Master Study: Parmigianino

Over at, Dirk Tiede has been working on a series of master studies as an exercise to sharpen his drawing skills. Being inspired by the idea, I decided I would shamelessly copy it. Master studies. Once again I found myself enthusiastically doing things that I had half-assed or blown off completely in college (when I knew everything and didn’t see the point). This happens to me all the time these days: e.g. copying the works of masters, reading the suggested but not required texts, going back to primary sources, etc.

The Rules

I started with Dirk’s original rules, which are to do two drawings based on an original, each one with a 20 minute time limit. The first drawing is a faithful copy, the second, a “riff” in which you do your own thing with it. I liked the idea of the 20 minute time limit and the idea of kicking it old school and working from the masters. So off I went.

The Art

Here’s the original drawing, Parmigianino’s Holy Family with Angels and Shepherds:


Here’s my faithful copy. Although Parmigianino’s drawing is complex, it’s very gestural, and I felt twenty minutes was enough time even though I’m doing pencils, inks, and wash.


The same cannot be said for the “riff” or the departure drawing. It’s not really enough time for me to bring anything of my own to the table and be able to execute it. It might have worked better if I had just focused on one of the figures, or if I had increased the time limit—maybe to 30 minutes—ten for pencil, ten for ink, ten for wash. Or maybe I’m just making excuses for myself. Anyway, here it is:


I’m going to be doing more of these, but I’ll be tinkering with the format. Perhaps giving myself more time for the second drawing, or perhaps working on the theme of variations: drawing more, but focusing on different things in each. More to come.

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