Wednesday, April 24, 2019

From Simple Sketch to Masterpiece

The Making of a Masterpiece: The Creation Process
by Jane Künstler

Many people ask my father, Mort Künstler, “How do you create your paintings?” “Where do you get your ideas?” “How do you start a painting?” “How long does it take?”

Since I grew up with him working at home, and I have worked with him for nearly thirty years, I am pretty familiar with his process.

Mort reads a lot of history books to get ideas for a painting. He likes to portray a situation which is, in essence, a snapshot in time that could never have been photographed.  Mort thinks about what would be most interesting to the viewer – it could be an important moment, or an insignificant one.

This example of Mort's painting, Rush to the Summit, shows his process. It depicts Union Gen. Joshua Chamberlain ordering the 20th Maine, at the Battle of Gettysburg, to advance to the summit of Little Round Top. This action led to a significant victory, though they were extremely outnumbered by Confederate soldiers. 

Mort starts with a very simple and rough sketch: 

A final sketch is completed. Using the same method used by the masters,  Mort adds gridlines to help him transfer the composition onto his canvas: 

Mort then draws up the 20” x 38” canvas and begins to paint: 

After about eight weeks of painting, the painting is finished:
Rush to the Summit, by Mort Künstler ©2009 Mort Künstler, Inc.
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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Knstler, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.