After giants….some demos

Pastel after Fred Varley’s “Vera”

I quite often use a classic painting as the basis for a classroom demonstration and invariably get more out of the process than expected. Students also enjoy the practice which leads me to wonder why it gets such a bad rap in some circles. I mused on this a month ago in After giants…part 1.

I don’t intend to copy – I’m often just interested in a sketch which may be quite different in scale and medium from the original. The more I look, the more I see and  the work takes on a life of it’s own. Working quickly results in more of an impression than a copy.

Here are a few of my favorite forays into drawing and painting after the masters:

Charcoal and watercolour sketch after Francisco Goya

My charcoal and watercolour wash version of Francisco Goya’s drawing simplifies the original somewhat. I was pleased with the effect of some quick brushwork. The overall impression is a little more squat than the original and I think I’ve stayed true to the wonderful dynamics of Goya’s sketch – dynamics that perhaps got diluted in Goya’s full-size painting, “The Forge”.

Some of the dynamics of Goya’s initial sketch were perhaps muted in his final masterpiece “The Forge”


Watercolour after an A.Y. Jackson pencil sketch

This watercolour is based on one of many pencil sketches of Quebec villages by A.Y. Jackson. I’ve retained the main elements of the barn but the colours and treatment generally are all imagined. A.Y. almost certainly did his sketch plein-air and hopefully, my quick watercolour retains a little of the urgency.

Small watercolour after Prudence Heward’s “Girl on a Hill”

Here’s another watercolour: a miniature version of Prudence Heward’s “Girl on a Hill”. It’s 5″x5″ . I’ve changed the composition a little and like the intimate feel that is quite different from the original.

Acrylic on board after David Milne’s ” Side Door, Clark’s House”

This demo was part of the kick-off to one of my Acrylic and Oil painting classes. During the first week, I normally ask students to paint with just one colour. On a piece of gessoed backing board, I like the way the image spills out whilst showing the fundamentals of Milne’s original composition. “Side Door, Clark’s House”.

Acrylic after Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s “The Silver Goblet”

Here’s another  demo where the surrounding space helps the image in some way. In this case, it’s on canvas paper. The original image by Chardin is a great subject for value studies in charcoal as well.

After a Rembrandt monochrome sketch

A monochrome study by Rembrandt was the inspiration for this little study in pastel on pink card –  this is all that was left after I’d handed students all but one of the (more tonal) sheets from my pack! Perhaps the better for the slightly brash pop-art treatment.

My interpretation of Fred Varley’s famous “Vera”  is in pastel. I’m invariably intrigued by the effect of using different media with the classics and this is no exception.

Pastel on cartridge paper after Fred Varley’s “Vera”

One thought on “After giants….some demos

  1. There is so much movement in your Goya drawing. I also like the blue outline in ”Vera”. It’s amazing how inspiring centuries-old (and not so old) paintings can be. If only Goya, Rembrandt, Thompson and the others knew how much pleasure we still derive today from their work.

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