Google Arts & Culture (formerly Google Art Project) is an online initiative which provides public access to extremely high-resolution photos of artworks and cultural objects. The initiative has partnered with many museums to provide intimate access to some of the most famous paintings in history.
Below are some of my favorite master paintings up close. The first two paintings are by Vincent van Gogh. The high-resolution photos of van Gogh's paintings are quite amazing in that you can clearly see all his bold strokes of color which he is renowned for.
The painting below is a fantastic demonstration of optical color mixing. Up close, you can see all the distinct dabs of color, but from afar all these colors seem to partially blend together. The result is a sense of vibration between all the colors.
Here are some paintings by Claude Monet up close. These up close photos really give a sense of how Monet liked to paint.
The painting below is a stunning display of relatively vivid oranges and yellows amongst a sea of grays and greens. A few things to note are:
- How simple and loose the brushwork is. Monet focused much more on color rather than accuracy in drawing.
- The use of gray throughout most of the painting. This sets a strong foundation to add dark or vivid accents on top of. Many beginners avoid the use of gray, but that is a mistake.
Below is one of Monet's softer paintings, with all the colors muted to some extent. The close up reveals the delicate color changes in the painting. Notice how much variance there is even in the "quiet" areas like the grass.
When you need to paint an area where there is not that much activity, you could utilize subtle brushwork and color variance as demonstrated by Monet. With both of these elements, you can add a certain amount of variance without attracting too much attention to the area.