In light of my most recent work in progress, “Birth of Venus.” Interesting piece on the method of transcription.
“Art also has a long tradition of borrowing from other artists. My favorite example is Edouard Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass. The scene of the men and women is taken from a Raphael painting that has since been lost, The Judgement of Paris. While for the informed art goer, they would recognize the reference, it is but that, a reference! Manet refers to the scene, but puts his own spin on it, making it modern and consequently controversial. When using the motif, he had his own ideas and his own agenda. He wasn’t trying to be Raphael; he could never be, but he could be Manet.”
A transcription is when you take a master painting and draw from it to understand how it is made. It isn’t copying because you are not replicating it verbatim. Instead, you are distilling the image, taking from it what you want, and leaving the rest behind. It is a tool artists have used for centuries.
Drawing from another’s work is a great way to further your knowledge of painting. It helps you in understanding what the artist was thinking and how he or she was doing it. It helps you to understand the painting better, and thereby helps you, as an artist yourself, to bring the lessons you have learned into your own work.
That being said, transcriptions are dangerous. Yes, they are helpful, but they can also be a crutch. Don’t know what to do; make a transcription. The classical art school hang up. You might be learning about…
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