Resurrection

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Dear Artist,

On Friday, Paul Caruana of Valletta, Malta, wrote, “I’m tempted to do another painting of a watercolour I recently sold, this time in oils. Would I be cheating the buyer? I’d like to do it just the same as the watercolour as far as composition and colour scheme are concerned. I’ve considered changing things around but I think it might lose the impact if I did.”

Thanks, Paul. Evolved collectors know that artists refine from one painting to the next and frequently redevelop work from an exemplary one. Further, there’s the tradition of the watercolour sketch and the final oil. Resurrection is part of our game, but it can be a tricky wicket.

Artists often notice a slippage of quality or loss of focus when they repeat. Here are a few thoughts:

The boat watercolour painting by Paul Caruana by

“The boat”
watercolour by Paul Caruana

Repeated works should be of a different size, preferably larger.

Repeated works often work out better in a different medium.

When going from smaller to larger, do the same with your tools.

See the “big picture” in the small one and don’t fiddle the big.

Avoid the boredom of back-to-back repeats — let some time pass.

As you work, try to reinvent the second one as a new one.

It’s pretty difficult to copy a work stroke by stroke — just one of the reasons to change media. One of the most effective resurrection ploys is to lay in the general areas in a cursory way, take a good long look at the original, then face it against the wall and proceed to paint. If you don’t have the original nearby, do the same with the reference or a digital image. This keeps your strokes honest and in the moment. In other words, you don’t want to be constantly referring to the original to see if you got small elements the same.

Even though your plan may be to repeat a previous success, you have to look at the project with new eyes. When you take this approach, you’ll find the resurrected one may have a fresher spin than in its previous life. Always ask “What could be?” An artist’s personal evolution is a playground of unending curiosity and abiding strength.

Dghajsa watercolour by Paul Caruana by

“Dghajsa”
watercolour by Paul Caruana

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “To copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility.” (Pablo Picasso)

Esoterica: In the tradition of the field sketch and the final studio work, artists have an opportunity to take a fresh, real-time vision and enlarge it. While lots of examples of success with this process exist, many others show tightening and overstylization, and the big final turns out to be less than the little sketch. Winifred Trainor (1884-1962), confidante of the Canadian painter Tom Thomson (1877-1917), wrote in an unpublished journal: “His smaller sketches from nature rang truer than his large compositions, and he preferred them.”

 

Watercolours by Paul Caruana
What if grandma could fly -- watercolour painting
What if grandma could fly
watercolour painting
The model -- watercolour painting
The model
watercolour painting
The lure of the sea -- watercolour painting
The lure of the sea
watercolour painting
Pirates -- watercolour painting
Pirates
watercolour painting

 

Family values
by Kristi Grussendorf, Logan, UT, USA

 

Catching Minnows watercolour painting by Kristi Grussendorf

“Catching Minnows”
watercolour by Kristi Grussendorf

I’ve rarely been tempted to “redo” a piece. In fact, even when I know I should, when there are corrections or adjustments I could make, it’s difficult to get excited about the prospect. That is, until just this week. I did an oil painting of my son entitled “Catching Minnows” more than ten years ago… Yes, it was right before I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (by the way I’m NINE years cancer free & healthy!). It got into a juried show and, to my surprise, sold. I think that was probably the first time someone who wasn’t a friend or family member bought a piece of mine. I had some mixed feelings about it but my son’s feelings weren’t mixed at all. He was angry with me. That was HIS painting. I didn’t even know he had noticed it! Anyway, I’ve been painting exclusively in watercolor for the past few years and this past week, that particular painting has been on my mind. I think your article “Resurrection” is my sign & personal Easter message — thank you! Now if I can just find that photo again…



There are 7 comments for Family values by Kristi Grussendorf

From: Stella Reinwald — May 01, 2009

Catching minnows is such an outstanding painting. I thought at first it was watercolor because it looks so spontaneous and fresh. WELL DONE! Why not take your son, return to the same spot and recreate the photo! Stella

From: Maxine Price — May 01, 2009

Beautiful painting!

From: Anonymous — May 01, 2009

This is masterful! Great values; simple,directing shapes; and fabulous color. Well done!

