Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"COPYING?" . . or NOT?

Here I am, starting a new blog.  Life sort of interrupted the last one, and for the best part of a year, I had no time to make entries, so I though a new beginning was in order.  My painting, "GOLD FIELDS"  (11 x 14 watercolor) has nothing to do with my topic today, but I thought it would make a nice first image - bright, hopeful, and going forward.  Sometimes I'll talk about art, sometimes animals, and sometimes home stuff. Even the occasional  recipe!  So please stay tuned each week and follow along.  I'd love to share my thoughts and adventures with you.

Today I'm thinking about that old bug-bear "COPYING"!!  A few days ago, I saw a lovely painting on someone's website that was of a specific colored horse and the title was one that I had used some time ago on a painting of a same colored horse.  My first thought was "She COPIED me!!"  But then reason raised her head.  First, those of us who paint animals in a realistic style have a limited image/situation pool to choose from.  There will be a great many similar paintings of  Horses, dogs, cats, etc.  No one is copying, it's just the  nature of the game.
 Then there is the "Collective Unconscious" to think about.  The theory (much simplified) is that ideas are floating around and some people just pick up on them, often many people at more or less the same time.  And because  images get stored in our mind, sometimes what we think is our own brilliant, never-before-painted idea is actually our own version of something we saw months or years ago.
Also, let's not forget that one can't copyright IDEAS.  You can patent or copyright a thing, but not the idea. itself.  If that were so, there would only be one painting in the history of time of a horse standing in a field :0

So, did this artist "Copy" me?  Of course not.  The horse was the same color, and the title reflected that, just like mine did, but there were lots of differences that made each of our works individual.  A copy, is an attempt to duplicate someone's work, and unfortunately,while that does happen sometimes,  I think we professional artists (mostly) want our own work to be seen, not a pale copy of someone else's.  Personally, in my life as a professional artist,  I have never, nor would I ever try to duplicate someone's work and attempt to pass it off as my own.  Throughout history, artists have shared models, painted Plein Air together, or painted the same myths, historical events or bible stories. But each produced work on those same subjects that was uniquely theirs.  Today, we all work from our own photos or photos that have been given to us by friends/clients, but they are all of animals/animal events and there are only so many ways a horse, dog, etc, can be photographed and painted in the same (realistic) style. There will be similarities - that's to be expected. But there should also be a uniqueness to each painting that shouts to the viewer, "this was painted by  . . ."      I hope we professional artists are all mature and confident enough to accept that.  And for those very few blighted individuals who do actually set out to duplicate our work?  . . . get out the fly swatter! :0

Heather Anderson.

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