Master Copy Painting: John Singer Sargent

Course Description

Copying masterworks is a time-honored way of improving one's painting skills.

By attempting to reproduce a masterful painting, we are forced to examine it not only as a beautiful work of art, but also to decipher the way in which it was created. From this exercise, we learn immense amounts about how to simplify the highly detailed world around us as the masters once did. We observe the choices they made, the techniques they employed, and the things they omitted. We get a glimpse of the world through the eyes of a master painter. Through this proses we glean ways to improve our own choices when working from nature.

In this class, the master who’s work we will be examining is John Singer Sargent, a world-renowned portrait painter of the 19th century, heralded for his beautiful painting technique.

There are several reasons Sargent was chosen for this workshop. First, he is a direct painter, meaning that he mixes a color, puts it down and leaves it alone. This is important from a copying perspective in that we can see his brush strokes and replicate the color mixtures he used. Painters with more indirect processes, such as Rembrandt, used a combination of glazing, scumbling, opaque painting and heavy applications of various mediums to arrive at the final image. This makes deciphering and replicating their final product far more elusive. Secondly, there are records of Sargent’s approach to painting. He taught students during his lifetime and there are numerous accounts of his process for us to follow. Thirdly, he truly is a master painter and draftsman, the sense of light and life he captures is awe-inspiring and much can be learned from studying his work, no matter one's skill level.

Students will learn his pallet, philosophy of approach, and painting technique as each student creates a copy of one of his works.

In addition to creating a master copy, students will also learn about painting in general. Students will learn how to prepare a canvas, mix colors, organize a pallet, care for materials, mix painting mediums and learn all the steps involved in creating a finished portrait. We will be following the procedure that Sargent used when he painted and also discussing the fundamentals of portrait painting more broadly.

There will be demos and lectures throughout the class as students work alongside the instructor.


September 23rd – November 25th

Sundays 1-4 PM

This course is $350 

We believe that art is more fun when shared with a friend, bring a friend who has not taken one of our courses before and you will both receive a %20 discount off of the listed workshop price. 

Name *



Even after getting my Art B.A. I still learned a lot that I wouldn’t have at a university.
— Ethan Ching, student
Absolutely phenomenal!!! Each of the instructors had resources that I learned from. Very powerful.
— Anne Domenech, Student

Get information about upcoming workshop, events, and ZAFA news