From: C. Keith Jones — May 01, 2009

Kristi, after viewing your painting, I can see why your son wanted to claim it, too bad he didn’t mention it earlier. Beautiful job.

From: Kristi — May 02, 2009

What wonderful positive feedback, thank-you! I feel pretty silly, though…the picture I attached is just a recent watercolor entitled “Red Rock Reverie”. “Catching Minnows” was before I even started photographing my work. Sorry for the confusion … my bad!

From: Rick Rotante — May 03, 2009

Just wanted to add my hurrays for your painting. Beautful!

From: Tom Lockhart — May 03, 2009

Hello Caroline,

I read with interest your “Resurrection Letter”. Also Robert’s Reply, I think he is correct in many aspects, however, I look at each painting as a challenge. To improve on not copy. The idea or location may be the same. Returning to a favorite painting spot, different time of day, or season. What ever challenges you that’s what is important. The plein-air sketch in any medium,(my choice is oil) to another medium. I have had (what seems to be my best results) are paintings in watercolor first then an oil or pastel.

Keep up the great work everyone. Now I’m getting interested in this Blog thing.

Thanks,

Tom Lockhart

 

Getting to the gold
by Linda Kathleen Simons, Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

Anne Lamott has a wonderful instruction book on writing and life called Bird by Bird. She talks about every writer’s “Shitty First Draft” (a direct quote — actually the title of a chapter in the book). She goes on to say that every writer starts there and then goes back to rewrite it many times — BUT — we must be willing to write the “shitty first draft” otherwise we will never get to the nugget of gold. This may not be something you could convey in your letters but you get the drift. We have to be prepared to do dreadful work until little by little, as we are knocking off the 10,000 hours, glimmers of actual talent begin to peak through.



There is 1 comment for Getting to the gold by Linda Kathleen Simons

From: Ginny in Florida — May 01, 2009

 

Painterly promiscuity
by Jamie Lavin, Gardner, KS, USA

 

Morning Patrol original painting 20 x 20 inches by Jamie Lavin

“Morning Patrol”
original painting 20 x 20 inches
by Jamie Lavin

The art of the re-done piece is a significant challenge, as well as in danger of becoming boring. I very much enjoy the effort of “getting it right”: a shot at re-defining what I attempted to provide in the first or my second efforts. There is some gray area when presenting to the public your second or third effort at a subject; doubt can creep into the minds of the patrons. Justified but hardly a concern. The day I get a bundle of money for each great landscape painting that resembles another too well, is the day to concern myself with being “painterly promiscuous.” I can go to Creative-Coldsnow’s Artist Supply here in Kansas City and confess to Tim Higgins. He’ll probably send me over to the Old Holland rack, instruct me to purchase at least three series 4 tubes, and then send me on my way to go and sin no more. Both of us are middle-aged, Irish Catholics so the model is one we’re used to following!!!

 

Pressure to paint the same castle
by Caroline Simmill, Morayshire, Scotland

 

Scottish castle original painting by Caroline Simmill

“Scottish castle”
original painting
by Caroline Simmill

Many years ago when I was starting out as a full time professional artist I was asked to paint a well known Scottish castle many times. It was hard for me to say no as I needed the money and I couldn’t afford to have prints made of the image everyone loved so much. I eventually managed to have three different moods of weather going over the castle to create interest for the viewer and for me painting it. Finally one day I just had to stop painting the castle as I just couldn’t do it anymore. I just lost interest and the magic of painting it had simply gone. Fortunately by then I could afford to have prints made of my work and so now I sell many images each year of the beautiful castle that people love so much.

Now I won’t repeat a painting though I would say that many of my beach scenes do have a similarity in composition and colour tone but they are not an exact copy of an original painting.

