Once in Terezin...

On Wednesday I referred to the children's art made at Terezin, the "model" Nazi concentration camp, under the instruction of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis.

There is an exhibit of this work upstairs in the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, now part of the Jewish Museum complex.  It is heartbreaking, of course, but it also serves as a powerful reminder of the basic nature of human creativity: we will Make the Thing That Is Not no matter where we are or who we are.

It's also pretty clear that Dicker-Brandeis was an excellent teacher.

Here's a painting by Jan Vermeer:

"Man and Woman Drinking Wine"

"Man and Woman Drinking Wine"

It is a time-honored tradition to copy a work by an acknowledged master: art students are still asked to do it, and even Picasso spent his youth slavishly xeroxing older paintings.  (He was quite good at it.)

Dicker-Brandeis set her students the task of replicating Vermeer's painting, and the results are actually pretty astonishing:

—click to see full size—

—click to see full size—

Given their limited resources and their inexperience, these children each captured some part of the painting in an honest and artistic way.  I especially like the lower one: it's very close to pure Cubism.

So here's an incredibly easy way to teach yourself more about your craft: pick an example from a master, and copy it.  Make a collage of a painting.  Create a song that mimics the melody or harmony of some big hit. Write a story or essay in the style of your favorite author.