Great Reproductions: Another Helpful Lesson in Art Copywork

Mrs_Hugh_Hammersley JS Sargent Wikimedia Commons
Mrs. Hugh Hammersley, John Singer Sargent…Wikimedia Commons

I have been really busy lately with so many projects but during that time I have been mulling over some ideas about art and art reproduction. Most people today use art reproduction as part of their picture study as outlined in the Charlotte Mason volumes. I know that I would have loved to have some specific direction when we were first starting out so here is my attempt to give you a post with some ideas to get the ball rolling if you haven’t tried this activity yet.

I have written several blog entries in the past that talked a little bit about this idea:

We actually used the concept of art copywork to complete a few Sketch Tuesdays:

  • Jungle Painting– Make sure to click the slideshow to see how other children completed this assignment. This will show how even though we all looked at the same painting, we each had our own individual way of reproducing it.
  • Monet’s Garden Slideshow

My children have always done art copywork as part of their picture study, even when they were very young. As high schooler students, they continue to develop their own style, but we also include reproducing great works of art as part of their art appreciation courses.

I found that art reproduction is incorporated into some of the lessons in the Great American Artists for Kids by MaryAnn Kohl and Kim Solga. (Many of you are familiar with the Discovering Great Artists book by the same authors and the GAA book is similar in format and style.)

I am especially interested in finding lesson plans that my high school age boys can use in their study of more modern artists. My attention was drawn to the lesson on John Singer Sargent (page 31).

Finished project

This lesson is a fine example of how to use the idea of reproducing a painting with a few simple steps. Here is how we completed the lesson and you can actually apply the idea to any artist or painting style.
Robert_Louis_Stevenson_by_Sargent Wikimedia Commons
Robert Louis Stevenson, John Singer Sargent…Wikimedia Commons

Sketching shapes from a computer image
1. Find a painting by John Singer Sargent. (We used this LINK.)

Sketching shapes the outlines
2. Sketch the shapes you see in the painting using a light touch. Hint: Sometimes it helps to put the print upside down and sketch it that way. When you do this, it tends to trick your eye into seeing the shapes better. Of course, you can not do that if you are working from a computer screen but it works well if you print the image out to sketch from.

Using darks and lights to show shapes
Mr. B used markers to color in the light and dark spots first in the painting.


3. Using your choice of art supply, finish coloring in your artwork.
4. Optional: Wait a few days and then reproduce the painting again from memory.

The lesson in the Great American Artists book suggests using thick, smooth outlines of your light sketch and then color it in like a coloring book. I like this idea as well and we may try it with a different artist later this year.

This lesson is rated with two stars in the book which means they suggest it for artists with some experience and moderate skill. I think young artists can benefit from this activity with a little extra guidance from mom.

I encourage you to try this simple idea with whatever artist you are studying this term. I would love to see what you come up with so leave me a comment with a link and I will visit your blog and enjoy your results.

You may be interested in reading my post: Artist Study with Notebooking Pages

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