 

Using different print media
by Amie Roman, Burnaby, BC, Canada

 

Winter Aspen stone lithograph by Amie Roman

“Winter Aspen”
stone lithograph
by Amie Roman

Promise of Spring acrylic monotype by Amie Roman

“Promise of Spring”
acrylic monotype
by Amie Roman

Pays d'Hiver linocut relief print by Amie Roman

“Pays d’Hiver”
linocut relief print
by Amie Roman

Thanks for your suggestions about re-investigating a given piece. I have found that there are some subjects that keep drawing me back again and again and, while I’m not literally repeating the original, I enjoy the continued exploration and have a compulsion to work the image another way. I have produced three final prints using three different printmaking techniques (in this order, but with some time in between each) from the same original pencil sketch of a stand of aspens in winter: stone lithography, acrylic monotype and linocut. While each one is significantly different, all are recognizable as originating from the same source. I think that I’m finally satisfied with that image… for now!



There is 1 comment for Using different print media by Amie Roman

From: Liz Reday — May 01, 2009

These are all wonderful! Your mastery of each printmaking medium is awesome, a great example of using the same sketch in three totally different ways. The linocut is gorgeous!

 

Feelings of guilt
by Marsha Elliott, Covington, OH, USA

 

Sunday go to meetin' original painting by Marsha Elliott

“Sunday go to meetin’ “
original painting
by Marsha Elliott

Walking by faith original painting by Marsha Elliott

“Walking by faith”
original painting
by Marsha Elliott

I recently repeated a work that I’d sold because I loved it so much and wanted to give it another go around. However, I should’ve read the rules first as I broke many of them in that it was the same size, same medium and basically the same colors — just switched around a tad. A couple things I discovered in doing this is that the second one is definitely not as nice as the first and, secondly, every time I see the image, what I did comes back to haunt me. Will the original buyer ever know? I doubt it. Would they feel cheated if they saw the repeat? I know I certainly would. Was what I did wrong? I don’t really know if the word “wrong” fits. Maybe “unethical” works better. Each one of us has to answer that within ourselves. For me, I’ve found mine.



There is 1 comment for Feelings of guilt by Marsha Elliott

From: Virginia Wieringa — May 01, 2009

Can it be unethical if you didn’t know? You learned a lesson, you didn’t ‘break a law’.

 

The dangers of sales success
by Jim van Geet, Australia

 

Vermilion masquerade original painting by Jim van Geet

“Vermilion masquerade”
original painting
by Jim van Geet

A statement from an early art teacher has always stuck with me. He claimed that “The most dangerous time in an artist’s life is when he/she sells their first painting” and went on to explain that most fledgling artists tend to define artistic success by their sales. When they experience their first sale they then attempt to repeat it by reprising that painting and/or variations of it. Before they know it they have created a well defined rut and find themselves unable to grow artistically. We often see examples of this and it is indeed sad that many otherwise fine artists have trodden this path instead of thoroughly learning their craft.

 

 

 

Allow for the passage of time
by Jeanne Illenye, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

 

Flowers original painting by Jeanne Illenye

“Flowers”
original painting
by Jeanne Illenye

Yes, I agree that there is often a “magic” that can be lost in the repeated version, as the creative spirit that existed in the initial work has been diffused by gratification from the completion of same. I have very often done repeat paintings for my own collection, and on occasion to fulfill a client’s request. One tip I have found to reignite the fires of passion for a painting the second time around is to permit enough time to pass in between each version. With continued practice, one’s technical skills, the art of seeing etc., do change and often improve. Therefore, revisiting a subject at a much later date often will prove to be refreshing and rewarding, like visiting an old friend. Typically for me, what seemed to be challenging in the first version was far less effort in the second, as I was able to “see” more clearly and dote upon refining the details even more than the first, thus often producing a higher quality painting the second time around. The secret is just permitting enough to time pass in between each version so your attitude is once again fresh.

 

An original Maestro
by Greg Freedman, New Westminster, BC, Canada

 

Fresh Snow acrylic painting 20 x 30 inches by Greg Freedman

“Fresh Snow”
acrylic 20 x 30 inches
by Greg Freedman

About 3 years ago I saw a sign outside a Florida gallery announcing that Peter Max was within at an opening of “major new work.” Being an old hippie I had to see what the King of Psychedelia had been up to since his heyday in the ’60s. His new stuff reminded me of Dali’s late prints but I feigned interest while searching the room for Peter. Unfortunately I stood in one place too long and one of the circling gallery barracudas moved in for the kill. “Wonderful piece isn’t it?” She asked and nodded toward a painting of a vaguely realized woman in a nightgown.

