TIP 11. Studying the work of other artists is a great way to improve your artistic skills. However there are a number of different levels of study that one can tackle. I’ve recently purchased several books about the American artist John Singer Sargent which I have studying. My initial approach is to quickly look at the plates and marvel at the imagery. I then go back to the start and read the text which is always a help in understanding the context and social background in which the artist was working.
Finally, with sketchbook and either pencil or stick of charcoal in hand, I start to make observational drawings of some of the images in the book. Although this is no substitute for making ones own studies from life, it is a great way of gaining a much closer insight into some of the working methods of the artist. One can see how tonal values and composition have been realised as well as gaining a deeper appreciation of some of the mark making techniques. One can take this a stage further and copy their paintings too. I’ve done this in the past which you can see on my website.
John Singer Sargent
Instead of being glued to the TV in the winter evenings, why not re-visit some of your own art books and do some drawings of some of the great masters works? John Singer Sargent is a great starting point. Once you feel comfortable about drawing in your sketchbook, Why not try a painting? In this blog post you can see my Head of a Capri Girl by Sargent. It was one of the first Sargent paintings I copied in oils. It was a great exercise in understanding his brush strokes and technique.