This was an incredibly fun and also very sobering practice for me in that the weaknesses in my skills are even more apparent as I attempted to re-create a personal art hero of mine, Holly Hobbie. I've been a fan of her's since the Hollie Hobbie lunch box I used to carry around back in elementary school, and more recently, her incredibly wonderful Toot and Puddle series of books. Who can resist those wonderful pigs!
I'm hoping someone who's worked on their own "copy" of a master's work can help me here, and correct me if I'm wrong in this approach, but from what I believe is the task, it is to try to re-create exactly what the master has created. In doing so, especially by laying paint down, you can more clearly see how the master has created shadow, contrast, lighting, detail, and specifics such as determining which colors they've used to create shadow, etc.
One of the images I've loved from the book Toot and Puddle, is the page of spot illustrations of Puddle "preferring to stay home".
I decided to take a stab at the first image, with a twist so as to not completely "copy" her artwork. I must say, I'm quite the honest gal and had a really hard time with the concept of copying, but in this task, I felt it was in an effort to learn and is also because I admire her work so sincerely, that I hope that she wouldn't mind my attempt.
OK, so the first thing I did was google "old comfy antique chair". I found this wonderful image on the internet from http://tiffersupholstery.com
As I painted with watercolor (determined by reading the interior credits of the book), I started very lightly. I was timid at first trying to capture the exact tones of her pig to my pig and then realized that my brushes weren't tiny enough. I still question how she paints her thins so thin! I even tried my 00 Sable. Here's my first attempt:
As I stared and stared at her work, you'll see that she doesn't leave any pencil work in her paintings..I'm thinking because she paints all the detail work and doesn't need to sketch it in (cause that's how a master rolls! :) ) But in my effort above, you can see my stray pencil lines.
In her wonderful work, her detail of the chair is crisp..see those very thin brown marks? Do you think they were painted, penciled, or inked? I decided that maybe it was ink on top of the paint, so in my attempt, you'll see the very noticeble sepia ink marks (especially in the chair).
Being disappointed with my work, I decided to call it a night.
I picked this up again the next day and decided to re-paint some of the detail and add even more contrast as I noticed that side by side in "Preview" on my mac, you can completely see the difference in contrast between the master and the novice. Her Puddle's face has such detail and shading, and so I thought, wow, I better add some more pigment!
I also noticed there was more shadow in the chair cushions which definitely added depth and solidness to her piggy, and when viewed small, her image pops off of the white backgrounds so beautifully! I decided to add a little more contrast to the cushions. I then went and added the tiny dots to the fabric to add a little more depth to the piece. I think it helped a little! I also added more blue in the shadow below the chair.
Here's the 2nd attempt:
Also in this exercise, I now realize that my specific Sepia ink will bleed on top of a dried watercolor painting. I knew that it was not waterproof before and that it surely would bleed if painted over the ink, but I did not realize the reverse was true. For some reason I thought it would have stayed more crisp.
I am sure that when I try another piece to "copy" that I will learn more and more about what not to do..and perhaps that's a great way to learn as well while honing in on your own personal technique!
I'm really enjoying the journey, and I hope this might be useful to you.
Have a great rest of the week everyone! ~ Shirley