A useful exercise if you feel like you’re getting stuck with the development of your paintings is to copy another artist’s work. I am obviously not advocating stealing someone else’s work, or becoming over-reliant on a particular style or technique! I tend to look at older paintings rather than the work of contemporary artists, and it’s important to bear in mind copyright laws when doing this!
It is a great way of opening up new avenues to explore, and overcoming the challenges presented can lead to real insights. Only by attempting a direct copy can you understand the finer points of a painting, and it often sheds new light on ideas which you had assumed were set in stone or not important to your own work.
Having said that, try to bear in mind your own quirks and style – as a (mainly) watercolourist, I have to adapt when studying an oil painting for instance.
This painting is a watercolour copy of Joseph Farquharson’s oil painting ‘The shortening Winter’s day is near a close’, and is definitely a simplified version of this immensely detailed painting!
The tangle of snow-laden branches, the glow of the setting sun, and the shadows spreading over the snow were difficult to follow. They presented problems which required methods I would normally have avoided. The sheer level of detail meant I was pushing myself out of my ‘fast & loose style’ comfort zone!
I’m pleased with the result, and it’s given me plenty of new ideas.