Hello all!

Well, it's been another extremely busy week at school! The number of different projects I've got going now is pretty overwhelming, and I'm having a little trouble focusing, figuring out exactly what needs to be worked on and when. Art school often seems to be a bit of a juggling act; with nine or ten different classes going on at once, it's a quite an exercise in learning how to balance your priorities and manage time well.

One assignment I received last week was to do a mastercopy of a portrait by any classical direct painter. The practice of doing mastercopies is a very old one; for centuries, artists have been learning their craft by studying and copying the works of their masters in the art world. For instance, Sargent,the great American 19th century painter, copied the works of artists such as Frans Hals, Velazquez, and Rubens in order to learn their techniques. PAFA has also upheld this tradition; students are generally assigned at least one mastercopy their first year, and many of the faculty strongly encourage their students to get into the habit of doing mastercopies frequently.

I was required to do a mastercopy for Al Gury's life painting class my second semester during first year. I chose to do a detail of a portrait by Frans Hals. You can see the painting I was originally copying it from here.

Then, since that was so much fun, I did two more mastercopies this summer. The first is of an unfinished sketch by the classical 19th century British painter, John William Waterhouse. This was a study he did for one of his mermaid paintings (you can see one example here).

I also did another copy of a Sargent portrait. You can see the actual painting I was copying it from here.

Finally, I was assigned last week to do a mastercopy of a portrait for my Head Structure class. I chose another Sargent painting. I began by tracing the image and transfering the drawing to my canvas which was previously prepared with a nice beige toned ground. Then I did a quick underpainting with burnt umber, just strengthening the drawing and massing in the shapes and values.

Next I began in color. I used the specific color palette that we've been using in that class, which is a limited earth palette. Here's a shot of what the set up looked like:

From left to right the colors are: titanium white, yellow ochre (earth yellow), raw sienna, burnt sienna (earth orange), venetian red (earth red), mars black (earth blue), and an earth green (made from mixing an earth blue and earth yellow). Also, here's a picture of what my studio set up looks like, just for fun:

And here's the final finished copy!

The goal was to make a sketch copy, so it's supposed to generally approximate the original but not exactly match it. Over all, I'm pretty well pleased with it! Anyway, that's all for now, but I've got lots of other projects at school that I'll be posting about as well as a possible future stay tuned, folks!



September 29, 2008 at 7:53 PM

I love the final master copy; that's a new one I haven't seen! And is that a new self-portrait I see in the background of your studio??? Lovin' it.