Monday, April 17, 2006

Looking to the past

We seem to measure so many things by what has happened in the past, from music to clothing, to art. The masters of the craft are the teachers of technique and form and colour. I love to explore museums filled with old paintings and be amazed each time at how they were crafted in a time before cameras could freeze a moment in time and let you finish it in your studio.

Art Renewal Centre is one of my favourite sites to explore fine art. Reproducing master paintings or drawings is something many like to do for pleasure and to learn. Most reproductions are based on museum pieces and often completed in situ. For those concerned about forgery, the work of copyists is not forgery. For one thing, art enters the public domain if the artist has been dead for more than 75 years. For another, the work of a copyist must be at least one-fifth larger or smaller than the original work. Copyists who work in museums also receive an official museum stamp on the back of their canvases that certifies the work as a copy. Moreover, a forger would have to take great pains to make a copy that is indistinguishable from an original. He would have to paint on authentic old canvas, stretch the canvas on an authentic old frame and use authentic paint from the era to fool the experts. A different profession altogether! This site will provide further details into the art of copying a master painting.

This week the weekly drawing thread is based on a master painting. It can reproduced as a graphite drawing or further pushed into a painting. Mending the Nets, by Winslow Homer. Homer (1836 - 1910) was an American landscape, marine and genre painter. He was born in Boston, where he worked as a lithographer and illustrator. In 1861 he was sent to the Civil War battlefront as correspondent, his work winning international acclaim. After the war, he worked as both a painter and illustrator. In 1876, Homer abandoned illustration altogether to devote himself to painting. His chief inspirations were the American rural scene and the sea. His paintings are in leading museums throughout the United States.

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