A student's rendition of Georgia O'Keeffe's Spring.

Today’s post comes from Nicole M. Roylance, Coordinator of Public Education and Information.

When Winslow Homer first travelled to France, he produced an engraving for Harper’s Weekly of students copying the masterpieces of the Louvre. It was understood that the aspiring artist had much to learn from imitating their forbearers. In a nod to this great tradition, students from Watson Bailey Middle School in Kingston, New York spent a few weeks this spring studying and producing their own versions of works of art from the Art Center collection.

A student captures Charles Herbert Moore's "Morning Over New York".

The project started with a visit to their classroom where we carefully considered and questioned the ten landscape options. We discussed how each artist had composed the scene and the effect their choices made on us as viewers. Students then chose one work to spend the next three weeks. Their dedicated art teacher, Rachel Forte, saw the students through the challenge of replicating the landscapes of Charles Herbert Moore, Georgia O’Keeffe, Aaron Shattuck, Grant Wood, and Andrew Wyeth.

A student translated Andrew Wyeth's "Camden Hills, Maine" into acrylics.

The students also visited the Art Center to see the works they were copying in person. During their visit, they spoke with student docents about how artists’ can convey emotion through landscape. They also considered the impact of a figure in a scene. Because the students had spent time with color replicas of the paintings, they were able to appreciate the qualities of the original works of art and have an intense conversation about “their” works.

A rendition of John Frederick Kensett's "Berkeley Rock, Newport".

After completing their paintings, students were asked to reflect about the experience. A student who chose to reinterpret John Frederick Kensett’s Berkeley Rock, Newport reflected:

“I chose this painting because it gave me a strong sense of forlorness [sic.], and the mood was very lonely. I wanted to paint it because I can relate to that feeling. I felt that I could give the same feeling.”

Another student who chose to copy a work by Henry Van Ingen admitted:

“My conscience told me to challenge myself…”

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