View Full Version : Question: Is it a no, no ...

05-14-2004, 01:23 PM
I've seen so many lovely paintings here with such great strokes that I'd like to try copying some of them just for practice. Is that allowed or strictly forbidden, and I'll be hanged upside down until my fingers swell so bad I won't be able to hold any more offending pastels???


05-14-2004, 01:25 PM
p.s. Please, don't start throwing things at me (unless it's chocolate). I am just learning and get so excited by your paintings.

Hope I haven't stepped on any toes.


05-14-2004, 01:33 PM

I would think it would be up to the artist as to whether they mind or not. But that is just my guess.
am :)

Mikki Petersen
05-14-2004, 01:37 PM
What you do in the privacy of your own home is entirely up to you but you probably should not post them unless you have the individual artist's permission. What you might consider, though is joining in on the Pastel Riots in this forum or the WDE's (Weekend Drawing Events) in the All Media Events forum. In these exercises, everyone uses the same set of reference photos to draw and paint from. This allows you to study what others are doing and try to incorporate from that.

05-14-2004, 01:39 PM
I'd agree with K9, I think. If you see something you'd like to emulate for practice, just PM the artist and ask if they'd mind. The only problem you're going to have, assuming they give permission, is that these "practice" pieces are apt to be some of the best stuff you've done, but you won't be able to show or sell it when you're done, so beware!

05-14-2004, 07:06 PM
Each artist has the exclusive copyrights to their own work. You should not copy any paintings without the permission of the artist and that work could not be used for shows or sales. So....it would be far better to paint from your own set-ups or from your own photographs (we also have the reference library for resource images) or on location. You will learn much faster this way because you'll have to solve all the problems during the painting.

If you'd really like to copy, choose some of the old masters and try those out. Copying can be helpful in many ways....we even have an older project that allowed the artist to copy "The Red Boat".

Kathryn Wilson
05-14-2004, 11:14 PM
By all means, PM the artist - and after gaining permission, try just taking a part of the painting that you admire and practice your strokes that way. You don't have to produce a whole painting in order to practice - just do a tree, or a path, a flower, cloud.

Deborah Secor
05-15-2004, 02:04 AM
Interesting question....Just this week I did a class with my advanced group of students where I allowed them to 'follow along' as I painted. I've been teaching since 1989 and I've resisited doing this all these years. It smacks of the microwave school of TV painters (you know, like microwaving food--it is fast but it isn't necessarily good.) We didn't try to choose the exact same colors since we all have different palettes, they just mimicked the colors I used with whatever they had on hand. They essentially talked me into doing this but I have to say that the results were of more value than I expected. What happened was that they all used different colors, different layers of color, and different shapes than they usually do when painting, but you know, even after that class where each student tried to copy me every painting was different and each had a signature look that made it somewhat recognizable as that painter's work. We were all a little surprised by that, I think. Of course, these are mostly painters who've had some time in pastels already.

No one wants to have someone else do 'your' work, to copy so exactly your style that a viewer can't tell the difference, but those of us who teach know that the students will internalize a lot of what we do, without meaning to 'copy.' After all, being a student means learning what the teacher knows and sucessfully imitating to some degree, right? I know for a while my work looked a lot like Handell's because he was my teacher, though it was clearly derivative.

Since then I've had the experience of a student who so perfectly and exactly internalized my teaching that she painted 'my' work better than I and started winning prizes over me at shows (painting from, in one memorable case, a photograph I had allowed my student's to use in class!) My longtime patrons would walk into her booth at a fair and think they were buying my work! She used the same mats and frames, the same display, the same everything! That was one very hard, hard lesson--but I got through it and learned that in time this former student became (and is) an excellent painter in her own style, and she and I now sit next to one another at church! No hard feelings--but that took time. Now I ask my students to recognize that my photos will brand them as students, since they've been pretty well used, and ask them not to enter shows or fairs with work that's been done under my supervision (unless it's a student show.) I try to encourage them to take what I have to teach and merge it with their own strengths.

So, you can see some of the strengths and some of the possible pitfalls of literal copying of another artist's work. Probably nothing new here, but always best to be sure that when you copy you're doing it to profit from the experience, not to profit the pocketbook! We've all learned by copying, but let it be more derivative than literal.

Oh, and by the way, I agree with Khadres, it's almost inevitable that the best darn painting you've ever done will come out of you, maybe one that even outshines the original, and you'll be so thrilled you'll want to show it, and then somebody will see it and ask to buy it and then what will you do? I've seen it happen more than once. A student of mine painted from a famous local artist's published painting not intending to do anything but learn from it, but a neighbor came in and saw it on her easel and wanted to buy it. She kept saying it was the best thing the student had ever painted (no suprise--it was originally done by a master pastelist!) She sure wanted the money but she called me to ask about the legal aspect of it. I suggested she call and ask the artist who painted the original. I don't know how it came out--maybe I don't want to know! But you see what I mean.

Hope my ramblings helped... Boy--I do get wordy at times! Tempted to dump this, but <oh well> use what makes sense to you, if anything...


Kitty Wallis
05-15-2004, 03:22 AM
You can copy and post any of mine. I'd like to see your effort. Have you seen Van Gogh's copies of the masters? Many artists have done this, to learn.

I had a transcendent experience copying a Gaugin. His big painting, 'Where do we come from, What are we doing here, etc.' has a central figure that is poetry in motion. I learned how much passion can be encoded in a line. And when I copied Ingre's 'The Spring' it showed me the delicate strength a line can convey, how incredibly precise the line must be to convey it.

Go for it.

05-15-2004, 03:09 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone!!!! I would never show or sell someone else's original work.

Thanks 1mpete, I'll look into those forums, they sound very interesting. And I would see many different interpretations. Great idea!

Khardes, k9artisan and kyle, a PM's a good idea. Just doing a portion of something that really attracts me is a super idea.

Carly, will give the old masters a try too. It's not that I "like" to copy, it's that there are so many different styles and strokes used and I truly do want to learn and improve and expand my own style.

Deborah, Thanks! I appreciate everything you had to say, I really do. You offered a lot of insight and shared experience that I will take to heart.

Kitty, Thanks so much!!! Your paintings are so lovely and intricate.

Again, Thanks everyone!!!!