Copying the masters

0
Dear Artist,

Yesterday, Sonia Gadra of Frederick, Maryland wrote, “What is your feeling about participating in an art museum copyist program? Do you think a copied work of art has a market? With credit given to the original artist, of course. I think it’s a great way to practice the work of the masters, but could time be better spent creating your own original work?”

110411_robert-genn2

‘painter-workers’ in Dafen, China

Thanks, Sonia. First off, I don’t think you should consider marketing copies. The Chinese have that department pretty well locked up. In Dafen, one of 10 painter-villages in southern China, 6,000 “painter-workers” copy everything from the Mona Lisa to Picasso’s Guernica. Their assembly-line art is sold all over the world. It’s big business, with questionable morality and legality, and you don’t want to be in it.

But the idea of copying art for learning and improving your own art is a good one. Except for a few European museums, the concept has been neglected for decades. Now it’s back like gangbusters, with many museums turning Mondays into painter days.

We’ve been living through a time of rugged individualism when all kinds of substandard efforts are attempting to be known as art. Even as children, we are encouraged to go to our inner soul and extract the natural beauty that supposedly lurks within. The system has flaws, of course, as practitioners find certain effects require some hard-won skills.

This is where studenthood comes in. If classical painting happens to be your area of interest, instructors are thin on the ground. Why not go to the museums? Or why not use good books or the time-honoured material so readily available on the Internet? In a way, copying in a museum is old hat — you’ve got to remember that Rubens never had a coffee table book, let alone a MacBook Pro. Besides, it may be a long drive to the museum, and parking might be a problem.

But, yes, there’s something to be said for getting close to a master. After you’ve copied the work and learned from the experience, you need to honour the old guy by destroying your canvas.

In any case, the time for producing your own unique work might come somewhat later, and maybe a bit easier.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “Take pains and pleasure in copying the best works by the hands of great masters.” (Cennino Cennini, 1370-1440)

Esoterica: When we were living in Spain, I spent a day in the Museo del Prado copying part of a Velásquez. It was a mind-bending, centuries-spanning high. Giddy as a Pyrenees goat, I learned a few things. Up close and personal, Velásquez is a mess of slashes and haphazard gestures. Back a few feet, he’s a cohesive miracle. I found myself unable to copy stroke for stroke. Like a crazed sign painter, wielding well-thinned oils, I let my body do the painting. I’ve never had a frontal lobotomy, but I think my Velásquez day was pretty close. At four o’clock when they kicked us out, I sat down on the gravel on the Plaza de Neptuno to reacquaint myself with the ordinary.



Where are the ‘good books’?
by Nancy Jackson-Timshel, Vallejo, CA, USA


110811_nancy-jackson

“Lakota Creation Myth II”
handwoven tapestry
48 x 22 inches
by Nancy Jackson-Timshel

“If classical painting happens to be your area of interest, instructors are thin on the ground. Why not go to the museums? Or why not use good books or the time-honoured material so readily available on the Internet?” Robert, please suggest a “good book.”

(RG note) Thanks, Nancy. So many folks asked this question that I guess it was just another case of not making myself clear. My thought was if your interest was Manet, Sargent, Zorn, Degas, Cezanne, Velasquez, Hals, Fragonard, or whomever, you might find a picture book to match. Alternately, tap “Fragonard” into Google Images and you’ll find a considerable supply of good reference.







There are 2 comments for Where are the ‘good books’? by Nancy Jackson-Timshel

From: Jackie Knott — Nov 08, 2011

There isn’t just one “good book.” I would think every artist’s home library is generously stocked with lots of them. Big awkward “coffee table” volumes with large enough images one may get lost in them. Not step by step “how to” books, although I have a few, but a library of the masters. I have some great museum collections, and individual ones of artists I admire. Each image is a lesson to be learned and studying them is never lost effort. The Internet provides a wealth of images beyond my own personal home library.