“My favorite,” I said and indicated the red dot. “Unfortunately it’s sold.”

“Oh, Peter can paint another one for you.” When I pointed out that I was only interested in the original she assured me that mine would be an original too: “It would be the same subject executed in the same style but no two paintings done by the Maestro are ever exactly the same. They are all originals.”

I suggested that sounded more like manufacturing than creating, which must have put her off because she spun on one of her stiletto heels and disappeared into the crowd looking for another poor sucker who didn’t know enough to keep moving and keep his eyes down.



There are 3 comments for An original Maestro by Greg Freedman

From: Virginia Wieringa — May 01, 2009

I saw some of Pater Max’s current work at an auction on a cruise. Sad.

From: Ginny in Florida — May 01, 2009

This reminds me a Thomas Kinkade “sales event” I attended out of curiosity down here in Florida in April. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. But he sold hundreds of paintings that day and made thousands of dollars. I know that he hires people to re-create and touch up and finish his paintings. I really should go there as it is a whole other ball of wax even talking about this. But it fits with the “copy your own work” theme.

From: Vanessa Fraser — May 02, 2009

I’m a young artist and don’t know some of the expressions, but I’m very curious, what is a “gallery barracuda?”

 

Distance yourself
by Michael Lukyniuk, Gatineau, QC, Canada

 

The frozen creek oil painting 20 x 16 inches by Michael Lukyniuk

“The frozen creek”
oil painting 20 x 16 inches
by Michael Lukyniuk

At one time or another, most painters have a desire to redo an old sketch or painting. Perhaps the first attempt was not satisfactory, perhaps the painter is going from a sketch to a painting, perhaps the painter is now using a new medium, etc. Your letter illuminates some of the dangers in just re-doing the first version.

Recently I finished an oil painting of a scene that I had attempted several years ago in acrylic. My version in acrylic never fully satisfied me for a number of reasons. Yet the scene was particularly attractive to me and I was compelled to try once again. The first version was done from a photo I had taken. Since I was very familiar with the scene, I used it to recreate my version in oils. I really didn’t base myself too much on the acrylic version… although I confess that I did look at it from time to time.

I think that the essence of resurrecting an old painting is to distance yourself from the details of the original and to concentrate on your vision.

 

Easier to give them up
by Jacki Prisk, Edgerton, WI, USA

 

I’m an amateur self-taught artist, mainly painting flowers in watercolor. My inspiration comes from my garden in the spring and summer, so when winter rears its ugly head, I’ve started copying my own paintings, learning from my mistakes, and trying to improve upon the original ones. I’ve found this to be extremely helpful. Nine times out of ten, the second one is much better than the original. I’ve also donated my work to various charitable organizations, so I know what it’s like to “give up” one of my creations. And being able to recreate and improve upon original work makes it easier to give them up.

 

Just look at the canvas
by Liz Schamehorn, Washago, ON, Canada

 

Skyblue forest original painting by Liz Schamehorn


“Skyblue forest”
original painting by Liz Schamehorn

You can go to the Art Gallery of Ontario and look at drawers full of Tom Thomson’s small oil sketches. The first time I saw the large studio painting “Northern River” in real life I choked up. His art nouveau graphic design training shows through in the studio work. I have done lots of plein air painting and wondered how to get the same fresh feeling of a field sketch in a large studio piece. I once tried to copy the work in acrylic onto very large canvasses. Success was mixed. So now I just paint without looking at anything but the canvas. All that looking at trees has imprinted images on to my brain. It’s working!

 

Don’t make remakes
by Robin Shillcock, Groningen, Netherlands

 

Autumn light, The black swan oil painting 12 x 12 inches by Robin Shillcock

“Autumn light, The black swan”
oil painting 12 x 12 inches
by Robin Shillcock

In painting so much depends on an artist’s attitude. For me, it feels best when the process is one of exploration, not simply the execution of a preconceived idea. Preferring to work from reference drawings or watercolours made in situ rather than from photographs, I am afforded the freedom to play around with the composition and colour harmonies. It means that once the composition has been established, the (often) larger oil needs still to be developed through trial and error, that shifts in choice of contrast and harmonies are possible, in itself constituting as much a “journey” as an ébauche made in the field. Twice in my 25 year career I’ve “copied” my own work — in both instances commissions from a friend with strong emotional reasons for asking me to reproduce my own work. In both instances I believe I did a better job, yet the journey was different: I knew where I was going in spite of having chosen different formats and, more importantly, I knew where I needed to arrive. Especially that, knowing one’s destination, took away from the sense of discovery, of stumbling into great solutions and being able to feel good about it. But, on the flip side of that, I felt good about having done something for a friend.

