Thomas Hart Benton Maquette
I went to the Milwaukee Art Museum for my birthday. What a great museum! One of the things that I did not expect to find was a bit of process in the collection. They have a maquette that Thomas Hart benton used for his painting Cotton Weighing. What a find! I am very intrigued by an artists process. There have been so many seemingly lost methods of process. As an artist I want to understand how a painting came into being. For too long I thought and at times was lead to believe that the images I am looking at just spring forth magically from the fantastic minds of these artists. Leaving me to feel there is no way I can possibly ever accomplish this lofty goal of being an artist of worthy calibre. Not knowing how an artist works has always felt crippling. And in the past few years of returning to my passions, process has become part of that passion for learning.
One of these tools an artist uses is the maquette, a small scale model. One of the true masters of our time artist/illustrator James Gurney regularly uses maquettes. Seeing his process has been so enlightening. So, seeing the Benton maquette was a great moment for the confirmation once again there’s more to the process than just flinging paint at the canvas. I just didn’t expect to see an artist like Benton using this tool in his work. I’m certainly happy to find out he did though.
This also reminds me of the artist Honoré Daumier. I recently also found he used maquettes as well for his caricatures. There is quite a collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.
If you’re new to art/illustration this is an invaluable tool for you to use. I certainly hope you can find a way to make use of such an important process.