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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Local artists headed to the Westwood Public Library on Monday, July 24, to reproduce a painting that sold for nearly $45 million: Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1.” With a grant from the MA Cultural Council and the guidance of portraitist and painter Greg Maichack, the artists worked to analyze and replicate O’Keeffe’s most expensive flower. Maichack also utilized the two-hour workshop to share his knowledge of O’Keeffe’s life as a young Wisconsin girl to her legacy as an American modernist.
To begin their paintings, Maichack first instructed the artists to make a dot in the center of their green paper using a white pencil and to make hazy crescents around the dot to form the shape of the flower. Throughout the workshop, he suggested different techniques to use as the class duplicated the “Jimson Weed” step-by-step, such as how to properly hold the pencil to make light lines and how to add layers and depth using the pastels through a technique called scumbling. Although Maichack certainly exhibited his skills and expertise in the workshop, he reminded his participants that making mistakes is crucial to producing a successful piece of art, and that even O’Keeffe and artists like Leonardo da Vinci made mistakes in their paintings, as well.
As their flowers began to take shape with the white pencils, Maichack instructed the artists to fill in the flower’s color with the provided yellow and purple pastels as they pleased. As the clock ticked closer to the end of the workshop, Maichack focused on filling in the background with brilliant blues and using the color of the paper itself and a dark green pastel to complete the flower’s leaves and the sky behind it. To help make the painting look complete, Maichack showed the artists how to seamlessly blend the colors and encouraged the artists to look back at O’Keeffe’s painting for reference and inspiration in the fine details.
However, while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, Maichack reminded his participants to go in their own direction with the painting: “I encourage people to be yourself and to not forge it. Georgia O’Keeffe listened to her instructors, but she always believed in doing it her own way.”