View Full Version : copying masters

05-03-2000, 09:57 PM
I'm trying my first reproduction (after Renoir).

I probably should have asked before I started, but does anyone who has copied have any tips to keep in mind?

Boy do I wish 'Making the Masterpiece' was still going. I'm clueless, but giving it my best shot.

05-04-2000, 02:48 PM
Tracing paper... lots of tracing paper. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

Mark http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

Humans are visual creatures... I just give them something to look at.
~Mark Ventimiglia

05-04-2000, 04:05 PM
Throw away your picture books and copy a real one, as it sits before you.

Otherwise, you are really sort of kidding yourself. At the very least, you are missing out on 95% of the painting you intend to copy.

05-04-2000, 06:01 PM
you can copy for likeness or copy to your style. both have their reasons. but really,,,there's no need to copy exactly. it's what you get out of it.....milt

05-05-2000, 03:57 AM
Please be certain that the repro is large enough to show the actual brushmarks. Then meditate on them as you copy for whatever you want to get out of the exercise. It is one of the best ways to learn!

God Blesses!

05-16-2000, 10:01 AM
copying, studying color combinations is a good way to learn from the masters...some tips tho...
do a copy (dont get stressed out tho that you cant paint exactly like the master)
then ask yourself what is your favorite element...the way they work the paint, the color, the light, ....take that element and use it in a painting of your own.
Remember it is only a good exercise
in finding your own path.

05-16-2000, 10:36 AM
There are already some great comments made here.

I guess it depends on what it is you are after. If in wanting to copy a Renoir you are wishing to see and think as he did, and use brushwork to suggest..a book's printing image is not going to do you justice.

If on the other hand...you like what you see in a book...then there is evidently some aesthetic or technical thing you will stand to gain picking up on, and at best you can feel good about making a painting that looks as "good as the book" however, it will not again compare to the original.

In the 70's...while students were squirting paint in manure, spray painting manikin legs and making wisk broom crotches in my college art classes, I wanted to learn to paint and the images I saw of Frans Hals and Rembrandts out of books were useful to me.

I learned a great deal that got me only to a certain level. Then I took a trip to the Chicago Art Institute and saw Rembrandt's "The Officer" and embarrassed the heck out of my wife when I broke down and wept. It was so beautiful...so breath taking, and the books I had used were like the picture taken of someone after they died....as though you would know of anything of someone by looking at their death picture.

In the beginning stages...there is something to be learned copying images, even if from a book. As you are ready to absorb more and demand more of yourself...you cannot compare to working from the real thing.


"Art attacks can skill!"

05-20-2000, 08:07 PM
i know exactly what you mean Larry,

Matisse's cut outs...figured i would go and see them...studied, read dozens of books...was totally unprepared for the power of the pieces...in person...cried like a baby!
The presence of a piece of art...its power..cannot be conveyed by a printed copy..in my humble opinion.
sit in the presence of a painting, its hard not to be inspired.

05-21-2000, 01:16 AM
I once bought a book for a Milton Avery painting. Later found the actual painting and was disappointed. Be sensitive to what you like, and learn what you like about it. I once was involved in the Gardner Museum in Boston. I watched as a professional "art" photographer attempted to reproduce a Botticelli painting. The final "reproduction" was the image, like a beer barrel with no beer in it. You couldn't tell exactly what was missing, but the something was the difference between the master and an apprentice. Don't trust reproductions to be other than they are.

God Blesses!

05-27-2000, 08:48 PM
How realistic is the advice not to work from prints? Has anyone here actually sat in a museum copying a painting? I thought that US museums did not allow it.

I know at least that San Francisco museums do not allow paint whatsoever, and they don't like charcoal or pastel either because it's "dusty".

I have never copied Renoir but have done lots of renaissance reproductions. I would advise the artist to look at as many prints as they can find, because the colors and quality vary wildly.

05-28-2000, 01:56 AM
I do know that the Frick Museum in NY allowed copying. I think that most any museum will allow it if you contact them, ask the rules, and follow them.

God Blesses!

05-28-2000, 05:29 AM
Hey sandi , good for drawing on the wrong side of the brain.

05-28-2000, 01:58 PM
Thought just struck me.

Trying to copy a master is really trying to understand what is going on beneath the surface. Did the master draw first with a piece of charcoal? Did he paint it in gray values, then glaze color over the top?

Rare is it possible for the student to see it. Thus...one attempts to set out to imitate what they see on the surface. Perhaps they learn some shortcut to the end result at the expense of the master, and it the end that shortcut might lead to other interesting directions. Hhmmm...

05-28-2000, 03:05 PM
You might like to take a look at the Red Boat project in the Cafe Guerbois...several of the artists copied paintings by Renoir for that project to learn more about the impressionist use of color. I copied his 'The Skiff' and learned that I would not copy another painting for a long time. For one thing, I worked from an enlarged jpg file from the internet which created a lot of 'static' areas in the painting so I had to stretch my own imagination to fill in the blanks...big stretch. But I did find that Renoir used the same colors "all over" his canvas. If you begin to look closely at his work, you will see his palette everywhere! Minute dabs of paint...myriad colors...all transformed into images when you step away from it. Needless to say my copy did not begin to do that! but I learned much in the process.
Red Boat project is at http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/cafe/project3/