Is Reproduction Painting a Good Way To Improve One's Painting Skills? My Experience Painting Reproductions
Can reproduction painting help us improve our painting skills? Yes, I think it can. I definitely believe it can be very helpful in improving our skills. When I first started attending art classes and signed up for an art course, I didn't particularly enjoy reproduction painting. Copying someone work seemed like the most tedious thing imaginable for me. The whole point of visual art, I reasoned, was to put one's own ideas and designs to paper/canvas. With reproduction painting there is no surprise element- that's what I thought anyway. Knowing what the painting was supposed to look like seemed terribly limiting and almost claustrophobic to me. Quite frankly, I couldn't understand what is the use of it, the purpose behind reproducing someone's else work.
Now I understand how and why I was wrong. There is a reason why the act of painting reproductions plays an important part in most art courses/ art workshops. I'm sure that I wasn't the only one who felt that way, that's why I'm writing about it now. The reason why most people decide to create art, whether by becoming hobby or professional artists, is because they have the motivation, the ideas and the inspiration it takes. In other words, most beginner/aspiring artists have their own ideas, their own (developing) styles, their own desires and so on. This passion for art is what makes them pursue it. Hobby or professional artist, for the sake of this argument it makes no difference.
Beginner artists often struggle understanding why it is a good idea to copy someone's work. Put a canvas in front of them and tell them to reproduce a painting and you'll probably get a puzzled look. I was no different. What I learned, however, is that reproduction painting can be incredibly useful in developing our art skills. It teaches us to better appreciate other artists and their skill, it teaches us to pay attention to detail, it challenges and makes us improve our drawing and painting skills. It teaches us patience and discipline. Reproducing a painting is no easy task. I'm not saying a person needs to do it all the time/most of the time. I'm certainly NOT saying that everyone should do it either. It is perfectly fine to start painting in a certain style and do your own thing. Perhaps some people are just born with whatever it takes to develop their skills on their own. People learn in different ways. All I'm saying is that reproduction painting is useful for developing one's art skills in general. In other words, art courses teach it for a reason.
Reproduction painting usually plays an important part in any art course or workshop. It is often by imitating other painters that we learn about painting techniques. When we copy a painting, we have to pay close attention to it and thus we develop our perception and get that eye for the detail. Moreover, one obviously has to study different painting styles to be able to reproduce different painting styles so on. If you scroll down, you will see an example of a reproduction painting. Above the canvas I'm working on, you can see an A4 print of the original painting. I wasn't going for 100 % accuracy, but I did try to reproduce this painting. I started this reproduction painting during my 3rd art course and I brought it home to finish ( I usually paint these things at the gallery where I take my art classes but I was hospitalized at the end of 2017 so I had to finish this one at home).
Anyhow, I painted this painting using a reference given to me by my teachers at the art gallery where I've been taking art classes for the past 3 years or so. I'm not sure what the original medium was (or who the painter was for that matter), but I choose to work with acrylic paints. I tried searching for this image on google, but had no luck. Quite frankly, I'm not even certain about the medium, it is probably oil and the painting style certainly looks old, but I can't tell with certainty. I choose acrylic paints because I've been practicing working with them more. Anyhow, I quite like how this reproduction painting turned out. I actually though a lot about the frame for this painting, and finally went for a shabby chic white wooden frame. I hope I selected the right one. What do you guys think? Choosing a frame is a whole new skill I have to develop. It will probably make for a fun essay some day. A while back I said that I planned to write about my experience taking an art course, but before I got to that, I felt like I should write this post. Considering that painting reproductions is such a big part of taking an art course, I felt like I needed to explain what reproduction painting is, why we do it and why it is important.
Should we paint reproductions to improve our art skills? Yes, I think we should. Should we imitate other artist's styles? If it will make us learn something new, why not? It is not like you're stealing anything from the artist. You're just studying their style. Most aspiring/beginner (hobby or professional) artists already have their own ideas, and reproductions needn't get in way of that. For learning purposes, it is perfectly fine to copy someone's painting. Contrary to what is believed, painters don't copy each other paintings that often. For start, it is hard to paint in a style that is not your own. It is good for learning purposes, but nobody would do it for selling purposes (unless you're attempting forgery) because it is not only difficult but also very time consuming.
I'm talking about actual painting and drawing here, studying other paintings by reproducing them, not about incidents like Zara regularly stealing art from a bunch of independent artists i.e. using their designs without asking, just printing them on their t- shirts. That's a whole another issue and while we are at it- isn't it terrible how big corporations steal from indie and independent artists? They do it because they know those poor artists haven't got the money for lawsuits. Back to our subject. I've never tried copying a painting from a contemporary artist, but if I were to, I would probably ask for permission. If you a copying a contemporary artist and plan to post/publish that work, you should be open about whose work you used as a reference and state it clearly. Naming the reference is obligatory I believe. You should also ask for permission. It is not obligatory, but it is polite, especially if you plan to publish it/ share it with others.
When it comes to art classes, usually the paintings that get reproduced are from old masters. As far as I know you can even sell those reproductions of old works. Most people don't because these things are hard to make. I prefer not to because I have grown very attached to my reproductions. You see how I have completely changed my attitude there. I used to dislike painting reproductions and now I enjoy it. Moreover, I feel like painting reproductions makes me fully appreciate the skill of old masters. When it comes to painting, copying is not easy. You have to study the painting carefully and then work hard to reproduce it. We are all taught that copying is bad and it certainly is when it comes to stealing someone's art (like Zara does), but for learning purposes it is good and can be useful. In this sense, that famous saying 'copying is the most sincere form of flattery' makes sense. That would be all for today guys! I hope this post made sense. I wrote it from a perspective of someone who attends art classes regularly, and I hope it might be helpful to hobby/aspiring artists or those who contemplate taking an art course. I'm not an art teacher so I can only share my experience as someone who loves art, paints and is trying to learn more about it every day. If you want to learn more about art and painting, best thing to do is to contact an art teacher and sign up for art classes. That is what I did anyway.
|My reproduction painting vs. my original painting|