I reserve the right to take up a composition already executed in one medium and to rework it in a different medium, i.e. mixed media or oils, and to a different size. The Black Swan is based on a watercolour I sold fifteen years ago. I only had a black and white photograph, and decided to change the whole register of colours, going into brown and reds, while the original was in yellows and blues. I also cropped the composition, cutting out the far bank of the pond and consequently struggled with the reflections of the trees, trying to find contrasts that worked within this composition. In effect, I floated and paddled until I satisfied. The essential is that I feel there is something left to discover in the subject, and that I am not trying to do a remake. For artists, the attitude to delve into the same subject again and again until one is sated with it, is essential. It is the only way to delve deep and learn, to be able to get better at your craft.



There is 1 comment for Don’t make remakes by Robin Shillcock

From: Grace Cowling — May 01, 2009

Robin, your Black Swan in oil is exceptional. Your message takes me back to a watercolour workshop with Katherine Liu, 1991 in Canada. She was a proponent of developing and working in “series.”

 

Resurrection by reproduction
by Diane Leifheit, Paul Smiths, NY, USA

 

View to Jenkins, Osgood pastel painting 11 x 17 inches by Diane Leifheit

“View to Jenkins, Osgood”
pastel 11 x 17 inches
by Diane Leifheit

Giclee or reproduction work is a way of sharing art with those who are not in a position to purchase original art. How else does one develop patrons but little purchases at a time. Historically this issue rose with the invention of printing. Prints made work available to many more people at an affordable price. Art was made available to a larger number of the population vs. being limited to becoming the property of the wealthy few. Remember the pioneering print works of Honore Daumier and his drawings of the art appreciator filing through prints in a gallery. Think of Monet — the first art marketer of his own work — would render his paintings in black and white so they could be reproduced in the newspaper thus reaching more people and encouraging them to see the exhibit. He was also guilty of revisiting the painting of the same landscape — many times.

And certainly if one thinks about it a bit further, the tool of the Internet can reproduce a work faster than lightning and it is seen by many more art appreciators.

The idea that a reproduction either in giclee, photograph or other means, is to be frowned on is somewhat elitist. The more folks who see my work and are pleased by those images the better. To those who can afford to live off sales of original works, good for you. To those who would encourage the art appreciator to bring art into their lives beginning with reproductions, those are building their patron list one brick at a time and will also enjoy success. They should not be begrudged their effort to promote their work.



There is 1 comment for Resurrection by reproduction by Diane Leifheit

From: LKP — May 01, 2009

I was very interested to see what the responses would be on this topic, and I think the whole range of answers (above) provides a lot of fresh insights. Skipping over the question of whether “re-doing” a work of art would impact possible sales, I got hooked on some deeper issues. My background is illustration, although I have transitioned into fine art/mixed media. In my long career as an illustrator, it was imperative to develop a marketable “style,” so nowadays I am consciously “retraining” myself to work in more free momentary way, following new ideas and sudden impulses. Pure joy. The column on “Resurrection” and the responses reminded me that my goal as an artist is to have a strong signature, but never a “formula.” A thought that was not mentioned: How about approaching the subsequent paintings as part of a continuing Series? Maybe it’s semantics, but I love working in a series, but I have zero interest in revisiting a previous work of art.

 

 

World of Art Featured artist Donna Lynd, ON, Canada

 

'At the Morning After Cafe by Donna Lynd, ON, Canada

At the Morning After Cafe

acrylic painting 24 x 36 inches
Donna Lynd, ON, Canada

You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Frances Stilwell of Corvallis, OR, USA, who wrote, “What do you say about giclee sizes? My printer says they should be different from the original, however I choose the size for the original based on how big I’m inspired to paint it which is I hope based on my artist’s eye for how big the image would look best at! Do you get what I’m saying?”

