Researching and Analysing
After selecting the artwork you want to copy, the next step is analysing the painting and researching the artist who made it.
- Begin by zooming into the reference image and looking at the details:
- What is the brushwork like? Smooth or textured?
- If there is a ground colour (a colour painted onto the canvas before starting), what colour is it?
- If a ground colour had been used, it should show through slightly in certain parts of the painting. It might be trickier to spot the ground colour if the painting is very rendered.
- What pigments do you think were used to make the painting? See if you can spot particular colours; burnt umber, prussian blue etc.
- It may help to research the artist a bit, you could find information about how they worked and what they were most concerned about when painting. This background information will help you get into the mindset of chosen artist and if you’re lucky, you might find some technical tips to help you.
- You can also look through other paintings by the same artist to see what is consistent about their approach, the surface they paint on and the colours they use.
Preparing to Paint
- Now that you’ve got an idea for how the painting was made, you can get your surface ready to paint on.
- Look at the reference image up close to find out what surface was used (canvas or panel etc.) and what size it was.
- If it was painted on canvas, take another look at the reference image to decide if the canvas looks rough or smooth. If the texture of the canvas is very visible you will need a rough canvas, whereas if the painting surface is very smooth you will need a fine canvas
- If the painting has a ground colour (most pre Modernist paintings will definitely have a ground colour) decide what pigment to use and thinly paint this colour over the surface (diluting your paint with mineral spirits).
- Now let the ground colour dry before the next stage.