Master Painting Copy Part I and II: Sacred Geometry and Tonal Composition

“Bacchus” (Caravaggio), @ 1595, Oil on Canvas, 37 x 33 inches, Uffizi, Florence.

A traditional lesson in classical painting is the copy of an Old Master painting. The purpose is in making connections between drawing and painting: when creating a monochromatic graphite drawing (done initially), a study of the composition of values is made. This will later aid in color studying of the painting.

First we will make a grid related to Sacred Geometry, overtop the reproduction. This grid is on plexi glass.

Reproduction of “Bacchus” with grid, @ 12 x 16″.

I will begin in my sketchbook a tonal study of the same, in proportion similar but smaller, to fit in my 11 x 14″ sketchbook. This will be the early stages of the entire project, will eventually culminate in a full color painting. I will study the relationship of important lights, darks, overall composition and how forms and spaces are intersected by the sacred geometric grids.

Beginning tonal study in graphite of “Bacchus”.

Here is an example one of my students has worked on:

Attributed to Johannes Vermeer, mid 1600's
Attributed to Johannes Vermeer, mid 1600’s

The above is actually a detail that Piet took from a larger painting, and completed the grisaille underpainting:

Grisaille underpainting by Piet.
Grisaille underpainting by Pete.

6 thoughts on “Master Painting Copy Part I and II: Sacred Geometry and Tonal Composition

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