I was so inspired by seeing HSteve Cook's copy of a Mike Barr painting the other day in the mailbag that I decided to upload an old post I wrote on the importance of Copying!

Copying is as important to a painter as practising scales is to a pianist. Today I'm going to get you to pick up a pencil and do a little sketching using my favourite aids.

Here is Judy my art mannequin. She’s called Judy because an aunt who was a dressmaker had a dressmakers' model called Judy and as a young child I thought all models were Judies! So naturally I called my art model Judy. Try copying a couple of her poses.

Judy, the artist's model
Judy, the artist's model

I also have a hand model which I'm not very keen on as it lacks flexibility but you can have a go at copying a basic position.

Hand model

But I do have a copy of one of the hands done by the sculptor Auguste Rodin(1840 -1917). This is more fun to copy. If you don’t want to pick up a pencil, at least have a go at “air drawing”. It’s fun and no one can tell you your effort looks awful!

I often get family and friends to model and years ago I painted a picture of two women gossiping over a back fence titled Let’s Talk. I had a live (friend) model doing the hands hanging over the fence panels. When I reviewed the painting after finishing, one of my women had two right hands!! Be warned: make sure your model doesn’t change hands!!

And here is Bertie Bones, my favourite model. I purchased Bertie a long time ago at a wonderful shop in the centre of the city of Melbourne and carried Bertie all the way home on the train!! And didn't I get some looks!!

Bertie Bones

Bertie oversees everything I attempt as he stands on the mantel in my studio behind the easel. I mainly use him for understanding bone and body structure, occasionally doing an "airpaint" to practise proportions.

I love visiting art galleries. And I love watching the classical art students copying the paintings of the Great Masters. At the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam you are encouraged to sketch the paintings as you view. But most of us don’t have the time, or inclination to say nothing of the skill to engage in this.

It’s fun to copy any painting you like. As you gather I have an interest in naive art and many years ago I reproduced an exact copy of an Ivan Lackovic for my sister. I also love the work of the Japanese artist Anno Mitsumasa and so had a go at copying in this style also.

Just remember to always recognise the creator when you sign it as a copy.

Now, another little activity. Edward Hopper paintings are great to practise on. Clear straight lines and you won’t get lost in the details. Often I scan through a book of his paintings, choosing figures to “airpaint” to help get the images right in my MindStudio.

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper(Credit:

And no problems having to paint hands!!

Leaving you today with this thought which apparently was said by Edward Lear. Copy the works of the Almighty first and those of Turner next. Couldn't agree more.