Monday, April 26, 2010

Copy Cat Art

Since I've been lamenting my deficiencies, yesterday I decided to spend a little while in the art room upgrading my portrait drawing skills. After all, we have plenty of art resources to which I can refer for instructions. So, I started with this book:

My intent was to study proportion and shape for realistic portraits. However, before I even opened the book, my eye was caught by the tissue paper woman with the orange hair. I thought she looked fun and simple enough to make. So, without looking at the instructions, I went to town in my art journal with these supplies:

Here is the result:

She was harder to create than I had anticipated (sticky tissue paper is rather delicate!), but it was fun seeing her take shape. The word "wonder" is a scrap of vellum I found on the floor when I entered the art room (DD12 had been doing some mysterious creating the day before -- I wonder what that was all about! ;-), and I stuck a piece of leopard tape at the top just because I thought it was fun and quirky like my lady.

Of course, if I set out to do something artsy, I'm usually joined by fellow artists. So, while I was making my lady, DD8 and a friend took some of these:

And did this:

She'd seen the idea on Art Attack, and had been dying to try it. Methinks they used a little too much paint and rolled the marbles a tad too long (because the colours completely blended -- not exactly the original idea of the project) -- but they had a blast, repeating the project a few times. I was really proud of myself for not jumping in and giving all kinds of artistic advice about how they could make their project better (in my not-so-humble opinion); I just let their creative juices flow. Besides, I was there to do my own project. AND -- I didn't complain (too much) about the mess.

By this time, DS3 had joined us, asking if he could do a "pojec," too, so they all moved on to creating with clay (far less messy!):

I moved on to trying the lesson that taught how to draw this woman (also pictured on the front cover of the book above):

Here is a photo of my initial drawing (before shading). I was afraid I might wreck it with my shading, so I wanted to make sure I had a record of it before I started! I should have scanned it instead of taking a photo, so I apologize for the poor quality:

I didn't capture the Asian quality at all, and the facial shape is all wrong in relation to the original -- but I see a tremendous improvement over other attempts when I was just "winging" it.

Then I followed the instructions for the shading, with these results:

I have lots to learn, and look forward to playing with portrait drawing some more.

I know there are different opinions about "copy cat art" -- but I have found it quite useful to learn by imitating. After all, as we observed with DD8's copying of the Art Attack project, often our own creativity takes over and something new and unique is produced.

What do you think -- should we learn how to create art by imitating other artists, or, if we want to learn how to do something, should we use generic instructions and directions and apply them to our own imaginative pieces? Does it matter? Is anything lost by imitation?

Seriously -- I'm interested in your comments!

Just one more thing . . .

While we were creating the above, DH was doing some masterful work of his own! I don't have any "before" pics, but here is the foot stool (acquired via freecycle) that he re-covered. (Yes, he copied the pattern of the original covering, sewed it, and everything!):

Sweet, eh?!?!? Did you notice that the upholstery nails match the ones on the club chairs in the background? ;-) That's my beloved!


  1. Hi, You recently posted on my site and I grabbed your link to check yours out. One of my artsy friends just bought that face book and I have been waiting to borrow it. I see it is as inspiring as a few others that company has put out. I have the animal one and my friend has a general art one also. I really like what you created using it.

  2. Oops I guess I did not sign with the name you will recognize.
    CC in WI

  3. Thanks, Catherine :)

    Yes -- Usborne books are great. I used to sell them, so I was fortunate to accumulate quite a few of them. I need to put them to better use!

  4. I meant to also thank you for stopping by AND for commenting:)


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