From: Jennifer Bellinger — Nov 08, 2011




Zoom in on the good stuff
by Deon Matzen, Clinton, WA, USA


110811_deon-matzen

“Diamond T Tanker II”
oil painting 11 x 14 inches
by Deon Matzen

There is a wonderful site online that allows you to tour such galleries as Tate Britain, MOMA, Frick, The National Gallery-London, Reina Sofia-Spain, Versailles, Uffizi. You can tour each room and select a painting. The best part is you can zoom down to the brush work details of the paintings and look at color, texture, value, etc., in a closeness that the gallery probably wouldn’t allow even if you could go there and paint. Look it up and just enjoy the work, or go in close and replicate the master’s brushwork style.



There are 4 comments for Zoom in on the good stuff by Deon Matzen

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Nov 08, 2011

Thanks for this! I’ve just been looking at roads and houses, didn’t know about this feature.

From: Win Dinn — Nov 08, 2011

Love your Diamond!

From: p.k. cravens — Nov 08, 2011

That is one awesome truck painting.

From: Patti — Nov 08, 2011

What is the name of the site?





Registered copyist
by Amy Mann


110811_amy-mann

Amy Mann painting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, USA

I’ve been a registered copyist at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC since 2000. I love being able to stand for hours in front of a real painting, by a Master I love, and just paint from it. My copies are not exact, brushstroke-for-brushstroke, but are my best perception and response to the original. I love the privilege; I love the atmosphere; I love the day given over to nothing but painting.



There is 1 comment for Registered copyist by Amy Mann

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Nov 08, 2011

I am happy that they still allow this!





Copying a lot in 4-year atelier
by Harriet Kohl, Baltimore, MD, USA


110811_harriet-kohl

“Copy of ‘Basket of Fruit’ –Caravaggio”
by Harriet Kohl

Having just graduated from an “old fashioned” atelier where copying masters was an integral part of the four-year program, I can attest to the value of the practice. Aside from the fact that the knowledge gained was invaluable, copies did sell at the yearly show (properly signed “after_____”).

110811_harriet-kohl2

“Still life 1”
original painting
by Harriet Kohl

Copies of old master drawings were especially sought after. I’ve included my copy of Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit (probably the most copied painting in the world, but I sure did learn a lot). Also, I include a still life of mine. I could have never done it without four years of hard, exhausting work. And yes, a lot of copying.





There is 1 comment for Copying a lot in 4-year atelier by Harriet Kohl

From: Sonia Gadra — Nov 08, 2011

My experience copying the masters has been invaluable as well and I’m so happy to read that you have been able to sell and share the joy of your beautiful work with others. In many cases it may be the closest one can get to owning a “master piece” so to speak. I believe my question was misunderstood as marketing my copied work in mass production as they do in China. I recently sold a copy for just the cost of materials and the show entry fee. Hopefully my piece will bring joy to someone and I’m happy to know that there is a small market for these copies, even if it’s for no profit. It is better than destroying your beautiful hard work.





Russia: stolen images
by Anonymous


I was shocked to find that nine of my oil portraits had been copied by three different sites in Russia. They are selling puzzles and prints of my work, without permission of course. The sites were in Russian, so I couldn’t make out much of what else they were doing with the images. Most of my portraits are classical images. My son is a lawyer and said that there was no use to try to pursue the fact that it was illegal to steal my images. The Russians are experts at it, and it would be a waste of time and money.



Preservation of the endangered
by Louise Francke, NC, USA


110811_louise-francke

“New Wedding”
painting by Louise Francke

I have spent years copying the masters but putting my own post modern twist on the original. I give tribute to the master in the title. Sometimes I have felt I shouldn’t have attempted such an ambitious work — that my skills weren’t up to it. Somehow, over the days it begins to take form and I have reaffirmed my own abilities. They are part of my menagerie with which I live. The insertion of endangered species makes my statement that they too are just as rare as the original painting and worth preserving. Millions are spent to acquire the master paintings but very little in comparison is relegated to preserving biodiversity and conserving habitats.



There is 1 comment for Preservation of the endangered by Louise Francke

From: caroline Jobe — Nov 09, 2011

love your concept. very inspiring and funQ





Getting in character with the master
by Bela Fidel, Scottsdale, AZ, USA


110811_bela-fidel

“Rembrant copy”
by Bela Fidel

Copying the Masters has not only been a valuable learning experience but it has also enabled me to step into the particular painter’s shoes. By that I mean that as I paid close attention to a brush stroke, a color, the placement of a detail, I could almost feel what the painter might have felt at that very moment. I could compare that to being an actress in character, living someone else’s life. More than the learning involved, this is what I enjoyed the most. A trip back to the past, a moment of privacy with the painter, a dialogue privy to just the two of us. For a whole year, once a week for three hours, I copied oils and drawings with colored pencils (only thing allowed in this case) at the Los Angeles Museum of Art.

