Art tips

8 reasons why you should copy Masters’ paintings

As an art teacher, I often get asked about the best ways to improve one’s artistic skills. And one piece of advice I always give is to copy the masters. You may think, “But isn’t copying someone else’s work not original?” Well, let me tell you, copying the masters is a time-honored tradition in the art world, and for a good reason. In this blog post, I’ll share eight reasons why copying the masters is important for your artistic development. 

There is no hierarchy here. All reasons might have the same weight for you, depending on your artistic goals. 

Table of Contents

You can watch a video if you prefer:

Copy to masters to beat the art block.

Do you ever stare at a blank canvas, feeling completely stuck? That’s an art block that happens to the best of us. But fear not because there’s a simple solution: copy the masters! When you’re struggling with creativity, looking to the works of master painters can give you a jumpstart. Seeing how others have tackled similar artistic challenges can be incredibly inspiring and help you get your creative juices flowing again. And you don’t have to overthink. Select your favorite painting or a random one, and copy it. 

Copy masters’ paintings to develop your skills.

There’s no substitute for practice when developing your skills as an artist. And one of the best ways to practice is by copying the techniques and styles of master painters. 

When you copy a master painting, you can learn about composition, color theory, brushwork, and other techniques you can apply to your work. You can analyze the image to understand how the artist achieved specific effects and then try replicating them yourself. This practice can be invaluable for developing your skills as an artist.

Of course, when you’re copying a master painting, it’s important to remember that you’re not trying to create an exact replica. Instead, you’re using the painting as a guide to help you develop your skills and explore new techniques. You’re also expanding your artistic vision and style along the way. And if you think that copying is too daunting, let’s call it ‘study’ so you have less pressure!

8 reasons to copy masters paintings
Study of Van Gogh ‘Peasant Woman against a background of wheat’

Get creative inspiration by copying masters’ paintings.

When you study the techniques and styles of master painters like Van Gogh, Rembrandt, or Da Vinci, you can begin to develop your unique style and vision. You can experiment with different techniques and materials and even combine elements from other master paintings to create something new.

Copying master paintings can also help you break out of creative ruts and find new ideas for your artwork. By studying masterpieces’ composition, color schemes, and other elements, you can discover new approaches to your artwork and develop your personal artistic style.

Learn to self-critique by studying the masters.

Ah, self-critique. Looking at your work and seeing what needs improving can be tricky. But by copying master paintings, you can train yourself to look at your work objectively and identify areas where you can grow as an artist. Maybe your brushstrokes need work, or your color choices could be more dynamic. By honing in on these areas and practicing them, you can improve your overall skills and create even better artwork in the future. Remember, the goal here isn’t to copy the master painting perfectly but to use it to help you develop as an artist. 

And if you need constructive criticism on your art, you can join my Membership, where we have monthly live coaching sessions where I review your art so you can improve your art journey.

8 reasons to copy masters paintings
Study of Peder Séverin Kroyer ‘Summer evening at Skagen’

Improve your observation skills when copying masters’ paintings.

Improving observation skills is a crucial part of becoming a better artist. When you observe a painting by a master, you can learn how they use colors, light, and shadows to create depth and dimension. By studying these details, you can recognize their use in your work. As you copy a painting, you’ll have to focus on the elements, such as the brushstrokes, the colors, and the lines. These aspects can help you develop your observation skills and enhance your ability to pay attention to details.

Additionally, studying master paintings can help you understand how different colors interact. You can observe how a painter might use warm colors to create a sense of depth or cool colors to create a sense of tranquility. These observations can help you develop your style and improve your use of color.

Moreover, by copying a master painting, you can learn how to observe the world around you better. You can learn to see things you might have overlooked before, such as how the light falls on objects, the shadows, and the textures used in a painting. 

Painting or drawing a master painting is way more powerful than simply looking at it in a museum, online, or book!

Copy the masters to developing patience and focus.

Developing patience and focus is another benefit of copying the masters. When you copy a painting, you must pay attention to details and focus on your work for long periods. This can be challenging, but it is also an opportunity to develop your ability to concentrate.

As an art teacher, I often see students struggling with patience and focus regarding their artistic work. Copying master paintings can help to address this issue by providing a structured and engaging task that requires sustained attention. 

8 reasons to copy masters paintings
Study of John Singer Sargent

Copy the masters to developing muscle memory.

When you copy a painting, you are repeating the same brushstrokes and techniques over and over again. This repetition helps to develop muscle memory, making it easier for you to perform those techniques with greater control and accuracy in the future.

As you work on copying a painting, you will likely notice that some brushstrokes feel more natural and comfortable. This is because your muscles are beginning to remember the movements required to make those brushstrokes. With practice, these movements become more automatic, allowing you to focus more on the overall composition of your work rather than the individual techniques.

In addition to improving your technique, developing muscle memory can help you become more efficient with your materials. When you don’t have to think as much about the physical process of creating art, you can spend more time focusing on the creative aspects of your work. This can lead to more productive and enjoyable artistic sessions and better results in your finished pieces.

Build confidence by copying the masters.

Building confidence is a crucial part of becoming a successful artist. When you copy a master painting, you are working towards an achievable goal; when you succeed, it can boost your self-confidence. You can see that your hard work and dedication have paid off, and this can give you the courage to tackle more challenging artistic projects.

One of the most significant benefits of copying master paintings is seeing progress in your work. As you improve your skills and technique, you’ll notice that your reproduced works become more accurate and refined. This improvement can help you realize that your artistic potential is limitless and that you can achieve anything you want.


In conclusion, copying master paintings is an excellent way to improve your skills as an artist. It can help you beat the art block, develop your skills, gain creative inspiration and self-critique, improve observation skills, develop patience and focus, build muscle memory, and boost confidence. By studying and copying the techniques and styles of master painters, you can create your unique style and vision as an artist. 

Remember that this is a journey of growth and development, and with patience, persistence, and practice, you can become a better artist. Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Each mistake is a valuable learning opportunity to help you grow as an artist.

Happy creating!

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