Some thoughs about studying the Masters

Like most of us, I love Rembrandt  and his paintings..

In particular, I find his portraits particularly beautiful and intense and I totally love his technique! I like the thickness of his painting and the apparent  roughness of his style in some points.

Rembrandt was certainly very modern for his times and I find his style sometimes really surprising and strong.

after rembrandt - old woman reading - sara calcagno
After Rembrandt – Old woman reading – Sara Calcagno

Because of my love for Rembrandt, a couple of years ago I decided to spend some time in making copies after some of his portraits. I decided to go small (all these paintings are no more than  11 x 8 inches big)  and I gave myself only one day for each one of these portraits.

It was a real challenge but I had also a lot of fun

For a little painting like these ones, for studying the image and drawing it I spent at least  three/four hours. Of course, if the painting was bigger I would have needed much more time!

I stand there looking at the image and drawing it until I was sure I liked the drawing and I perfectly understood the forms and the points on which I wanted to focus my attention both in the drawing and in the painting.

For me, these two steps are the most important ones, the ones in which I get in connection with the masterpiece. If I don’t analyze with attention the subject or if I go too fast with the drawing, this normally means to me making a bad painting or one without a soul. Painting needs time and concentration.

After Rembrandt - Portrait of an old man - Sara Calcagno
After Rembrandt – Portrait of an old man – Sara Calcagno

For coloring with oils little studies like these ones, I needed around another three/four hours. It was not so much time but again.. it was so only because these were very small paintings. If they were bigger, I would have certainly needed more time.

I find particularly helpful making copies after paintings I love. It helps me learning and making steps forward in my technique. I always say, that making copies after great Masters  is like making a private lesson with a great painter. It is like getting intimate with him/ her. Sometimes you can even figure out what the Master had in mind when he made some technical choices and when this happens, it is gorgeous and exciting.

This little painting I did after Rembrandt is (like most of the little studies I made) a detail of a bigger painting. I wasn’t interested in making the copy of the whole painting. I only wished to focus on the portrait and, in particular, I wished to focus on the portrait of an old man as I really love as Rembrand painted old people. I think he could really capture old people’s soul.. These faces really speak to me and have some real magic.

Hope you like this copy of an old man after Rembrandt and, if you are a painter, I wish you happy inspiration and happy painting!

If you wish to receive more information about my paintings or you are interested in commissioning me a portrait, don’t hesitate to write me through WhatsApp or call me directly at the number +39 348 9136889