This winter is dragging on and I can't paint outside so tonight, I tackled a Zorn mastercopy. The piece that I studied is an oil painting of Jean Baptiste Faure (1891), who was a singer and art collector. I've never seen this painting in person since it's in a private collection, but I love the image.
This mastercopy got me thinking about the benefits of working on smaller master copies. There's two main benefits in my opinion: The first is that it takes less time to paint, which is good because you can learn a powerful lesson in a short period of time. I also like working quickly because I don't get bogged down in trying to create an exact duplicate of the original painting; I'm well aware that I'm my own artist and not a human photocopier. The second reason that I like the small size is that it allows me to focus on the broader masses and compositional pattern. The broader masses are crucial for any successful painting and it helps to plan out the value structure of the painting--this is the reason why a great painting looks good even as a thumbnail sized image.
I'll definitely be doing more of these mastercopies in watercolor and I'll try a few in oil since I like to balance my time using both media. It's a good practice to hone my skills inside as I bide my time for spring..
Lately, I've been focusing on some basic painting principles. I'm realizing that legibility in a painting is really crucial. The ability to read what is going on and to simplify elements when necessary is what I am focusing on. A beautiful painting doesn't need to be filled with details because it needs to work as a whole first; this is why a great painting looks good even as a thumbnail sized image.
There's always so much to juggle in a painting (especially en plein air): drawing, composition, values, colors, brushwork. I feel like simplifying those elements is the highest order. There's a lot that I'm learning recently about my mindset also. To keep calm and have the painting under control is really important. These are all things that I'm continually working on.
Upcoming Lecture: “Which White is Which?” - A Guide to Pigments Practical and Historical Information - October 26th at 7PM
I am very pleased to announce that I'll be returning to do another free online lecture for the Atelier at Flowerfield. My previous lecture (see below) was all about plein air painting and this upcoming lecture will be about another passion of mine: pigments.
As a brand ambassador for Natural Pigments, I have spent many years studying pigments from a historical and technical standpoint. This lecture will cover a full rainbow of pigments and I'll share many fun and educational stories about pigments. As a teacher, I know students often have questions about pigments so I encourage you to come with questions to ask. Cant wait!
My previous plein air lecture is available to watch on Youtube