Copying the Master. David Downton
Copying David Downton

I don't cry often.

What does bring me to tears is beauty.

When great clouds of pink and blue sit along the edge of the earth, when I stumble upon little creatures in passing, when the cool morning welcomes me with a bold mug of coffee and when a great artist shares work with the world then I am in tears.

David Downton is one of those artists.

I could cry.

I have yet to see any Downton's in person. When that day comes I will need a shoulder. Three shoulders. I will need all of the shoulders to cry on.

For now I will have to settle for creating my own renditions of David Downton's work.

You can see several of my Downton copies in 'The Sunflowerman Setchbook' (pgs. 37-42. If you don't have a copy sign up below to receive one free).

Copying David Downton

My own work draws influence from David Downton's illustrations. When I admire his mastery I contemplate the movement of arm and brush, the bravery to let a solitary black line define an entire figure, the song and dance of ink and water.

At times I will sit in front of a copy of Downton's work, soak it in and re-create it in my sketchbook.

Re-creating the work of a master is a tradition that stretches back hundreds of years.

  • Spiritually, it is a way to tap into the energy of the artist.
  • Physically, it begins to build a similar muscle memory as the original artist.
  • Mentally, it trains the neurons in the brain to fire in a similar pattern.
  • Practically, painting like a master is traditionally a great way to get paid.
Copying David Downton

Copying the work of David Downton is a way for me to get prepared for my own work.

These quick, five to ten minute sketches force me to trust myself, to make mistakes and to think like a master.

Mind you, I don't want to be David Downton. I don't want my work to be Downton 2.0. At best that would be a pale imitation of the master.

Simply, I want to understand how the master works so that I can apply the same mastery to my own work.

Copying David Downton

For these re-creations I allotted 5 to 10 minutes each.

  • I would sit with an image by David Downton for 60 seconds.
  • Have a container of walnut ink and black india ink open with a tub of water on the side.
  • Two brushes would sit next to the open page in the sketchbook, one very large and one small. Each a tipped round brush.
  • Then I would move, quickly, as fast as I could manage to get the ink on the page.

Please take a moment to visit DavidDownton.com to see how a real master creates.

Copying David Downton

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