Why paint something more than once?

© Susan G Abbott - Looking South From Pelee

I have painted this scene from the southern tip of Pelee Island three times so far, but could be quite happy painting it again. A guest at my opening reception asked me why.

It’s simple really — there is no one best way to paint any given subject matter, whether it is a person or a landscape or even a concept for an abstract piece. The shapes of the geometry, the possibilities offered for simplifying and changing the colors and values, and just the simple beauty of the curves are all very appealing for me in this scene.http://www.philamuseum.org/

Many great artists have painted a given subject many times. Monet painted his garden and water-lilies about 250 times. Cezanne painted Mont Sainte-Victoire some 60 times. Here’s one example, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1902-1904 Paul Cézanne, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Here’s another example of the same subject, painted several years earlier, from the Courtauld Gallery.

Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine, c. 1887, (The Courtauld Gallery, London)

By working with a familiar subject, he would have been able to try many different approaches to the subject — different brushwork, different color selections, different levels of abstraction. Over time, he pulled away from impressionistic approaches of capturing the moment, and became more studied in his approach. Cezanne was greatly influential on other painters of his time and now, although he was not tremendously successful in his own time.

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