There are 2 comments for Getting in character with the master by Bela Fidel

From: Louise Francke — Nov 08, 2011

I too have felt that closeness to the master when copying! It’s almost as if their spirit invades my body and controls my brush and thoughts. Strange…

From: Linden — Nov 10, 2011

Nice work Bela!





Tricks when using the masters
by Harriet Howell, TN, USA


110811_harriet-howell

“Big creek – Red Water”
watercolour by Harriet Howell

Most of my watercolor paintings are done plein-air, and sometimes I get so caught up in the color and movement that design goes out the window. When I get back into the studio and can look more objectively at my work, I frequently turn to Degas to solve the design problems. Squinting, or using a red piece of plastic subdues the color so the black and white value pattern emerges. That forms the skeleton that holds the rest of the wild color and brush marks together. Degas’ pastels are especially good for doing this. When teaching, I use paintings by Vermeer to illustrate the use of color variation within a large dark or light shape to define form, while keeping the value pattern. Van Gogh is wonderful for showing how different the same subject can be by changing the horizon line, the color palette and the size of certain objects.



Don’t destroy your copies
by Quin Barrie, ON, Canada


110811_quin-barrie

“Elephant dreams”
acrylic painting by Quin Barrie

I don’t think destroying your copy is required, and in most cases it’s a mistake. Another artist is hardly dishonored if your copy exists, unless you are employing it for fraudulent gains. Simply signing with your own name or including attribution on the back alleviates all such issues.

And, it can be a significant detriment to lose the stages in one’s evolution, often the qualities of who we are is composed of the steps we took to get there. I speak from experience in regretting the disposal of many of my early works, because I thought them crude, amateurish or irrelevant. I now tend to regard my past works as elements as the archive of who I was at the time. And like old holiday photos, they can be delightful, fascinating and inspiring to re-visit re-examine.

There are 2 comments for Don’t destroy your copies by Quin Barrie

From: Kathleen J — Nov 08, 2011

Quin – I love your painting. It is so mysterious and wonderful. I held on to my copy of Vincent Van Gogh’s “12 Sunflowers” – I learned so much in the process of attempting to copy his work that there is no way I could destroy it.

From: Quin — Nov 16, 2011

Thanks Kathleen. It was loosely based on a dream I once had. The sun with the ring came from a autumn road trip I made across the prairies.





Copying to canvas and stone
by Chris Rose, Quathiaski Cove, Quadra Island, BC, Canada


110811_chris-rose

“Copy of ‘The Mellon Eaters’ –Murillo” by Chris Rose

Methods, tools and materials have changed but some basic approaches remain the same. Viewing other artists’ creations is extremely educational. No piece of art is neutral. Each gives new insight and a different message. I learn new techniques by observation and by trying to emulate the styles of others. This has been a very rewarding approach. Many years ago I copied some paintings of old masters and these copies are still hanging in our home — they will do — short of the original painting we could never afford. Thus The Melon Eaters by Murillo as a copy (my first ever) is still enjoyable to look at, while the original hangs in the Pinakotek, Munich, Germany. (My copy is now hanging in the living room of my former boarding school Schule Schloss Salem, Germany.)

Copying someone else’s work has ethical dimensions, but it is regarded as quite an acceptable activity in some European galleries as long as the proper credit is given. Copying someone else’s art is certainly not original art but hopefully it will turn out to be an expression of good craft/technique and will give enjoyment to the viewer. Using the method of copying taught me a great deal about painting techniques without going to Art School.

Carving stone is an entirely different matter. For the original Inuit imitation I use my imagination and the little knowledge I gained of the Inuit culture during my university years. Later, I used photographs as the basis for my sculptural forms. I would try to get the models or dancers to hold a position long enough to take pictures from four perspectives. This makes the carving much easier. Unfortunately, in most situations, a photograph of dancers in rehearsal, snow boarders, skiers, kayakers with their fast movements, leave us with one perspective (if we are lucky). The remainder is left to our creation and imagination.



