Monthly Archives: November 2019

Copying Masters (2) – Van Gogh

This is a study done when I first experimented with acrylic (or painting with anything). I stared at the original for days couldn’t figure out how to achieve that sense of unity. Eventually I decided to paint the whole canvas with a dark shade of burnt sienna and “drawing” on top of it.

Original (from vangoghonline.com)

Still Life With Yellow Straw Hat , 1881-5, oil on paper mounted on canvas (14.25 × 21 in)

My copy:

Copying Masters (1) – Gustave Courbet (1819 -1877)

I believe if there’s a shortcut in learning art, that would be copying masters. It forces me to look at each piece so closely, I start to see not just their composition, color or value choices, but also the procedures in execution. It helps a lot in thinking through and carrying out my own work. I just wish I could do more and more often. [*Most of the copies in this series were done a while ago and the link to the “original” was not necessarily the reference I used at the time.]

The first one is an assignment from a years ago drawing class. Courbet’s (French painter leading the 19th century Realism movement) original is an oil painting, and my copy is done with soft pastel.

Courbet’s (from Wikimedia):

Still Life with Apples and Pomegranate Oil on canvas 17 3/8 x 24 in (44 x 61 cm)

My copy:

What I learned is that pastel is a powerful and versatile painting tool, but it takes patience to build it up. Secondly, it’s not easy to “let it go.” Certain things meant to fade into the background or merge with the environment, but it takes skill and vision to achieve that.

James Tissot: Fashion & Faith

James Tissot (1836 – 1902) French painter, currently on view at Legion of Honor.

Elaborate details, descriptive brushwork, but not particularly exciting and innovative artistic style.

My favorite painting from the show:

Mrs. Newton with a Parasol – James Tissot, c.1879

The influence of Japanese print is quite clear.

The show includes some of his watercolor illustrations for religious stories, very refreshing.

One side effect of learning life drawing is that whenever I see a realistic figure painting, I can’t help thinking if the proportion makes sense, or if the anatomy is right … Sometimes, it ruins the viewing experience. 😦