Recently I had the opportunity to see the Dutch Masters exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. It was such a great reminder of how important it is for artists to see original art. I look at art in books all the time, but have few chances to see originals by the masters. I've never been to Europe, I've never been to New York, so when these traveling exhibits come to town they open the door to a whole new world of art for me. The last one I saw was Norman Rockwell. It had a profound influence on my style. Now, I don't think I'll start working in a "Golden Age of Dutch Art" style, but still, just seeing the detail, the use of light (and more importantly the use of dark) makes you think about your own work.
Overall the thing that really blew me away was the size of the pieces. Some were so small! I had no idea. The detail in these small paintings was simply amazing. But I have to say the piece I found the most intriguing was huge! I don't remember the artist; I believe the title was "The Merchant and His Family". I could have stood there studying it for hours. Out of the work by Rembrandt himself, I found I loved looking at his etchings the most of all. His detail and use of dark is what will stay with me, and I hope will reflect in my own work at some point in time.
*Self-portrait as the Apostle Paul,
Rembrandt van Rijn, 1661.
Collection of the Rijksmuseum,