Painting on shaped canvas books
by Richard Harper, Memphis, TN, USA


110811_richard-harper

“Coffee in the Garden”
oil painting 14 x 20 inches
by Richard Harper

A couple of years ago, I began copying paintings that I love and have influenced me over time. Realizing that I had spent more time with books than in museums, I made my copies in the form of shaped canvas books. Though I love art books, I’ve always been annoyed when publishers print “across the gutter” — over the binding area from one page to another. So I made fun of this in some of my work. I copied a picture from our local museum, a Caneletto, and contacted the museum to see if I could come there and copy, but they gracefully declined. I think I would have been anxious to work there, so I was a little relieved, but it would have been a great experience.

There are 2 comments for Painting on shaped canvas books by Richard Harper

From: Anonymous — Nov 08, 2011

What a clever idea! I love it!!

From: Ruth Spooner — Nov 22, 2011

So do I!





Comments

comments




 Featured Workshop: Richard S. McDiarmid or Leslie Redhead
110811_robert-genn
Richard S. McDiarmid or Leslie Redhead Workshops

The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 
 

  World of Art Featured artist Marc L Gagnon, ON, Canada
110411_marc-gagnon

Beach day 1

acrylic painting 24 x 24 inches
by Marc L Gagnon, ON, Canada



You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

110811_carmen-beecher

“Sargent’s ‘Repose'”
by Carmen Beecher

That includes Carmen Beecher of Satellite Beach, FL, USA, who wrote, “I copied John Singer Sargent’s Repose and I enjoy it so much it is hanging over my fireplace. It’s one my favorite paintings, and not even an original!”







Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Copying the masters

   
From: Elle Fagan — Nov 03, 2011

Yes – as always your notes are true and helpful. If you like your work you dreammmm of afternoons on occasion spent in study and copying the work of your favorite master. Draeam. No matter how well-developed your own style, it can always benefit from the insights won in an occasional copying session. Thanks again and now I am looking forward to it myself . e. p.s. I am teaching a beginners class – a thing I have not done in a long time , so I have prepared good outline and notes and as part of my opening comments wished to refer to masters in the medium…and could not recall one single name but my own :- I just went blank on it , in spite of usually a normal mind and quick one about the great names. Then I realized that the new business and an important upcoming show have me going good! If the only great watercolorist on earth is me , in my opinion, I guess I was able to restore self-confidence after the accident and its mending. But I was taught otherwise – that it was just the opposite : that the mature and evolved painter has a great me/you balance. I am loving this class to teach , for what I am learning as I help the others.

From: Deb Houston — Nov 03, 2011

Copying is actually how I learned to paint. Don’t gasp! I would spend HOURS at end trying to figure out how they came up with that color combo or just practicing things about a specific piece that interested me. I think many of the older master shine thru in my own delevoped/developing style. If it’s as an edu thing – go for it! As a money making adventure… don’t do it. Just one girls opinion. But a great topic….

From: Alice Smith — Nov 03, 2011

I had been painting for a long time. I had used Masters works as inspiration but never to seriously copy. Then I took a course with a professor who was teaching a “Old Masters Techniques” course. We did drawings in charcoal, pen and ink, egg tempera and gold, and finally oil. The object was to as exactly as possible recreate the work chosen using the materials most likely to have been used in the original. It was a challenge for me as I am a natural born colorist with leanings to the likes of Georgia O Keeffe, and the Impressionists. Its been 20 or so years since then and I wouldn’t dream of destroying those works of Art. I don’t see the Chinese paintings as true copies. I’m not sure what they really are.

From: Gail Caduff-Nash — Nov 03, 2011

“supposedly within” (the child) cracked me up ;) Imagining that the copyist of a painting came even remotely close to recreating a famous work of art – I don’t suggest destroying it but hanging it in your laundry room. More inspiration for dreary laundry days! I have a friend who asked me to do a VanGogh-style sunflower painting. I had a fun time doing that – and learning a few VanGogh type tricks in the process. And it graces her bathroom or kitchen possibly. I don’t think anyone is going to recreate a master’s painting unless they’re trying to con someone. It’s going to be very different and so it should be. But if the composition is similar, and the palette is the same and there’s skill involved, it should be a painting worth having around, I would think. No need to waste a good canvas like that.

