Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Thoughts | On Master Copies and Plagarism

Master Copy After Charles Dana Gibson by Mary Highstreet

Let me tell you a secret: as young girl, I was a self-taught artist and would paint copies of images from the internet, that was how I learned to paint: I copied!  I'm not talking about plagiarism I'm talking about a Master Copy.  In-fact many self taught artists, including myself, do studies like these.

Matt and I were at the the Crocker Art Museum looking at a rotating collection of Pen and Ink drawings from the 1700's Italy.  Going around the room we stopped in front of one gorgeous ink drawing in particular, sure enough in the description it was labeled as a Master Copy, it was a study of another famous painting!  In france, young artists can be seen all over the Louvre and other museums painting copies of the Masters!  It is still considered a wonderful learning tool for French Artists, and many others as well.

There's a difference between plagiarism and a Master Copy.  Plagiarism is trying to pass the copied painted work off as your own taking all the credit for it, while a Master Copy is a sincere study of an art piece that credits the artist and labels it as a "Study." Master Copies are never sold for personal profit, they are solely for study.

Examples of Master Copies or Studies, that site the original artist:  {1} {2} {3} {4}

 The main goal in doing a Master Copy is to learn more about the painting process, color & light, and composition.  It is said "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," and for artists this is true: you study the Master's work that you most admire!  I read a wonderful article, entitled "The Art of Imitation" (p.20) from the July 2014 issue of ImagineFX magazine, a magazine for Concept Artists.   It addresses the use of reference images for the artist and just what constitutes plagiarism.  Finding that fine line between using reference for inspiration and plagiarism is a real issue that real professional artists are dealing with.  Pick up a copy of ImagineFX Issue 114, if you want to know more about what Concept Artists in the Entertainment Industry have to say on the subject.

Master studies are exceptional for learning.  There is a catch to doing these Master Copies, however, if you want to grow as a professional Fine Artist: eventually you need to ween off of these studies and create your one unique style and artwork.  You can continue to do studies for growth throughout your whole career, but it's important not to lean on them too heavily.  For all artists, those that are self taught and those looking to continue their education, there is so much to be gained from studies like these!!

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If you want to learn more about how do we artists create original works of art and get beyond Master Copies, read this post: here.

tags: friday thoughts, fridaythoughts

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