(RG note) Thanks, Francis. Make ’em bigger, make ’em smaller, but best of all, don’t make ’em.

And also Claudio Ghirardo of Mississauga, ON, Canada, who wrote, “I don’t tend to know or see if I have evolved as an artist until I re-do or resurrect an older piece. It is always interesting and fascinating to see the differences.”

And also Jeffrey Hessing of Provence, France, who wrote, “It’s helpful to start with the knowledge that no two paintings are ever exactly the same, so don’t even try. They are merely the same “motif” — that is composition or subject. Van Gogh did five paintings of his room and numerous versions of the Sunflowers and Irises. An exciting subject is worth doing again and again until it no longer excites you.”
 

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Resurrection

 

 

From: Bob — Apr 27, 2009

You should repeat the image however you wish. It’s yours. You’re entitled to sell giclee reproductions of the original if you wish. It’s yours. Reproducing your own work is acceptable. Reproducing the work of others is not. I recently observed an ‘ artist ‘ copying a painting by John Sell Cotman with the intent of selling it. For shame !

From: Dave C — Apr 28, 2009

I don’t think this should even be a concern to the artist. While I don’t agree with the giclee movement, I don’t see anything wrong with doing another painting, drawing or what have you, of a past work. Just don’t try to make an exact copy of that work. Like Robert said, lay in the foundation, study the original for a few minutes and put it away and go at the new work. Your new work will be reminiscent of the old one, but it won’t be a copy. If we were to deride an artist for visiting past successes, then only the first sunflower painting Van Gogh did would be worth anything with all the rest being panned by the critics as being derivative.

From: Kathleen N — Apr 28, 2009

This is similar to kiku’s (Keeners…) comment, wanting to re-do her watercolor in oil and being afraid she shouldn’t. I agree with Dave and Bob- especially: ‘it won’t be a copy’…but it will be a whole new adventure full of discovery and can additionally be the best of learning experiences. I often ask my young students to do a stillife, each from a different viewpoint- to prove that one subject has 10 ‘pictures’ just waiting to be done. For 8-11 yr. olds that is a revelation that they all remember. When I do it personally, it refuels my natural instinct to try everything at least once.

From: Jeanne-Manhattan Beach — Apr 28, 2009

Reworking a painting can lead to growth as an artist. There is always something that can be improved or enhanced. It’s much like doing a series, always asking for more from the self and the creative process. Asking, “Where else can I take this idea?” is a joyful challenge. It’s not about copying. It’s all about exploration, taking another step on the path.

From: Joyce Goden — Apr 28, 2009

Coincidence? last week I sold Resurrection #3. I usually always paint at least 2 at a time (a habit leftover from watercoloring). It helps to keep busy while paint is drying, keeps from overworking one canvas, and produces a extra painting to have for show stock.

I did 3 of this one at once, all much the same size and color, (only if having all three next to each other could someone tell the difference in strokes and paint). I kept the first for myself and it hangs on the wall. Its my creation I own the rights to it.

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Apr 28, 2009

Bob Ross could do the same paintings over and over with no loss, hey?

From: Liz Reday — Apr 28, 2009

Making a copy of one’s own painting is legal, sure, but sometimes you have to look at things from the point of view of your collectors. They are buying an original painting from you and they need to know if is one in a series of similar subject matter or whatever. It wouldn’t be good for the artist if his favorite collector saw an identical painting in a gallery or on someone’s wall, unless he was the one who requested the copy for himself! Sometimes we have older paintings hanging around which we would love to finally sell, and prospective buyers are happy to know that the artist no longer paints this subject matter, size or palette. When the collector knows that he is truly buying “one of a kind”, he puts more value on the object. Now with this current downturn, good collectors are to be nurtured and cherished. Keep in mind they are buying the unique feelings of the artist at that time, not a production line of reproductions manufacturing “enhancements”. Your originality is your strongest asset. And original authentic paintings of Valetta would be greatly valued by me as I have lovely memories of living in a sailboat in Sliema Creek and sailing around Gozo. What a beautiful part of the world and what a joy it must be to paint! Keep painting, I’d love to see more of your work of the landscapes, houses, beaches and people of Malta.

