Friday, 15 April 2011

In the style of Matisse, "Leadbelly à la Matisse"

Colour studies for "Leadbelly a la Matisse"
Composition studies for "Leadbelly a la Matisse"

The final portrait & model class sessions of this season are focused on painting in the style of Matisse, this time not based on life drawing and painting, but on a figure/subject of one's own choice from a photo or just from imagination. I chose to do a guitar player as subject and browsing through my cd-collection came across some characteristic photos of "Leadbelly" that suited the idea I had in mind for a painting. See below for a picture of Leadbelly and a short description of his life; I'm planning on including several aspects of his life into the final painting.
During the first two sessions the task was to make several composition studies of the chosen subject based on Matisse's style and after deciding on the composition, to expand on this with several colour studies, again based on Matisse's style. During the final sessions the task will be to bring it all to the canvas.
Portret & model-tekenen/schilderen, de laatste sessies zijn gericht op schilderen a la Matisse van een onderwerp naar eigen keuze. Ik heb gekozen om een gitarist uit te beelden en heb daarvoor een foto van "Leadbelly" als uitgangspunt genomen. Gedurende de eerste twee sessies was de opdracht om van het gekozen onderwerp diverse compositie- en kleurenstudies te maken in de stijl van Matisse.

Leadbelly (Huddie William Ledbetter)

Leadbelly, real name Huddie William Ledbetter, was an iconic American folk and blues musician, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced. He is said to have been the most widely known black rural performer to achieve "cross-over" popularity in the decades preceding the 1950s.
Born in 1888 in Louisiana, he grew in the segregated South. The period of his childhood and youth was one of great change for the African-American. The emancipation that followed the conclusion of the American Civil War had renoved slavery in name but not in reality. African-Americans could not vote. Many found themselves dispossessed of their land as plantation owners evicted all except those willing to resell themselves into a working environment not much different to what preceded the war.
Growing up in a musical family he learned to play guitar, piano, harmonica, accordion and several other instruments while still young. He had several jobs, including picking cotton, but also entertained with his music. He lead a violent life and was sentenced to prison several times. He was pardoned twice, which is remarkable at a time when the opportunity to gain one's freedom, especially as a black man, had to be particularly bleak. It's said that together with good behaviour he sang himself out of jail.
He was "discovered" by folklorists John and Alan Lomax during a visit to the Angola Prison Farm where they made recordings of his songs on portable disc recording equipment leading to "The King of The 12 String Guitar". Lomax later brought Leadbelly to New York, and published a book about him. During the 1940s Leadbelly's home in New York was a centre for folk and blues activity. He also was the first American country blues musician to see success in Europe. In 1949 he began his first European tour with a trip to France but fell ill before its completion and died in the same year.
It's said that Ledbetter's perseverance and power ("he could pick in the cotton fields 1,000 pounds a day") earned him the nickname "Leadbelly".


  1. Prachtig, vooral als je de kleurschetsen eens bij elkaar ziet. Viel niet mee hè

  2. Dank je Rene. Nee inderdaad, groot doek en verf is toch net wat lastiger dan dat lekker los schetsen op klein formaat :)

  3. Hi Rodney, what a wonderful colorstudies, i'm realy curious for the big painting, and as i mentioned earlier, really think you attend an interesting Art-Class:) have a nice day!

  4. Ze zien er echt prachtig uit samen! Je zou ze samen moeten inlijsten, de kleuren werken ook heel goed!

  5. Bedankt Lies en Céline! Samen inlijsten lijkt me inderdaad een leuk idee. Ik ben ook benieuwd naar het resultaat van het uiteindelijke werk op doek, heb inmiddels wel weer wat nieuwe ideeën en invalshoeken ... maar tegelijkertijd vind ik de losheid die je al schetsend op papier hebt ook wel moeilijk om op doek over te brengen.

  6. Seems like a great idea and I love the subject you've chosen. Your colour studies are looking fantastic, will be very interesting to see the final painting :-)

  7. Thank you very much Francesca!

  8. Rodney, congrats!
    I loved these studies, and resulted in a great composition!
    inspiration in Matisse, always worth it!
    a hug

  9. Thank you Denise, glad you like them!

  10. First of all Leadbelly rocks! A nice tribute to Matisse. Like the bright colors. Love the way the layout tells a story.

  11. Thank you for stopping by and your kind comments Shelley, much appreciated!