Why reproduce existing paintings?
Copying a painting is a necessary step in learning how to paint. It teaches you the style and technique of important artists, providing a period of personal reflection on the techniques of the Old Masters.
What is the grid method?
The grid method is a technique used in drawing and painting to aid with copying an existing work of art. It allows the artist to better understand the proportions of a scene or portrait by breaking down the features and lines into smaller sections. To use the grid method, trace a grid on the original work, then transfer the squares on to the prepared canvas. These should be in a homothetic ratio to the original, which will give you the right proportions to reproduce the subject.
Tips for mixing colours
Before mixing your colours, it is important to distribute the colours on your palette in the order of the chromatic circle. By organising the colours from the lightest to the darkest, it is easier to brighten up your mixed colours as required.
To darken or lighten your tones, avoid adding black and white as these will dull the colours. Instead use the primary (yellow, cyan and magenta) and secondary (orange, green and purple) colours. Mix directly on the palette, with a knife to avoid spoiling your brushes.
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Print the artwork of your choice on an A4 sheet, then trace 5cm x 5cm squares to cut the artwork into areas. After preparing your canvas, reproduce the grid, scaling the squares as required. Recreate your subject square by square, outlining the scene, then apply large areas of colour.
Paint light on dark
When using oils, it is best to work from dark to light. It is common to paint the darker parts first, then lighten and apply brightness at the end of the process. Visit our guide to getting started with oil painting to review the three key rules of oil painting.
Restore sunken areas
Sunken areas, also known as sinkage, are matte areas that appear on the canvas when the top layer of paint is absorbed by the lower layers.
To restore the sunken areas, level the layers by brushing them with a spalter brush, very lightly soaked in odourless mineral solvent (wipe the brush before applying it to the canvas).