July 07, 2013

Why Copy?

 Dan Gerhatz copy - 1

Oil on Canvas Paper - 12" x 16"

Dan Gerhartz copy - 2

Oil on Canvas Paper - 16" x 20"

So why copy the work of other artists? Well, when they are really, really good artists you can learn a heck of a lot. 
One artist whose work I really admire is Dan Gerhartz. His work really resonates with me, because of his love of painting people. He has a great compositional sense, is keenly aware of very subtle changes in temperature (of paint, not room) and draws and handles the brush extremely well, at least as much as I am able to tell.

Anyway, these 2 particular copies of Dan's work I found to be very helpful in my personal work. The first one was really just an attempt to get looser with my brushwork, painting quickly, as well as experimenting with a palette knife. which I really don't know how to use with much proficiency at all. I don't know if Gerhartz used the knife in the headband as I did, but I thought it was just a good opportunity to try. Also I noticed some light blue tones in the skin of the forehead area, which I would probably not use on my own. I tried it and it seemed to work okay. So there's a good indicator of how I learned to do something I normally wouldn't do and have it turn out fairly well.

The second one was an exercise in having the features of the face done in mostly shadow. This is about the darkest I've gone with a portrait. I didn't capture a lot of the subtlety of temperature changes of Dan's portrait, but I think I got close in some places. When I did the hair I couldn't/didn't see what Dan saw and so all I could see when looking at Dan's painting were shapes and masses and so it probably doesn't convey "hair" and the beautiful reflections and highlights the way his painting does. I really loved the loose brushwork around the collar of the girl in Dan's painting, so even just trying to replicate that was a great exercise.  

Some people might say that the goal of an artist is originality. Well maybe, maybe not.
I think the goal, my goal at least as an artist is proficiency. I think persistence in excellence should be the painters goal. Individuality will "out" naturally and eventually, so I'm not worried about the eternal quest for originality. I have plenty of my own ideas to keep me busy, but at this point I think it would be wrong to try to jump ahead and bypass quality and proficiency just for the sake of originality.

And don't forget to acknowledge the people who have helped and influenced you with their work and words on your journey.

Thanks Dan!

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