A Master Copy of a Dead Swan

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

As an artist, one never really feels one’s skills are ‘good enough.’ So it never hurts to do a master copy of an old painting to hone one’s weak spots.

For me, my weakest skill is judging value from a color photo or a real life set-up. I do much better when I change the photo from color to black and white.

A master copy value study of Oudry’s dead swan

So, this was just a practice painting. I traced the outline of the swan and background, then painted it in using only 3 tubes of Golden heavy body acrylic: Payne’s Gray, Raw Umber, and Titanium White. (Oh, yeah… the initial ground on the canvas was a thin layer of Burnt Umber.) It took a total of about 3 hours over 2 sessions. It’s about 11″ x 14″ on a sheet of canvas taped onto cardboard.

The original painting is a 17th century still life by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, who painted a lot of dead animals and hunting scenes. I like his still life with dead things. I’m just morbid that way.

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