From: Joyce Goden — Apr 29, 2009

I think every artist needs to develop his own set of “keys”. For me people buy my work because they like it, and can afford it, (There are not many customers running around with thousand dollar bills in their hand). Over the years I have painted and sold several similar mail pouch tobacco barns, some similar florals, and a few others that are good sellers. My customers know I may paint more than one and still there is a demand for certain paintings. Commissions are one of a kind.

Any artist that thinks everything they put their name on is wonderful is kidding themselves.

Alamo in Spring, is a 5×7 watercolor that I painted several times. Finally after getting tired of painting it, I made prints of it. Over the years I have sold maybe 200 prints at 35.00 unframed. Do that math, I have made more off that little repeat than any other work so far.

I don’t know about the other artists here, but my absolute best are only a percentage of the total number of paintings I do, why not market my best in repeats or prints.

From: Gregg Hangebrauck — Apr 29, 2009

I think changing mediums makes it ok, or juxtaposing colors etc. Look at Andy Warhol’s screened prints. I bet after a couple of times, Paul would be ready to move on to a new subject.

Gregg Hangebrauck

http://www.ghangebrauck.com/ (cheap plug)

From: Diana Nicosia — Apr 30, 2009

I agree we do not want to repeat or create pot boilers just to pay the rent. It’s important, however, to remember about the career of Claude Monet. He painted the same scene at different times of the day, thus developing the series format. I found this fascinating as a young artist and embarked on painting the same scene w/changing light. Perhaps this is another way to look at the issue? Any original is unique as you pointed out. Be true to yourself and great art will follow!

From: Anthe — Apr 30, 2009
From: Carol Lyons — Apr 30, 2009

Once I gave a small floral watercolor, Petite Bouquet, to a collector. I missed that watercolor so! I decided to do another since I had the original slide. I projected it onto a wall with a much larger watercolor paper attached and sketched out the shapes. I painted what became Encore II. No two watercolors can be exactly the same and that was fine.

From: Veronica Funk — Apr 30, 2009

There are times it feels like you’re in my head – in a good way. Many years ago I viewed a series of work by the Group of Seven at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and then again a few years ago at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. This weekend I was viewing Tom Thomson’s work and I have to agree that I am drawn to his studies more than his larger works. As far as replicating previous work, that is a subject I’ve been recently asked to consider by a client. The original was a donation to a great cause and now I’m still uncomfortable about replicating it in any form. Thank you for your insightful (as usual) comments.

From: Jill Stefani Wagner — Apr 30, 2009

I find the best way to deal with the inclination to repeat a well-done piece of art is to work in a series. My mentor suggested this as a way for me to “focus” and not flit from subject to subject. But this practice has also been a way for me to recreate the passion and elation that I’ve experienced when everything comes together and you feel like you have reached “nirvana” with a particular painting. I’ve painted and sold over 25 paintings in my RiverStone series and I think I may still have another 25 in me!

From: B. J. Adams — Apr 30, 2009

Often we see watercolors of landscapes and portraits along side larger oils of the same subjects from old masters at the National Gallery of Art. Some stay the same and some differ but all are enlightening to see.

I, too, have been wondering about this subject but I use the images in a different way. I often draw (usually with colored pencil) single images such as my hand, interpreting them in thread and then integrating them into a composition. I often reuse the same preliminary drawings embroidered, again, for a different art work. Size does stay the same but the same images are in a completely different picture. Have I given myself a problem for future collectors, sales or even myself?

From: Robin Brooks — Apr 30, 2009

Regarding the artist from Malta who wants to re-create his own work in a different medium: you can not do it, and simply avoid your own discomfort about this, which is telling you that you may not want to live with the results even if you are technically ethical about it. That said, you could try it in another medium to satisfy your curiosity and then pack it away. Or you can do another rendition of it by using just a portion of it – the part you like best – and focus only on that.

