Copying New Masters

What is your take on copying for the sake of learning?  For me it seems perfectly fine if  the artist is dead.  If he/she is still out there breathing, I feel a little more apprehensive about it even tho’ copyright laws allow it for personal learning experience and so on.  But I did it anyway.  Some of the artists in a group that gets together on the First Friday to play, decided to copy a painting by Campay to see if they could recreate his unique applications to a painting and then create their own painting using his techniques.  They had visited a gallery and saw his work.  My mother bought his book filled with wonderful paintings.  Anyway, intrigued, I asked if I could join them. 

Here is my copy of Campay’s Still Life with Lemons. 

My canvas  proportions are off from his.  (This is big for me lately, a whoppin’  24″x30″)  I copied it in acrylic paint and India ink.  I was rather pleased with it but I don’t think I am ready for forgery.  Yet.  (just teasing Mr. Campay)  What have I learned is this – his “loose-ness” is hard to recreate when you are “tight” in trying to exact a copy and I imagine has to come naturally.  His compositions are just wonderful.  The whimsey portrayed is sheer delight.  And I know he used more than acrylic paint, I just don’t know what.  His paintings (from the photos) have texture, this copy does not. 

I cannot find this painting on the web, but here is a link to his website where many wonderful paintings are waiting for your perusal.

Here is my take on his style which is really just my limited understanding of his style.  This building stands on a corner in downtown Rome (Georgia).

This painting is also acrylic and ink, done on a 24″x36″ canvas.  I struggled with the sign post in front, I am debating on what to do with it having wiped it clean a few times now.  I also struggled with creating a loose style, my tendency with architectural subjects is to render them as precise as is possible.  And this makes Campay’s work all the more intiguing.  At one point he was an architectural draughtsman and renderer.  Although there is more going on in my painting than Campay’s, his is so much more dynamic in it’s simplicity.    More experimentation on my part is needed.

Postscript:  As I look at my painting on the computer screen I can see that it looks far from finished.  I can see that I need some variation in the pilaster to the right of the signpost.  This isn’t how it is in the photo I worked from but I can see that it would improve the painting.  I feel also that the warmth of the sun doesn’t come across as much as I would have it.  I guess looking at a painting electronically helps bring out errors the same as looking at it in reverse or upside down!

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5 Responses to “Copying New Masters”

  1. Karen Owen Says:

    Laurie, I see what you mean about needing something more on the painting, but it is a beautiful already, and I know it will be fabulous when you are done. I’m really glad you are painting on a large scale again.

  2. Donata Says:

    Hi Lauren,Thank you for the link to this artist.I see what you mean in how he treats the perspective of the buildings .I have always been quite fanatical (damage done by artschool I guess) about getting things in perfect perspective and boy, would I love to get more whimsical and lighthanded like him.Practice ,practice, practice .Your rendition certainly has that light touch and you have not overworked it,which is hard to accomplish too. I see what you mean with the pilar.It takes centre stage by its size and colour and lack of decoration.I`d say, maybe you could try to tone it up or down in colour: the drapes are almost the same colour, so when you look through your lashes and squint a bit, the pilar and drapes form one white block instead of seperate entities.Maybe the colour and shades of sunshine, as you suggested, on either of them could change that?

  3. Steve Says:

    Lauren,
    I LOVE the acrylic/ink of the corner building. When I write, there are a few songwriters I try to copy or, at least, by whom I am strongly influenced. It’s turned out that it is the differences, the things I can’t quite pull off, that give unique style.

    I can’t help but think that any art is the same way. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  4. Joan Baragar Says:

    That is too good. You got it girl. If you look at enough of campays you see yours is much more finished then his but using his style and giving it your uneque touch made it better then the copies. Now I am using mine for fire starters. keep it up. We are eating all that food that I got ready for friday.

  5. Daniel Blankenship Says:

    I find that looking at a painting electronically makes them look better, at least for my paintings it does.

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