Since time immemorial, an integral facet of training fledgling artists has been the study and imitation of master artists. Leonardo da Vinci spent years copying the work of his teacher, Andrea Verrocchio, among others, before he was permitted to put his own brush to wood or canvas. Michelangelo spent years in the Medici sculpture garden studying and copying the sculptures of ancient Greece and Rome that were unearthed during the Renaissance before the idea of his Pieta ever entered his mind.
In our Portfolio Development class, students were asked to find an artist from whom they draw inspiration. Students then created a two-page spread in their sketchbooks that showed their study of one of the artist’s paintings or drawings, contained basic biographical information, observations about that artist’s techniques, and materials used. After completing a copy of a section of the original work, the student then created their own original drawing or painting by putting their personal ‘spin’ on that artist’s style.
By going through this process, students learn to objectively identify why certain art is visually appealing to them; they learn to work with new materials; they experience different techniques; and they see how all artists, regardless of their age or level of expertise, are inspired by others.