’ll never forget. Very similar to seeing Mt. Fuji for the first time. It’s not just the actual thing, it’s the deep response.

    Your notion of “capturing a feeling” is fascinating. I understand what you mean. Even when gazing at reproductions of Vermeer, I’m struck by the emotions that I feel…always good ones!
    Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for your interesting comment, Paul! It´s wonderful that you and your wife were able to see the original – as you say, there´s something so special to see a work of art in person and not just in reproductions. I´m sure Vermeer would have been so pleased that people all around the world admire his paintings. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is great! I am always drawn to this painting, although I have only seen pictures of it. My book club read the book of the same name by Tracy Chevalier years ago. It’s an excellent story and portrays the artist and times very well. Keep on painting!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you very much for your lovely comment, Barbara!
      I know the book and the film based on it both well and like them very much, especially for their accuracy. Glad to know that you share my fascination for this amazing painter and his work. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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