More Learning from Others

Years ago my husband and I visited the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). While there, we viewed a temporary exhibit focusing on works done to study master works. The idea stuck with me as it mirrored a method used in teaching writing. By asking students to study and then mimic various techniques used by authors, I hoped my students could incorporate those techniques in their own works. As a new student to drawing and painting, I hoped it would work for me as I studied art.

Ron Lemen in his essay, Some Thoughts on Master Studies, argues “Copying from successful works of art is a way to connect with the thought process, the techniques, the choices that the previous generations of historically famous artists made.” I would argue that studying less-than- famous artists can be helpful as well. However, Lemen encourages thoughful copying rather than just attempting to replicate. He encourages the student to focus on various techniques: the design matrix, the color relationships of the canvas, cross reference drawings with paintings, study to learn the application of paint.

The list of artists I have studied and mimicked is extensive but I will highlight a few. One such artist is Brenda J. Clark who teaches and works  out of her studio in Suttons Bay, Michigan. I was fortunate to have an all day plein air session with her. She took me to one of her favorite haunts and we painted our versions of the narrows land and waterscape. her work is extraordinary and have tried to replicate her techniques in several works. My piece is not a copy in truth but is a copy of technique.



The Narrows

14″ x 18″

acrylic on 300 LB watercolor paper


While studying to be a docent at  Milwaukee Art Museum, I was given a chance to view their collection of Emile Nolde watercolors. I attempted to mimic his loose style in several paintings. I loved the way he hinted at things rather than trying to do a perfect representation. It helped free my hands to dance across the paper or canvas. Once again striving to “paint like a child” as Picasso did.



Ode to Nolde III

6.5″ x 10″

watercolor on 140LB hot pressed watercolor paper

LeRoy Neiman was an American artist who brilliant colors in an expressionist way. He was known for his images of athletes, musicians, and important events, mostly sports events. I like to call his technique fractured colors; he put down a color and “splintered it with another color. I used his techniques when I painted my grandson in his golf pose.

Leroy Neiman

Legends: A Celebration of Golf Greatness


Ethan’s Golf Pose

24″ x 12″

Acrylic on Canvas

A neighbor of mine introduced me to the work of Taos artist, Jerry Jordan and then introduced me the artist himself. Via email, I was able to learn more about him and his work. He allowed me to copy several of his iris paintings. One of his techniques I have used is to place dots of colors to guide the viewers eyes. he often used dots of turquoise; I have used turquoise as well as other colors to jar the viewer.

Yellow Irises

Mary Murphy

After Jerry Jordan


My next project will be to use the works of great artists to create practical art: trays painting with either acrylic or Pabeo enamels. I am eager to try implementing styles from Klimt, Mondrian and others.