Friday, February 15, 2008

Learning from the Masters

I promised this post in December and, finally, here it is. When I went to Paris I took the picture shown below. Here, a student imitates a painting created by a master. This is a common and useful method of learning to draw or paint because it allows a student to practice many artistic techniques and to learn different styles.

In 1784, all the schools of drawing in Italy were combined to create the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence. At the Accademia, works by great masters of art were (and still are) kept so that students could draw them. These works included sculptures by Michelangelo. Today his famous David is on display in the gallery. This is an excellent example of student learning from the work of the masters.

You can use this method to learn to draw, too. Find a book with illustrations you admire. Try to keep it simple at first. Maybe choose a book about snakes and focus on making your drawing realistic. Then move on to a book about dogs. Choose more difficult images as you gain practice, confidence, and skill. Don’t forget to color in your pictures.

When you want an even bigger challenge, create paintings instead of drawing.

I have posted before on another method of learning art, learning through apprenticeships. Artist who learned through apprenticeships probably would have imitated the paintings of masters also. If you’re interested, The Young Artist, by Thomas Locker, is a good picture book about a young artist who becomes an apprentice.

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