Why Make a Master Copy?

Master copies are a great way to try out a new approach without having to work things out from scratch. You’re able to select any work, by any artist that you like, and try to figure out how they created their work.

The most important aspect of a master copy is not producing an exact copy of the image, instead you need to figure out the process that results in a particular work of art. All artists use different processes; they layer the paint differently, use thinner or thicker paint, choose different colours etc.

I want you to try and dissect the techniques used by your chosen artist. To do this you can research the artist online, to find out if they wrote about their approach, or if critiques have analysed their work. However, the best way to learn about their work is to get a high resolution image of your chosen painting.

Choosing a painting

It’s important to find a detailed image of the painting you want to copy. I recommend using the Google Art Project (see examples below) and working from your computer or tablet. However there are other sources of high res images of paintings online if you do some searching.







van Gogh






Cropping and Printing

I suggest that you find the dimensions of the painting you’ve decided to copy so that you can make you painting at about the same size because you will find it easier to emulate the paint strokes and application if you’re working at the original scale. If your chosen painting is very large this might mean cropping a section of it to copy rather than the whole thing (if for instance you chose to copy a full length portrait, you could crop it to just the head).