From: Laurel R — Nov 04, 2011

In painting 110 years ago, we were to choose a famous painting, crop, zoom in, or resize it away from original; then given the choice of using a totally different palette, or using same palette but with the addition of something subversive. Then we did it again with the other choice. It was great fun to decide on the subversive thing. In my ‘Group of Seven – Islands with clouds (?)’ painting, I changed the beams of light through silver-grey cloud into beams of light from silver-grey space ships amongst cloud. Loads of fun, and we learned right at the outset that exact copying wasn’t necessary or needed. I highly recommend it. We also had to write a short essay or poem about the original artist, painting, or subject matter and present it to the class. Not that difficult after researching what to paint, and we learned a lot. We read out our essay while the class looked at our 2 paintings. We asked each other questions, made comments and suggestions, and learned about the other artists. The teacher mostly stayed out of it and watched. We went into our lunch time, and enjoyed it. Wouldn’t that be a fun kick-start project for here?

From: John Ferrie — Nov 04, 2011

Dear Robert, The secret or key to being a good artist, is learning how to look at something and make it your own. The exercise of copying the masters or painting from anthers artists works can be good for just that, an exercise. But to sit there and painfully copy “Blue Boy” or the “Mona Lisa” and call it your own is just an exercise in futility. I use to have an instructor in art school (back when the earth was cooling) who use to read to us in his thick German accent from the Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance. I found his teachings and readings to be something I wasn’t interested in at the time and I spent a great deal of time planning on his dismemberment. But his lessons were all about learning to fill the internal dialog and have this details come through in what we were communicating with our art. In all my years in art school, I learned more from the teacher I loathed the most. I draw on his teachings still today. So, go ahead and try copying one of the masters, for a day or two. Then get on with your own voyage. John Ferrie

From: Dwight — Nov 04, 2011

Many times over the years I have told beginning watercolor students to get a book by an artist they like that has step by step instructions on doing certain paintings. Just try and do what it says. You’re not going to show these in public, but there’s lots to learn from seasoned professionals. Finally, you move on to your own “style” and the subjects that turn you on.

From: Marti O’Brien — Nov 04, 2011

Just a note to say thank you for your most welcome letters that come faithfully, twice a week– every week… I want you to know that I appreciate receiving them and enjoy reading them. They are always, without fail, interesting and enjoyable.

From: Kathie McKagy — Nov 04, 2011

Years ago I learned and had great fun by copying old master and some contemporary paintings onto men’s vest’s and some onto jackets oh and yes many ties that had slices of the paintings on them. I sold them as fast as I could paint them. It was tough work. But fun too.

From: Jamillah Jennings — Nov 04, 2011

My late husband, Ellsworth Ausby, who was a Painting Instructor at the School of Visual Arts in NYC never copied anything from the old masters. His copy technique was to draw from life, yes he could draw, crosshitching, he use a pen, pencil, or a marker. He was truly a master.

From: Ana H Galindo — Nov 04, 2011

Instead of copying the masters, which appears to be a boring thing, why not try to make your own interpretation of the masters work? That should be more fun!

From: Susan Hirst — Nov 04, 2011

I love to check out art books of drawings by the masters; Delacroix is a favorite. Using a pencil in my hand, copying the pencil marks, crosshatch techniques, pressure of lines I feel an intimacy with the artist.

From: Carol May Britton — Nov 04, 2011

When my mother retired from nursing in the late 70’s she got me to go to some art classes with her. Our very first teacher told us that in Europe the art students were required to copy the masters for 5 years before they were allowed to do their own original works. The thinking was that they would learn what works and what didn’t before they ventured out on their own.

From: Alan Soffer — Nov 04, 2011

I believe there is much to be learned by this process both in the area of composition and color. I don’t think there is much value in concentrating on the details and imagery too much. That is where people get in trouble. I have two friends who are great at copying, but can’t do a thing with their own devices. My belief is they misunderstand the purpose of learning from the masters. Each of us has to find our own voice. That is what art is about. So just don’t get caught up in someone else’s point of view; just cannibalize their theories of color and structural integrity.