From: David Lacey — Apr 30, 2009

It seems artists of note, Monet being one, have approached the same subject numerous times (eg: haystacks) to achieve various ends and not just to recopy a successful work. A good composition or subject can be painted endlessly as long as each painting is a truly new painting and not just an attempt to copy. That is what prints are for I think.

From: Brad Greek — Apr 30, 2009

In the past year I’ve been showing my work in a location along Destin, Florida’s HarborWalk Village. Every day I set up in pretty much the same location and paint plein-air. There are repeated paintings of the same subjects over and over again. The Marler Bridge, a light house of Harry T’s restaraunt, Pat O’Brien’s restaraunt, boats, pelicans, palm trees and a sand bar filled with boats and beach goers. I have a series of bridge paintings going, changing up the color schemes, techniques as in the use of brushes, knife or both. I’m using acrylics on canvas on most of them but have used paper on a few. The restaraunts I’m treating as subjects that I sell one, paint one, always keeping one in stock. Sure they all vary from each other slightly but are definitely the same composition most of the time. To stay motivated I try to look at each subject fresh as if I’ve never painted it before. I couldn’t paint it exactly if I wanted to. Most of them are the same sizes but have went larger and smaller.

Sometimes I think that we artist think too much about too much, just paint the damn thing!! LOL

From: Elsha Leventis — Apr 30, 2009

Copies lose immediacy – just look at the wonderful Group of Seven sketches in the Art Gallery of Ontario. The original oils on small wood panels done on location were vibrant and responsive, with traces of wood panel showing through, while the larger paintings done back in the studio are more thought out, but not nearly as exciting.

I’ve tried to copy my work – usually when galleries have just made a sale and want another painting like the one that sold – but since my work is process based, exact copies are impossible. Once I let go of the need to produce an exact replica, though, interesting things begin to happen.

From: June Raabe — May 01, 2009

For health reasons I paint mostly from my own photographs. If I have no time and energy to find new subjects I turn back to the old ones. The astonishing fact is that I noticed how similar the original and the repeat performance were, even though I did NOT use the first one to “copy”. I did use the same photo reference. What seemed so odd to me is that I selected very similar colours. The only problem I had with this was wondering if “dragon lady” the art director of the Arts Council Gallery I showed in, would think I was showing the same painting twice (against the rules!) I have one painting that won a prize that now has met with a disaster, I would like to repeat the subject but realized in this case it will not work, I have no sketches and no photo reference. Short of tracing the shapes , there’s no way I can “copy”. The disaster by the way is a lesson for other artists who may have a similar thing happen. I had used a masking fluid to save lights on the flower I was painting. It was watercolour and I do not take too long to finish, or remove masking fluid. Some YEARS later I discovered this painting had disturbing splashes of “burnt sienna”, and realized that despite care to do so I had not removed all the masking fluid, it had sunk into the paper, and in time decayed to this awful brown colour. Lesson learned, I cannot reclaim this painting, or repaint it (unless I grow another purple iris!) and I will NEVER use liquid masking fluid again. I will have to paint around a shape and leave my lights. It has just surprised me that while repeating a subject, even though I do not “copy” photos exactly, the results are always similar. Except in one case when I discovered the “brown spot” was a bee, because I used a magnifying glass the second time I painted the subject!

From: Pirjo Raila — May 09, 2009

Aren´t we encouraged to copy our own work in the sense as to be consistent. If we wish to sell we are told that we are more “credible” if our work is recognizable. This leads to repeating in some way. Maybe it is partly a result of “the first sale” mentioned here earlier and later on encouraged by gallerist, critics and ultimately the people that are buying. I am not against copying own work. I do it myself and learn something every time. We ourselves are the ones to decide if or how to do it. We do the copying in our personal way anyway.

I find it hard to keep to one medium, size or subject matter… and get critized for it. Makes me crazy even to think that I would have to stick to doing similar things over and over. Yet it is comforting to go back to something that felt like a success first time round. No original painting is ever the same anyway… unless you use technical aids to extend, and then it is not art to begin with.

I remade a pastel painting of a boat in acrylics. I had the small reference photo to start with, but found it ultimately better to use my pastel as the actual reference. Learned so much about acrylics as I had something of my own to refer to.

There is a freedom to doing art. Let´s not forget that.

 

 

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