I'm always looking for sources of inspiration and instruction from earlier artists.

On a quest for master drawings to copy, I found a book containing drawings by the French painter Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725 - 1805). Greuze?painted somewhat sentimental genre scenes that are coming back into favor. His drawings are masterful.

There is no better way to appreciate his skill than to attempt to?copy of one of his drawings. This Head of a Young Girl is deceptive in its simplicity. It is balanced as finely as a suspension bridge.

Here is the copy in process.


Jean-Baptiste Greuze, I pay homage to your subtlety.

Especially when I see that I failed to capture the slight but expressive?head tilt.

I continued anyway?knowing that even an imperfect copy can teach me much. How did he get that expression of guileless innocence, just a bit serious, a bit sweet? I'm still wondering.


The final copy. Conte pencil on paper.

When I make master copies, I try to use materials that are similar, if not identical, to those the artist used. Not only is the process more challenging, it introduces me to a variety of materials I might not have used before. Each way of making a mark has its own virtues, and I like to find out what they are.

For his drawing,?Jean-Baptiste Greuze used a kind of red chalk that is no longer easy to obtain, but the sanguine conte pencil is a pretty good substitute.

If you have never tried copying a master drawing, I encourage you to give it a go.


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