15. Walking in Dali’s Footsteps.


15. Walking in Dali’s Footsteps.




It’s not uncommon to see an artist standing at an easel in a museum busily painting a copy of one of the paintings on the wall. I’ve never done that myself. In fact, I’ve never tried copying another artist’s work…until this year. Salvador Dali’s work has had a huge influence on my own. So, since I’m a docent at the Dali Museum and see his work very often, I thought I’d choose one of his paintings and give it a try. To be honest, I vastly underestimated how difficult the process would be. The Dali Museum does not allow artists to paint in the galleries so I was forced to work from photographs which adds greatly to the difficulty. Nothing matches the experience of standing before an original.

canvas back.jpg

I began by choosing stretcher bars that matched the dimensions of Dali’s original. Knowing that Dali often worked on factory primed canvas, that’s what I used too. It’s safe to assume that Dali used tacks instead of staples but I forgave myself that deviation.


Rather than work freehand I projected Dali’s painting onto my blank canvas and traced the outlines. This saved an enormous amount of time and increased the accuracy of the composition.

sketch b&w.jpg

I then applied an imprimatura which is a thin wash of gray paint that tones down the white of the canvas. Dali did this very often.

Below are photos taken at various stages.

session #1.jpg
day 3 500.jpg
session 4 & 5.jpg
session 6 500.jpg
session 7 500.jpg
session 8 500.jpg
session 9 500.jpg
session 10 500.jpg

This is as far as of gotten. A project that I thought would take a few months has stretched to over a year! My hope is to be finished before the end of 2017. I also plan to make a replica of the antique frame that it has been in since the painting was purchased in 1943.

This has been an incredibly informative exercise. I could say volumes more about the painting process, my discoveries, insights into Dali’s mind, etc. but plan to gather all my thoughts at the conclusion. This could make for a very entertaining lecture which I hope to present at some point in 2018.

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