(Joyce) #1

28 Artists Magazine June 2020


You’ve probably heard the saying,
“Learn from the best.” I believe that’s
what we as artists are doing when
we copy a masterwork. Today’s repre-
sentational painters often envy the
rigorous study that classically taught
art students once received. Their
training focused on how to create
the illusion of three-dimensional
reality on a two-dimensional surface
and methods of mixing and applying
color, among other things.
As rigorous as this training was,
it was considered to be merely “the
basics.” The real education began
when advanced students were sent
off to museums such as the Louvre
and the Prado to copy the works of
masters such as Rembrandt, Titian
and Velásquez.
The students weren’t expected just
to absorb the masters’ techniques and
methods but, more importantly, their
aesthetic—that is, their refinement
and sense of beauty. The students
weren’t to become clones of the mas-
ters. Instead, they were supposed to
absorb the accumulated wisdom of
past art-makers in order to become
masters in their own right. And they
did. Sargent, for example, carried his
copies of Velásquez paintings with
him throughout his life to serve as
inspiration and reference.


Copy From the Best

WILLIAM A. SCHNEIDER off ers what you can learn when you “steal” from the masters.

After Fechin, Young Girl
by William A. Schneider
pastel on paper, 18x12
My goal for this copy of
Nicolai Fechin’s Young Girl
was to replicate the feel of
the Russian-American
master’s broken-stroke oil
technique in pastel.
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