From: Didi Foster — Nov 04, 2011

I am in complete agreement that copying from a master is a great way to practice. I’ve done several copies throughout my life. I copied the Van Gogh irises, it was a good practice to get the right colors & shapes and to look at this canvas filled with irises with very little background to speak of. It’s in my kitchen. I would never try to sell it, but I don’t see any harm in enjoying it myself. I appreciate his talent every time I see it. Oh and if people comment, I say something like, that’s a copy of Van Gogh’s irises.

From: Mary Moquin — Nov 04, 2011

Really now, I must contest, copying from the original painting is nothing like copying from a reproduction or the internet! Arrrrgh. One copies a painting to better understand the way the paint was applied, the layering, the brushwork, the paint opacity vs. transparency, glazing, scumbling, surface quality……none of this can be experienced from a book or heaven forbid the internet! Never mind the obvious discrepancies in color reproduction. Please, if one has the opportunity to stand in front of a masterpiece, dissect it and attempt to reproduce it, DO IT for the learning experience. Painting is about more than imitating the image, it is about understanding the way the master used PAINT.

From: Leonard Skerker — Nov 04, 2011
From: Bev Rush — Nov 04, 2011

You mentioned that when finished with the copying another’s artwork, to destroy your copy rather than selling it. I think it would be pretty hard to actually cause physical destruction to something you worked hard on. Why not paint over it and let it become the unseen foundation of your own work? This rather appeals to my sense of mystery and honoring the past.

From: Taryn James — Nov 04, 2011

Oh I do love receiving your missives! I’m sitting at my kitchen table (sheesh that bougainvillae exploding in my courtyard is hurting my eyes. So crimson..) on a very still morning – everyone still asleep except the birds and the cats. I have a free day ahead and a canvas I’ve been avoiding in my studio. I’ll head there after this. I so loved your description of getting intimate with a Velasquez and afterwards having to reacquaint yourself with the ordinary in the gravel of Plaza de Neptuno! Oddly – it’s what I need to press into in my art making. Not Velasquez or the gravel in the Plaza de Neptuno, just ‘the ordinary’… Your letters appreciated and are greeted with great delight here at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town.

From: Loraine Wellman — Nov 04, 2011

A way back when, in a college class, we had the assignment to copy a master. I chose Monet’s Sunflowers …I had a good reproduction and felt Van Gogh’s sunflowers would be too much of a cliche’. I painted it actual size – but on board and in acrylics. It was a learning experience as I was replicating brushstrokes. I’ve never exhibited it and it isn’t for sale, but I still have it. Copying can be a good experience. Look what going back to older paintings did for Van Gogh – he gave them his own colours and his own approach but it did move his art ahead. We’ll just leave the “production” to the Chinese workshops!

From: Peggy Small — Nov 04, 2011

In my very amateur opinion, copying the masters from anything but the original would not be very rewarding. From my experience seeing an original master is way, way beyond any copy available. N’est-ce pas?

From: Lisa R. Smith — Nov 04, 2011

I am sorry-but I respectfully disagree with destroying our student work. I have credited the “Old Master” I copied, but I am proud of my ability and I want to SHOW my hard won piece. I have mine (2 of them) the third a friend has as a gift, mine are hanging on the wall in my living room unsigned on the FRONT-by me-but ‘attributed’ on the BACK to the originator and me ‘the student copyist.’ They mean a LOT to me-personally-more than I can say and I feel Van Gogh would approve of the intensity I brought to the undertaking. I studied his ‘strokes’ at a Museum Site-Online and laboriously did my best to catch as many of them faithfully as possible.

