Making copies of other artists’ work is one of the best ways of gaining new insights into working methods. Whenever I come across a painting or drawing which grabs my attention I frequently try to make a copy of it. There is a reproduction of a Rossetti ink drawing in Bernard Dunstan’s annotated edition of Ruskin’s‘The Art of Drawing.’ that I once tried. There was some fine hatching that Rossetti had subtly drawn with diluted ink. Now how many of us would have thought of doing that – and yet it is an obvious way of introducing greater tonal subtlety into a line drawing.
Rembrandt made some lovely line and wash drawings of the farms, mills, and canals around Amsterdam which integrate lively line work with delicate washes. He used a quill pen and sepia ink and they prompted me to learn how to cut my own quills. I’ve also experimented with making my own ‘improvements’ – replacing the sepia washes with coloured ones, it adds to the fun!