Copying the Masters

Copying a master painting is a very useful exercise. Here is The Favorite Horse by John Singer Sargent. First make the “linear placement” — where the shapes go on the page. Then, start to think about how Sargent did this very warm and subtle painting.

This was a challenging assignment, not only because I haven’t been working in watercolor, but it is very difficult to reproduce the physical properties of wet watercolor. Although the copy is miles away from the brilliance of the original, copying this helped me to see the importance of relative values, and subtle things that occur when there are only small amounts of light.

Lesson: Memory vs. Photo

I had some acrylics left over from my class so I thought I’d use them to practice what I learned in my last painting class. The messages from class: form makes a strong painting, value is important in the “reading” of the painting, and finally, a photo can be somewhat of a tyrant. It is nice to depart from the photo. It is somewhat of a revelation (at least for me) that this is what allows for interpretation.

This was only roughly drawn from a photo. Using what I learned in class, I did a quick value study and used the study as the basis for the painting. I like the painting because it is mostly drawn from memory, and painting it helped me remember this sweet dog.