Art: Are specific pigments important in copies

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  1. #1
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    Are specific pigments important in copies

    I am planning on doing a few masters copies, but all of the guides I see always list the specific color pigments that were used. Obviously a different palette would make exact color matching difficult or impossible and the transparencies will be different. I am mainly concerned with learning the lighting which I believe is directly related to the transparencies of the layers.

    Have you found that having the proper paints makes copying more educational and less frustrating, or should I be alright with the paints I have (listed below)?

    I am planning on starting with a Vermeer as I have read that he used a relatively modest color palette. However, even so, I do not have many of the colors which are expressed in his paintings.

    I currently have:
    cadmium yellow
    cadmium red
    naphthol red
    phthalo blue
    ultramarine blue
    alizarin crimson
    sap green
    van dyke brown
    midnight black
    titanium white

    As a side question, how much time should be invested into each piece to achieve the best educational results?

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  3. #2
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    Exact historical pigments aren't necessary unless you're a forger, but I would try to stay similar to the general color gamut of the palette available to the artist you are copying. So, for Vermeer, that would be a selection of earths (yellow ochre, Venetian or Indian red, burnt and raw umber, etc), cadmium red light (in place of vermilion), cadmium yellow light or cadmium lemon (in place of lead tin yellow), alizarin crimson or a more permanent substitute (in place of various red lakes), ultramarine blue, and viridian green (in place of verdigris). Plus black and white, of course. I'd stay away from strong modern organic colors like naphthols, pthalos, etc.

    This page lists the pigments that have been detected in Vermeer's work. There are eighteen in all, of which seven were used regularly.

    Last edited by Elwell; March 10th, 2009 at 09:44 PM.

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  4. #3
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    As for your second question, you could spend endless hours studying a vermeer with just your eyes, but I believe if you want to get a lot out of a master copy, at the least you should put about 20 hours into it. Try to work through the painting just like Vermeer would have.

    "A drawing is not necessarily academic because it is thorough, but only because it is dead. Neither is a drawing necessarily academic because it is done in what is called a conventional style, any more than it is good because it is done in an unconventional style. The test is whether it has life and conveys genuine feeling."- Harold Speed
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    Unfortunately, I think my painting will be suspected as a fake way before they get to checking the pigments so I will probably try and pick up a few new tubes to supplement what I currently have.

    Anyways, I have been doing some research into the techniques. It seems as though it is heavily based in glazes after the initial underpainting. I have a set of hog hair brushes as most of my current paintings are done in an alla prima style, but nothing along the lines of a sable (synthetic used in guide) or even a mongoose brush. Will this be a problem? I would rather not have to purchase the starting of another brush line, but since I plan on doing several such paintings, I may be able to come up with the money to purchase a brush or two every week. Any thoughts?

    How does this guide look? http://www.penroseart.com/vermeer09.htm

    Thanks for the help.

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