Sewing the Sail (after Sorolla)

Painting copies of artwork you admire is a great way to learn. Joaquín Sorolla is one of my favorite painters, so I can open “Joaquín Sorolla” (Museo Nacional Del Prado) to any page and find a work of inspiration to copy.  Like this one.  Funny thing is, I opened the book, and found later this is a detail of a larger painting! I had a feeling it was an odd composition (having the two people on the edge of the canvas), so it was nice to see the full composition on the next page.

Even so, copying “Sewing the Sail” (1904) was a great lesson in composition and color.  I learned how Sorolla used the folds in the sail to lead directly to the figures, and even the shadows in the sand.  Look how the main shadow folds in the sail lead directly to the center of interest (foreground person).  I was also surprised someone how intense many of these colors were, but how adding a complement (violet to the orange) would bring down the intensity just enough (although, comparing mine to his now, I see I should have used even more violet).

This was also a great study in brushwork. The original is much larger, but I was able to adapt my brushwork to this scale (10×8) to lay down some juicy brushstrokes, particularly on the sunlit side of the sails.

The Sewers after Sorolla, Oil on Canvas, 10x8
The Sewers after Sorolla, Oil on Canvas, 10x8


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2 thoughts on “Sewing the Sail (after Sorolla)”

  1. Very interesting exercise.
    Sorolla once said: “With all its excesses, the modern impressionistic movement has given us one discovery, the color violet. It is the only discovery of importance in the art world since Velazquez.”
    I am determined to use violet more in my work and was interested in your comment about how you should have used more to reproduce the effect in this painting (the original of which I saw at the Prado in last year’s wonderful exhibition).
    You might be interested in a web site that I have set up at and a Twitter at on which I try to provide day-to-day snippets about the great master of light.
    Kind regards
    Iain Vellacott

    1. Iain, thank you for bringing your own Sorolla expertise to my blog. I appreciate your insights and additional resources. Who would have thought, a Twitter handle for Sorolla! Wonderful.

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