Creative exercises for every month

Rembrandt's Apprentice

The exercises will be posted to our Facebook group from the 1st August as well as to our Instagram page.

Below you'll find last years course

Learn from the Masters. This month we look to Rembrandt, Matisse and Cossington-Smith for inspiration. Exploring artwork by copying it allows you experience the work and learn from it on a deeper level. Even a quick copy of a section with a pen or pencil will provide you with more information than if you were to just observe it.

We hope you will enjoy the exercises. Post as many or as few as you like. Join our Facebook group to take part and share your work. Our group is open to all skill levels and is very friendly and encouraging.

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No expensive supplies needed. Use what you have at home or buy kids craft supplies. These are experimental exercises 👉 pencils, acrylic paints, charcoal, paper, pen and glue.

Exercise 1

Starting off this month with something fairly straightforward.
✏️ Copy this sketch of Rembrandt’s
📖 “Rembrandt often took small sketchbooks with him on his travels, and this dynamic drawing was most likely done en plain air to identify a motif for later development. A notational visual vocabulary allowed him to record a subject with fluid economy, while also analysing its internal structure. The volumes of the trees’ boughs are described using repeated interlocking bands of horizontal, vertical and diagonal marks to stand for foliage. The light hitting the foremost trees articulated by leaving the negative space of the page blank, contrasting with the densely hatched shadows.” (Lines of Thought, Isabel Seligman, p. 39)

Exercise 2

Follow Rembrandt's advice by copying one of his paintings.
👉 I chose Bust of an Old Man with Turban from a short article on the Google cultural institute app. The article showed details of the highlights and shadows of this painting, here's the link 👉
👉 I took a screenshot and edited the image to monochrome.
👉 I focused on the general shape of the image as well as the shadows and highlights.
👉 I took many photos on my phone and compared it to the momochrome of the original painting.
👉 It's amazing how much detail can be found when you only focus on the dark and light areas.
🎬 Here's the video 👉

Exercise 3

 A study of Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait (1662) 🎨

“With his professional life and his hopes for success in tatters, Rembrandt paints his greatest self-portrait at the age of fifty six — in 1662, the year of the Town Hall debacle. He seems to be staring down polite society and contemporary criticism in this mammoth statement of independent artistic integrity. He turns towards us from his canvas. Originally painted himself in the act of painting — You can still see the edge of the campus to the extreme right hand side of the picture — But at some time during the painting he had stopped, and has turned to face us squarely. As if challenging us. Taking us on. His gaze is steady, thoughtful, and profound.” Notebooks by Betty Churcher.
✏️ I have used charcoal to study the head and shoulders.
✏️ I hope you enjoy having a go at this masterpiece 😁
Rembrandt Van Rijn, Self-Portrait, 1662, oil on canvas

Exercise 4

In this exercise we have a go at copying this portrait of Derain. I hope you enjoy it!
“Matisse and Derain painted portraits of each other while staying at the port of Collioure in the south of France. Using vivid, apparently arbitrary, colours, Matisse has captured the sensation of sunlight striking the sitter's face and casting a heavy shadow down one side. He has also tried to create a dynamic but balanced relationship between complementary colours, such as blue and orange, red and green. Complementary colours 'complete' each other: they are at their most intense when placed together. Matisse adjusted his colours to obtain the maximum intensity. This non-naturalistic use of colour can be seen as a radical development of certain aspects of Impressionist art, and it led the critics to dub Matisse a 'fauve' (wild beast).” -
Andre Derain by Henri Matisse, oil on canvas, 1905.

Exercise 5

 Some simple line drawings from Matisse

Sorry for the late post, I intended to post this on Friday.
I copied these images by Matisse, I love the simplicity. I focused on the flow of the line rather than the accuracy. I used permanent markers for this one. I hope you enjoy this exercise too 😁

Exercise 6

 Copy this painting of Grace Cossington-Smith, an iconic Australian artist

👉 I found the direction of the marks she makes really interesting.
👉 I used chalk pastel for my copy
👉 Her use of colour is exciting
👉 The image is of the iconic Sydney Harbour bridge being built

Exercise 7

I love the vivid colours and obvious brushstrokes of this work by Grace Cossington Smith. I used oil pastel on coloured pastel paper to have a go at a copy. You could spend a long time on this one but it’s fun to attempt to capture her style 😊🎨
Grace Cossington Smith (Australian), Chair in the Room, 1960, oil on composition board, 44.5 x 31 cm.

Exercise 8

I’ve chosen this bush scene by Grace Cossington Smith to copy in Pen. I went for Scribbly lines to explore the composition.
“Grace Cossington Smith is one of Australia’s most celebrated 20th century painters. An important early exponent of modernism in Australia, her work formed part of the first significant wave of Australian responses to European post-impressionism. A brilliant colourist, she drew her subject matter from the familiar surroundings of her home and her experience of Sydney city life, which she transformed into vibrant images of light-infused colour.” (
Bush at evening, Grace Cossington Smith, oil on hardboard, 1947 [Art Gallery of NSW]