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..