Hello! I wanted to share with you the amazing artwork of Laura Lea Laws, one of the participants of the Year of the Spark! online class. In May, one of the warmup assignments was to do ONE Master Copy Drawing. Laura has taken hold of this assignment and has delighted all of us with her incredible output of over 60 drawings!

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Here are some of Laura’s thoughts about her wonderful, growing body of work:

I have done 66 master sketches so far. I think what grabbed me [about this assignment] was that, since I am not a master artist, it allowed me to let go of that idea that I would make something matching the master artist’s talent. What amazed me is no matter how I tried to draw like the artist, I was consistently finding that it looked like my artwork. So in a way it calmed my inner critic and I was able to let things go as imperfect because I wasn’t trying to be perfect.

That is where I discovered the thrill of the challenge. I had to discover ways to problem solve with pencil (mechanical and colored pencils) to make paint strokes where you can blur lines and you can allude to things without making specific lines.  Pencil almost by the nature of it forces you to make a line choice. I also made a pact with myself that no matter where a piece was going I would finish it and post it.

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This is where I started listening to my conversations with myself. At first I have an emotional response to the artwork I chose. I ask myself, “Why is she sad?” or “What is she thinking about?”

Then I probe why the artist chose the colors or background or placement of hands or angle of face to depict that mood/emotion? That is where I start usually. Then by the middle I’m having those moments where I am exclaiming, “Oh my, look the artist faked that hand, there are only three fingers!” or “That touch of green in the face is intriguing and works so well to depict the shading and mood.”  The middle phase, I think, is where I’m happiest. I see things I’d never noticed before.

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After I finish my pieces I look down and see some amazing things. I see sometimes that my own emotions go deeper into the faces. A contemplative or reflective look on a woman’s face in the original becomes a worried or tired look in mine due to my own mood. Sometimes through lack of skill or my own emotions, my subjects age.  

I think I will continue doing them throughout my life as it gives me great pleasure to look closely and observe art, it helps me slow down and breathe while giving my soul a wash of everyday worries. Plus I get to move my hands and try new things and I love experimenting, problem solving, and exploring through art.

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I am learning to draw the human form; it is my goal and I’ve been practicing, but this sketching from the masters has totally captured my imagination and has challenged me with problem solving that I believe is training my eyes to see and my hands to move more confidently. Thank you Carla!

My three favorite pieces so far are:

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Portrait of a Woman by Mischa Askenazy (1888-1961). I like her strong face with her prominent nose, and the tilt of her head. I love the color blue and her outfit and matching earrings frame her face. The pink with soft orange in the background makes the blue surrounding in her sing. I like this one for its simplicity and directness. 

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I love all the Francoise Gilot sketches I’ve done but my personal favorite is The Girl with a Crown (1967). I love the colors in this. It places me at about the same age of this girl. I was an early reader and imaged myself in all the fairy tales I read.  I like her strong face. I like the simple floral crown. I love all the blue that she added to the white skin.  It has a dreamy quality and is very poetic in nature.  I was a dreamy girl who was writing poetry instead of doing my schoolwork and reading myths and fairy tales from my grandmother’s floor to ceiling bookshelves down the one end of her hallway.

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My third favorite is Pescadora Valenciana/ fisherwoman from Valencia by Joaquin Sorolla. I know that my version of the woman looks nothing like his, but I enjoyed these colors so much. — Laura Lea Laws

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Thank you, Laura, for allowing me to reprint your images! If you would like to see all of Laura’s images, go to her flickr site here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/58325824@N00/