From: Rick Rotante — Nov 04, 2011

At one time copying the masters was considered part of a painters learning process. In Europe it’s done all the time. In fact, you can set up your easel with little trouble and paint in the Louvre. Quite a few years ago I got permission to copy the masters in the Los Angeles County Museum. To “qualify” to do this they made me get three letters of recommendation from established artists, bring three works of art for judgement, show up on a particular day, not copy any signatures, stay out of the way and when I was done for the day bring my work to someone to have it checked out to show it was not the original. I did everything they asked and was rewarded with being able to paint in the museum on fouir separate days. Alas, they have done away with that program. Now you are only allowed dry medium like charcoal on the grounds. American museums are elitist to look and not linger or copy. They, begrudgingly, let you wander their halls and you have to pay for this privilege. Did I mention my tax dollars go to fund the Los Angeles County Museum? As for selling the copies, this is a no no.

From: Lawrence Chrapliwy — Nov 04, 2011

An example of efficiency in painting taken to an extreme can be found in the art factories of China. Sixty percent of the world’s mass produced, cheap oil painting copies come from one small town (1.5 square miles) in China, called Dafen. A worker there can produce a couple of dozen copies a day by hand and it is estimated that 5 million paintings are produced in Dafen every year. There are assembly lines too, as described in The Economist: “Dafen—and other villages like it—are bringing the factory assembly-line into the artist’s studio. In a dimly lit hall on the outskirts of Dafen, “painter workers” stand side by side dabbing colours onto canvas. Liu Chang Zhen, a 27-year-old, works eight hours a day to complete more than 200 canvases a month—painting several copies of a picture at a time, methodically filling in the same patch on each before moving to a new part. At other factories, painters work on the same product, but specialize in different parts—in ears or hands or trees. They work from art books, postcards and images from the internet. Sometimes they just paint inside an outline copied electronically from a photograph, enlarged and stamped on the blank canvas.”

From: Gail Pean — Nov 05, 2011
From: Marvin Humphrey, Napa Valley — Nov 05, 2011

Time in museums is best spent studying intensely, repeatedly, your favorite paintings. You’ll absorb some its “soul”, which becomes part of you.

From: SuSusan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Nov 06, 2011

Destroying the copy hit a hot button with many of us! I know that museums ask that your copy be a different size…so that ends the problem of passing it off as an actual masterpiece. I don’t know if the National Gallery in Washington still allows painters to copy its paintings, but seeing artists at work, smelling the turpentine, seeing the sweat and struggle, added another enriching dimension to the visit.

From: Brigitte Nowak — Nov 06, 2011

A few years ago, I worked with someone who, in a university course, had been tasked with reproducing a “Botticelli”, in egg tempera, as the original had been. After the university course, she had put the unfinished painting aside, but learning that this was my medium of choice, she asked me to help her see it to its completion. We met on an occasional basis, over a few months, as she completed the painting. After it was finished, she invited me back to see it framed and hung in her home. For her, it provided a sense of accomplishment to see it completed; for me, with limited teaching experience at the time, it was a chance to put some technical know-how to good use.

From: Dagny Rossignol — Nov 06, 2011
From: Adam Cope — Nov 08, 2011

From the grotte de Chauvet (approx 32 000 BC) to Lascaux approx (17 000 BC) is a vast stretch of time. There isn’t that much change in style & content in these two master pieces. There are important changes but the continuity is more striking than the change. Ergo there must have been strong means of transmission of of know-how, ideals & the meaning-making nexus. Consistancy rather than change was desired.

From: Laurel Alanna McBrine — Nov 08, 2011
From: Inga Poslitur — Nov 12, 2011

I don’t agree that the painter should destroy the copy. In MET museum, NYC, in one of the shows it was (if my memory does not betray me it was Spanish artists, 17?! century) a Goya’s copy of the other artist hung together with the original. What a great education to see what was copied and what was not. As long as the artist who makes a copy is humble about it, I see no honor in destruction. It’s just a learning process. Agree on your experience in Spain. Although I can only envy you wholeheartedly that you had a chance to copy Velazques, I think I had a similar experience after seeing the National Gallery in London. In one day, I was literary in tears in every single room.

From: Jeanene S. Carver — Nov 13, 2011

Another artist is using his photos, printed on canvas and then using acrlic paint to give a painterly look. What would this be called ? He has permission from the foot ball teams owner to do so. thank you, Jeanene

   
Share.

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

Subscribe and receive the Twice-Weekly letter on art. You’ll be joining a worldwide community of artists.
Subscription is free.