To Copy a Master

So why do we copy artworks? Well in short to learn. But what does this really do for us? Well, for me it helps me learn all sorts of things. Style, line quality, color, techniques, composition, and on and on.

Warning: Mature Content. Some images contain renderings of nude statues and are for the soul purpose of discussion and to show my progress as an art student.

Throughout my many semesters I’ve been assigned images to copy or given a list and chosen one. While not each and every piece copied was from an actual Master as many might refer to them by each had something important to offer.

My first memorable encounter would have to be from my media tech class. We were studying oils and for many of us this was out first time ever using the medium. I would have to say one of my favorite assignments was a follow along we did in class. Our teacher projected his work space up and we followed along as quickly and accurately as we could. While I don’t have a copy of his example done in class I have to say this was an excellent practice for me. Not only was I learning how he approached the subject but I was doing it along with him making the muscle memory work in my favor for later assignments where I could do more than recall basic snapshots of him painting and me standing on some stool to see over the shoulders of other class mates crowded around to watch him work.


This piece was done on gessoed masonite board with oil paints.

We were given a folder of images and asked to copy two of them. I wish I knew who did them but the file names did not specify nor have I been able to find them through online searches. If you happen to know comment and I can update this post to give credit where it is greatly deserved.

In a later media tech class we focused on acrylic paints and were asked to paint 4 out of class and 1 in class per week. I have a nice little pile sitting around my place and I often rotate posting them up on my wall. We again were given images of artworks done by other artists and asked to copy them to the best of our abilities.

Copying these artworks was no easy feat and by the end I was trying to refrain from burning them. While they might be recognizable they are a far cry from their originals. Each one taught me more about my medium and how I could use it to achieve what I wanted.

A few courses later I was asked to do a graphite study of a Grecian statue. The trick here was they needed to have fabric  which we could label the different fold categories and yet not cover too much of the figure so as to study anatomy measurement rules. We were asked to add an object into the picture all the while creating a pleasing composition.


I know without a doubt I would not have learned nearly as much had I just been blindly trying to paint and draw my own images without referencing those who came before me. I find when I’m having an artistic block or can’t decide which direction I want to do something I can turn to artworks which inspire me to give me that push I need to keep moving forward.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Comment on your favorite image or let me know if you recognize the original artists for any pieces not properly credited.


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