Finding Inspiration in the World of Master Painters

During a visit to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, I remember seeing Dutch artist Jan van Huysum’s beautiful painting titled, “Vase of Flowers.” The oil painting looks almost like a photograph. The water droplets on the tulip, tiny ants, butterflies, vivid colors, composition, delicate flower petals, and the details are absolutely gorgeous!

“Vase of Flowers,” Jan van Huysum (Image via Creative Commons)

“Vase of Flowers,” Jan van Huysum (Image via Creative Commons)

I was so thankful I was able to see his painting in person. If you can’t make it for a visit, the Getty Museum has a great website for viewing these old masters paintings. You can really get a great feel for the painting even though its online. You can even zoom in on your favorite section of the painting as well.

I enjoy looking at the delicate flowing petals of the tulip with the water droplets on it. You would think the water droplet was real. An interesting note, van Huysum was very secretive about his methods of painting, and he wouldn’t allow other people in his studio, including his brothers, who were also artists.

I always think when you can see the size of artists’ original paintings in person it adds another level of interest. Sometimes I imagine a painting to be quite large, but then I am surprised to find out it is very small. One such piece is a very small painting I saw in person at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.,  titled “River Landscape” by Jan Brueghel the Elder.

“River Landscape,” Jan Brueghel the Elder (Image via Creative Commons)

“River Landscape,” Jan Brueghel the Elder (Image via Creative Commons)

He was nicknamed “Velvet” Brueghel, because he was known for his smooth, delicate brushstrokes and for his expertly painted flower still-life works and landscapes in the 17th century. “River Landscape” captures a large scene — boats coming into port, trees and people on the bank. Yet for all the painting captures, the work itself (excluding the frame) is only 8-1/8 x 12-5/8 inches in size.

Taking the opportunity to view the work of old masters like these two incredible painters helps me find inspiration in my own work. It get those creative juices flowing and is a great reminder of all the beautiful expression that’s possible through great works of art.